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August 10, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – In some popular artwork, St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers, is depicted is walking along a road, carrying his shoes as he sets off on his preaching mission. Yet, the theme for the Dominicans’ Jubilee Year marking the 800th anniversary of his death might seem unlikely to many: “At Table with St. Dominic.”
Sister Patricia Walter, OP, theologian and former Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, spoke about a powerful symbol of St. Dominic’s friendship with his brothers and sisters: the Mascarella table, featured in the earliest depictions of him. Her presentation, “St. Dominic: An Invitation to the Table for All in Friendship,” was live streamed on August 4, 2021, the anniversary of St. Dominic’s death. Her talk was part of a series of monthly presentations sponsored by the Spirituality Committee of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
In her talk, Sister Patricia emphasized St. Dominic’s “deep capacity for friendship,” which scholars said could be one reason the Order of Preachers came into being. In forming the Order, St. Dominic drew help and support not only from nuns and the Friars, but also from benefactors, clerics, individuals, and entire families. “The Order was made up of friends from all walks of life,” Sister Patricia said. “It was and is a holy preaching.”
Pointing to St. Dominic’s capacity for friendship, Sister Patricia reminded listeners that he followed in the footsteps of Jesus himself, who showed his own welcoming sense of friendship when he washed his disciples’ feet on the night of the Last Supper. “Jesus reveals the true goal of his ministry,” Sister Patricia said. “He invites the disciples to move from a domination paradigm to a friendship paradigm,” where all are treated with dignity and love, she said. “In friendship we realize we are one with each other and with God.”
Watch Sister Patricia’s entire presentation below.
Artwork in feature image at top: "St. Dominic and the Sisters" by Helene O'Connor, OP
August 9, 2021, Chicago – The governance structure of the Adrian Dominican Sisters took a historic turn on August 8, 2021, the Feast of St. Dominic, when Sisters Mary Jane Lubinski, OP, Mary Priniski, OP, and Mary Soher, OP, formally began their four-year term as the Leadership Team of the new Catherine of Siena Mission Chapter. The brief ritual was live streamed from Chicago. This is a milestone in the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ process of forming a new Mission Chapter from four U.S.-based Chapters – Dominican Midwest, Dominican West, Florida, and Great Lakes Dominican.
The three women were selected during the Chapter’s Selection Assembly, held virtually June 18-19, 2021. Other Sisters who were willing to serve as leaders were Sisters Judith Benkert, OP, Barbara Matievich, OP, and Nancy Murray, OP.
Sister Mary Jane Lubinski, selected as Mission Prioress, is a native of Detroit. She entered the Congregation in September 1966 and served as an elementary school teacher and a parish religious education director. In 1981, she responded to a call to open a mission in Appalachia, where she ministered as paralegal in Castlewood, Virginia.
Sister Mary Jane focused her mission on people with HIV/AIDS from 1988 to 2008: as paralegal at Atlanta Legal Aid and at Living Room, a nonprofit housing program she established in 1995 for people with AIDS, and, from 2000 to 2008, in South Africa, ministering in the HIV/AIDS Unit of the Catholic Institute of Education. She went on to minister at the Diocesan Education Office in Manzini, Swaziland.
Returning to Detroit, Sister Mary Jane served for a year as Development Officer for Covenant Community Care, a faith-based healthcare organization.
Sister Mary Jane brings to her new ministry experience as Chapter Prioress of Adrian Crossroads Mission Chapter: assisting the Chapter Prioress in 2012-2014 and serving an elected term of office until 2020. Since then, she said, she spent “months of contemplative prayer in hermitage-like solitude and months serving at the border with unaccompanied minors in Texas and families seeking asylum in Texas and Arizona.”
Working as part of a team has been important to her, Sister Mary Jane said. “I find [it] fosters relationships, supports one another, sparks creativity, shares decision-making and the workload, expands vision and ideas and works to each one’s strength.”
Her hope is that the Catherine of Siena Mission Chapter “will be a real source of unity and oneness, that we come closer together at this point in our life as a Congregation – in spirit, in heart, in mission. Love is really the force. It draws us to one another and it draws us to mission.”
Sister Mary Priniski, selected as Chapter Prioress, also brings experience as the Chapter Prioress of the Mid-Atlantic Mission Chapter from 2009 until 2014.
A native of Escanaba, Michigan, Sister Mary entered in 1968. Her first ministry – and her first experience of teamwork – was in a parish, focusing on youth ministry and liturgy. “I learned that we each had gifts to bring to the table and we needed to rely on one another to minister well,” she recalled.
In 1979, she moved to South Carolina to serve at Interfaith Worker Justice, organizing church and community support for worker rights and civil rights. She began working in 1992 for Glenmary Home Missioners, a community of Catholic priests and brothers who bring a Catholic presence to those who live in U.S. counties where the Church is not otherwise effectively present. After nine years working again for worker rights, she was elected Chapter Prioress of the Mid-Atlantic Mission Chapter.
Sister Mary said she has experienced creative teamwork in her most recent ministry, as Executive Director of the Aquinas Center of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. “I have helped build a team that has enabled creativity in ways not known at the Center before,” she said.
“I find us at a challenging and exciting time in our Congregation,” Sister Mary said. “The relationships that we have and will build … feed my soul.”
Sister Mary Soher, selected as Mission Prioress, is a native of San Francisco and the oldest of three children. With a bachelor’s degree in communications from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, she worked for a television station in Texas for five years before moving to Los Angeles to work for a satellite and video conferencing company. It was there that she met the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She entered in 1996.
Sister Mary has ministered at Barry University in communications, served with the Congregation’s Formation Team, and co-directed the National Catholic Sisters Initiative which, in 2014, initiated National Catholic Sisters Week. Most recently, she served as Director of Campus Ministry for the Dominican University of California, sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael.
Sister Mary has also used her experience and training as director of the Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference and has been involved in Dominican college preaching conferences and Dominican Young Adults USA.
“I have a deep love for our Dominican charism and cherish collaborating with other Dominican congregations,” she said, adding that she also thrives in team ministry. “I value the sharing of ideas, balancing responsibilities, and clear communication among team members,” she said.
“I’m excited to look at a Chapter that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the Caribbean,” Sister Mary said. “It’s going to be an interesting perspective to see how we are in mission in ways that are similar but also unique.”
“I’m not out to change the world but to walk with our Sisters in these next four years,” Sister Mary added. “I have so appreciated the women who have been my Chapter Prioresses since I entered, and I hope that I can offer that same kind of encouragement, support, and yes, even challenge in a way that continues our Dominican sisterhood.”
Feature photo: From left - Sisters Mary Jane Lubinski, OP; Sister Mary Soher, OP; Sister Mary Priniski, OP