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Sister Elizabeth Demirgian, or “Betty” as she was generally known, titled her autobiography “Beyond Chance” because, to her, nothing in her life had unfolded simply by coincidence.
Her story begins with that of her parents, both refugees fleeing the persecution – and worse – of Armenians by the ruling Ottoman Empire. Edward Demirgian left Adana, Armenia, in about 1908 at the age of fifteen. The next year, Adana was the site of a mass killing of thousands of Armenian Christians. Then, in 1914 and the years immediately following, what has become known as the Armenian genocide took place, with hundreds of thousands of people killed or forcibly relocated. Betty’s mother, Ebrakce Ekshian, who was born in Constantinople (later known as Istanbul), Turkey, left with her family for the United States in 1915, right in the midst of that situation.
Both families settled in Queens, New York, and Edward went on to become a tailor and own his own business. After he and Ebrakce married, three children came into the family: two boys, Archie and Berge, and then Betty, who was born on November 9, 1931, and baptized Elizabeth Ann in the Armenian Orthodox church.
When Betty was fourteen, the family relocated to Miami, Florida, where Edward and Archie established Ansonia Cleaners, a dry-cleaning business that held the contracts for dry cleaning and valet services for several of Miami Beach’s most prestigious hotels, including the Fontainebleau. Berge, who after military service in World War II attended the Pratt Institute in New York intending to become a graphic designer, eventually joined his father and brother in the family business.
Betty completed her high school education at St. Patrick High School in Miami Beach in 1949 and then continued her connection with the Adrian Dominican Sisters as a student at Barry College (University). She graduated from Barry in 1953 with a degree in home economics and then did post-graduate work to finish a major in chemistry, thinking she wanted to do scientific research and perhaps go on to medical school.
Read more about Sister Betty (PDF)
Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.
Leave your comments and remembrances (if you don't see the comment box below, click on the "Read More" link).
Micah tells us in the first reading to “Do the right thing, love goodness and walk humbly with your God.” This is a perfect description of Marlene’s life. Last evening we heard about Marlene’s gentleness, love and compassion – with a smile larger than life. The comment was made, “she always showed up.”
This paragraph opened Sister Mary Kay Homan’s funeral homily for Sister Marlene Ptaszynski, whose long service as a member of the Congregation included more than forty-five years as a chaplain and pastoral minister.
Marlene Rita was born in Detroit on September 21, 1936, to Joseph and Gertrude (Stachowiak) Ptaszynski. Joseph was born in Poland; came with his parents to Hartford, Connecticut; and as a young adult moved to Detroit, where he became an autoworker and was eventually employed by the United Auto Workers union. He and Gertrude, who grew up as part of Detroit’s large Polish community, had two children: Beverly-Ann, the oldest, and Marlene.
The family lived on the city’s east side, where the children attended St. Jude School. Thus began Marlene’s acquaintance with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, a relationship that continued through her high school years at Dominican High.
Her career plans originally did not involve the convent; she wanted to go to nursing school. In her senior year, however, she began thinking of religious life, and with her long connection to the Congregation she never considered any other community.
Read more about Sister Marlene (PDF)
Leave your comments and remembrances (if you don't see the comment box below, click on the "Read More" link.
Adrian Dominican Associate Rita A. Dougherty, age 96, was born in Chicago's South Shore area on July 27, 1926. She passed away on April 23, 2023, at St Patrick's Residence, Naperville, Illinois. Rita was the fourth of five children of John E. and Mary (Dineen) Dougherty.
As a young adult, Rita entered the Congregation of Adrian Dominican Sisters in Adrian, Michigan, following her two older sisters into the order. During early years, she taught grade school in Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan and high school at Aquinas Dominican High in the Chicago South Shore area (now torn down) and Regina Dominican in Wilmette, Illinois. She was Head of the Journalism Department. Rita also taught journalism and English at Barry University, Miami Shores, Florida, but due to lack of students, she soon fazed Journalism out of the curriculum and continued teaching English classes.
Rita left the Congregation in 1983 after she had become the first Public Relations Director for Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. She also served as Public Relations Director at Imperial Pointe Medical Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois.
Rita was a journalist and photographer for The Explorer, newspaper of the Joliet Diocese. The paper morphed into a magazine. She was an editor at Lucent Technology, Lisle, Illinois. Her final work for nine and a half years was as writer for the President of Benedictine University, Lisle, Illinois. Rita retired at the age of 85.
Rita became an Adrian Dominican Associate on June 22, 2003, and for many years she was a very active member of the Anawim Mission Group in Chicago. As an Associate, she shared the uniqueness of her personality and the wisdom of her lived experience with many. She was a preacher of the Word in her pursuit of truth through study, daily prayer, love for her community, and ministry. Rita exemplified living the Dominican Charism throughout her life.
Rita was preceded in death by her parents; her two older Dominican Sisters, Sister Mary Dougherty, OP and Sister Eleanor Dougherty, OP; her older brother John Edward, (Jack) Jr.; and her younger sister Jean Dougherty Quigley.
Rita was blessed with seven nieces and nephews and 15 grandnieces and nephews.
A Memorial Mass will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, July 28, 2023, at St. Patrick's Residence Chapel 1400 Brookdale Road, Naperville, Illinois.
When James Joseph Carroll’s father came to the U.S. from Canada in 1903 after his wife’s death, he did so with $750 to his name and five children – James being one of them – under the age of 10.
By 1924, James had already risen from his humble beginnings to become co-founder and President of the Lincoln Mutual Casualty Co. He and his wife, Veronica (whose maiden name, interestingly, was also Carroll), married in 1927 and over the next seven years had four children, one of whom was the future Sister Barbara Jean Carroll.
Barbara Jean was born on April 16, 1931, in Detroit, following older brothers Edward and Charles and three years before John, the youngest. At the time she was born, the family lived in St. Agnes Parish on the city’s near west side; then, in the autumn of 1937, the family moved into a flat in nearby St. Mary of Redford.
That December, Veronica was returning from shopping when she slipped on the basement stairway and fell, a tragedy witnessed by little Barbara Jean. Veronica died shortly thereafter. Less than two years later, James married his longtime secretary, Ann.
By that time the Carrolls were living in St. Clare of Montefalco Parish in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. Barbara Jean attended the parish school, where she was taught by Dominican Sisters from Columbus, Ohio. “The Augustinian Fathers and Dominican Sisters were very good to us and for us,” she said in her life story.
Read more about Sister Barbara (PDF)
Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God — and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance.
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We invite you to meet some of the wonderful women who have recently crossed into eternity.