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December 27, 2021, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – During the time of year that focuses on the birth of Jesus, Sister Carol Gross, OP, gave a live stream presentation on a central figure of the nativity: Mary, the mother of Jesus and our mother.

Sister Carol Ann Gross, OP

Sister Carol’s talk, “Devotion to Mary in Latin America,” was presented on December 9, 2021, the day after the patronal feast of the United States, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and three days before the December 12 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is especially revered in Mexico and by many Hispanic people in the United States.

The talk was part of a series of presentations organized by the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Spirituality Committee. Sister Carol spoke from her home in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Sister Carol described in general the Marian piety of many of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean – a popular piety involving the heart. In times of need, she said, this devotion to Mary “soothes pain and strengthens hope – the loving, healing, consoling power of God or God’s mother, who is the stand-in for God at the center of Latin American culture.” 

Throughout the centuries, Sister Carol said, Mary has appeared to suffering people in a variety of images – suited to the people of a particular culture to help them to understand God’s love for them. “Myths and legends attributed to an icon of Mary speak to the needs of the people,” she explained. 

Sister Carol highlighted a number of images of Mary that are popular in various parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

  • Our Lady of Altagracia (“high grace”) is the cultural image of Mary in the Dominican Republic. She is known as the Protectress of the Dominican Republic, Sister Carol added. The image was originally brought home by a merchant to his daughter in the Dominican Republic. A basilica now houses the image, and about 8,000 people visit the basilica every year. On January 21, the Feast of Our Lady of Altagracia, people who cannot visit the basilica take part in Masses, novenas, and processions at their home parishes.

  • Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mary appeared as a pregnant Aztec woman in 1531 to St. Juan Diego, an Aztec who had converted to the Catholic faith, at Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City. Because of her appearance, Sister Carol said, “The native people of Mexico began to recognize the Catholic faith. They say, ‘This virgin looks like us. She is ours and we are hers.’” The Patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe “is our mother,” Sister Carol said. “As a mother she understands, relates, protects, listens, comforts.”

  • The Immaculate Conception: Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, is the Patroness of the United States and of other countries, such as Nicaragua, who revere her as La Purisima, the most pure one, Sister Carol said. At sundown on December 7, the eve of the feast, people in Nicaragua “flood into the streets in groups, singing hymns to La Purisima,” Sister Carol said. The feast refers to Mary’s conception without original sin, not to the conception of Jesus.

Learn more about various Marian devotions in Latin America in the recording of Sister Carol’s presentation, found below.


December 7, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – In their November 2021 Spirituality live stream presentation, Now and at the Hour of our Death, Associate Nancy Mason Bordley and Sister Mary Ann Dixon, OP, explored different ways that people of faith can come to terms with loss, grief, and death through the paschal mystery.
The monthly spirituality presentations are coordinated through the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Spirituality Committee.

Nancy Mason Bordley
Nancy Mason Bordley

Nancy described five components of the paschal mystery: Jesus’ death on Good Friday; his resurrection on Easter Sunday; the 40 days after Easter, which was a “time of adjustment” to Jesus’ new life and grieving of the loss of his former life; Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven, a time for the early disciples to let go of Jesus as they knew him; and Pentecost, “the reception of new spirit for the new life we are already living.”
Focusing on the period of adjustment between the Resurrection and the Ascension, Nancy spoke of grief and the sense of loss that all human beings experience. “We can paper over the loss with pious platitudes,” Nancy said. “We can numb the pain of suffering and loss. But we need to grieve, and we need to grieve well.”
She added, “Like Jesus, we, too will die and because of him we’re able to pray that our life will be transformed” after death. But Nancy emphasized that loss does not only refer to the death of a loved one but to the diminishment of our own physical powers as we grow older, the loss of a job, or the end of a dream. “Good grieving allows me to experience the sorrow of my losses but also the joy in what I have,” she said. 

Mary Ann Dixon
Sister Mary Ann Dixon, OP

Sister Mary Ann reiterated the importance of grieving well and the notion that death is only one of many losses we suffer. “We have rehearsals for death – illness, loss of a ministry or job, prestige, independence, and control,” she said. These experiences invite us to let go of security and our need to control, she said.
Sister Mary Ann also pointed to the benefits of experiencing loss in our lives. “When we enter into a loss, we can expect to unearth a surprising new life,” she said. “We can emerge … with new insights, new revelations of God’s faithfulness, new revelations that we might not be able to discover in any other way.”
Watch the entire video below.




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