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Elizabeth Reagan’s first visit to Adrian, which came in 1933 when she was eight years old, coincided with Mother Gerald Barry’s election as Mother General of the Congregation. “She came out on the porch of Madden Hall and I was ushered into her presence by one of the nuns,” she wrote in her life story. “Mother put her hands on my head and asked me if I were going to be a Sister. Without any hesitancy, I said, ‘Yes, I am.’ I am sure the whole matter was settled that day.”
Elizabeth, the future Sister Mary Willard, was born on May 10, 1925, in Detroit, to Willard and Mary Agnes (Dixon) Reagan. The couple’s first two children, twin boys, died at birth; Elizabeth was born four years later, followed in time by Willard and Eugenie.
“I did things early and possessed a strong will,” she wrote. “My parents said later they were glad I was attracted to good, since I might have gotten into trouble otherwise.”
Read more about Sister Mary Willard (pdf)
Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.
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Beginning in the mid-1920s, the south side of Lansing, Michigan, was home to the Hengesbach family: Harold and Irma (Mikulaschek) and, as the years went on, four daughters: Barbara, Anita, Elaine, and Shirley.
Harold was born in the small town of Westphalia, Michigan, a largely German-Catholic community twenty-five miles northwest of Lansing. His family moved to Lansing when he was sixteen, and it was there, at a party, that he met the daughter of Ludwig and Fanny Mikulaschek.
The Mikulascheks and their daughter were immigrants from Sarajevo, which at that time was part of Austria-Hungary. Ludwig served in the Army there, and when his enlistment was complete he could either re-enlist or return to Vienna to manage the family sugar-beet business. As Barbara told the story in her autobiography:
Neither choice was too appealing and stories of “streets paved with gold” in the land across the Atlantic sounded more interesting. Ludwig and Fanny Mikulaschek and their only child came to America. Mother was four years old at the time. The young family lived in New York for awhile and then made the move to Lansing, Michigan. Grandpa got a job at Oldsmobile. He never did find the “gold,” but he was happy earning an honest living for his young wife and beautiful daughter.
Read more about Sister Barbara (pdf)
When we reflect about our Aunt, three words seem to stand out:
Her selflessness made her the amazing and unforgettable nun we all know. Her strong leadership as a principal was proven over her 38-year tenure at Visitation and [she had a] kindness and ability to make everyone she met feel comfortable and important.
Colleen Monahan Hoffman and Kathy Monahan Brannon were describing their aunt, Sister Thomas Leo Monahan, in a remembrance for Sister’s wake service in November 2020. They also shared fond memories of their “Aunt Toots” coming for visits at their grandparents’ summer home in McHenry, Illinois, her love of cats and McDonald’s hamburgers, and the way she “always wanted to hear what you had to say.”
“Toots is an unusual name for a nun and we’re not sure where it came from, but its uniqueness fits the woman we all know and love,” the two nieces’ remembrance concluded.
Kathleen Alice Monahan, the future Sister Thomas Leo, was born on September 20, 1929, in Chicago to Roy and Kathryn (Devine) Monahan. She was one of seven children in the family, along with four brothers – William, James, Robert and John – and two sisters, Jean and Lois.
Read more about Sister Thomas Leo (PDF)
Rita was a true Dominican artist preacher. Personally, I found her to be a woman of few words but believe she found her voice in the words of our Franciscan Brother, Francis of Assisi. “Preach always. When necessary, use words.” Rita loudly and clearly proclaimed God’s Word through her art of sacred spaces. These chapels and churches are “living examples” of her pouring out and sharing the fruits of her contemplation.
All the chapels and churches she designed and built with Barbara were not just buildings but projects whose life force built and sustained communities brought together in the process. … We will never know how many folks enter a chapel or church designed by Rita and Barbara and say to themselves: “This is where I meet God.”
These words from Pat Daly, president of the Dominican Institute for the Arts, were a reflection upon the life of Sister Rita Schiltz, who with Sister Barbara Chenicek designed sacred spaces across the U.S. in their INAI Studio for many years.
Rita Celene Schiltz was born on October 6, 1925, in Chicago to Nicholas and Barbara (Droessler) Schiltz. She was the couple’s fifth child and third daughter.
Nicholas was born on a farm near Bancroft, Iowa, while Barbara was born in Kieler, Wisconsin. Her father, like Nicholas’ father a farmer, found the rocky Kieler soil difficult to till, and bought land near Bancroft – down the road from the Schiltz farm. “Dad would go to the Droessler farm to spend time with the boys, and eventually to court Mom,” Sister Rita wrote in her autobiography.
Read more about Sister Rita (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.