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By Sharon Foley Bock, Associate.
Mercedes Fitzsimmons’ history with the Adrian Dominican Sisters goes all the way back to 1952.That was the year she entered the Postulate and began her 17-year journey as a vowed member of the Sisters of St. Dominic in Adrian, Michigan. Throughout those years, she lived the Dominican charism
through her ministry in elementary education and administration.
Although Mercedes withdrew from vowed membership in the community in 1970, she never lost her love of the Adrian Dominicans. In 1997, she was welcomed as an Associate so that she could more actively involve herself with the community again. “What sustains me,” she writes, “is the love of the
Adrian Dominican Sisters.”
Mercedes, a resident of Warren, Michigan, is in the Great Lakes Chapter, where she is a member of the Leaven Mission Group. She is also part of a group of Associates who meet each month with Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at St. Basil’s Parish in Eastpoint, Michigan. In addition to sharing current events in their lives, the participants read and discuss books, currently Praying with Dominic by Michael Monshau, OP.
Mercedes has also been involved in the Great Lakes Associates’ initiative, “Save our Waters.” This project features an interactive exhibit explaining the need to protect this vital resource before it is too late.
“What occupies me these days is responding to the gift each of us has received – ministering to others ... as Dominic joyfully walked the path sharing the Good News ... so needed,” Mercedes writes.
[By Sharon Bock, Associate]
Consistency, steadiness, and a dose of daring might be a good way to describe Nancy Mason-Bordley. She is not only a native of Michigan, but has lived there her entire life. Her history with Dominicans almost parallels this stability. Except for her first five or six years before beginning school, Nancy has been in some way associated with Dominicans ever since. Her sense of daring has led her to take on challenges outside her comfort zone.
Her Dominican history begins with the Oxford Dominican Sisters who taught her while she was in grade school. This experience made a deep impression on her, for as a young woman, Nancy felt drawn to become an Associate of the Oxford Dominicans. These Sisters, who maintain a Motherhouse north of Pontiac, Michigan, are one of seven Dominican congregations which merged into the Dominican Sisters of Peace in 2009.
Nancy maintained her membership as an associate with the Oxford Dominicans for several years, then elected to take a break from active participation with them. During this hiatus, while ministering in religious education with Sister Janet Schaeffler, OP and Sister Mary Margaret (Maggie) Mannard, OP, Nancy also met Sister Mary Ann Dixon, OP. Sister Mary Ann asked Nancy if she was ready to come back to Associate life and mentored her through her preparation and acceptance as an Associate in 2000.
Although currently taking a break from active involvement in a Mission Group and Chapter Assemblies, Nancy had been very active in both her Mission Group and working with Associate programs for more than 15 years. She helped to create the first Partners retreat for Associates five years ago. She stays connected through friendships with the Adrian Dominican Sisters and through her spiritual direction from Sister Carol Johannes, OP. And, she notes, she is willing to step up and help when needed.
Nancy is a pastoral minister at St. John Fisher Chapel University Parish in Auburn Hills, Michigan, where she enjoys preaching and counseling parishioners. When her pastor asked what led her to engage in a preaching ministry, her response was immediate: “My ties with Dominicans!”
She earned her certification as a spiritual director at the Dominican Center for Religious Development in Detroit. She also served on the center’s staff, training and supervising intern spiritual directors and assisting with program planning and development.
As an adjunct professor at Siena Heights University, armed with her D.Min. degree, and using the wizardry of online technology, Nancy taught Ministry, Management and Leadership last fall. She also regularly teaches theology courses designed for those who plan to minister as religious educators and pastoral ministers.
Nancy is the founder and owner of Parish Services, LLC., which operates as a resource to the Archdiocese of Detroit, assisting parishes in contracting services for degreed and certified ministers, who are speakers, musicians or facilitators.
Nancy’s life ministry includes her boundless support of her large extended family. She lives with her husband and one cat and regularly reaches out to her many family members, including her 84-year-old mother and the families of her two brothers and two sisters.
Nancy most deeply resonates with the Chapter Enactment which reads, “We commit to deepen our spirituality and to engage with others in prayer and presence.” She has done a significant amount of exploration and study in emerging theology and spirituality, including works by Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ. She looks for opportunities to challenge herself, even spending time in Africa doing missionary work. It will be interesting to see where Nancy’s abundant talent and willingness to dare lead her now.