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June 26, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Sisters celebrating their Diamond Jubilee – 60 years in the Congregation – gathered from throughout the country June 19-22, 2019, at the Motherhouse for four days of prayer, activities, joy, renewal of friendships, memories, and reflection. In all, 22 Sisters celebrated their Diamond Jubilee.
The Diamond Jubilarians are Sisters Sean Eileen Allgeyer, OP, Beverly Bobola, OP, Mary Jean Clemenger, OP, Delores DeBets, OP, Teresa Disch, OP, Mary Ann Ferguson, OP, Dorothy Glaister, OP, Jo Ann Jauquet, OP, Jean Keeley, OP, Joan Krajewski, OP, Christa Marsik, OP, Joan Christine Meerschaert, OP, Mary Kay Moran, OP, Emilie Petelin, OP, Peter Anthony Schulte, OP, Sarah Ann Sharkey, OP, Mary Emidio Singer, OP, Susan Van Baalen, OP, Joan Marie Weithman, OP, Helen Wilson, OP, Jane Zimmerman, OP, and Rosemary Zuccaro, OP.
Also honored during that time were Jubilarians living and ministering in the Philippines: Sisters Estrellita David, OP, and Arsenia Marie Puno, OP, marking their Golden (50-year) Jubilee and Sister Rowena Marie Cruz, OP, celebrating her Silver Jubilee, 25 years as a Dominican Sister.
Jubilarians marking 80, 75, and 70 years of religious life were honored at a celebration in May.
The Jubilarians were formally welcomed during an opening program and reception June 19, 2019, by Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; members of the General Council; members of the planning committee; and Sisters and friends. They met with the General Council for brunch the next day and attended a concert by composer and musician Sister Magdalena Ezoe, OP, that evening. But much of the early week offered the Jubilarians time to gather with friends, pray, rest, and enjoy the Motherhouse grounds and the surrounding area.
The Jubilarians paused on June 21 to remember and honor the deceased members of their Jubilee crowd. During the Mass for Deceased Jubilarians in St. Catherine Chapel, Jubilarians and friends carried forward flowers to represent those who were being honored.
“The readings of today’s memorial Liturgy invite us to remember and invoke the spirit of seven Jubilarians – all Adrian Dominican Sisters who left us too soon to somehow live forever in God’s presence,” said Sister Susan Van Baalen, OP, Diamond Jubilarian, in her reflection. She compared the unique flowers that had been brought forward to represent the deceased Jubilarians with the uniqueness and diversity of the Jubilarians themselves. “How rich, how beautiful is the diversity of their gifts and their works,” she said.
Sister Susan spent much of her reflection describing the lives of the deceased Jubilarians and the rooms in Heaven to which she imagined they were escorted, according to their specific call as Adrian Dominican Sisters.
The deceased Diamond Jubilarians are:
The presider at the Mass for Deceased Jubilarians was Father Ian Bordenave, OP, who was taught in second grade by Diamond Jubilarian Sister Mary Jean Clemenger, OP. He also took two courses of preaching from Sister Joan Delaplane, OP, at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri.
Father Ian was also the presider at the Jubilee Mass the following day, which was the highlight of the Jubilee Week as Jubilarians and guests celebrated their year of Jubilee.
“Jubilee is such an appropriate time of giving thanks and remembering our first response to our call as Dominican Sisters of Adrian … a response that led to our women giving 60 years of Dominican life,” Sister Patricia Siemen, noted. “Each of you has been blessed by so many people and places. … You’ve poured out your love among seminarians, helping to form their spiritual lives; among prisoners in federal prisons … among those in parishes and schools, hungry for God’s word and your passionate presence; among those who are sick, materially poor, and in need of education.”
Paraphrasing the words of St. Paul to the Philippians, Sister Patricia expressed her gratitude and that of the Congregation to each of the Jubilarians by name. She also challenged the Jubilarians and all of the Adrian Dominican Sisters present to remain close to God so that they could carry out God’s work. Read the full text of her reflection here.
