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June 14, 2022, New Haven, Connecticut – Sister Katherine Frazier, OP, newly named Director of the Dominican Youth Movement (DYM), hopes in her new position to continue to foster the bonds of the Dominican family across North America – and to help the Dominican family to engage with its youngest members.
Begun in 2015, the DYM brought together five programs under one umbrella to be more effective in outreach to more than 4,000 young people from high school through young adult years. Individual programs include:
Youth Preaching Workshops, weekend experiences which introduce high school-age youth to the Dominicans and to the idea of preaching the Word;
Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference, a week-long experience that teaches representative students from Dominican high schools how to preach with their lives;
Dominican College Preaching in Action Conference, an annual conference for students from Dominican colleges and universities;
Dominican Young Adults USA, an organization of chapters – many based in Dominican colleges and universities – that give young adults the opportunity to explore Dominican life; and
Dominican houses of hospitality, places where young adults can live in intentional community with vowed Dominicans and Associates.
Sister Katherine succeeds Sister Gina Fleming, OP, a Dominican Sister of Amityville, and will spend time with her in August to learn about the ministry. Much of Sister Katherine’s ministry will be remote, and she is discerning where to live that would best serve the DYM.
“First and foremost, I hope that we’ll be able to continue to foster those bonds of the Dominican family across the country among our institutions,” Sister Katherine said. “How can we really introduce young people to the breadth of the Dominican Order – whether nuns or Sisters or laity or Associates – really giving them a glimpse of how diverse it is and how they fit in as people who have been formed with these same ideals?”
Sister Katherine sees the importance of finding where the young Dominicans are and going to them. “My experience of young people, especially high school students, is they don’t really have control over their schedule – so how are we going to them?” She hopes to work with the Dominican family in its outreach to the younger people who feel called to the Dominican Charism.
“I know this is not a ministry where I can do everything by myself,” she said. “I want the larger Dominican family to provide opportunity to engage with young people … This is something I’m excited about: working on behalf of all the Dominicans across the United States.”
Many members of the Dominican family have reached out through their involvement with the high school and college conferences. Sister Katherine has been a part of both as a volunteer and as an adult leader from Regina Dominican High School, an all-girls school sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and located in Wilmette, Illinois. One of the practices at the high school conference, she said, is for students and adults from each school to create an action plan – ideas for bringing their experience of the Dominican spirituality to their schools during the next school year.
The question, Sister Katherine said, is how to continue to engage the high school and college students after their experiences at the conferences. The Regina Dominican students “had such a wonderful experience at the conference that they were wondering how they could find ways to capture that excitement so they could have that energizing experience at their school,” she said. “That is something we can look into. How can we create experiences for students who have been to the conference to engage with others who are also being formed in that Dominican Charism?”
Sister Katherine pointed to other examples of ways that Dominicans can reach out to young people. During her years of ministry at Regina Dominican High School, she organized a pen pal program between the school’s homerooms and the Sisters who had once ministered at the school. But, she added, engaging with young people is as simple as “showing up at a parish church and being willing to talk to the young people. Those are things that many of us are capable of doing.”
Sister Katherine has learned much from her work with young people. “Young people bring a different perspective,” she said. “They’ll ask a difficult question – ‘Why are we doing it this way?’ – and help you to engage with who we are on a deeper level. I think that is the gift that I have experienced working with young people, as well as the opportunity to be around their energy, to learn about their sense of humor and what gets them excited and helps them to be passionate.”
She hopes to bring the Dominican family and the younger Dominicans together, perhaps through presentations in which Dominican Sisters speak to the youth about their ministries, how they were called, or their relationship with God. “If I can find ways of bringing the experience of older Sisters to people who are still trying to wrestle with those decisions, that would help to bridge the gap,” she said.
Feature photo: Sister Katherine Frazier, OP, right, with Regina Dominican High School’s Dominican Preachers, students who attended the Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference. File Photo, Courtesy of Regina Dominican High School
June 7, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – The fire and exuberance of the Holy Spirit – combined with the joy of welcoming a Sister home to the community – brought a special celebration of praise to St. Catherine Chapel on June 5, 2022. The assembly of Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, and friends was celebrating both the Feast of Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Church – and the Transfer of Vows of Sister Elisabeth Nguyen, OP, from the Vietnamese Dominican Sisters of Phu Cuong in BienHoa, to the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Sister Elisabeth has been connected in various ways to the Adrian Dominican Sisters since she arrived in Adrian in 1968 to study at Siena Heights College (now University). While still a member of her Dominican congregation in Vietnam, she became an Associate of the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 1991.
