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April 22, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – Long before the faith traditions of Judaism and Christianity, people felt the presence of God and shared their spiritual and religious practices with people of other cultures. Today, we are called to be about the mission of Jesus, even as people of a variety of faiths come together to share their beliefs.
That is the gist of a special live stream presentation on Spirituality and Mission by Sister Joanne Peters, OP, a Chaplain in the Dominican Life Center and former Co-Chapter Prioress of Adrian Dominican Sisters in the Holy Rosary Mission Chapter. Sister Joanne earned a master’s degree in mission and spirituality from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and spent eight years in Kenya, teaching theology for the formation program of the Assumption Sisters of Eldoret.
“Early humans always felt there was a spirit or fire deep in their being that they could not explain,” Sister Joanne said. Each group throughout the world established its own customs and expressions to relate to God. “From the beginning of time, there was intercultural sharing as different cultures encountered each other,” she said.
Sister Joanne noted that when God was revealed to the Israelites, they developed their own practices but also adapted the stories and customs of the peoples around them. “[But] unlike other people, the Israelites did not share their beliefs,” she said. “They kept to themselves … They never felt called to go out to the gentiles.”
Jesus himself did not go to people of other cultures, Sister Joanne said. “It was the person and message of Jesus that sparked the idea of sharing his message. Not until the end of his life did Jesus speak to his disciples about going to other groups outside of Israel.”
Sister Joanne traced the history of the sense of mission in Christianity, beginning with the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. “The whole power of the Spirit of Jesus was unleashed,” she said. “Now [the disciples] were inspired to take the mission of Jesus to the ends of the Earth.”
Sister Joan traced the missionary spirit of Christianity from the early days of great fervor to the time of Constantine, when the religion became more formalized; the years of 500 to 1000 AD, which brought about great expansion and evangelization – sometimes with Christianity forced upon others.
Sister Joanne spoke of the influence of religious orders such as the Benedictines, Cistercians, Franciscans, and Dominicans and their modeling of community, and of the mid-1900s until Vatican II, when “Christians began to perceive that new ways of mission were needed.” Vatican II began to focus on the connection of mission to spirituality, Sister Joanne said.
“Now we are at a new place,” Sister Joanne said. “The trend is toward intercultural communities. We respect others while sharing our beliefs by the way we live and treat others. Mission is not about imposition or conquest but about God’s love for all people and all creation.”
Watch Sister Joanne’s entire presentation below.
March 23, 2021, Chicago – Kathy Almaney, a former Adrian Dominican Sister who has continued her connection to the Congregation, formally became an Adrian Dominican Associate March 14, 2021, during a virtual Ritual of Acceptance attended by more than 80 Associates, Sisters, family members, and friends.
Associates are women and men, at least 18 years of age, who make a non-vowed commitment to partner with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. While maintaining their own lifestyle and remaining financially independent, they participate in various spiritual, social, and ministerial experiences with the Sisters and live out the Dominican charism, or spirit, in their daily lives.
“As a teacher, catechist, music minister, Human Resources expert; in her work with homelessness and in finance, chairing the [Adrian Dominican Sisters’] Camilla Madden Trust and co-chairing the Dominican Midwest Chapter’s Resilient Communities Committee, Kathy has already lived out the Dominican charism for years,” said Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life. “This afternoon Kathy makes a formal commitment to this charism, which she has enthusiastically embraced for most of her life.”
Sister Ellen Burkhardt, OP, who entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation with Kathy and mentored her in her formation as an Associate, spoke of the many ways that Kathy brought her “crowd” – those who entered the Congregation at the same time – together over the years.
“She offered us the idea that Adrian was where we first tasted the bread that we couldn’t forget, that it touched us in a way that we kept coming back,” Sister Ellen said. “As Kathy has so often called us together, we gather to witness and give thanks, to celebrate and affirm Kathy’s ongoing Dominican identity.”
In reflecting on her decision to become an Associate, Kathy spoke of her recent experience of serving on the Resilient Communities Committee for the Dominican Midwest Chapter, based in Chicago. In response to the Congregation’s 2016 Enactment to “facilitate and participate in creating resilient communities with people who are relegated to the margins,” each geographic Chapter formed a committee to work with local organizations to build a resilient community, one in which the people work together to make sure their needs are met and are able to recover quickly from adverse situations.
“It was a wonderful experience to work with that committee,” Kathy said. “I think that sense of community really turned the page for me.”
Kathy also spoke of the community experience she felt as an Adrian Dominican Sister. “My six years left an indelible impression on me and stayed with me all my life – in my family and my work,” she said. “A community supports you and cares for you, but also challenges you to do your best.”
The ritual concluded with Kathy signing the Agreement of Association, which signifies her formal commitment to the Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates. In response, members of the virtual gathering bestowed the Dominican Blessing on Kathy, asking for the blessings of the Holy Trinity on her.
If you feel called to be an Adrian Dominican Associate, contact Mary Lach at 517-266-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a single Catholic woman interested in vowed life as an Adrian Dominican Sister, contact Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, Co-Director of Vocations, at 517-266-3532 or email@example.com.
Feature photo: Participants in Kathy Almaney’s Ritual of Acceptance into Associate Life extend their hands for the Dominican Blessing.