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July 24, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – If all goes well, a depiction of the Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth by Sister Alma Marie Messing, OP, could find its way to the walls of Santa Sabina, the home in Rome of a community of about 30 Dominican Friars – many of whom serve in the Dominican Curia.  

Sister Alma was inspired during a January 2020 gathering in which Adrian Dominican Sisters envisioned the future. During the period of contemplation, the Sisters had the choice of reflecting on a number of images of the Visitation, when Mary and her relative Elizabeth – expecting Jesus and John the Baptist respectively – shared the joy of giving life and of being part of God’s plan. 

The Visitation, by Sister Alma Marie Messing, OP, portrays the greeting of Mary and Elizabeth when they were expecting Jesus and John the Baptist, respectively. Sister Alma created The Visitation through the art of quilling.

Sister Alma was intrigued by the image of the two women holding their hands up together in joy and connection. “They put their hands up in the air like a high-five with both arms, which I think is a very American gesture,” Sister Alma recalled. She based her creation of The Visitation on that image, veiling the faces of the two women.  

Sister Alma created the Visitation using quilling, an ancient art form that began in the 15th century. “The information I have is that because paper was so tedious to make, the monks didn’t waste a scrap,” Sister Alma explained. “They used their pens to roll the paper. That’s why it’s called quilling.” Quilling has been resurrected as an art form and several companies sell special papers to use for the craft.

“I made a couple [of the Visitation images] and then I tore them apart,” Sister Alma said. “I thought they were awful.” When the Sisters in the Dominican Life Center began sheltering in place because of COVID-19, Sister Alma created a third image, about 9-by- inches. “I took it to the Sisters and showed them, and they raved about it,” she said.

Sister Alma said that Caldwell Dominican Sister Patricia Daly, OP, was impressed by the piece of art and believed that it should be taken to Santa Sabina by a Sister who planned to go to Rome in November. Hopes are that, by then, U.S. citizens will again be allowed to travel to Europe.

Sister Alma said she has been creating a number of items with quilling, including wreaths, poinsettias, candles, and candy canes for use as Christmas ornaments and has sold them in the annual Christmas bazaar at the Motherhouse. “I don’t need quiet,” she said. “I just need a table and I can watch TV while I do it.”  

Sister Alma’s talent in art balances her formal ministry as a science teacher at the high school and college levels. In 1978, she began 25 years of ministry at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, primarily working in the Education Department, responsible for the museum’s Elder Hostel program. Drawing on her special interest in the space program developed while at Barry University in Miami, Sister Alma gave presentations for several years at the Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC). 

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October 9, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – Are you a single Catholic woman between the ages of 19 to 35 and feel that God might be calling you to a deeper life of service and love? The Adrian Dominican Sisters invite you to a special weekend, “A Time to Discern: Come and See for Yourself,” November 8-10, 2019, at Weber Retreat and Conference Center on the Motherhouse Campus.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet other women discerning God’s call; learn about the life of a Sister, and in particular Dominican life; tour the Motherhouse; engage in conversation with Sisters; and join in the Sunday Liturgy.

The event is free.

To register online, visit https://tinyurl.com/ADSDiscern. For more information, email Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, Vocation Co-director, at tdeyonker@adriandominicans.org or call or text her at 517-920-1395.



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