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August 9, 2021, Chicago – The governance structure of the Adrian Dominican Sisters took a historic turn on August 8, 2021, the Feast of St. Dominic, when Sisters Mary Jane Lubinski, OP, Mary Priniski, OP, and Mary Soher, OP, formally began their four-year term as the Leadership Team of the new Catherine of Siena Mission Chapter. The brief ritual was live streamed from Chicago. This is a milestone in the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ process of forming a new Mission Chapter from four U.S.-based Chapters – Dominican Midwest, Dominican West, Florida, and Great Lakes Dominican.

The three women were selected during the Chapter’s Selection Assembly, held virtually June 18-19, 2021. Other Sisters who were willing to serve as leaders were Sisters Judith Benkert, OP, Barbara Matievich, OP, and Nancy Murray, OP. 

Sister Mary Jane Lubinski, selected as Mission Prioress, is a native of Detroit. She entered the Congregation in September 1966 and served as an elementary school teacher and a parish religious education director. In 1981, she responded to a call to open a mission in Appalachia, where she ministered as paralegal in Castlewood, Virginia. 

Sister Mary Jane focused her mission on people with HIV/AIDS from 1988 to 2008: as paralegal at Atlanta Legal Aid and at Living Room, a nonprofit housing program she established in 1995 for people with AIDS, and, from 2000 to 2008, in South Africa, ministering in the HIV/AIDS Unit of the Catholic Institute of Education. She went on to minister at the Diocesan Education Office in Manzini, Swaziland. 

Returning to Detroit, Sister Mary Jane served for a year as Development Officer for Covenant Community Care, a faith-based healthcare organization. 

Sister Mary Jane brings to her new ministry experience as Chapter Prioress of Adrian Crossroads Mission Chapter: assisting the Chapter Prioress in 2012-2014 and serving an elected term of office until 2020. Since then, she said, she spent “months of contemplative prayer in hermitage-like solitude and months serving at the border with unaccompanied minors in Texas and families seeking asylum in Texas and Arizona.”

Working as part of a team has been important to her, Sister Mary Jane said. “I find [it] fosters relationships, supports one another, sparks creativity, shares decision-making and the workload, expands vision and ideas and works to each one’s strength.” 

Her hope is that the Catherine of Siena Mission Chapter “will be a real source of unity and oneness, that we come closer together at this point in our life as a Congregation – in spirit, in heart, in mission. Love is really the force. It draws us to one another and it draws us to mission.”

Sister Mary Priniski, selected as Chapter Prioress, also brings experience as the Chapter Prioress of the Mid-Atlantic Mission Chapter from 2009 until 2014. 

A native of Escanaba, Michigan, Sister Mary entered in 1968. Her first ministry – and her first experience of teamwork – was in a parish, focusing on youth ministry and liturgy. “I learned that we each had gifts to bring to the table and we needed to rely on one another to minister well,” she recalled.

In 1979, she moved to South Carolina to serve at Interfaith Worker Justice, organizing church and community support for worker rights and civil rights. She began working in 1992 for Glenmary Home Missioners, a community of Catholic priests and brothers who bring a Catholic presence to those who live in U.S. counties where the Church is not otherwise effectively present. After nine years working again for worker rights, she was elected Chapter Prioress of the Mid-Atlantic Mission Chapter. 

Sister Mary said she has experienced creative teamwork in her most recent ministry, as Executive Director of the Aquinas Center of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. “I have helped build a team that has enabled creativity in ways not known at the Center before,” she said. 

“I find us at a challenging and exciting time in our Congregation,” Sister Mary said. “The relationships that we have and will build … feed my soul.”

Sister Mary Soher, selected as Mission Prioress, is a native of San Francisco and the oldest of three children. With a bachelor’s degree in communications from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, she worked for a television station in Texas for five years before moving to Los Angeles to work for a satellite and video conferencing company. It was there that she met the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She entered in 1996.

Sister Mary has ministered at Barry University in communications, served with the Congregation’s Formation Team, and co-directed the National Catholic Sisters Initiative which, in 2014, initiated National Catholic Sisters Week. Most recently, she served as Director of Campus Ministry for the Dominican University of California, sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. 

Sister Mary has also used her experience and training as director of the Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference and has been involved in Dominican college preaching conferences and Dominican Young Adults USA.

