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By Sharon Foley Bock, Associate
Perhaps the seed for Faye Jahnigen’s blossoming into Associate life was planted in the late 1970s when she was a patient at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California. It was there that she first met the Adrian Dominican Sisters. After several years, a substantial amount of reflection, and connections with several Adrian Dominicans – including Sisters Anne Russell, OP, Clara Ann Budenz, OP, and Mary Keefe, OP – Faye became an Associate during the Dominican West Chapter Assembly in November 1998.
Faye’s life story is rich with remarkable experiences. She grew up in Detroit, “about three blocks from Hamtramck,” one of the few people of color living in a predominately Polish and Italian neighborhood. She was taught by the Sisters of St. Dorothy and by the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Sisters from Monroe, Michigan.
Faye earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California-Santa Cruz and a master’s degree in health service administration from St. Mary’s College, Moraga, California. As a result of her tour of duty in Germany in the U.S. Army, she speaks fluent German.
Before her retirement in 2011, Faye worked at the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency as a radiology technologist. In this capacity she worked with the forensic pathologist in preparing expert witness testimony for criminal cases.
Now, she’s pursuing flute lessons and wants to learn Greek. Coming full circle, Faye does volunteer work in the Surgical and ICU waiting area desks at Dominican Hospital. Without a doubt her educational and work background are a valuable asset in this position!
Without hesitation, Faye declares that her Mission Group, Anawim, sustains her as an Associate. She is one of four Associates in the nine-member group. Recently, Faye was asked to co-chair with Sister Judy Byron, OP, the Dominican West Mission Chapter Resilient Communities Committee. While all four of the Chapter Enactments resonate with her, particularly because she is a woman of color, Faye thinks her focus will be on Resilient Communities because of her work with that committee.
In addition to her work with and financial support to the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Faye serves her parish as a cantor, Eucharistic minister, and acolyte. To continue developing her own spirituality to seek truth, make peace, and reverence life, she is working with a spiritual director. Faye is also a faithful follower of Father Richard Rohr, OFM, whom she describes as “a prophet for our times.”
“Through the years, I’ve gotten to know some really good, holy women,” Faye states. She speaks lovingly of the women she with whom she is still involved, and fondly recalls several who have passed to their heavenly reward, including Sisters Diane Erbacher, OP, Chris Ostrowski, OP, and Helen Walsh, OP. Faye cherishes her participation as an Associate and attended the May 2018 Associates retreat in Santa Cruz, California.
Sharon Foley Bock has known the Adrian Dominican Sisters for more than 60 years, beginning with her education at Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida. Her high school teachers impressed her with their joy, loving care for their students, prayer life, and dedication to their ministries.
By the time she was a junior, Sharon knew she wanted to become part of the Dominican family, so upon graduation, she entered the Congregation. She ministered as an Adrian Dominican Sister for 15 years. She withdrew from vowed life in 1976, but continued to maintain loyal friendships with many Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Sharon became an Associate in 2016. Asked “what took you so long?” she replied, “I think I always felt connected to the Congregation through my friendships with so many Sisters. I finally realized that I could be even more deeply involved in the life of the Congregation by ‘making it official’ and becoming an Associate.”
Now that she is an Associate, Sharon is indeed more deeply involved with the Congregation. She is an active participant in her Mission Group, Women of the Word, which meets in Phoenix, Arizona, three times a year. She also participates in the annual Dominican West Chapter Assemblies.
“Participating with the vowed and associate members in these groups is a great source of spiritual support,” Sharon said. “I always feel renewed and re-energized after we have spent time together in prayer, worship, study, and sistership.” She also makes financial contributions to the Congregation.
Regular contact with Mission Group members, as well as personal meditation and prayer, sustain her to create her own ministry to the Sisters and Associates. She and her husband celebrate Sunday liturgy in the home of a Franciscan priest, so, aside from her support of his ministry to the homeless, she doesn’t have parish opportunities.
Sharon lives with her husband and three cats and enjoys pursuing art, film, and reading – and otherwise satisfying her inquisitive nature. She is taking on more domestic responsibilities as her husband’s health starts to decline.
Inspired by a request from Mary Lach to send Christmas cards for distribution to the Sisters in Maria Hall, she decided to create a birthday card ministry. She started out creating and sending cards to those Sisters and now includes the Sisters and Associates in the Dominican West Chapter.
When asked how she seeks truth, makes peace and reverences life, she responds, “I hope the way I treat each person demonstrates my commitment to these values. I find that the current political environment in our nation compels me to speak out for the values I cherish. Though I am not one to march in protest, I remain active online with several entities that support these values."
Sharon resonates most strongly with the Enactment to deepen spirituality. She sets aside time each day for prayer and reflection and looks for opportunities to learn more about and deepen her own spirituality.