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June 28, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – In a spirit of joy and gratitude, Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, family members, and friends gathered at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse to celebrate the combined 2,545 years of service and ministry by 38 Sisters marking their Jubilee – milestone anniversaries of their years of religious life.
Jubilee 2023 celebrated the loving dedication of eight 75-year Jubilarians, 19 Double-Diamond (70-year) Jubilarians, nine Diamond (60-year) Jubilarians, one Golden (50-year) Jubilarian, and one Silver (25-year) Jubilarian.
The celebration began on the afternoon of June 22, 2023, with a meeting of the Jubilarians with the General Council, followed by dinner. The Sisters also had time during the celebration to catch up with one another and to share memories. Sister Magdalena Ezoe, OP, composer and pianist, offered the Jubilarians, guests, and other Sisters and Associates a special piano concert on the evening of June 23, 2023.
The Jubilee celebration also included a time of remembrance and gratitude for the commitment of the Congregation’s 68 deceased Jubilarians who would have marked 75, 70, or 60 years of religious life this year. Sisters Mary Suzanne Kennedy, OP, and Janet Doyle, OP, both 60-year Jubilarians, opened the Mass for Deceased Jubilarians on June 23, 2023, with a solemn recitation of their names.
“Can you feel it – can you feel their presence?” Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, asked in her reflection on the Mass readings. The deceased Jubilarians “are here to celebrate our shared lives and commitment that are bigger than time and space as we experience them,” she said. “Our fore-Sisters are here and they rejoice with us.”
Sister Lorraine – Vicaress, General Councilor, and Silver Jubilarian – noted that the Sisters who are alive and serving today are continuing the work of the deceased Jubilarians, who now “bask in the divine gaze of the fullness of eternal love … Isn’t that the spirit of love we have tried, at our better times, to reflect to those we encounter, to those we want to serve?”
Sister Lorraine noted the trust that Jesus still has for his disciples of today, even with their limitations. She gave the example of a Sister who, during a recent Mass, reached out to another Sister who was struggling to find her place in the hymnal and gently found the right page for her. Afterward, she helped the same Sister who was struggling to stand. “That was an example of compassion and love right here in this chapel,” she pointed out. “We see it all the time.”
Finally, Sister Lorraine recalled strongly feeling the gentle and comforting presence of the Adrian Dominican Sisters who had died. “Our Sisters go before us and are with us,” she said. “We are not alone. … We are united today in our love, our commitment, and our fidelity. In the great timeless force of Love that carries us all, we celebrate our fore-Sisters and know they still share the journey with us.”
The hymn, Jubilate Deo, sung during the June 24, 2023, Jubilee Mass, captured the joy of the Jubilarians and of the entire assembly. While every Jubilee celebration is joyous, this year’s celebration marked two additional causes for joy: it was the first in which all Jubilarians – marking Jubilee years from 75 to 25 – could celebrate together, and it was the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began that guests other than Sisters could join in the celebration in person and without masks.
In her welcome, Sister Josephine Gaugier, OP, a Double-Diamond Jubilarian, noted that the designation of Jubilarians as silver, golden, and diamond implies richness, “but in this case, [they] mean an abundance of years and blessings.” In the years 1948,1953, 1963, 1973, and 1998, the Jubilarians officially gave their “yes” to vowed Dominican life. “Our yes was abundant with God’s grace, year upon year,” she said. Through both the smooth and rough times, “the Holy Spirit guided us on the way culminating in this year of Jubilee.”
In her reflection, Sister Elise D. García, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, noted the rich diversity of the Jubilarians and of the calls they received. “Each of you possesses an incredible … fidelity to follow God’s call, no matter when or where or how often you heard it,” Sister Elise said to the Jubilarians. She noted the diversity of ministries: from education at all levels, as teachers, guidance counselors, librarians, and campus ministers; to ministry as therapists, counselors, or spiritual directors; in multiple roles in parishes and dioceses, with expertise in canon law, liturgical ministry, religious education, music, and adult and youth ministries.
“Who among you thought your vocation would find expression through your giftedness as an artist, or as a communicator in public relations, or through healing ministries in nursing, pharmacy, healthcare, or as a convent administrator?” Sister Elise asked. She added that commitment to justice, peace, and making the world a better place has led other Jubilarians to witness in corporate board rooms and to serve in prison ministry, justice and ecology centers, community organizing, and retreat and conference centers. “These are among the many beautiful and surprising pathways” taken by this year’s Jubilarians, she said.
