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June 25, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – In a spirit of joy, gratitude, and friendship, Diamond (60 years), Golden (50 years), and Silver (25 years) Jubilarians returned to the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse for a week of prayer and celebrations and took time to renew their friendships and their commitment to the Congregation’s Mission. The special week, June 20-23, 2018, was set aside to recognize and celebrate the Congregation’s 23 Diamond Jubilarians, eight Golden Jubilarians, and one Silver Jubilarian.
The 18 Double-Diamond Jubilarians, celebrating their 70th Jubilees, had been recognized during a special Liturgy and Dinner in May.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, set the tone for Jubilee week during the opening session and public reception for the Jubilarians on June 20. “Jubilee is a time of stepping back, to give thanks and express gratitude,” she said. “It is a time when we recognize God’s year of favor. … It’s a time of rest and inner renewal, a time for creativity and imagination, a time to slow down, a time to be with family and friends.” Above all, Sister Pat said, Jubilee is a time to “allow God to love us even more tenderly.”
Noting her own personal joy in welcoming the Jubilarians home, Sister Pat invited them to take time to gather together but also to “take some leisurely and prayerful time to spend in our multiple sacred spaces across our beautiful campus.”
The Jubilarians met the next day with Sister Pat and the General Council of the Congregation for a traditional tea. During the week, Jubilarians also had the opportunity to spend time with friends, to visit the Sisters in the Dominican Life Center, and to enjoy a concert by Sister Magdalena Ezoe, OP.
June 22 brought a more reflective spirit to the Jubilee Week as the Jubilarians and other Sisters on campus gathered for a Liturgy for Deceased Jubilarians and former Adrian Dominican Sisters. In a special ritual, Jubilarians recalled the life stories of the deceased and the qualities and gifts that they brought to the world.
Specially honored were Sisters Barbara Ann Beerkle, OP, Sharon Carroll, OP, Phyllis Duffie, OP, Barbara Matteson, OP, Mary Rita McSweeney, OP, Lorraine Mordenski, OP, and Mary Tardiff, OP, deceased Diamond Jubilarians, and Mary Jane Bourgeois, Mary Jane Bruske Blau, Linda Jackson Glance, Ann Mary Kreft, Gloria Maliszewski, and Mary Catherine Wildern, deceased former Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Diamond Jubilarian and former Prioress of the Congregation, welcomed the assembly to the memorial of the women who are now in the “invisible neighborhood, where the dead dwell. ... Our friends are now enjoying eternal life where all that we see – goodness, unity, beauty, truth, love, eternal life – are no longer distant but are now completely present to them.”
Father James Hug, SJ, presider and Motherhouse Chaplain, prayed in gratitude for the lives of the deceased Jubilarians and former members. “Their generous willingness to commit their lives with us, to extend your tender love to all your people in so many places and in so many ways is a gift that touches and challenges our spirits to rise to your call today,” he said.
Sister Carol Jean Kesterke, OP, Golden Jubilarian and Chapter Prioress of the Detroit-based Great Lakes Mission Chapter, reflected on the Scripture passages that were proclaimed during the Liturgy – and on the “fourth text” – the lives of the deceased women who were being honored. “The point of this fourth text is not to eulogize these 13 women, but to search the text of their lives, just as we search the other texts, for insights about how we may live more fully in God,” Sister Carol Jean said. “These women have left us many beautiful qualities and many things to admire.”
The week culminated on June 23 with a celebration open to the Jubilarians and their guests. The bilingual Mass brought in the elements of joyful music and dance to proclaim the joy and hope of the Jubilarians, their families and friends, and the Congregation.
“Today we are gathered to honor and celebrate our Sisters who have joyfully and with great fidelity lived their vows as Dominican women for 25, 50, and 60 years,” said Sister Pat, in her formal welcome to the liturgy.
Bishop Emeritus of Tucson Gerald F. Kicanas, presider of the Jubilee liturgy, echoed Sister Pat’s spirit of joy in honoring the Jubilarians. “What a great joy it is to gather here to celebrate the anniversaries of so many of our Sisters,” he said.
In her reflection, Sister Patricia Harvat, OP – Golden Jubilarian and member of the General Council – picked up on the theme of the text of the Jubilarians’ lives from the previous day’s reflection. “The daily text of our book of life as Dominicans began with clean and empty margins,” she noted. “But as we gather today to celebrate this life, those margins of the text are filled with daily entries of our words and gestures of love, mercy, hope, suffering, doubts, and longing.”
She spoke of the years in which the Jubilarians followed the call of Jesus. “There really are no adequate words to describe the ride, what it meant to leave our homes and walk into the lives of hundreds of people … in different cultures and global realities,” she said. After 60, 50, and 25 years, the Jubilarians continue to follow Jesus and to write the text of their lives. “There still is room in the margins of our text in the book of our lives to continue writing the call to live a dream and to love, following God with all the twists and turns life may present us.” Read Sister Patricia's full homily.
The Jubilarians demonstrated their commitment to follow their call as vowed Dominican women as they gathered at the altar to renew their vows to Sister Pat Siemen, to “make profession and promise obedience to almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our holy Father St. Dominic,” and to Sister Patricia and her lawful successors, “according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitution of the Sisters of St. Dominic of the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary until death.”
