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June 28, 2019, Detroit – Members of Dominican High School’s Class of 1979 learned well a value that their Adrian Dominican teachers sought to instill in them: generosity to people who are in need. 

They showed that generosity recently during an informal gathering with Sister Theresa Mayrand, OP, when they paid tribute to her and other Adrian Dominican teachers. They presented a check for about $12,000 for Gianna House, a residence for pregnant teens and for teen mothers and their newborns – and a supportive center for all pregnant women. Sister Theresa is co-director.

The Adrian Dominican Sisters founded Dominican High School, an all-girls school in Detroit, in 1940. The school was closed in 2005. 

“In our junior year, the Adrian Dominicans taught us the importance of serving those in need by encouraging us to create a mission project to raise money for an organization that improved the lives of others,” Lisa Gigliotti, Vice President of the Class of 1979, explained in an email. Lisa organized the efforts of her class to forgo a formal 40-year reunion and instead to “signify this milestone by giving back to the beautiful women who served us then and continue to serve others. We wanted to honor our 40th reunion by engaging in a second mission project, this time to support Gianna House and our most enthusiastic biology teacher, Sister Theresa Mayrand’s commitment to provide a safe residence and resources for pregnant women.”

Members of the Dominican High School Class of 1979 gathered to pay tribute to Sister Theresa Mayrand and other Adrian Dominican Sisters. From left are Sharon (Hamel) Stanley, Moira Sheehan, AnneMarie Valdez, Dr. Mary (Chisolm) Jordan, Sister Theresa, Cindy Seguin Yamamoto, and Amy (Roberge) Heitman.

They chose to donate to Gianna House “in honor of the enthusiasm and love that Sister Theresa taught us, alongside other amazing women, such as Sister Joan Weitz, Sister Peggy White, Sister Peggy Manners and Sister Karen Leitz,” Lisa explained. 

Lisa said members of the class reached out to 50 to 60 of their classmates to raise the funds. “My thought was that if other alum or persons touched by the Adrian Dominicans might see a mention of a mission-oriented reunion, they might be inclined to make a reunion or tribute to the Adrian Dominicans or their causes.”

Grace Niedbala McKeel, President of the Class of 1979, said that her class’s 40th anniversary gave her the opportunity to reflect on the teachers and classmates who had influenced her life. “Sister Suzanne Schreiber always inspired me with her art and photography and hunger for social justice,” she wrote in an email. “Any hearing of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus brings Sister Mary Alice Naour to mind. When I think of Sister Peggy Manners I also picture Sister Karen Lietz right alongside her – what a team!”

Another classmate, Laurie Bliss, wrote about the influence of her Adrian Dominican teachers. “Sister Joan Weitz was someone who gave me the right balance of discipline, structure, and acceptance so that I felt safe and could focus on education and fun.  Sister Joan helped give me the foundation to take on life’s ups and downs, to keep smiling, to try to make a positive difference in all I do. … Sister Joan showed me what grace and humility look like.”

Sister Theresa, for her part, said she enjoyed the two-hour visit at Gianna House and a pizza dinner with seven members of the Class of 1979. “I hadn’t seen them in 40 years,” she said. “It was nice.”

Sister Theresa, a science teacher at Dominican High School, said the students especially enjoyed her course on the physiology of women, which had been developed by a colleague and augmented by Sister Theresa. The popular course, which included guest speakers such as midwives, helped the students to understand women’s health and sexuality.

“I was so proud to hear how much they appreciated Dominican High School,” Sister Theresa said. “The way they talked about us teaching them to be their own women and learning to think for themselves made me very proud of Dominican High School.”


Feature photo: Gathered in front of Gianna House are, from left, Mary (Chisholm) Jordan, Cindy (Seguin) Yamamoto, Sister Theresa Mayrand, OP, Lisa Gigliotti, and Moira Sheehan. The women with Sister Theresa are all members of the Dominican High School Class of 1979.

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April 22, 2019, Adrian, Michigan The statement below was issued on Earth Day 2019 by the leadership teams of five congregations of Catholic Sisters whose members have lived and ministered throughout the State of Michigan for 564 years: Dominican Sisters of Adrian (since 1886); Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids (since 1877); Home Visitors of Mary, Detroit (since 1949); Servants of Jesus, Detroit (since 1974); and Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe (since 1845). 

As leaders of congregations of Catholic Sisters whose members have lived and ministered in the State of Michigan for a collective 564 years, we call on our State Senators, Representatives, and Governor to enact legislation aimed at safeguarding our drinking water and protecting the precious God-given gift of fresh water that is our Great Lakes. 

We are deeply concerned about the deteriorating quality of drinking water throughout our state, particularly as it impacts children and the most vulnerable. Exposure to lead and contamination by PFAS, toxic cyanobacterial blooms, and other pollutants are placing the health of millions of residents in our state and the integrity of the world’s greatest body of fresh water increasingly at risk. 

We urge support for Governor Whitmer’s proposed Drinking Water Supplementals, which would provide $180 million in one-time infrastructure-improvement funds to promote safe drinking water. The funds would be used to replace lead pipes, enable schools to install filtered water-bottle filling stations, support PFAS remediation, and for water system optimization and local asset-management planning to help prioritize water infrastructure maintenance. 

We also urge support for the Agricultural Pollution Bill (Senate Bill 247/House Bill 4418), which aims to protect the Great Lakes from waste produced by factory farms (also known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs). The legislation would ban the application of manure, fertilizer and other livestock operations waste, like E. coli, hormones and antibiotics, on frozen or snow-covered ground – a practice that leads to waterway contamination.    

Water is a precious gift from God to all of creation and, as Pope Francis has written, “a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights” (Laudato Si’, 30). We urge our elected leaders in Lansing to do all they can to safeguard and protect our state’s cherished waterways and drinking water.  



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