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By Associate Melinda Mullin
Born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Associate Roberta Clemak first met the Adrian Dominican Sisters when she attended their school from fourth through eighth grades. She spent one year in high school with the Sisters of Loretto before deciding to become an Adrian Dominican Sister at the age of 15.
Although Roberta left the Congregation in 1970, she continued to teach at Adrian Dominican-run schools and kept in close contact with many of the Sisters, saying, “I’m really impressed and influenced by them; they are wonderful women.” It was only after a suggestion from her friend, Rosalie Bulanda, OP, that she became an Adrian Dominican Associate in 2009. As Roberta says, “Once a Dominican, always a Dominican.”
“Education is my charism,” Roberta says. “I really wanted to stay in the Catholic school system, so I spent 44 years in the Archdiocese of Detroit and I still keep in touch with former teachers and students.” Roberta taught English, math, and French, and was also a school administrator. She taught for eight years at St. Alphonsus in Dearborn, was principal at St. Agatha in Redford for 18 years, and retired from Our Lady of Sorrows, Farmington, in 2002. “I loved what I did,” she said.
Roberta met her husband, Charles, known as Carl, an engineer for General Motors, through mutual friends. They were married in 1973 and are still happily married.
Roberta and Carl lived in the same community since 1979 along with five other families. Most are Catholic, but they are members of different parishes. “We kind of have our own senior citizen community,” Roberta said. “We watch out for each other, and it is wonderful to have such close friends for so many years.”
Roberta belongs to a parish in Livonia, Michigan, where she spent six years as chairperson of the Education Commission. She is now a Eucharistic minister and lector and volunteers to compose the Sunday prayers of the faithful every other month. In addition, she brings Communion to her 92-year-old neighbor, who is also a former Adrian Dominican Sister and a close friend.
“It has been a wonderful life,” Roberta says, then laughs as she adds that she has never watched the movie starring James Stewart. Unlike James Stewart’s character in It’s a Wonderful Life, who never left his small town, she has traveled extensively and recently returned from a cruise in the Caribbean. She has been around the world three times, visiting Antarctica and 127 countries, and been on 55 cruises.
Before she and Carl retired, they spent their summers traveling through Europe and visiting small towns. “Europe is not what it used to be,” she says sadly, because the younger people from those towns have left for the big cities.
Roberta loves meeting and making connections with people she meets during travels. While on a trip to Vietnam they enjoyed getting to know their tour guide, who was from Bangkok, Thailand. On a subsequent trip to Bangkok, she and Carl were surprised and pleased to see him at their hotel.
Once, while on a tour of Peru and the Amazon, Roberta and Carl met a couple from Mumbai, India. The next year on a cruise that stopped in Mumbai they visited with the same couple, and then again the following year!
Another memorable trip was when a pastor Roberta knew from St. Agatha sponsored a tour to Rome. When he asked if they would like to meet Pope John Paul II, Roberta thought he was kidding. He wasn’t. So, 11 people crammed themselves into little Italian cars and travelled to Castel Gandolfo. After Mass they were personally introduced to the Pope. Carl, who is Polish, was especially honored and thrilled.
The last major trip Roberta and Carl took prior to the COVID-19 pandemic involved skiing at Lake Tahoe. The pandemic was hard on her, as she had to limit in-person visits and traveling. Roberta refers to this time as “the lost years.”
Roberta’s passion is people. She loves getting together with her sister and brother who live nearby, going to breakfast with friends after Mass every week, teaching religious education to her great-nephews, and meeting new people. In fact, it could be said that Roberta has her own “World-Wide Web” of family, friends, neighbors, church community, Dominican Sisters and Associates, former students and colleagues, and people she has met through her travels around the world. “Living brings me joy, contentment, and peace,” she says.
(Spanish version below)
By Associate Melinda Mullin
Associate Shauna Walch grew up in the Las Vegas, Nevada, area, one of five children. Shauna says there are two factors that are important in shaping her spiritual and religious life. First are her early religious experiences, which include attending first through third grades at St. Francis de Sales School, run by the Adrian Dominican Sisters, and spending summers during her junior high years at Brigham Young University (BYU) Academy for Girls.
Second is nature, especially the desert. Shauna grew up a “desert rat,” as she calls herself, playing in and exploring the desert. While some see the desert as a dead and barren place, Shauna sees it as it truly is: a living landscape full of wonders, if one just looks closely enough. During summer night outings with the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) girls, Shauna says, “I found I could talk to God.”
After college, Shauna began working at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals in Las Vegas with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. On her first day there, she was surprised and pleased to see Sister Michael Thomas Watson, OP, a former teacher at St. Francis de Sales Elementary School. Somehow, this connection of Shauna’s earlier experience with Adrian Dominican Sisters and her new job with them was prophetic. That same week, she accepted her future husband’s marriage proposal while they were hiking in the Grand Canyon. Shauna laughs at how nature and the Adrian Dominicans always seem to figure in the significant times of her life.
Shauna was editor and writer for the hospital’s magazine. She wrote about the latest medical equipment the hospital had obtained, as well as stories about the physicians and staff. She most enjoyed, however, writing stories about the patients and she remembered how inspired she was by the experiences of the Sisters who started the hospital.
Shauna told the story of Sister Marie Daniel, who, before the time of incubators, held a newborn to her chest for days to keep it warm since its mother was too sick to care for it. “It was the patient stories that most connected me” to the Sisters’ charism of care, Shauna said. “There was a sense of being part of the interdisciplinary care process in letting someone share their story and have it told.”
