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Those of you in the far reaches on the eastern side of our country may not have had the opportunity to meet Suzanne Slankard, Associate. Suzanne lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She greatly cherishes the friendships and spiritual connections she has made with her mission group, Women of the Word.
Suzanne began her association with the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 1973 when she met Sisters Kay Muzzy, OP, and Ann Rozalia Szabo, OP, and was impressed by their joy. Suzanne was officially welcomed as an Associate in 1976. This was a positive transformation that healed a painful experience with other nuns while she was in high school.
Suzanne’s Dominican spirit has flowered over the past 40 years through her association with Adrian Sisters and Associates as well as with the Dominican Ecclesial Institute (DEI), sponsored by the Central Province of the Dominican Fathers. The DEI offers engaging and inspiring speakers each month, as well as spiritual guidance and direction.
Suzanne’s primary ministry is the care of her husband, Jean, who suffered a severe stroke last December and has required her constant loving and attentive care. Although Suzanne gets some support from an aide who comes in overnight, she is focused on making Jean’s days as comfortable and pleasant as possible. Her sensitivity to his needs has become a living example of the Adrian Dominican vision to “reverence life.”
Although her ministry keeps her quite busy, Suzanne finds time to enjoy swimming and reading, as well as occasional afternoons out. Her goal is to finish reading the diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalski, Divine Mercy in my Soul. She also plans to study Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical on Care for Earth, with her mission group. She remembers all Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates in prayer and hopes that a gathering and retreat for all of the Associates in the Dominican West Chapter will be held soon.
Why I Am an Associate
By Susan Jayich
I learned about Associate Life through Sister Ann Fallon, OP, and Sister Jo Gaugier, OP. As I got to know them, I saw how their faith guided their lives and was impressed by their generosity, kindness, and integrity. In them, I sensed a deep and healthy balance in life and service and devotion to the Mission of Jesus, and a sense of humor! I was drawn to that.
Through Sisters Ann and Jo, I learned about the charisms of contemplative prayer and study and realized that my own values matched those – that what I had done over the years was the stated charism of the Dominicans. I longed to continue to be with and learn from this community of Sisters and Associates, to grow in my own expression of faith. When I stayed at the Weber Center for Partners, the weekend gathering of Associates and my second trip to Adrian, I felt I was at home.
Several things sustain me as a Dominican Associate. Our cohort of four Alaskan Associates is a great source of sustenance. We try to gather regularly for a meal and prayer as we discern how we are growing into Associate Life and how we might best express the Dominican charisms, Mission and Vision here in Alaska. It is an energizing challenge. We are literally and figuratively on the frontier.
As a member of the program committee for the Anchorage Archdiocese Holy Spirit Center, I taught Christology last spring to the men studying to be deacons for the Archdiocese of Anchorage. In this ministry, I seek truth for myself and try to open my students to some of the difficult truths that are embodied in Jesus’ challenges to us. I teach that the universe is driven by the love-energy of God, exemplified in the saving Mission of Jesus, a concept that I feel grounds making peace and reverencing life. This is my way to live out the Adrian Dominican Vision of making peace and reverencing life.
Prayer has really become an integral part of my ministry. I always feel a particular prompting to pray for the children of Syria. Through my daily practice of prayer and contemplation, I ask the Holy Spirit to help me see the truth in any given situation. I am learning more and more deeply that things are not going to go my way, but to honor with patience and life-giving presence the people around me.
I believe that I am being called to the creative arts, but I also am discerning a new path in teaching. I would like to put all of the knowledge I have gained in the subjects of Christology and Scripture to work at the parish level.