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October 20, 2022, Fort Lauderdale, Florida – If you want to die well, make peace with yourself, with God, and with your past.

That is the message that Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP, has for people in the United States – especially for the many people who try to deny or ignore the reality of death. Sister Xiomara recently spoke to U.S. Catholic about her experience as a chaplain at Loyola University Medical Center outside of Chicago during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is now a chaplain at Holy Cross Hospital-Trinity Health in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

In the interview, Sister Xiomara recalled the experience of the first death of COVID-19 at Loyola University Medical Center – and of the multiple deaths that the chaplains, doctors, and nurses witnessed during the early weeks of the pandemic. “In less than three months, we had more than 500 deaths,” she said. “Every single day we accompanied families by phone. We were beyond exhausted.” 

Sister Xiomara said the chaplains not only accompanied the patients and their families, but also the “whole team” of health care professionals and those who helped them, such as the people who cleaned the hospital rooms. “That resiliency and collaboration helped us prevent burnout and keep going,” she said.

Sister Xiomara said that the experience of death of the patient and the families depends on the circumstances and on the culture of the people involved. Sister Xiomara was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, a community-oriented society with close families and communities. “For us, death is part of life,” she said. In the United States, “many people live in denial, but the truth is: if you are alive, you will die.”

As a chaplain, Sister Xiomara has advice on how to think about death. “Try to make peace with yourself first,” she said. “Then make your peace with God.” She pointed to the importance of living a good life to prepare for death. “I think the important thing is to live life in the present and be the best human being you can be,” she said. “Try to live in peace, to make peace, to build peace, and to live authentically. Try to do things that give life. That is all you can take with you.”

Read the entire interview, published in the November 2022 issue of U.S. Catholic, Vol. 87, No. 11.

January 31, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – The Adrian Dominican Sisters and the Lenawee Intermediate School District (LISD) have entered into a partnership that would allow people interested in becoming Nursing Assistants to receive training through the LISD while working at the Sisters’ Dominican Life Center (DLC) as Nursing Assistant Companions. The DLC offers a continuum of care to retired Adrian Dominican Sisters, many of whom need daily medical care.

Heather Wanshon

Heather Wanshon, Recruiter for Adrian Dominican Sisters, said the Congregation will hire people as Nursing Assistant Companions, pay their Certified Nursing Assistant class tuition and pay in-class time while also working at the DLC. Once classes and training are complete, they will transition to Nursing Assistants, which includes a pay increase. Because the DLC is a private rather than a state-licensed facility, graduates of the LISD course do not need to complete the state exam for certification to continue working at the DLC as a Nursing Assistant, Heather added. 

Erin Dress

Erin Dress, Director of Human Resources, said the Adrian Dominican Sisters are looking to hire people who have a desire to care for the needs of others, but lack the training to work as a Nursing Assistant. This new partnership helps those with a heart for service to become trained, while gaining practical experience. 

“I’m excited about this partnership because it offers opportunities at so many levels,” Erin said. “The Sisters are such a big part of the Adrian community, but many people aren’t aware of the many employment opportunities on our campus. I see this as a great way to get the word out about the Adrian Dominican Sisters and to foster a partnership with the LISD.” The partnership also benefits people in the community who are interested in entering the field of health care but who may find tuition for the certified nursing assistant program to be out of reach financially, she added. 

Nursing Assistant Companions perform tasks that alleviate some of the work of the Nursing Assistants but don’t require professional training: assisting the Sisters during their meals, passing out water, changing bedding, and being a companion to the Sisters, Heather explained. Training through the LISD course will equip them to perform tasks performed by Nursing Assistants, such as measuring vitals and safety-sensitive direct care tasks. 

“We’re looking for people with an interest in the healthcare field,” Heather said. “This is an entry level position that a person with the right heart and attitude can get into – someone who’s caring and loves to help people.” 

Those interested in applying to be a Nursing Assistant Companion should visit www.adriandominicans.org/employment and click on the “View Jobs and Apply” tab or contact Heather at hwanshon@adriandominicans.org, 517-759-0130, or 517-266-4100. 



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