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September 2, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – More than 60 Adrian Dominican Associates, prospective Associates, and Sisters gathered virtually August 21, 2021, to explore the role of Associates as “Charism Carriers,” helping to promote the Dominican Charism into the future. The gathering drew Associates from throughout the United States and the Dominican Republic.

A charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit to an individual, intended to be shared to benefit the entire community. The Dominican Charism includes preaching God’s Word, the truth, in the face of the heresies of our day.

Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Council Liaison to Associate Life, lights the Christ Candle to begin the Partners meeting.

Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, facilitated the four-hour Zoom meeting. Prioress Patricia Siemen, OP, and Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Council Liaison to the Associates, welcomed participants.

As women and men who make a non-vowed commitment to the Adrian Dominican Sisters and to the Dominican Charism, Associates live independent lives and participate in ministries, prayer, and special events with the Sisters, other Associates, and Associates of Dominican Sisters of other Congregations.

Partners was an inclusive gathering. The work of interpreters Elizabeth McMeekin and Suzzet Gonzalez allowed Associates from the Dominican Republic to participate fully in the gathering. In addition, their interpretation enabled English-speaking participants to listen to a presentation by Spanish-speaking Associate Fabiola Reyes. In her video presentation, Fabiola highlighted some of the many ministries in which the more than 20 Associates in the Dominican Republic are engaged, including healthcare, education, and preaching on the radio and social media.

“Our faith sustains us,” said Fabiola, a dentist who frequently visits underserved areas of the Dominican Republic to offer dental care. “We hope that our service has a lasting impact.” 

Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, facilitates the online Partners meeting.

Mary Lach gave an update on the programs of Associate Life, including three weekly gatherings on Zoom: discussions on the Dominican Charism, a book club, and reflection on the coming Sunday’s Gospel. Beginning in September, prospective Associates will participate in a monthly communal formation program via Zoom.

After gathering in virtual break-out rooms to share ways in which they have been “Charism Carriers” in the past year, Associates assembled to listen to a presentation by Sister Patricia Walter, OP, “Through a Looking Glass: Charism in Motion.”

In her presentation, Sister Pat – former Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, a theologian, and Formation Director – compared the looking glass of the Dominican Charism with that featured in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. “Alice discovers an alternative universe, recognizable but very different from what she knows,” Sister Pat said. “It’s very much topsy-turvy.” 

Sister Patricia Walter, OP, offers a presentation, “Through a Looking Glass: Charism in Motion.”

In the same way, Sister Pat said, Jesus and St. Dominic presented an “alternative universe” to the people of their times: a world marked by love, self-donation, and nonviolence. “To live in this counter-cultural world, we need the gift of Christian community and the Dominican family,” she said. “That’s one of the most important aspects of Dominican Association and vowed life.”

A looking glass also gives us a view of ourselves through the eyes of others, Sister Pat noted. “Through the looking glass of friends and community I come to a deeper understanding of my gifts and liabilities,” she said. “We do this for one another. It’s a way we seek truth and receive it.”

Sister Pat also reflected on charism. “Each of us with this vocation to the Dominican family … has a share in our common charism as preachers of the Gospel,” she said. “Charism is our guide or compass to the future.” To get to that future, we need to look at our charism and make decisions based on our identity as Dominicans and on the needs of our time, she said.

Sister Pat concluded her talk with a reflection on friendship – so central to the Dominican family because of Dominic’s ability to draw others to himself and to befriend them. St. Dominic always referred to himself as a brother, she said. “Dominic is the first among equals,” and Dominicans are “friends in mission.” 

After discussion of Sister Pat’s presentation in small groups and all together, participants listened to a number of updates on Associate Life:

  • Following recommendations of the Advisory Board, the General Council appointed two new members to the board. Janice Donner of Eagle River, Wisconsin, is a retired speech pathologist who served years ago as Representative of Associate Life. Kathleen Shannon Dorcy, of Seattle, had been an Associate with the Edmonds Dominican Sisters before their merger with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She has been involved in cancer research, including work with nurses in Uganda, and retired after teaching nursing at the University of Washington in Tacoma.

  • Sister Patty Harvat introduced Elizabeth Keith, who was named as consultant to the General Council’s work of establishing the Office of Dominican Charism. Its purpose is to invite women and men “to a shared expression of the Dominican Charism in our world,” reaching out to Associates, Co-workers at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse, and Partners in Mission at sponsored institutions and legacy institutions, as well as other spiritual seekers. 

  • Associate Kathleen Woods updated participants on the Envision 2030 Committee, established in August 2020 to explore how Associate Life might look in 2030. The committee has explored the literature of Associates groups in other congregations of Dominican Sisters and has studied the results of a poll conducted among Adrian Dominican Associates. The group will gather in the Fall to draft a final report and continues to seek input from Associates. “Our goal is not one of actual implementation of action plans, but to suggest a direction for the future,” Kathy said. 

