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Dominican Artists Launch “1000 Cranes for Iraq” Website in Support

August 3, 2015, Adrian, Michigan – As an act of solidarity with the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Iraq and the people of northern Iraq, the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan are holding a solemn Procession and Prayer on the afternoon of August 6. The event marks the one-year anniversary of the Iraqis’ flight from persecution by ISIS.

The observance, which is open to the public, will start at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday, August 6, 2015, in front of Madden Hall on the Motherhouse Campus in Adrian, Michigan.

A new website (www.1000cranesforiraq.org) featuring cranes painted by Dominican artists was launched to raise funds in support of the refugee relief efforts of the Iraqi Sisters. The project centers on the legend made popular by a Japanese girl exposed to radiation from the Hiroshima atomic bomb who died of leukemia at age 12 before she could fulfill her wish of folding 1,000 cranes in prayer for health and world peace. Her classmates finished the project. (August 6 marks the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.)

At 3:30 p.m. EDT, the bell in the tower of Holy Rosary Chapel will toll, marking the time (10:30 p.m. in Iraq) one year ago, when the Sisters were hurriedly evacuating their convents in Qaraqosh and the neighboring villages in the Nineveh Plain, with little more than their habits, beginning a long and harrowing escape. It took them nearly 10 hours to reach the safety of the Kurdish capital of Erbil – ordinarily a 50-minute drive – as they inched along roads jammed with tens of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities fleeing from their centuries-old home on the heels of a terrorist attack by ISIS.

The sounding of the bell will be followed by a moment of silence to remember and pray for the Iraqi people and world peace. Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Congregation, will then read a recent letter from Sister Maria Hanna, OP, Prioress of the Iraqi Congregation, describing their current situation. Sister Kelly will invite participants to walk in silent procession to St. Catherine Chapel, recalling the horror of the flight to safety that the Dominican Sisters and their people endured at this time last year. All will join in a common prayer, created by the U.S. Dominican Iraq Coordinating Committee for use this day by Dominican congregations and provinces throughout the United States.

At the end of the prayer, participants will be invited to sign post cards to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to work with the Administration and Congress to increase funding for humanitarian assistance for internally displaced Iraqi citizens and for Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries. The cards note that “The United States bears a profound responsibility to assist the Iraqi people in this time of continuing crisis.”

The Dominican Sisters of Adrian have a special relationship with the Dominican Sisters of Iraq, as several young Iraqi Sisters lived, ministered, and studied with the Michigan-based community from 2005 to May 2015, when the last Iraqi Sister completed her training as a physician’s assistant and returned to serve her people. An older Iraqi Sister who suffered a stroke while visiting family in Detroit is buried in the Congregation’s cemetery.

The 1,000 cranes project was conceived by Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP, an Adrian Dominican artist. She has painted nearly 160 6”x6” paintings to date and estimates it will take about three years to paint 1,000. Other Dominican artists are joining her in donating their art to the project, including Sisters Mary James (Fran) Hickey, OP, Suzanne Schreiber, OP, and Janet Wright, OP. The website and logo was developed by Tommy Herrmann, a former student of Sister Cervenka.

Dominican Sisters and Friars in the United States have longstanding ties with Dominicans in Iraq. Three delegations of U.S. Dominicans visited Iraq in successive summers from 1999 to 2001 as a witness of solidarity with the Iraqi Dominicans and people of Iraq, as they suffered the effects of severe economic sanctions. In late 2002, in the light of the Bush Administration’s threat of war against Iraq, Dominicans everywhere began to wear buttons with the phrase, “I have family in Iraq,” as a sign of their concern for and solidarity with the people of Iraq.


Photos from Sister Durstyne Farnan, one of three Dominican Sisters who visited the displaced Iraqi Sisters in January of this year in Erbil, Kurdistan.

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July 16, 2015, Detroit, Michigan – Less than a week after the United States celebrated its 239th birthday on the Fourth of July, Sister Nery “Luchy” Sori, OP, became one of its newest citizens. Sister Luchy was one of 89 people to take the Oath of Allegiance in a July 9 Naturalization Ceremony in the Federal District Court in Detroit. She had passed her citizenship test on July 6.

Sister Luchy noted that, as a member of a U.S.-based Congregation, it made sense for her to be a citizen of that country. As a U.S. citizen, she said, it will be easier for her to return for full-time ministry in her home country, the Dominican Republic, without having to go through Immigration.

Another advantage to her new citizenship, Sister Luchy said, is that she will now also be able to vote. “I have lived here for 10 years, and whatever is going on matters to me, too. This is my second home.”

Sister Luchy applied for citizenship in November 2014 after moving to Adrian, Michigan from New Orleans, where she had been engaged in Hispanic ministry. While in Adrian, she has worked for the Motherhouse Transportation Department, driving Sisters to and from Detroit Metro Airport and to medical appointments. She has also been involved this summer in the Dominican Colleges Preaching Conference and the Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference, both hosted by Siena Heights University in Adrian.

Sister Luchy was also engaged in studying for her citizenship test, focusing on the answers to 100 questions on U.S. history and government discussed in a special booklet offered as a resource by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The citizenship test is made up of 10 of those questions, but “I had to study and learn those 100 questions because you don’t know what they’re going to ask you,” Sister Luchy explained. On her test on July 6, “the questions were very simple, like the name of the national anthem and how many stripes the flag has,” she said. The more difficult question dealt with the rule of the law, she added.

Sister Luchy hopes to return to the Dominican Republic for full-time ministry, perhaps returning to Centro Antonio Montesino, which offers popular education to community groups throughout the country. Her ministry there would involve traveling throughout the country, giving workshops on such topics as human rights, nonviolence, and the relationship of Scripture to human rights.

Sister Luchy also has the option of teaching high school at Espiritu Santo Fe y Alegria School, an elementary school and high school founded by the community of Bani and Adrian Dominican Sisters Maurine Barzantni, OP, and Renee Richie, OP.

Sister Luchy also hopes to be involved in vocation outreach in the Dominican Republic, as well as offering workshops and retreats in the high schools.

“There’s a lot to do in the Dominican Republic,” she said. Being a U.S. citizen with the freedom to travel to and from the Dominican Republic allows her to “concentrate on ministry” that would make a difference in her home country or her new country.



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