Praedicare is a blog about the many ways Dominicans preach with their lives, written by Adrian Dominican Sister Mary Jones, OP, who serves as the Congregation’s Promoter of Preaching. Please click the “Subscribe” button on the right column if you would like to receive it by email.
Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin, OP, sits second from left.
One of the greatest gifts our Sisters who have “retired” from active ministry is the vital work of what we call the ministry of “Prayer and Presence.” Sisters devote time to pray for the needs of the world and specific requests that come from the Office of Development, friends, family, former colleagues, and even complete strangers. Many times, Sisters are asked to share their wisdom from many years of service and leadership with those who are entering into leadership, learning their faith, or who may be struggling. Sometimes people just want to be in the presence of our Sisters.
One of our Sisters, Jeanne O’Laughlin, OP, is one of many Sisters who minister in prayer and presence. She has been an Adrian Dominican Sister for 73 years, with more than 20 years as President of Barry University in Florida, and many years of serving in Congregation leadership. Sister Jeanne is often asked to share her wisdom on mission, leadership, faith, and life. People at Siena Heights University enjoy taking advantage of Sister Jeanne’s many visits to Michigan. Referred to as “Fireside chats with Sister Jeanne,” she takes time to visit with different departments at Siena Heights University, helping them recognize how each person is called to live the university’s mission in their own unique way.
The transition to a ministry of prayer and presence is sometimes a challenge for our very active Sisters; however, the gift of this ministry is beyond measure, and for those of us on the receiving end, we can only say, “thank you.”
Sister Heather Stiverson came to the Dominican Literacy Center in Detroit as a volunteer and soon became an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor with students from Bangladesh and Yemen. The men had lost their jobs because of changes in the company and needed to aim toward new employment. Because their facility with the English language was limited, Sister Heather formed a class that meets regularly for reading comprehension, grammar, and conversation.
Sister Heather also serves as student success assistant. She enjoys contact with new students and tutors as she strives to match them with desired times and learning goals. Often a student works, attends to family members or has difficulty with transportation. “The bus,” she says, “may take an hour, and in the winter when it’s dark, this can be a problem.” Many tutors are available in the evenings, but students may not want to come at that time. “Matching student times and needs for reading, math, or both with tutor schedules can take several phone calls and some negotiation,” says Sister Heather.
God works in surprising ways! As her ministry unfolded Sister Heather trusted the skills she learned through experience in education and business. This challenge has taken her beyond her comfort zone into a ministry that serves others and is a source of unexpected delight.
Article and photos by Sue Schreiber, OP
Mary Jones, OP
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