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July 19, 2017, Seattle, Washington – The Adrian Dominican Sisters living at Assumption Convent recently bade a sad farewell to a beloved friend. Sister Lan Thu Thi Nguyen, OP, a young Dominican Sister from Vietnam, recently left Seattle to make some visits in the United States before returning to her home country after spending 2 ½ years with the Sisters.
“It was just a wonderful, wonderful experience,” said Sister Cele Gorman, OP, Coordinator of Assumption Convent. “No one will ever forget Lan, and her spirit will remain here.”
The Sisters at Assumption Convent had no idea 2 ½ years ago how positively they would be impacted by their decision to allow a Dominican Sister from Vietnam live with them. Sister Lan had been sent to the United States by her superiors to study pastoral ministry. After spending a year with the Houston Dominican Sisters to study English, she was to attend Seattle University to earn her master’s degree in pastoral theology.
Sister Cele received a call asking if Sister Lan could stay with the Sisters at Assumption during her studies. “We had a meeting to see how everybody felt, and everybody was very open to it and excited that a young Sister was coming,” Sister Cele recalled.
Sister Cele described Sister Lan as very outgoing, a young Sister who enjoyed new experiences and adapted well to new situations. “She was very open to new ideas, very accepting of people, and respectful of her elders,” Sister Cele said. She was also very studious, taking difficult courses and studying frequently – while still being engaged in community life at Assumption.
Along with her studies, Sister Lan served as an intern at St. James Cathedral in Seattle, helping with a weekly dinner for people who are homeless. In addition, she served as a catechist for children in a Vietnamese parish in Seattle.
But she also ministered to the Sisters at Assumption, even as they supported and encouraged her in her studies. “She shared her youthful energy with us,” Sister Cele said. “She was 39 when she came. We were her grandmothers and great-grandmothers.”
The differences in age, however, did not prevent Sister Lan and the Sisters at Assumption from forming a close community. The Sisters – particularly Sister Alice Marie Schmid, OP – helped Sister Lan with her English as she wrote her theology papers, and encouraged her as she faced the challenge of studying theology in a language that was not her own.
In turn, Sister Lan introduced the Sisters to the food and culture of Vietnam. “She took us to a Vietnamese restaurant when she first came and told the waitresses what to prepare for us,” Sister Cele recalled. “She was delighted. She loved her culture and she shared it with us.”
Sister Lan frequently took advantage of the large Vietnamese section of Seattle to buy Vietnamese food and prepare special meals for her U.S. Sisters. “She was very generous in sharing that part of her culture,” Sister Cele noted. Sister Lan also taught the Sisters some of her language and celebrated Vietnamese holidays with them.
In addition, Sister Lan connected with the Vietnamese community in Seattle, as well as with a community of Sisters from Vietnam who were ministering in Seattle. An intelligent and independent young woman, Sister Lan quickly learned the transit system in Seattle, using the light rail to attend classes at Seattle University.
Recently, Sister Cele said, the Sisters were delighted to meet Sister Lan’s brother, who had come for her graduation and joined the Sisters for dinner at Assumption Convent. Sister Lan left after graduation to make some visits in the United States before returning to Vietnam. While her exact ministry back home is still unknown, Sister Cele said, she will most likely make use of what she has learned in pastoral theology.
In the meantime, she has certainly had a positive impact on the Sisters she has left behind. “It could not have been a better situation for her or for anyone else,” Sister Cele said. “We were just very blessed and sorry to see her heading back to Vietnam. It was truly a gift and a blessing.” Sister Cele believes that her time at Assumption was also a blessing for Sister Lan. “I’m sure it’s an experience that will be with her for the rest of her life.”
Feature photo: Celebrating Sister Lan’s graduation are, from left: Sisters Cele Gorman, OP, Francine Barber, OP, Sharon Park, OP, Iva Gregory, OP, Alice Marie Schmid, OP, Patrice Eilers, OP, Lan Thu Thi Nguyen, OP, Virginia Pearson, OP, Sister Lan’s brother, Son Bui Nguyen; and Sisters Judy Byron, OP, and Jean Marie Lehtinen, OP.
October 19, 2016, Seattle, Washington – If you had the opportunity to ask a Catholic Sister about anything you wanted, most likely you would ask her about her faith or the Catholic Church. But when 710 KIRO radio talk show host Dori Monson speaks to Sister Cele Gorman, OP, he asks a quite different question:
Who do you think will win the professional football games this weekend?
For the past 21 years, Sister Cele and Sister Kath Silverthorn, a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, have been forecasting the results of National Football League games each week during the Fall as part of the Dori Monson Show.
“I’ve always been a fan,” Sister Cele said. “I used to watch football in high school, and then when the Seattle Seahawks started, that added to my interest.”
Her love for football answered the call when radio talk show host Dori Monson decided to take a different approach to his treatment of football games. Rather than speaking to coaches, he decided to speak to people that were seen as unlikely commentators on the sport: Catholic Sisters.
The Archdiocese of Seattle referred him to a Sister who was not an expert on football, but who knew of Sister Cele’s and Sister Kath’s love for the sport.
“I had never met Sister Kath,” Sister Cele said. But when Dori spoke to them and offered them the opportunity to make predictions about upcoming football games, “we talked about it and thought it would be fun to do.”
The procedure is simple. Each week, on Wednesday or Thursday, Sisters Cele and Kath receive an email from Dori, listing four NFL games coming up that weekend and asking them to choose the winners of each. Sister Cele does some research on the teams and makes her predictions.
“A couple of times we go into the station to do the show, but most of the time he calls and pre-records our conversation, and it’s on later in the day,” around 2:50 p.m., she explained. “He’ll give the games and we’ll tell why we think a particular team will win.”
The radio broadcast is not only about the competition among the football teams, but also among the three forecasters: Dori and the two Sisters. “Each week, he [Dori] starts out by saying something like, ‘Sister Kath is three games ahead.’ It’s a real back and forth with the three of us, and I would guess we’re probably pretty competitive, too.”
Sister Cele said she has continued to be involved in the program for all these years because of her love for football – but also because of the opportunity to help listeners to understand Sisters a little better. The program “lets listeners know that Sisters are ordinary people who have a variety of different interests – and who enjoy sports,” she said.
The short, weekly broadcast has become very popular in the Seattle area, and the two Sisters have become local celebrities in their own right. During her full-time ministry as coordinator of Assumption Convent Assisted Living, Sister Cele often meets strangers – firefighters who check the facility or physical therapists who come to serve one of the Sisters – who recognize her name from the program. “When I introduce myself, they say, ‘Oh, are you the one on the radio program?’ That’s very funny – I never know when that’s going to happen.”
Sister Cele has a ready answer to a final interview question – who will win the Super Bowl this year?
The Seattle Seahawks – of course!
Listen to a podcast of the Dori Monson Show.