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If you are a faithful or occasional reader of materials from the Adrian Dominican Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB), you may recognize Dee Joyner. As chair of the PAB, she writes, “I am so honored to have the opportunity to serve this important ministry for the Sisters.”
Dee first met the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 2004 when she joined the Board of Trustees of Aquinas Institute of Theology, a Dominican graduate school in St. Louis. At that time, four Adrian Dominican Sisters ministered in St. Louis: Sisters Joan Delaplane, OP, Maribeth Howell, OP, Pat Walter, OP, and Peggy Coyne, OP. In 2008, Sister Pat told Dee the Sisters were interested in developing a group of Associates in St. Louis and invited Dee to join. She became one of the first St. Louis Associates.
“Through my affiliation with Aquinas (I was also taking classes at that time), I developed a deep appreciation for the Dominican charism and was eager to have a closer relationship with the Sisters,” Dee said. “I loved the idea of meeting with the Sisters and other Associates to share our faith life and prayer as well as continuing to deepen my understanding of what it means to be Dominican and how I could put that to practice in the way I live my life.”
Dee’s commitment as an Associate is sustained by monthly meetings in which Associates share their faith and prayer life with one another. Sister Joan joins the group via Skype and keeps them connected with events in the Congregation. As a Sojourner group – made up primarily of Associates – the St. Louis Associates do not meet regularly as a Mission Group; rather they have a retreat twice a year, led in person by Sister Joan. Some members attend Chapter Assemblies and report back on outcomes. Dee continues to be engaged with the Associates through the annual Partners gathering of Associates.
Dee is active in the St. Vincent de Paul Conference at her parish, where she serves as a Eucharistic minister and member of the Finance Council. She continues her service on the Aquinas Institute Board of Trustees and is on the board of SSM Health, a Catholic health care system.
When asked how she lives out the Adrian Dominican Vision, to “seek truth, make peace, reverence life,” Dee replied candidly.
“I find that I am a better person and show up best for others if I can slow down, be more reflective, receive the Eucharist more often, and seek a deeper relationship with God that inevitably leads me to a more peaceful inner space,” she said. “Slowing down and being reflective are not easy for me, yet I find in this phase of my life they are more essential than they have ever been. When I am in that more peaceful inner space I am more open to listening to different views as I seek truth; I am able to cast a shadow of peace to others; and I am able to relate most especially to those in my life who need my support and presence as they struggle with their own life issues.
Dee is a widow who lives close to her daughter, Dawn; Dee’s brother and family; and many cousins. Her late husband, Orville, had four children, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild, who are also important to her. Dee’s extended family also includes the daughters and a grandson of her best friend, who died of breast cancer.
Dee once served as director of talent development at a regional bank. Although she “retired” last year, she now works part-time for the bank, facilitating culture workshops and helping business units with change management processes.
She made a daring post-retirement decision by gifting herself with spending one month at a Spanish language immersion school in Costa Rica. She continues Spanish lessons online and plans to return to the school for a refresher in 2017. Dee also likes to scuba dive, walk in the country, travel with her daughter and “attempt” to play golf.
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.