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June 28, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – In a spirit of joy and gratitude, Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, family members, and friends gathered at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse to celebrate the combined 2,545 years of service and ministry by 38 Sisters marking their Jubilee – milestone anniversaries of their years of religious life.
Jubilee 2023 celebrated the loving dedication of eight 75-year Jubilarians, 19 Double-Diamond (70-year) Jubilarians, nine Diamond (60-year) Jubilarians, one Golden (50-year) Jubilarian, and one Silver (25-year) Jubilarian.
The celebration began on the afternoon of June 22, 2023, with a meeting of the Jubilarians with the General Council, followed by dinner. The Sisters also had time during the celebration to catch up with one another and to share memories. Sister Magdalena Ezoe, OP, composer and pianist, offered the Jubilarians, guests, and other Sisters and Associates a special piano concert on the evening of June 23, 2023.
The Jubilee celebration also included a time of remembrance and gratitude for the commitment of the Congregation’s 68 deceased Jubilarians who would have marked 75, 70, or 60 years of religious life this year. Sisters Mary Suzanne Kennedy, OP, and Janet Doyle, OP, both 60-year Jubilarians, opened the Mass for Deceased Jubilarians on June 23, 2023, with a solemn recitation of their names.
“Can you feel it – can you feel their presence?” Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, asked in her reflection on the Mass readings. The deceased Jubilarians “are here to celebrate our shared lives and commitment that are bigger than time and space as we experience them,” she said. “Our fore-Sisters are here and they rejoice with us.”
Sister Lorraine – Vicaress, General Councilor, and Silver Jubilarian – noted that the Sisters who are alive and serving today are continuing the work of the deceased Jubilarians, who now “bask in the divine gaze of the fullness of eternal love … Isn’t that the spirit of love we have tried, at our better times, to reflect to those we encounter, to those we want to serve?”
Sister Lorraine noted the trust that Jesus still has for his disciples of today, even with their limitations. She gave the example of a Sister who, during a recent Mass, reached out to another Sister who was struggling to find her place in the hymnal and gently found the right page for her. Afterward, she helped the same Sister who was struggling to stand. “That was an example of compassion and love right here in this chapel,” she pointed out. “We see it all the time.”
Finally, Sister Lorraine recalled strongly feeling the gentle and comforting presence of the Adrian Dominican Sisters who had died. “Our Sisters go before us and are with us,” she said. “We are not alone. … We are united today in our love, our commitment, and our fidelity. In the great timeless force of Love that carries us all, we celebrate our fore-Sisters and know they still share the journey with us.”
The hymn, Jubilate Deo, sung during the June 24, 2023, Jubilee Mass, captured the joy of the Jubilarians and of the entire assembly. While every Jubilee celebration is joyous, this year’s celebration marked two additional causes for joy: it was the first in which all Jubilarians – marking Jubilee years from 75 to 25 – could celebrate together, and it was the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began that guests other than Sisters could join in the celebration in person and without masks.
In her welcome, Sister Josephine Gaugier, OP, a Double-Diamond Jubilarian, noted that the designation of Jubilarians as silver, golden, and diamond implies richness, “but in this case, [they] mean an abundance of years and blessings.” In the years 1948,1953, 1963, 1973, and 1998, the Jubilarians officially gave their “yes” to vowed Dominican life. “Our yes was abundant with God’s grace, year upon year,” she said. Through both the smooth and rough times, “the Holy Spirit guided us on the way culminating in this year of Jubilee.”
In her reflection, Sister Elise D. García, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, noted the rich diversity of the Jubilarians and of the calls they received. “Each of you possesses an incredible … fidelity to follow God’s call, no matter when or where or how often you heard it,” Sister Elise said to the Jubilarians. She noted the diversity of ministries: from education at all levels, as teachers, guidance counselors, librarians, and campus ministers; to ministry as therapists, counselors, or spiritual directors; in multiple roles in parishes and dioceses, with expertise in canon law, liturgical ministry, religious education, music, and adult and youth ministries.
“Who among you thought your vocation would find expression through your giftedness as an artist, or as a communicator in public relations, or through healing ministries in nursing, pharmacy, healthcare, or as a convent administrator?” Sister Elise asked. She added that commitment to justice, peace, and making the world a better place has led other Jubilarians to witness in corporate board rooms and to serve in prison ministry, justice and ecology centers, community organizing, and retreat and conference centers. “These are among the many beautiful and surprising pathways” taken by this year’s Jubilarians, she said.
Sister Elise noted that all are chosen and beloved by God. “That insight is a gift of our Christian faith,” she said. “It is another and more rare gift of our faith tradition to be called, as you were, to give your entire lives in radical service to the mission of Jesus.”
After her reflection, Sister Elise received the Jubilarians’ willingness to continue to say “yes” to their call as they renewed their vows. A festive dinner after Mass rounded out the formal celebration, but Jubilarians and their guests continued to have ample time to celebrate together informally. The sense of Jubilee continues throughout the year.
May 30, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – During a recent presentation on Understanding Gender, guest speaker Socorro Sevilla offered a key recommendation for encountering gender expansive persons: common courtesy and respect.
A 25-year social services and social work professional and now a counselor with a private practice in Adrian, Socorro recently gave the opening presentation in a new series offered by the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Office of Racial Diversity and Cultural Inclusion. The series brings speakers from various racial, religious, cultural, and gender communities to the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse to present their world view.
“My hope is through understanding and education, [the series] can bring compassion, and we can be better allies to so many communities that need help with their voice,” said Kevin Hofmann, Director of the Office of Racial Diversity and Cultural Inclusion.
Speaking to an audience of Sisters, Associates, Co-workers, and community members, Socorro noted that many people experience “confusion, fear, anxiety, and questions” when working through the changing views of sex and gender: from traditional, binary, biological male and female to include transgender, non-binary, gender fluid, and other gender expansive identities.
In recent years, Socorro said, the idea of binary gender shifted to seeing gender as a spectrum: a line along which people fall, with male on one end to female on the other. Yet more recently, they explained, gender is seen as a galaxy. “Every person’s gender is a star somewhere in this galaxy – unique, distinct, but maybe clustered in areas.”
Socorro spoke from experience as a counselor primarily to youth, with 82% of their clients in the LGBTQI+ community. Many in the LGBTQI+ community experience “distinct and chronic stressors related to their sexual orientation and/or identity,” as well as to racial identity. Many of these stressors come from the assumptions that others make about their identity. The stress, they said, is “not so much what’s happening [inside you] … It’s dealing with everybody else’s stuff coming at you.” Young people and those who have been rejected by their families can easily internalize the messages they get from others, Socorro added.
Socorro suggested a simple way to help people in the LGBTQI+ community: common courtesy and respect, accepting them for who they are and using their preferred names and pronouns. This simple form of respect can decrease suicide in the LGBTQI+ community by half, Socorro said. “If that’s all we need to do to cut suicide rates in half, I don’t think it’s that much to ask.”
Watch the entire video of Socorro’s presentation below.