Seeking to carry on the charism of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Shauna became an Associate in 2017. She finds the Adrian Dominican values coincide with her work, currently, as Executive Director of Stillpoint Center, described as an “oasis in the desert” for spiritual programs.
Shauna appreciates that Adrian Dominican Associate Life and Stillpoint share many similarities, especially in regard to education, spiritual development, and personal growth. As she reflects on just where her charism lies, Shauna realizes that helping others tell their stories has been a recurring theme in her life. Thinking back to the time she worked for an advertising agency, she said one of her projects was to educate the public about the fragility of the desert ecosystem. As Shauna describes it, “It … was developing public information campaigns to protect the threatened desert tortoise that provided the opportunity to heighten awareness of the whole desert.”
Shauna still enjoys hiking in the desert foothills, or anywhere, and also likes to swim. She values her role as wife and mother, and she and her husband will be transitioning soon to an empty nest when both of their college-age sons are able to pursue their studies on campus.
As an Associate, Shauna welcomes the opportunity to develop relationships with the Sisters and with other Associates. She is excited about the various programs for Associates and has started attending the Monday Associate Connection meeting on Zoom.
You can find more information about Stillpoint and its upcoming events at stillpointcsd.org.
Escrito por la asociada Melinda Mullin
La asociada Shauna Walch creció en el área de Las Vegas, Nevada, y fue una de cinco hijos. Shauna dice que hay dos factores que son importantes para dar forma a su vida espiritual y religiosa.
Primero están sus primeras experiencias religiosas, que incluyen asistir a los grados primero a tercero en la escuela St. Francis de Sales, dirigida por los dominicos Adrian, y pasar los veranos de la secundaria en la Academia para niñas de la Universidad Brigham Young (BYU). En segundo lugar está la naturaleza, especialmente el desierto. Shauna creció como una “rata del desierto”, como se llama a sí misma, jugando y explorando en el desierto. Mientras que algunos ven el desierto como un lugar muerto y estéril, Shauna lo ve como realmente es, un paisaje vivo lleno de maravillas, si uno mira lo suficientemente de cerca. Durante las salidas nocturnas de verano con las niñas de los Santos de los Últimos Días (SUD), Shauna dice: “Descubrí que podía hablar con Dios.”
Después de la universidad, Shauna comenzó a trabajar en los Hospitales Dominicanos St. Rose en Las Vegas con las Hermanas Dominicas Adrian. En su primer día allí, se sorprendió y complació al ver a la hermana Michael Thomas Watson, ex maestra de la escuela primaria St. Francis de Sales. De alguna manera, esta conexión de la experiencia anterior de Shauna con los dominicanos Adrian y su nuevo trabajo con ellos fue profética. Esa misma semana, aceptó la propuesta de matrimonio de su futuro esposo mientras caminaban por el Gran Cañón. Shauna se ríe de cómo la naturaleza y los dominicanos Adrian siempre parecen figurar en los momentos importantes de su vida.
En el hospital, Shauna era editora y escritora de la revista del hospital. Escribió sobre los últimos equipos médicos que había obtenido el hospital, así como historias sobre los médicos y el personal. Sin embargo, disfrutó más escribiendo historias sobre los pacientes y recordó lo inspirada que estaba por las experiencias de las Hermanas que iniciaron el hospital. Contó la historia de la hermana Marie Daniel quien, antes de la época de las incubadoras, sostuvo a un recién nacido contra su pecho durante días para mantenerlo caliente ya que su madre estaba demasiado enferma para cuidarlo. Shauna dijo, “… fueron las historias de pacientes las que más me conectaron” con el carisma de cuidado de las Hermanas. “Había una sensación de ser parte del proceso de atención interdisciplinaria al permitir que alguien compartiera su historia y se la contara”.
Buscando continuar con el carisma de las Hermanas Dominicas Adrian, Shauna se convirtió en Asociada en 2017. Encuentra que los valores dominicanos de Adrian coinciden con su trabajo, actualmente, como directora ejecutiva de Stillpoint Center. Stillpoint Center ha sido descrito como un “oasis en el desierto” para programas espirituales.
Shauna aprecia que el programa Adrian Dominican Associate y Stillpoint comparten muchas similitudes, especialmente en lo que respecta a la educación, el desarrollo espiritual y el crecimiento personal. Mientras reflexiona sobre dónde su radicacarisma, Shauna se da cuenta de que ayudar a otros a contar sus historias ha sido un tema recurrente en su vida. Pensando en la época en que trabajó para una agencia de publicidad, uno de sus proyectos fue educar al público sobre la fragilidad del ecosistema del desierto. Como lo describe Shauna, “yo ... estaba desarrollando campañas de información pública para proteger a la tortuga del desierto amenazada que brindó la oportunidad de aumentar la conciencia de todo el desierto.”
A Shauna todavía le gusta hacer caminatas en las estribaciones del desierto, o en cualquier lugar, y también le gusta nadar. Ella valora su papel de esposa y madre, y ella y su esposo pronto harán la transición a un nido vacío cuando sus dos hijos en edad universitaria puedan continuar sus estudios en el campus.
Como Asociada, Shauna agradece la oportunidad de desarrollar relaciones con las Hermanas y con otros Asociados. Está entusiasmada con los diversos programas para Asociados y ha comenzado a asistir a la reunión de Conexión de Asociados del lunes en Zoom.
Puede encontrar más información sobre Stillpoint y sus próximos eventos en stillpointcsd.org.