An Associate is a woman or man, at least 18 years of age, who is called to the Dominican charism, or spirit, and makes a non-vowed commitment to partner with the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
The Transfer of Vows brought Sister Elisabeth full circle, to vowed membership with the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
“I feel great,” Sister Elisabeth said in an interview. “My journey is finally coming home to Adrian, and I feel complete. It’s time to be part of this wonderful congregation.”
Prioress Patricia Siemen, OP, welcomed Sister Elisabeth with “great joy” and with gratitude to her Dominican congregation in Vietnam. Sister Elisabeth formally professed her vows to Prioress Patricia Siemen, using the traditional Dominican formula. “To the honor of Almighty God, I, Sister Elisabeth Nguyen, reaffirm my commitment and promise obedience to God, to our Blessed Mother Mary, to our Holy Father St. Dominic, and to you, Sister Patricia Siemen, Prioress of the Congregation, and to your lawful successors, according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitution of the Sisters of St. Dominic of the Congregation of the Holy Rosary, until death.”
Sister Patricia presented Sister Elisabeth with the logo of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, signifying her vowed membership to the Congregation. The transfer was completed with the signing of official Vatican documents by Sister Patricia; Sister Elisabeth; and two formal witnesses, Sister Mary Priniski, OP, Chapter Prioress, and Sister Mary Jane Lubinski, OP, Mission Prioress of the Catherine of Siena Mission Chapter. The assembly affirmed their own joy by singing the Dominican Blessing over Sister Elisabeth.
In her reflection on the Pentecost readings, Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Council Liaison to the Formation Office, focused on the Pentecost story through the historical memories of St. Dominic and Sister Elisabeth. Just as the Holy Spirit prompted the first disciples to leave the safety of the Upper Room to preach to the world, St. Dominic and Sister Elisabeth left their own Upper Rooms to follow the call of Jesus, she said.
It was on Pentecost Sunday 1217, Sister Patricia noted, that St. Dominic convened a Chapter of his young Order of Preachers in Toulouse and announced that he was sending his friars out into the world to preach. “Just as the disciples were gathered in the Upper Room, the Dominican friars were gathered in the Upper Room in Toulouse, and Dominic unlocked the doors for the Holy Spirit to lead them into new adventures,” Sister Patricia said.
In the same way, Sister Patricia noted many “Upper Rooms” that Sister Elisabeth was called to leave to live out her life of ministry and mission. The first Upper Room was in Vietnam in 1967, when Sister Elisabeth was one of four Vietnamese Dominican Sisters who received scholarships to study at Siena Heights College in Adrian. They arrived in August 1968 and were warmly greeted by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
With the fall of the South Vietnamese government in April 1975, Sister Elisabeth was called to leave the Upper Room of Adrian to help with the resettlement of 135,000 refugees from to the United States – including members of her own family. “This is when Elisabeth’s work of resettling the Vietnamese and other refugees from all over the world brought her to this Upper Room for many years,” Sister Patricia said.
Specifically, Sister Elisabeth was called to resettlement work through Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Oakland, California. “I went to Oakland for temporary ministry,” she recalled in a 2016 interview on the occasion of her Lifetime Achievement Award for 40 years of refugee resettlement work. “I never thought I’d my whole life out here, but I love the work I’m doing.”
In 1991, Sister Elisabeth visited her Dominican community in Vietnam and decided to remain a member but, at the suggestion of Sister Donna Markham, OP – then on the General Council – she became an Adrian Dominican Associate.
In her reflection, Sister Patricia noted that when Sister Elisabeth attended a 2019 gathering of Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, and Partners in Mission, Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, invited her to come home to Adrian. “The Holy Spirit took hold of Elisabeth from this Upper Room where she had lived for 50 years, unlocked her door, and encouraged her to renew her vows with the Adrian Dominican Sisters,” Sister Patricia said.
“Thank you, Elisabeth, for coming home, for unlocking the doors of our Upper Room,” Sister Patricia said in concluding her reflection. “Thank you, Elisabeth, for reminding us of our own love story and to fall in love with the God of light, of, fire and warmth, our Comforter, who alone is our inheritance and joy, and to enable us to believe in the amazing things that await us beyond these locked doors.”
View the recording of the Mass below
For information on vowed life with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, contact Sister Mary Jones, OP, at 517-266-3532 or email@example.com. For information on becoming an Adrian Dominican Associate, contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature photo: Sister Elisabeth Nguyen, OP, professes her vows to Prioress Patricia Siemen, OP, while her witnesses – Sister Mary Priniski, OP, left, Chapter Prioress, and Mary Jane Lubinski, OP, Mission Prioress – offer encouragement.