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November 9, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – Archivists from a variety of U.S. congregations of Dominican Sisters gathered virtually October 19-21, 2021, to discuss best practices and common issues and to learn from speakers in related fields. Participating were Sister Beverly Bobola, OP, Assistant Archivist, and other members of Dominican Archivists for a Common Repository (DARC), as well as professional archivists and historians from related organizations.
About 30 people attended the entire summit, while another 20 or so – including leaders of Dominican Congregations – joined the gathering when possible.
Lisa Schell, Archivist for the Adrian Dominican Sisters and a member of the planning committee, said this year’s summit brought in speakers from a variety of fields and from organizations such as the Detroit Institute of Art, the Queens (New York) Memory Project, and the City of Chicago. “We wanted to look outside ourselves,” Lisa explained. “The idea was to collaborate outside of our comfort zone and be inspired.”
Archivists who work in organizations outside of congregations for women religious have much to teach the Dominican archivists, Lisa said. “We could still get the benefit of sharing best practices of archives and get a perspective of what’s possible.”
One keynote speaker – Eileen Markey, journalist and Assistant Professor at City University of New York Herbert H. Lehman College – noted the importance of archivists of women’s religious congregations. “She spoke of how important it is for archivists to understand that much of American history is patriarchal, centered in the male,” Lisa recalled. The archives of women’s religious communities are treasures that can profoundly influence the understanding of the role of women in U.S. history, Lisa added.
Another speaker, Katie Gordon, is Co-founder and National Director of Nuns and Nones, which brings Catholic Sisters together with young Millennial spiritual seekers to share community, faith, and experiences. “She had a lot to say about Sister stories and how important they are, making them accessible and available to people of younger generations,” Lisa said.
For her part, Lisa especially loves the opportunity to tell the history and stories of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. A lover of history, she taught high school history for 15 years before changing course. She earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree with certificates in Archival Administration and Records Management from Wayne State University in Detroit and worked for eight years as a corporate archivist before coming to work for the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 2018.
A year later, Lisa hosted the Dominican Archivists Summit in Adrian. The focus then, she said, was on standardizing the archival collections of the U.S. Dominican congregations. Participants at the 2019 Summit worked together to bring consistency to their collections and to the vocabulary they use for those collections in preparation for the time when they might be in a common repository.
Hopes are that the 2023 Summit will be in person. However, Lisa said, she is stepping away from planning the Dominican Archivists Summits after being elected Vice President and President-Elect of the Archivists for Congregations of Women Religious (ACWR), a professional organization of about 350 archivists serving congregations of Sisters in the United States.
Whether working with Sister Beverly at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse, with archivists of other Dominican congregations, or with Colleagues from the ACWR, Lisa relishes her work. “I love Sisters’ history and the Sisters here,” she said. “It’s so exciting to be part of a community that is in alignment with things I believe in … It’s a rare opportunity to be a professional woman and surrounded by women.”
Feature photo: Katie Gordon, Co-founder and National Organizer of Nuns and Nones – an alliance of Catholic Sisters and diverse spirituality seekers – offers a presentation on programming and outreach engagement during the summit of Dominican Archivists.
September 8, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – Renny Golden, poet and social justice activist, shares selections from her latest book of poetry, The Music of Her Rivers, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 26, 2019, at Weber Retreat and Conference Center.
A former Adrian Dominican Sister, Renny co-founded the Chicago Religious Task Force on Central America and spent time in El Salvador accompanying refugees seeking sanctuary. In addition, she was co-founder of the Dorothy Stang Popular Education Adult High School in Chicago, named for the Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who was killed in 2005 while protecting the Amazon Rain Forest and its indigent people. The bilingual school serves older immigrants.
Professor Emerita of Northeastern Illinois University, Renny has won awards for her poetry, including the Women’s Studies Award from Crossroads Publishing.
Renny’s book will be available for purchase and the evening will include a book signing. The poetry reading is free and open to all. No registration is required.
Weber Center is on the campus of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse, 1257 E. Siena Heights Drive, Adrian. Enter the Eastern-most driveway of the complex and follow the signs to Weber Center. For information, call the Weber Center at 517-266-4000.