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By Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life
November 23, 2016, Miami, Florida – Four new Adrian Dominican Associates were accepted into Associate Life during two separate Rites of Acceptance at Barry University during Founders’ Week. All four serve on the faculty or in the administration of Barry.
The annual week in November celebrates the university’s Adrian Dominican heritage and its foundation by Mother Gerald Barry, OP, then Prioress of the Congregation; The Most Reverend Patrick Barry, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida; Monsignor William Barry, pastor of St. Patrick Parish on Miami Beach; and John (Jack) Graves Thompson, Mayor of Miami Shores.
Carmen McCrink and Michael Provitera were formally accepted during the Founders’ Week Mass on November 14.
Carmen, an associate professor and chair of the Department of Higher Education Administration, teaches doctoral students in leadership and education and higher education administration. She enjoys teaching the History of Education course, which includes the contributions of St. Thomas Aquinas to the founding of medieval universities.
Born in Cuba, Carmen moved to the United States with her family in 1962. Her hope is to continue to share the Dominican charism with her students and co-workers.
As professor of organizational behavior, Michael instructs students on helping veterans and the poor and founded the Coalition of Children’s Book Authors, which has sent brand new books to the people of Tanzania. He wrote the book Mastering Self-Motivation: Preparing Yourself for Personal Excellence.
Michael brings an enthusiasm to all that he does, and is ready to share the Dominican charism with his students, co-workers, and family, including his wife, Erin, and daughters Janet and Lauren.
Christopher (Kit) Starratt and Gerene (Gerry) Starratt – married for 42 years – were welcomed as new Associates during a ritual on November 16. They have three adult children and are active in their parish, St. Jerome, in Fort Lauderdale.
Kit, Vice President for Mission and Institutional Effectiveness, has served at Barry since 1993. His ministry is to increase the level of our Dominican heritage at Barry by establishing programs to facilitate this process. A clinical neuropsychologist, he noted, “I have found that education is a powerful tool to alleviate human suffering and to combat social injustice."
Gerry, an associate professor of education, teaches methodology and statistics for the School of Education and serves as a dissertation advisor. “Our family values – and my personal values – are aligned with the mission and vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters,” she said in explaining her attraction to Associate Life. She is a member of her parish’s Chancel Choir and Women’s Emmaus Ministry and makes and repairs rosaries.
The new Associates were mentored by Sisters Mary Fran Fleischaker, OP, Mary Tindel, OP, and Evelyn Piche, OP. Dr. Roxanne Davies, Associate Vice President for Mission and Institutional Effectiveness, facilitated the formation sessions taught by the Sisters and Associates at Barry. They will work with a new group of prospective Associates, who will study the Dominican charism and discern Associate Life.
Feature photo: Carmen McCrink and Michael Provitera, new Adrian Dominican Associates from Barry University, listen as Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, leads the November 14 Rite of Acceptance. Photo by Thierry Lach
November 15, 2016, Oakland, California – Sister Elisabeth Lang, OP, a Dominican Sister of Vietnam and an Adrian Dominican Associate, received a Lifetime Achievement Award for about 40 years of service in resettling refugees.
The award was presented October 21 to Sister Elisabeth during a Grant Awards Luncheon hosted by the Diocese of Oakland’s Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) at the parish hall of St. Columba Church in Oakland.
“I was very surprised but I’m very humbled by their giving me an award,” Sister Elisabeth said. “I credit it all to the staff who have been working in the [refugee resettlement] program. They’re making everything possible.”
Sister Elisabeth was one of four Vietnamese Dominican Sisters who came to Adrian, Michigan, in 1968 to study at Siena Heights College (now University). She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in education.
Sister Elisabeth had been in Adrian for about five years when Sister Rosemary Ferguson, OP – then Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters – suggested that she minister temporarily with the Vietnamese refugees. “I asked if I could go to the local agency here [in Oakland]. A limited number of people could speak Vietnamese.” What had originally been a temporary assignment of a few months stretched into nearly 40 years of ministry to refugees from numerous nations.
Sister Elisabeth was first able to return to her Congregation in Vietnam in 1991 to celebrate her Silver Jubilee. When she returned to the United States Sister Donna Markham, OP, then on the General Council, suggested that Sister Elisabeth become an Adrian Dominican Associate. She has recently celebrated her Golden Jubilee with her Vietnamese community and her Silver Jubilee as an Adrian Dominican Associate.
Now Director of Refugee Resettlement for Catholic Charities of the East Bay, Sister Elisabeth spent her first years helping to resettle refugees from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and other Indochinese countries. About 10 years ago, she said, the Vietnamese coming to the U.S. were regarded as immigrants rather than refugees. In recent years, Sister Elisabeth said, the largest number of refugees who are processed through her office come from Afghanistan – many of them translators and interpreters who had helped the U.S. military in their country.
Sister Elisabeth’s office is one of several Catholic agencies that work with the U.S. government to resettle refugees. Each year, Sister Elisabeth explained, the federal government agrees to take in a certain number of refugees and agencies are assigned a certain number of refugees.
“This year, beginning October 1, we were projected to receive 175 refugees,” Sister Elisabeth said. “In October alone, we worked with 43 people.” Last year, she added, Catholic Charities of the East Bay committed to resettling 150 refugees but instead worked with 173.
Sister Elisabeth’s office works with 18 parishes in the Diocese of Oakland. The parish teams are given very short notice – from one to three weeks – to find a suitable apartment for the family, furnish it, and drive to the airport to pick them up. Refugees also receive orientation to the U.S. culture, assistance in finding employment, help in enrolling in English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, health care, and immunization for their children.
“Some refugees who don’t speak English at all need a lot of encouragement,” Sister Elisabeth said. “If they put heart and soul into it, they make great progress.” Other refugees – those who had professional careers as doctors or nurses, for example – need to be recertified in their professions before they can resume work in their field.
Sister Elisabeth is heartened by the many success stories among the refugees. “I love the work I’m doing,” she said. “You see the people coming in exhausted and worried, but we’re here to walk with the people and help them to get the resources they need to feel comfortable in going to school, learning English, and finding jobs.”
Among the success stories are members of Sister Elisabeth’s staff. “We have a staff that speaks different languages and in many cases were refugees themselves,” she said. “They experienced being a refugee themselves, so they can help empower the refugees to go through the same process.”
“I never thought I would spend my whole life out here, but I love the work I’m doing and it’s a challenge, too,” Sister Elisabeth reflected. “Seeing a lot of successful families and individual people is very encouraging. I feel honored to work with and serve them, to walk with them and help them in whatever way I can.”
Read a related article in The Catholic Voice, newspaper of the Diocese of Oakland.
Feature photo: Bishop Emeritus John S. Cummins presents Sister Elisabeth Lang, OP, with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo by Albert C. Pacciorini, Courtesy of The Catholic Voice