Sister Elise noted that all are chosen and beloved by God. “That insight is a gift of our Christian faith,” she said. “It is another and more rare gift of our faith tradition to be called, as you were, to give your entire lives in radical service to the mission of Jesus.”
After her reflection, Sister Elise received the Jubilarians’ willingness to continue to say “yes” to their call as they renewed their vows. A festive dinner after Mass rounded out the formal celebration, but Jubilarians and their guests continued to have ample time to celebrate together informally. The sense of Jubilee continues throughout the year.
January 30, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – For Adrian Dominican Sisters who hailed from the Dominican Republic, who ministered there, or who cherish the culture, the liturgy at St. Catherine Chapel on January 19, 2023, was a source of great joy. It was a celebration – a few days early – of the Feast of Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia (Our Lady of High Grace), Patroness of the Dominican Republic.
Much of the devotion of the people of the Dominican Republic to Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia stems from a legendary painting of the Virgin of Altagracia, said to have been brought to what would become the Dominican Republic in 1502, shortly after the arrival of the Spanish. The image was housed in a shrine built in 1572. The present basilica was consecrated in 1971.
Sister Carol Ann Gross, OP, in a homily during the special liturgy, described the picture as a “Christmas icon” that depicts Mary watching over Jesus, who had just been born, with Joseph standing in the background.
“The picture of Altagracia can bee seen as often as the Dominican Republic flag,” said Sister Carol Ann, who ministered in the Dominican Republic for about 30 years. “Mary is a loving and powerful intercessor. From the very beginning she is focused on service to others.”
Sister Carol Ann compared the “sense of oneness, unity, and blessedness” that the people of the Dominican Republic feel toward Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia to the feelings that North Americans often experience when they see themselves as members of the universe. “Those of us who look to the stars and sense our oneness with the stars and all of creation can understand the faithful of the Dominican Republic, who celebrate the Virgin who unites all in holiness, love, and strength,” she said.
She noted the busloads of pilgrims who come to the basilica on the feast day. “They give thanks and they celebrate the oneness of being in her presence,” she said.
Sisters Margarita Ruiz, OP, and Teresita Ruiz, OP – blood sisters from the Dominican Republic – recalled their own experience as children growing up with a devotion to Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia. “The feast means uniting first of all with Mary, who is a revolutionary woman who keeps on inviting us to love all people and to love the Earth and to love everything created by God,” Sister Margarita said. “In that very same way, I am united with the people of our country, the Dominican Republic, who love her dearly.”
Sisters Margarita and Teresita said that, as children, they never visited the basilica on the feast day but went on different days, when it was less crowded. “Our Lady knew we loved her and we could go to her at any time,” Sister Teresita said. “She’s the protector of our nation, of our country.”
Sister Teresita added that the flag of the Dominican Republic is the only one in the world that features the Bible in its shield. “It’s very meaningful,” she said. “The faith of our people is expressed through the flag as well.”
Sister Margarita added, “We unite with Mary and with the people and certainly with all who love Our Lady. We rejoice today just for Altagracia, our dear Lady.”
The Adrian Dominican Sisters have ministered in the Dominican Republic since 1945, when the Congregation established Colegio Santo Domingo, a school for girls, in the capital, then called Ciudad Trujillo. Currently, four Sisters native to the Dominican Republic serve there, in formation and spirituality and at Fe y Alegría Espíritu Santo School in Sección San José. In addition, more than 20 Associates live and minister in the Dominican Republic.
Feature photo: At the special altar in honor of Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia (Our Lady of High Grace), are, from left, Sisters Carol Coston, OP, Joyce LaVoy, OP, Annette Sinagra, OP, and Margarita Ruiz, OP (seated in front); Jill Maria Murdy, Director of Liturgical Ministries; Sisters Kelin Lee “Kitty” Bethea, OP, Patricia Harvat, OP (seated in front), Rosario Martin, OP, Teresita Ruiz, OP, Carol Ann Gross, OP, Helene Kloss, OP, Prioress Elise D. García, OP, Joyce Caulfield, OP, and Suzanne Schreiber, OP; and Father James Hug, SJ.