“I have a deep love for our Dominican charism and cherish collaborating with other Dominican congregations,” she said, adding that she also thrives in team ministry. “I value the sharing of ideas, balancing responsibilities, and clear communication among team members,” she said.

“I’m excited to look at a Chapter that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the Caribbean,” Sister Mary said. “It’s going to be an interesting perspective to see how we are in mission in ways that are similar but also unique.” 

“I’m not out to change the world but to walk with our Sisters in these next four years,” Sister Mary added. “I have so appreciated the women who have been my Chapter Prioresses since I entered, and I hope that I can offer that same kind of encouragement, support, and yes, even challenge in a way that continues our Dominican sisterhood.”

Feature photo: From left - Sisters Mary Jane Lubinski, OP; Sister Mary Soher, OP; Sister Mary Priniski, OP
 


May 5, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – Sister Judith Friedel, OP, was named Chapter Prioress of the Congregation’s Holy Rosary Mission Chapter based in Adrian, Michigan. As of July 1, 2021, she will work with Sister Sharon Spanbauer, OP, Mission Prioress, in ministering with many of the Sisters who reside at the Dominican Life Center. 

Sister Judy succeeds Sister Patricia Dulka, OP, who has served as Chapter Prioress of Holy Rosary since January 2016 and, before that, as Chapter Prioress of the Dominican Midwest Chapter – based in Chicago – from 2008 to 2014. 

Sister Judy was one of four Sisters who had offered themselves to minister as Chapter Prioress. In the formal announcement, Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, noted the gratitude of herself and the General Council to Sister Judy and the other women who “generously offered themselves to serve.”

After learning of her appointment, Sister Judy said, “I would describe my reaction as shock.” She learned of her selection during an April 29, 2021, telephone conversation with Sister Patricia and had not expected to be chosen as the next Chapter Prioress. However, she said, “I trust the Spirit and I felt the guidance of the Spirit.”

“I really believe God led me on a path” from one ministry to the next, Sister Judy said. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and a graduate of Hoban Dominican High School in Cleveland – where she was taught by Adrian Dominican Sisters – Sister Judy entered the Congregation in 1963. 

Sister Judy holds a bachelor’s degree in English with minors in mathematics and science from Siena Heights College (University) in Adrian; a master’s degree in religious education from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas; and a graduate certificate in spiritual direction from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sister Judy said she spent most of her years in education at the junior high school and high school levels and at one point coached girls’ basketball, volleyball, and softball at the junior high school level. She taught in Hayward, California, and in Melbourne and St. Petersburg, Florida. In addition, she ministered as a youth minister in Tucson, Arizona, and in North Olmsted, Ohio. She rounded out her education experience as Spiritual Activities Director for four years at St. Christopher School in Rocky River Ohio.

Led by God, Sister Judy said, her heart was “drawn towards the spiritual.” After her years in the classroom, she took a year of study to pursue spiritual direction. She began to offer spiritual programs and individual spiritual direction in parishes and, when an opening in pastoral ministry came up at St. Brendan Parish in North Olmsted, Ohio, she took advantage of the opportunity and ministered there for 11 years. Her ministries there included coordinating various parish commissions, making visitations to the hospital, setting up teams of Eucharistic ministers to serve two nursing homes in her parish, and offering spiritual direction.

After retiring from St. Brendan, Sister Judy continued to visit the nursing homes, offered spiritual direction, and led days of reflection at local retreat centers.

Sister Judy said she will bring all of the skills she learned in her ministries to her new position at Holy Rosary Chapter, but particularly what she learned in pastoral ministry. “I see myself as a companion, walking with people,” she said. “I think human connection is so important. I never see myself in a role. I offer who I am and the gifts I have.” 

From her experience in pastoral ministry, Sister Judy added, she knows she will be blessed in turn by the Sisters of Holy Rosary. “I know without a doubt that I’ll be receiving more than I ever hope to give,” she said. “I will do a lot of listening and learning and being blessed by them.”

Sister Judy has a special message for the Sisters she will serve as Chapter Prioress. “I hope that we can help each other ponder the blessings and learnings we have all gathered during these pandemic times, for there are many,” she said. “I thank you for your trust in me and I count on your continued prayers for a smooth transition into this new ministry. I am looking forward to being among you, befriending you, and accompanying you on your daily journeys. With God’s grace, we will bless and uplift each other in our daily interactions.” 


 

 

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