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June 25, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – In a spirit of joy, gratitude, and friendship, Diamond (60 years), Golden (50 years), and Silver (25 years) Jubilarians returned to the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse for a week of prayer and celebrations and took time to renew their friendships and their commitment to the Congregation’s Mission. The special week, June 20-23, 2018, was set aside to recognize and celebrate the Congregation’s 23 Diamond Jubilarians, eight Golden Jubilarians, and one Silver Jubilarian.
The 18 Double-Diamond Jubilarians, celebrating their 70th Jubilees, had been recognized during a special Liturgy and Dinner in May.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, set the tone for Jubilee week during the opening session and public reception for the Jubilarians on June 20. “Jubilee is a time of stepping back, to give thanks and express gratitude,” she said. “It is a time when we recognize God’s year of favor. … It’s a time of rest and inner renewal, a time for creativity and imagination, a time to slow down, a time to be with family and friends.” Above all, Sister Pat said, Jubilee is a time to “allow God to love us even more tenderly.”
Noting her own personal joy in welcoming the Jubilarians home, Sister Pat invited them to take time to gather together but also to “take some leisurely and prayerful time to spend in our multiple sacred spaces across our beautiful campus.”
The Jubilarians met the next day with Sister Pat and the General Council of the Congregation for a traditional tea. During the week, Jubilarians also had the opportunity to spend time with friends, to visit the Sisters in the Dominican Life Center, and to enjoy a concert by Sister Magdalena Ezoe, OP.
June 22 brought a more reflective spirit to the Jubilee Week as the Jubilarians and other Sisters on campus gathered for a Liturgy for Deceased Jubilarians and former Adrian Dominican Sisters. In a special ritual, Jubilarians recalled the life stories of the deceased and the qualities and gifts that they brought to the world.
Specially honored were Sisters Barbara Ann Beerkle, OP, Sharon Carroll, OP, Phyllis Duffie, OP, Barbara Matteson, OP, Mary Rita McSweeney, OP, Lorraine Mordenski, OP, and Mary Tardiff, OP, deceased Diamond Jubilarians, and Mary Jane Bourgeois, Mary Jane Bruske Blau, Linda Jackson Glance, Ann Mary Kreft, Gloria Maliszewski, and Mary Catherine Wildern, deceased former Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Diamond Jubilarian and former Prioress of the Congregation, welcomed the assembly to the memorial of the women who are now in the “invisible neighborhood, where the dead dwell. ... Our friends are now enjoying eternal life where all that we see – goodness, unity, beauty, truth, love, eternal life – are no longer distant but are now completely present to them.”
Father James Hug, SJ, presider and Motherhouse Chaplain, prayed in gratitude for the lives of the deceased Jubilarians and former members. “Their generous willingness to commit their lives with us, to extend your tender love to all your people in so many places and in so many ways is a gift that touches and challenges our spirits to rise to your call today,” he said.
Sister Carol Jean Kesterke, OP, Golden Jubilarian and Chapter Prioress of the Detroit-based Great Lakes Mission Chapter, reflected on the Scripture passages that were proclaimed during the Liturgy – and on the “fourth text” – the lives of the deceased women who were being honored. “The point of this fourth text is not to eulogize these 13 women, but to search the text of their lives, just as we search the other texts, for insights about how we may live more fully in God,” Sister Carol Jean said. “These women have left us many beautiful qualities and many things to admire.”
The week culminated on June 23 with a celebration open to the Jubilarians and their guests. The bilingual Mass brought in the elements of joyful music and dance to proclaim the joy and hope of the Jubilarians, their families and friends, and the Congregation.
“Today we are gathered to honor and celebrate our Sisters who have joyfully and with great fidelity lived their vows as Dominican women for 25, 50, and 60 years,” said Sister Pat, in her formal welcome to the liturgy.
Bishop Emeritus of Tucson Gerald F. Kicanas, presider of the Jubilee liturgy, echoed Sister Pat’s spirit of joy in honoring the Jubilarians. “What a great joy it is to gather here to celebrate the anniversaries of so many of our Sisters,” he said.
In her reflection, Sister Patricia Harvat, OP – Golden Jubilarian and member of the General Council – picked up on the theme of the text of the Jubilarians’ lives from the previous day’s reflection. “The daily text of our book of life as Dominicans began with clean and empty margins,” she noted. “But as we gather today to celebrate this life, those margins of the text are filled with daily entries of our words and gestures of love, mercy, hope, suffering, doubts, and longing.”
She spoke of the years in which the Jubilarians followed the call of Jesus. “There really are no adequate words to describe the ride, what it meant to leave our homes and walk into the lives of hundreds of people … in different cultures and global realities,” she said. After 60, 50, and 25 years, the Jubilarians continue to follow Jesus and to write the text of their lives. “There still is room in the margins of our text in the book of our lives to continue writing the call to live a dream and to love, following God with all the twists and turns life may present us.” Read Sister Patricia's full homily.
The Jubilarians demonstrated their commitment to follow their call as vowed Dominican women as they gathered at the altar to renew their vows to Sister Pat Siemen, to “make profession and promise obedience to almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our holy Father St. Dominic,” and to Sister Patricia and her lawful successors, “according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitution of the Sisters of St. Dominic of the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary until death.”
