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From June 26 through July 2, a delegation of the Adrian Dominican Sisters met for the nineteenth General Chapter, an intense meeting where representatives of the Congregation elect their new leadership and determine their focus for the next six years.
Many readers might be surprised to learn that a General Chapter is a time of significant individual and communal discernment. During a General Chapter, which takes place every six years (this Chapter was expected to have taken place in February, but was delayed because of COVID), representatives of the Congregation meet to pray, reflect, and discuss the future of the Congregation. Teams of women work together to write “Enactments” (statements that give the Sisters focus for the next six years) and these statements are then presented to the Chapter delegation. We also pray and discern who we believe can best serve in roles of leadership in the coming years.
The Adrian Dominican Sisters composed, discussed, reviewed, revised, and accepted Enactments on several topics (be sure to check our website in the coming days to learn more about the direction we have set for ourselves). The very first Enactment that was affirmed at our Chapter was on Vowed Dominican Life!
At a time when many religious Congregations have made the decision to no longer accept new members, we Dominican Sisters of Adrian, have affirmed our commitment to promote and walk with women who seek to explore vowed religious life. Stay tuned for ways in which you can discern your call with us.
Peace and blessings,
Would you like to attend a nine day meeting with 200 people during which you have to discuss, come to agreement, and make decisions that affect your life for the next six years and beyond? Not only that, you want to do it in a spirit of prayer and with a desire to follow God’s will. On top of it, the people you are with aren’t simply colleagues, but the very people you have committed to share you life with.
We just did it. We just had a General Chapter, which is pretty much what I describe above. And we are still here, possibly more united, having taken time for silence, for prayer, for deep listening, for heartfelt discussion, for putting the common good ahead of our individual agendas, and for fun and laughter. That’s how you discern God’s will with 200 people. You have to invest yourself and let go at the same time. You have to listen for the voice of God in your sister, in small groups, in large groups, and in the words of prayer and scripture. You have to care deeply and let go in freedom.
A gathering like this is an act of trust in God and in your sisters.
Have you lived an experience of this type of large group discernment and trust?
Sometimes we think we’ve figured out a future direction, that we’ve discerned something, but than the other people involved don’t come to the same conclusion. It’s rather unsettling and can be very confusing. You can decide that you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, but if they decide they don’t want to be with you, you obviously can’t force a relationship! This is true for a friendship, a job, and even a religious congregation. Discernment is a two way process – we do all we can to be faithful to God’s desire for our life, and then we hold it lightly. We need to leave God, the other person, and even ourselves free.
We are coming up to a General Chapter, a meeting held every six years in which we make decisions about our future direction and elect new leaders. We have been actively engaged in discerning for almost two years. No doubt many of us sisters will arrive with a strong sense of where we need to go in the future. And no doubt these ideas will not all be the same. We now will be called to discern together, to hold lightly the ideas that we bring and to hear the voice of God in the other.
Discernment is always bigger than “me and God.” What are the other voices you need to attend to in your own discernment?
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Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP
Sister Katherine Frazier, OP
Sister Maribeth Howell, OP
Sister Mary Jones, OP
Adrian Dominican Sisters
1257 East Siena Heights Drive
Adrian, Michigan 49221-1793
View our video series called VOCO (Vocation Conversations) to learn how Sisters heard and responded to God's call.