The celebration continued after Liturgy with a festive dinner for the Jubilarians and their special guests. The week was planned by the Jubilee Committee: Co-workers Krystal Baker, Susan Kremski, and Jeanette McIntosh and Sisters Virginia Corley, OP, and Joan Sustersic, OP. Sister Joy Finfera, OP, served as Chair, succeeding Sister Rose Celeste O’Connell, OP, who had chaired the committee for some 20 years before her death in May 2018.
Feature photo: Jubilarians gather around the altar to renew their vows during the Jubilee Mass on June 23, 2018.
May 2, 2018, Detroit – More than 100 Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, and special guests continued their study of racism and white privilege during a workshop April 28 that focused on the social effects of institutional racism.
The group gathered at Samaritan Center in Detroit for the Great Lakes Dominican Mission Chapter’s extraordinary Spring Assembly, “Continuing the Conversation on Institutional Racism and White Privilege.” The event was organized by the Leaven Mission Group to continue the discussion on racism begun at the Fall Assembly in November 2017.
The workshop focused largely on the social effects – especially on people of color – of institutional racism, which in many ways sets up the system to give advantages in almost every area of life to white people over people of color. The emphasis was on institutional racism rather than the prejudice of individuals against people of other races.
In her keynote address, long-time community activist Maureen Taylor noted her intention to make the connection between racism and poverty. “Poverty is the cruelest form of violence, and I don’t care what your face looks like,” she said. “I’ve seen veterans have their water cut off. [But] color always matters in America because it has been the most successful tool to allow people to be mistreated.”
Ms. Taylor, Chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization since 1993, stressed the need for advocates of various issues – rights for women, African Americans, Hispanics, and people with same-sex attraction, for example – to work together for economic rights for all people.
The fight for equality “cannot be from the top down,” Ms. Taylor said. “We have to be the ones [who struggle] from the bottom up. There are certain things we have to insist on. Everybody need to have something to eat, water, and homes. We have to bring these rules from the bottom up.”
A panel of activists spoke about particular issues related to institutional racism. “I grew up in a time when there were two separate educational systems,” said Sharon Mills, a member of the Escalating Economic Inequality Taskforce and a tutor at Siena Literacy Center in Detroit. “The great divide was color."
Ms. Mills, who grew up in an African American section of Dayton, noted the substandard education she received in her first three years in public school – before her parents pulled her out and sent her to a nearby white school. “There were not enough textbooks for children to take home,” she recalled. “Both the elementary school and the high school were in disrepair. The playground was always muddy and littered.” She noted that children who are educated in substandard school systems might come to believe that they, themselves, are “substandard.”
Ms. Mills noted that today – when separate education for African Americans and white people is not legally permitted – the separation continues because of the way public schools are funded – by local property taxes. “Local districts in rich areas can afford more for their public schools,” she said. “The system is rigged and it’s rigged against people in poor districts where property taxes are low. … The implications of this are grim for black and brown children in high-poverty areas.”
Ms. Mills described this system as self-perpetuating: the housing situation “disproportionally keeps families of color in poorer districts,” where they receive “inadequate and unequal education.” This leads to low-paying jobs or unemployment, which leads to poorer housing situations – and inadequate education.
“If we are truly interested in equity and social justice, the funding formulas for public school districts must be changed,” Ms. Mills asserted. “I urge you today to consider this and advocate for reform on this issue. Time is running out and the stakes couldn’t be higher.”
Kim Redigan, a teacher at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, focused on the water shut-offs in Detroit – and her own experience of growing up in a poor area and being considered “white trash.” White people in poverty “were collateral damage,” she said. “The powers that be don’t mind throwing poor white people under the bus to keep black people off the bus.”
As a member of the Meta Peace Team, formerly the Michigan Peace Team, Ms. Redigan said she had spent time in Palestine. “When I was in Palestine, what I came to understand is water is used as a weapon – globally. Here in Detroit water is used as a weapon. People lose their water and then their homes.”
She tied the plight of the people in Detroit to institutional racism. “The issue is not that people don’t get along personally,” she said, adding the issue is institutional, with disparities in education, housing, water, and other areas. She encouraged people do to their own internal work – to get past their denial of racism – but also to become active in addressing institutional racism. “We need to lean into our Catholic social teaching at this moment,” she added. “It brings us some good guidance” in the areas of social justice.
Rev. Barry Randolph, an entrepreneur and Episcopalian priest, spoke of the various ministries in his parish, Church of the Messiah, that respond to the needs of the local community. The church manages 213 units of affordable housing; provides free Internet to low-income families and individuals; and maintains services such as an employment office, a computer lab, an urban farm, and a bicycle repair shop. In addition, Rev. Randolph and his congregation have created businesses to employ the people in the local community.
“If you have an asset that you can use to help people, use that,” he said. “Stop asking God to do what you can do. We don’t have to ask God to lift people out of poverty. We’re not waiting on God. God is waiting on us. Anybody here who’s a child of God, if you believe a virgin had a baby, you can eradicate [racism and poverty].”
In a wrap-up session after an afternoon of small group discussions, panelists continued with motivational talk. Asked how to move from complacency to action, Ms. Taylor said, “Find your niche and work it until it turns – and keep working it.”
“You’ve all done wonderful things all along,” Rev. Randolph said. “Keep going. Take courage. Keep going. …You can make a difference in whatever state you’re in.”
Feature photo: Michelle Baines, Music Director for Corpus Christi Parish in Detroit, leads her choir and the assembly in singing the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Singing along in the background, from left, are Sisters Adrienne Schaffer, OP, Susan Van Baalen, OP, Virginia (Ginny) King, OP, and Ellen Schmitz, OP.