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June 23, 2015, Cleveland – The Adrian Dominican Sisters from the Diocese of Cleveland kicked off the diocese’s Year of Consecrated Life pilgrimage – a special time on Sunday afternoons from June 7 through September 13, 2015, for the faithful to visit with members of religious communities serving in the diocese.
The Diocese of Cleveland organized the pilgrimage in response to the announcement of Pope Francis of the Year of Consecrated Life, set from November 21, 2014 through November 21, 2015. The goal of the pilgrimage is “to assist the faithful on their spiritual journeys; to connect with religious communities and create a renewed awareness of the ministry and mission of consecrated life,” according to the diocese's website.
The pilgrimage involves visitation in 22 motherhouses, monasteries, and ministry centers of the nuns, sisters, brothers, and priests of religious orders serving locally. Pilgrims are invited to pick up their special passports and have them stamped at each location that they visit.
“St. Dominic Parish in Shaker Heights, where our Sisters opened and staffed St. Dominic School from 1952 to 1978, became our ministry center on June 7, the first pilgrimage day,” Sister Patricia Stellmah, OP, explained. “We were pleased to greet 65 pilgrims, some of whom knew us from the schools we staffed in the past, and some who had never met an Adrian Dominican and came from the far borders of the diocese to learn who we are.”
The open house at St. Dominic’s featured “displays, timelines, history, listings of parishes staffed by our women and the names of the Sisters who worked in the various ministries throughout the diocese,’ Sister Rosemary Zuccaro, OP, explained.
“I reconnected with some grandparents of former first graders I taught during my years at St. Dominic’s, 1971 to 1978,” Sister Rosemary said. “What was most gratifying for me was to see how appreciative the people were of our presence in the schools and ministries throughout the diocese.” She said she owes her own vocation to “the dedication of the Sisters who taught me at Hoban Dominican High School in Cleveland.”
Sister Joan Zinn, OP, who had taught at Hoban Dominican High School for one year but who had also lived there while studying, said she especially enjoyed sharing stories with former Hoban students and their parents. But people also reconnected with one another, she said.
“There were people who recognized each other and got to talking to each other, and I think that was also very, very meaningful,” Sister Joan said. “And then there were people who didn’t have any connection with St. Dominic’s and didn’t have any connection with the Adrian Dominicans. They just heard about this pilgrimage, and it was a chance to get to know some of the Sisters.”
“Students who had been taught by our Adrian Dominican Sisters came to support us and see our exhibits – and hoped to see some of our Sisters,” Sister Mary Ann Zakrajsek, OP, said. “They were exuberant and enjoyed sharing past experiences.”
Sister Mary Ann also attributes her 62 years as an Adrian Dominican to the Sisters who taught her at St. Lawrence in Cleveland. “Their joyful and prayerful spirit was catching,” she recalled.
The experience of participating in the pilgrimage brought enthusiastic responses from some of the pilgrims. “I left yesterday with joy in my heart, realizing what a fruitful experience this was actually for both you and the pilgrims,” one pilgrim said. “I was in awe of your ministerial presence to the pilgrims you served yesterday.”