August 13, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – As she formally assumes the role of President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), Adrian Dominican Sister Elise D. García, OP, spoke of her role as a “bridge” between younger and older women religious.
The LCWR is an association of elected leaders of congregations of women religious, representing about 80% of the women religious in the United States.
Sister Elise, a member of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ General Council, entered the Congregation at the age of 50. She brought her childhood experiences in five countries – representing the diversity that is so much a part of religious life today – as well as a wealth of experience in communications and development in non-profit organizations; and in book publishing. When she entered, she was Co-founder and Co-director with Sister Carol Coston, OP, of Santuario Sisterfarm, a farm and ecological center in the Texas hill country.
Before her election to the General Council in 2016, Sister Elise ministered as Director of Communications for the Congregation.
The formal transfer of leadership was set during the LCWR’s Assembly, held virtually August 12-14, 2020. Sister Elise will serve a one-year term as President, part of a leadership team with Sister Jayne Helmlinger, CSJ, Past President, and Sister Jane Herb, IHM, President-Elect.
Read more about Sister Elise’s life’s journey and her leadership role in religious life and in the LCWR in a Global Sisters Report article by Soli Salgado.
November 5, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – About 100 Catholic Sisters from most of the 19 religious communities serving in the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, gathered October 20 at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse. The annual event, coordinated by the diocesan Office of Consecrated Life, offers the women religious the opportunity to get to know each other through a program of prayer, lunch, conversation, talks, and Mass.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation, welcomed the Sisters to the Motherhouse. She expressed the hope that the participants would “continue our conversations and go a bit deeper with each other on our lives together, because regardless of the congregation or community that we are members of, we are clearly Sisters to each other and Sisters in our commitment to the Gospel of Jesus.”
Grand Rapids Dominican Sister Rita Wenzlick, OP, Delegate for Consecrated Life for the diocese, also welcomed participants. Inspired by a talk by noted speaker and author Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, on the application of the Rule of St. Benedict to modern life, Sister Rita undertook a similar study of the Rule of St. Augustine, adopted by St. Dominic.
Sister Rita discussed five points about the Rule of St. Augustine and how Sisters can live them out today.
After lunch, Adrian Dominican Sister Marietta Churches, OP, focused on the theme of the gathering, “Celebrating You.” Noting that Sisters often focus on their failures or short-comings, she encouraged the Sisters instead to focus on their gifts from God. “We are wonderful women – we are W-squared,” she said.
“I love being a woman religious,” Sister Marietta said. “To me it is exciting. It is challenging. It is vibrant. It is awesome. It is scary.” Many are concerned about the future of religious life, which is dwindling in numbers. “And yet, I do feel a sense that God is in our midst,” Sister Marietta said. “If I can be assured of that, that’s all I want. And I’m going to walk humbly and walk faithfully with my God.”
Noting that she had never ministered in far places such as Africa or the Philippines, Sister Marietta said that she had been privileged in 1994 to help with the foundation of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Brighton, Michigan.
She encouraged the Sisters to discern where they might be called in the Church. “I just think that we can make a dynamic impact on the Church,” she said. She encouraged the Sisters to affirm one another rather than to find fault in small matters. “You’re chosen, wanted, and blessed,” she told the Sisters.
Sister Marietta concluded by leading Sisters in an exercise in which they quietly wrote down their own gifts from God and discussed their gifts with the others at their table.
The gathering closed with Mass in Holy Rosary Chapel, celebrated by Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing. “It’s a great joy to be here with you today,” he told the Sisters. “I’m so appreciative of your many gifts.”
Single Catholic women who feel called to religious life should contact the Vocations Office in her home diocese or the religious community to which they feel a call. Dawn Hausmann, Director of Consecrated Religious Vocations for the Diocese of Lansing, can be reached at 517-342-2506.
Those interested in vowed life as an Adrian Dominican Sister should contact one of the Co-directors of Vocations: Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, 517-266-3532, email@example.com; and Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, 517-266-3537, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature photo (top): Sisters serving in the Diocese of Lansing work on a project to identify their gifts during the annual gathering of Sisters.