The celebration continued after Liturgy with a festive dinner for the Jubilarians and their special guests. The week was planned by the Jubilee Committee: Co-workers Krystal Baker, Susan Kremski, and Jeanette McIntosh and Sisters Virginia Corley, OP, and Joan Sustersic, OP. Sister Joy Finfera, OP, served as Chair, succeeding Sister Rose Celeste O’Connell, OP, who had chaired the committee for some 20 years before her death in May 2018.
Feature photo: Jubilarians gather around the altar to renew their vows during the Jubilee Mass on June 23, 2018.
June 26, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – The 25 Adrian Dominican Sisters marking their Diamond (60-year) and 14 celebrating Golden (50-year) Jubilees gathered at the Motherhouse in Adrian June 20-24 for reminiscing, gathering, prayer, thanksgiving, and festivities.
The Jubilee Class of 2016 also includes six Sisters celebrating 75 years of religious life and 22 marking 70 years in the Congregation. These Jubilarians celebrated together on May 13.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress and herself a Golden Jubilarian, welcomed the Jubilarians during an opening reception on the evening of June 20, noting that together they represent 2,200 years of faithful commitment. Observing that their Jubilee Year is a time of gratitude, she invited them to celebrate during the week by gathering together and visiting the sacred spots of the Motherhouse: Holy Rosary Chapel, the labyrinth, the Cosmic Walk, and the Sisters residing at the Dominican Life Center. Jubilee is not only about gratitude for the past, Sister Pat said, but also about looking ahead to where God might be calling them in the coming years.
Jubilarians joined Sister Pat and the General Council for a meeting and tea on June 21. On June 22, they gathered for a social with the Sisters of the Dominican Life Center and were treated to a concert by Sister Magdalena Ezoe, OP, who is a musician, composer, and professor emerita at Siena Heights University in Adrian. Free time gave the Jubilarians the opportunity to gather informally and to reflect on their lives as Adrian Dominican Sisters.
During a special liturgy on June 23, the focus shifted to the 11 deceased Diamond Jubilarians and one deceased Silver Jubilarian. Each deceased Jubilarian was remembered with a rose and a brief presentation on her life and on the difference she made in other people’s lives. To read the list of deceased Jubilarians, including Sisters who would have marked 85, 80, 75, and 70 years of religious life, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP, Diamond Jubilarian, offered a reflection on the deceased Jubilarians and on the 10 years – roughly 3,650 days – since her Golden Jubilee that she said were mostly made up of ordinary days. “These are the days of walking the Earth … of witnessing the sky,” she said. “We’ve had countless conversations, meals prepared and shared.”
During Jubilee, Sister Barbara said, “we remember our Sisters and friends who walked with us for a time and who have passed before us. We can remember with great tenderness their efforts to grow up, to grow old, to grow well, to become who they were called to be.” Just as Jesus, at the end of his life, called his friends together, and calls all of us to be his friends, “I think that these many days and years, we have learned, all of us, to be friends,” she concluded.
On Saturday, Jubilarians and their guests – family members, friends, and other Adrian Dominican Sisters – gathered for the Jubilee Liturgy at St. Catherine Chapel. Father James Hug, SJ, Chaplain, noted that the years of service of the Golden and Diamond Jubilarians – together with those celebrating 70 and 75 years of religious life – totaled more than 4,000 years.
In her reflection, Sister Pat compared the love Jesus calls us to – and the love of the Jubilarians – to that of a couple who have been happily married for 50 years. In spite of trials and occasional stress, “they grow as companions to and with one another.… This is what Jesus is inviting each of us into in today’s Gospel – a time of unconditional acceptance and love and communion.”
In the same way, Sister Pat said, “We have been gifted with the extraordinary grace of sharing our lives in community, sharing life and faith with one another.” Noting that among the community, Sisters sometimes experience stress and misunderstanding. “Yet we witness to the power of healing and sisterly love for one another.”
Sister Pat noted the qualities of resiliency, creativity, hard work, and sacrifice that many of the Jubilarians learned from their parents who had lived through the Great Depression and World War II. Some of those qualities, she said, are also reflected in Sophia, Lady Wisdom, in the book of Proverbs: a woman of strength and compassion who, in her deep confidence in God, “laughs at the days to come with no fear of the future.”
“As Jubilarians – and I place myself in their midst – we give joyful thanks to God and the beloved community of women who have loved us into friendship and discipleship for the past 50 and 60 years,” Sister Pat said.
After her reflection, the Jubilarians gathered around the altar to renew their vows: “To the honor of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I … make profession and promise obedience to Almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our Holy Father St. Dominic, and to you, Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, and to your lawful successors, according to the rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Dominic of the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary until death.”
After Mass, the Jubilarians and their guests continued the celebration with a festive dinner and other informally scheduled events.
During their Jubilee Year, the Sisters have had time to reflect on the meaning of this special time and on what religious life has meant to them.
Religious life “has been 60 years of developing and strengthening my relationship with God and those I worked with daily,” said Sister Helen McAllister, OP. “I’ve come to realize that God is with us in the good times and the difficult times. I know God loves me and that I’m an instrument of His/Her plan.”
Sister Donna Baker, OP, said her 50 years in religious life has been a blessing. “I am so grateful for my extended family – women who embrace the Gospel values and who are committed to working toward peace and justice for all. Each morning I thank God for the new day and for the realization of my dream to become an Adrian Dominican Sister.”
Feature photo (top): Jubilarians gather around the altar in St. Catherine Chapel June 24 to renew their vows.