“The words from our Adrian Dominican Constitution remind us of the heritage we bear in carrying forth the mission of Jesus, to bring reconciliation, justice, peace, mercy, and love at all times, to all peoples, and to Earth herself,” she said. “To do this intentionally requires that we are in an alignment and in an intimate relationship with the Beloved,” so that God’s grace can flow through us.
The Jubilarians were then invited to continue their commitment by renewing their vow to Sister Patricia: “To the honor of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I make profession and promise obedience to Almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our holy father, St. Dominic, and to you, Sister Patricia Siemen, and to your 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, Jan Bourg, Susan Kremski, and Jeanette Desgrange, and Sisters Virginia Corley, OP, Joy Finfera, OP, Patricia Harvat, OP, and Joan Sustersic, OP.
Even before the Jubilee Week, the 2019 Jubilarians had the opportunity to reflect on what the Jubilee Year meant to them. Sister Christa Marsik, OP, wrote that she was inspired to enter the Congregation by the lives and purposefulness of her Adrian Dominican high school and college teachers. “Living that mission daily has its rewards and challenges, but I have never been disappointed. God is always there!”
“Religious life is such an amazing gift,” Sister Jane Zimmerman, OP, wrote. “The Mission of Jesus is what we’re about. We’re meant to be co-creators with him of God’s justice and peace. Religious life has freed me up to do that.”
Clockwise from left: Sister Rosemary Zuccaro, OP, places a flower in a vase in memory of deceased Jubilarian Sister Diane McMeekin, OP. Sister Christa Marsik, OP, a Diamond Jubilarian, adds her welcome to the Jubilee Mass. Jubilarian Sisters Dorothy Glaister, OP, left, and Peter Anthony Schulte, OP, present the offertory gifts.
[Adrian Dominican Sisters are blogging daily about their experience at SOA Watch - Convergence at the Border from November 16-18.]
SOA Watch Encounter at the Border Wraps up with Ritual, Litany, and Celebration
November 19, 2018, Nogales, Arizona – While the first full day of the School of the Americas (SOA) Watch was a time of exploration and of in-depth study of the issues and conditions that have led to so much suffering at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Western Hemisphere, and the world, the closing day on November 18 brought a different set of experiences and emotions.
The final day – with events exclusively at the U.S.-Mexico border and the wall between Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonoma, Mexico – wrapped up the weekend with impassioned speeches and music crying out for justice; a bilingual litany of the injustices suffered primarily in the Western Hemisphere.
For more than an hour, groups gathered on both sides of the border listened as the names of those who lost their lives because of U.S. policies in Latin America were announced. To call the people to be present in sacred space through the crowd responded, “Presenté!” Finally, the activists celebrated their hope for a better future with a performance of life-sized Puppetistas portraying an imperialist dictator, the Border Patrol, and monarch butterflies – the quintessential migrants of nature.
Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, Coordinator of the Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation, organized the participation of a contingent of Adrian Dominican Sisters. Attending with her were Sisters Joan Baustian, OP, Maurine Barzantni, OP, Janice Holkup, OP, Barbara Kelley, OP, and Susan Van Baalen, OP.
“The litany of disappeared and deceased was longer than usual and was rendered beautifully by the way the names were proclaimed,” Sister Maurine said. The names read were primarily been of people who were found dead in the Arizona desert while trying to migrate into the United States.
Especially moving for many of the Sisters was the fact that many of the people who had died were identified in the litany as “unknown male,” “unknown female,” or “unknown person.” In many cases, the names and ages were called out, demonstrating how many people had died at a young age.
The litany depicted the loss of thousands of individuals not only through the calling of their names. Sister Janice said she was impressed by the paintings of many of the deceased – and by the re-enactment on the Mexican side of the border of their deaths. “As they read out the names of the people who had died, people lay down as if dead,” she recalled.
Sister Susan was also impressed by a new incorporation of a Jewish tradition: placing rocks on the graves of loved ones to show that the deceased had a visitor. Those at the rally were encouraged to find a rock and place it on the fence in front of the wall, as a symbol that the people whose names were called are not forgotten.
But while the reading of the names was sobering, the Puppetistas brought a spirit of hope and celebration to the closing of the weekend. Both Sisters Joan and Maurine marveled at the use of the monarch butterflies – symbols of migration but also of Mexico and the rest of Latin America.
