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August 13, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – As she formally assumes the role of President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), Adrian Dominican Sister Elise D. García, OP, spoke of her role as a “bridge” between younger and older women religious. 

The LCWR is an association of elected leaders of congregations of women religious, representing about 80% of the women religious in the United States.

Sister Elise, a member of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ General Council, entered the Congregation at the age of 50. She brought her childhood experiences in five countries – representing the diversity that is so much a part of religious life today – as well as a wealth of experience in communications and development in non-profit organizations; and in book publishing. When she entered, she was Co-founder and Co-director with Sister Carol Coston, OP, of Santuario Sisterfarm, a farm and ecological center in the Texas hill country. 

Before her election to the General Council in 2016, Sister Elise ministered as Director of Communications for the Congregation.

The formal transfer of leadership was set during the LCWR’s Assembly, held virtually August 12-14, 2020. Sister Elise will serve a one-year term as President, part of a leadership team with Sister Jayne Helmlinger, CSJ, Past President, and Sister Jane Herb, IHM, President-Elect. 

Read more about Sister Elise’s life’s journey and her leadership role in religious life and in the LCWR in a Global Sisters Report article by Soli Salgado.

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July 1, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – Two of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Mission Chapters, both based in Adrian, formally transferred leadership during a special Commissioning and Welcome Ritual on June 26, 2020. The change of leadership formally takes place on July 1, 2020.

During the brief ceremony, Sister Joanne Peters, OP, Co-Chapter Prioress of the Holy Rosary Mission Chapter, passed the mantle of leadership to Sister Sharon Spanbauer, OP. Sister Sharon will serve as Mission Prioress and work as part of the Chapter’s leadership team with Sister Patricia Dulka, OP, Chapter Prioress.

“I joyfully accept this ministry, walking with our Sisters on their journey,” Sister Sharon said in response. “Thank you for your confidence in and support of me.”

Sister Mary Jane Lubinski, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Adrian Crossroads Mission Chapter for seven years, passed her leadership role to Sister Margaret “Peggy” Coyne, OP. “I would like to say thank you for all your trust and faith in me, and together in faith we will walk into a new communion together,” Sister Peggy said.

The ritual included the presentation of symbols of the office. Sister Patricia Dulka presented the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Constitution and Statutes. “Our Constitution and Statutes hold the enduring ideals of the Dominican Order, which are reflected in our lived experience as Adrian Dominican Sisters,” Sister Patricia said. “They are a timeless truth that has been enfleshed in the women of our Congregation. As leaders, be faithful to the words that have been written here and be open to their transforming influence in our individual and communal life.”

Sisters Joanne and Mary Jane each presented a stole or mantle to her successor, symbolic of the role and responsibility of leadership.

Sister Sharon, a nurse practitioner, served retired Sisters at the Adrian Dominican Congregation’s Dominican Life center (DLC) from 2001 to 2014. Beginning in 2015, she ministered as the Director of Health Services at Siena Heights University, sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She ran a free, one-woman clinic for students, faculty, and staff members.

A native of Rockford, Illinois, Sister Sharon graduated from Bishop Muldoon High School and entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation in September 1967. In 1989, she left her ministry as a chemistry teacher at Bishop Foley High School in Madison Heights, Michigan, to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from Wayne State University in Detroit. After earning a Nurse Practitioner degree from Michigan State University, Sister Sharon ministered at Dillon Family Medicine, a large clinic in Dillon, South Carolina, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Mercy.

Sister Peggy, a native of New York City, studied at St. Clare’s School of nursing and became a registered nurse. She worked for 15 years as a nurse in the intensive care unit at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, and then at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, New York. She joined the Hastings (New York) Franciscan Sisters in 1984, and left that congregation in 1995. 

Through a friend, Sister Peggy met a group of Adrian Dominican Sisters in Chicago.  Through their encouragement, she entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation in 1999. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from Siena Heights University in Adrian and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree from Regis University in Denver.

After professing vows as an Adrian Dominican Sister, she ministered as Director of Behavioral Health at Mercy Hospital Chicago, overseeing the inpatient unit, the day hospital and outpatient programs, and four outpatient satellite units. Since 2015, she has been Director of Health and Wellness for the Adrian Dominican Congregation.


Feature photo: From left, Sisters Sharon Spanbauer, OP, Joanne Peters, OP, Margaret “Peggy” Coyne, OP, and Mary Jane Lubinski, OP take part in the June 28, 2020 Transfer of Leadership Ritual for the Holy Rosary and Adrian Crossroads Mission Chapters. 



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