After the Partners gathering, Associates continued to celebrate with the acceptance of four new Associates: Laura Boor, Megan Meloche, Melinda Mullin, and Sheila Wathen. Mary Jo Alexander, a former Adrian Dominican Sister, was welcomed as an Associate the week before, on August 15, 2021.

If you are interested in exploring Associate Life, contact Mary Lach, Director, at mlach@adriandominicans.org.

 

Feature photo: Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, leads a reflection on the role of Associates as Charism Carriers.


August 30, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – Catholics can celebrate the Season of Creation with the help of liturgical materials prepared by Father James Hug, SJ. The Season of Creation begins September 1, 2021, the Day of Prayer for Creation, and is celebrated through October 4, 2021, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. 

Father Jim Hug, SJ

Begun in 1989, the Season of Creation gives people of faith the opportunity to focus on God as Creator and on their need to appreciate and reverence creation and to cherish and protect Earth. “It has become a powerful way to raise awareness of the gifts of creation and the mission given us by God to care for creation and respond to its needs and crises today,” Father Jim wrote in his introduction to the liturgical guide. Father Jim is Sacramental Minister for the Adrian Dominican Sisters at their Motherhouse.

This year’s theme is “A Home for All? Renewing the Oikos of God.” Oikos comes from the Greek word for ecology. “By rooting our theme in the concept of oikos, we point to the integral web of relationships that sustain the wellbeing of the Earth,” the Season of Creation Steering Committee wrote in explaining the theme.

For years, Father Jim has based his homilies and adapted the liturgical prayers to the weekly themes of the Season of Creation during Masses at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse. This is his second year of preparing a Catholic Liturgical Guide for use in Catholic parishes around the world. 

The materials include weekly points for reflection on the Scripture readings for that day; suggested intercessions; and adaptations of the Prayer over the Gifts, the Prayer after Communion, and the Final Blessing. In addition, Denise Matthias, Music Director, suggests hymns that correlate to each week’s theme. 

The Catholic Liturgical Guide can be downloaded from the Dominican Center: Spirituality for Mission website. Scroll down under the text and click on the second icon from the right. A Spanish translation can also be downloaded on that page. 

Father Jim said he was inspired to write the guide in part by the “increasingly dire warnings from scientists about the devastating changes to life on Earth that will become inevitable” if human beings don’t change their way of life within five to 10 years. “We are approaching tipping points which will unleash processes that could take thousands or even millions of years to reverse – processes that could eventually make much more of the planet uninhabitable and reduce the human population by nearly 80 percent,” he said.

His inspiration also came from Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, and from the Catholic Church’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform. “The Vatican is trying to inspire a major global effort to address climate change with the seriousness it so desperately needs,” Father Jim said.

The platform works with institutions, communities, and families around the world, helping them to develop a process-approach to respond to the environmental calls of Laudato Si’, providing guidance on actions that work toward the encyclical’s goals, and recognizing the progress of each organization.  

This year’s Season of Creation materials were shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lessons that it brought to humanity, Father Jim said. “The pandemic has been a massive teaching effort by God, revealing key truths we need to learn and showing us the kind of conversions we must go through if we are to have any hope of addressing climate change effectively and adequately.”

Among the lessons, Father Jim said, are that we are connected throughout the world. Just as no area on Earth is safe from the pandemic as long as some areas are infected, so there are no “islands of safety” from climate change. “We’re all in this together,” he said. In addition, he said, systemic injustices such as racism continue to divide us and must be overcome if we are to work together to combat climate change. 

Finally, Father Jim said, the pandemic has shown that the struggles over masks and vaccines “are pushing us to face the destructiveness of individualist insistence on personal rights and the crucial importance of commitment to the common good.” If we don’t learn that lesson, he said, “we will not be able as a global human community to cooperate as universally and urgently as is needed to address climate change adequately.”

Father Jim believes faith plays a crucial role in guiding humanity in its efforts against global climate change. God has given the Church an “urgent and critical mission” in working to heal Earth. “We are being called to work tirelessly to change our lifestyles and many of our cultural economic values to save Earth and all who dwell on it,” he said. While Earth will survive whether we succeed or fail in this mission, he said, “the 4.5 billion-year history of the planet shows that the long-term effects of failure could take Earth hundreds of thousands or even millions of years to come back from.”

He also encouraged Catholics to pray liturgically in ways “that reflect the vastness of the universe that we now know about and the awesome Mystery that we call God.” He sees the importance of all contemplative prayer. “All spiritual experiences are part of God’s call in these times to respond with our full energy and commitment to healing Earth, the very context within which we live and move and have our being,” he said.

Father Jim’s liturgical materials are one way to help Catholics unite with other communities of faith in the annual celebration of the Season of Creation. “The leadership and wholehearted commitment of faith communities to saving Earth is probably the most hopeful sign I see for Earth,” he said.


 

 

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