In one telling moment of the presentation, the butterflies overcame the figure of the dictator. “I think it’s [a symbol that] goodness defeats evil – or that gentleness can overcome force,” Sister Maurine said.
In summing up the closing event, Sister Janice described it as “a union of the people on both sides of the wall being together in spirit, activity, energy, and recognition without the ability to physically contact each other.”
Wall Between Mexico and U.S. Looms Large as One Strategy to Divide Communities
November 18, 2018, Nogales, Arizona – The first full day of the 2018 School of the Americas (SOA) Watch Encounter at the Border was, in the words of Sister Janice Holkup, OP, more like two days. It was a day of both intense emotions and intense learning about the many barriers that are intentionally erected between communities by people in power.
Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, Coordinator of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation, organized the participation in the Encounter at the Border of six Sisters from the Congregation: Sister Kathleen and Sisters Joan Baustian, OP, Maurine Barzantni, OP, Janice Holkup, OP, Barbara Kelley, OP, and Susan Van Baalen, OP.
The Sisters began their day of discovery by visiting the border of the United States and Mexico, marked by a miles-long, 18-feet-high wall topped by razor wire and surrounded by mesh – to prevent people on either side of the wall from reaching through the parallel metal slats that separates the U.S. and Mexico. At several points along the way, people are prevented from getting close to the wall by a second lower fence.
“It seemed unreal even though it was real,” Sister Janice said. “It was such a shock to see the immensity and the physicality of the wall running right down the middle of the street, dividing neighbors.” The wall divides into two what had been one city with open national borders – Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonoma, Mexico.
The visit to the wall shocked both the Sisters who had never been to the Arizona-Sonoma border and the Sisters who had attended the SOA Watch Encounters at the Border in previous years. Just a year ago, people could stretch their arms through the space between the slats and make a physical connection across the border. The addition of the mesh, the second wall around the wall, and the razor wire made even that physical connection impossible.
However, Sister Susan witnessed a hopeful activity that proved that even a wall such as this could never fully divide people. She described an activist on the U.S. side, after several attempts, lobbing a small piece of candy over the wall, where it was picked up and enjoyed by a man on the Mexican side.
“The wall is dehumanizing just by itself,” Sister Kathleen said. “Now it completely dehumanizes because it totally separates – it makes every attempt to separate the communities.” She added that the wall isn’t really necessary. “The fact that there’s no real evidence of Border Patrol along the wall is evidence of the surveillance that’s going on,” she said. “They don’t have to have people there. They’re watching all the time.”
Sister Joan perhaps spoke for the entire group when she said, “Having stood there and looked at the wall, I thought that if I didn’t do anything else weekend that [experience] would have been worth the trip.”
The Sisters balanced the physical and emotional experience of visiting the wall with an afternoon of workshops to add to their understanding of the situation at the Mexico-U.S. border and throughout the world. Workshops focused on topics such as the connection between the U.S.-Mexican border and the border between Israel and Palestine; the witness of families whose loved ones disappeared after crossing the border; arms trafficking from the United States to Mexico; and the “search and rescue” service of non-profit agencies in Texas and Arizona that help families whose loved ones went missing after crossing the border.
The workshops pointed out to the Sisters the systematic use of surveillance to control people seen as “the other.” Sister Kathleen noted that in one workshop she learned that Israel’s technique of surveillance of the people of Palestine has been used as a model for the U.S. surveillance of the border – and that this has created a new business. “Fifty surveillance companies now exist in Arizona as a result of this strategy,” she said.
The situation of migrants who try to get into the United States through the desert areas of the southern states was a major topic of the workshops. Sister Susan was struck by the enormity of the deaths that take place at the border between the U.S. and Mexico: 8,000 deaths across the southern U.S. border in the past 20 years. But non-profit groups and volunteers strive to help the migrants to survive their journey by putting out barrels of water along the way.
In discussion of what they had learned that day, the Sisters saw humanization as the key to improve the situation along the borders. It is only through dehumanizing or demonizing the migrants, for example, that some Border Patrol agents could have emptied the barrels of water set out to help the migrants – or slash the barrels so that they could no longer be effective.
“The key is to humanize others – respect their humanity,” Sister Kathleen said. Sister Janice, recalling the cruelty she had heard about at some of the check points, said one of the workshop presenters had said, “We must never get used to this, but must always fight such cruelty.”
While much of the experience of the day was disheartening, the Sisters were encouraged by their experiences. “I was struck by the sense of oneness among the people who are here,” Sister Susan said. “It’s almost like family. There was a sense of ease because we’re united in our trust in the mission and united in our care for the people who are suffering.”
Encounter at Border Brings Energy and Anticipation to Participating Sisters
November 17, 2018, Nogales, Arizona – When Six Adrian Dominican Sisters left their homes Friday in Adrian and Warren, Michigan, and Seattle, Washington, they knew they were not only heading to Nogales, Arizona, on the border of Mexico. They knew that their participation in the annual School of the Americas (SOA) Watch Encounter at the Border would take them to an experience of solidarity with immigrants striving to come into the United States – and often being deported or held in detention centers.
This is the third year Adrian Dominican Sisters have attended the event at the border, said Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, Coordinator of the Adrian Dominican Sisters Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation, and who coordinates the effort. Attending with her this year are Sisters Maurine Barzantni, OP, Joan Baustian, OP, Janice Holkup, OP, Barbara Kelley, OP, and Susan Van Baalen, OP.
The Adrian Dominican Sisters began their participation in the Encounter at the Border on the evening of November 16 at a vigil in the Arizona desert outside of an immigration detention center in Eloy, Arizona. Talks, music, and poetry called attention to the presence of the privately-owned detention center, where immigrants are held indefinitely. The vigil was established as a time of prayer for those who are suffering; the desert land on which it was held was acclaimed as sacred.
Dévora González, field organizer for SOA Watch, thanked participants for coming and for standing in solidarity with the immigrants who are held at the detention center. She spoke of the importance not only of calling attention to the detention center, but also of speaking out against the pain, suffering, and death caused by the militarization of the border.
A young woman who had been detained at different times at the Eloy Detention Center spoke of her own experience. During her most recent stay, she said, she had little or no access to the warden and no way of knowing if her requests for services were received by the staff. Health care was difficult to access, she said, because those who requested it were expected to stand in line beginning at 4:30 a.m. During her time there, she said, her connections with the world outside were the moon and the presence of an owl, which reminded her that her ancestors were watching over her.
The Adrian Dominican Sisters spent time after the first event, reflecting on its impact. “It’s important to come, but there’s a sense of futility about it, too,” Sister Kathleen said. “How many people have to die in the desert? What does it take for people to treat other humanely?” However, she and Sister Maurine also felt encouraged by the large presence of young activists at the rally.
The Sisters also reflected on the suffering of the immigrants – which had led them to participate in the Encounter at the Border. “I found myself reflecting on the fact that I was inconvenienced getting here – getting up early, going through security lines,” Sister Janice said. “And I thought of the caravan of migrants. These people left their homes with all they could carry – they had children. I’ve been reflecting on their desperation. They knew they wouldn’t be welcome but whatever they came from was so horrendous that they had to leave.”
The Sisters also discussed the importance of attending events such as the Encounter at the Border. “Seeing the detention center was important and realizing that they [the detainees] could hear us if we were loud enough was important,” Sister Janice said.
“Something like this energizes me,” Sister Joan said.
“It gives you the will to continue,” Sister Susan agreed. “When you think about it, we’ve been responding to the call for social justice for so many years, and when you go to something like this, you get refreshed.”
Events on Saturday, November 17 – the first full day of the Encounter at the Border – will bring a Veteran’s March to the Mexican Border; a rally; workshops on both sides of the border; a concert; and a vigil.
Feature photo (top): Four of six Adrian Dominican Sisters who are participating in the School of Americas Watch Encounter at the Border in Nogales, Arizona, pause for a photo prior to a vigil near Eloy Detention Center. From left are Sisters Maurine Barzantni, OP, Janice Holkup, OP, Susan Van Baalen, OP, and Joan Baustian, OP. Also representing the Congregation are Sisters Barbara Kelley, OP, and Kathleen Nolan, OP.