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August 16, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – During Partners VI, the annual gathering of Associates, three new Associates were welcomed through the Rite of Acceptance on August 11.
Judi Engel, an Adrian Dominican Sister from 1964 to 2006, is an artist, educator, and consultant living in Columbus, Ohio. She had taught in inner city schools and was involved in a variety of other ministries for the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Diocese of Columbus. While beginning her retirement, she anticipates remaining involved in spirituality and art – drawing, watercolors, and photography.
“Judi is best known for her preaching with her gift of art,” said Associate Trudy McSorley, who mentored Judi. She noted examples of Judi’s work around the Motherhouse campus. “In the Roncalli hallway, Judi’s mural of Dominic looking over this very campus is a powerful meditation as we consider resiliency in community,” Trudy said. Judi’s sculpture, Christ Rising, in the meditation room at INAI: A Space Apart “invites us into that very mystery,” she said.
Judi said she is “a Dominican for life – not just in the vowed structure.” Upon her acceptance, she presented a new art work, distributing printed copies to those present, using the theme, “It happens, sometimes, that the way is beautiful.” That line, her own simplified translation of a line from the French book, Miserere, by French painter Georges Rouault, “is a summary of my own journey with the Adrian Dominican Congregation, and with profound gratitude I offer it as a statement of my desire to continue to share that journey as an Adrian Dominican Associate.
Gladys Cruz, of Isleton, California, was born in Tokyo, Japan, to a U.S. Roman Catholic father and a Japanese Buddhist mother. She has lived in the United States since the age of 6. Gladys met the Adrian Dominican Sisters at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz. She and her husband Greg are the parents of four adult sons – including a special needs son – and have four grandchildren. She is a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and a catechist.
Associate Connie Brady, mentor of Gladys, said the two of them have come “full circle.” Twenty years ago, she said, Gladys was instrumental in Connie entering the Catholic Church. “We became great friends, and over the years, I learned that Gladys had one phrase she said over and over again: ‘When somebody needs help, you just help them.’”
Thanking Connie and Associate Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, for their formation work with her, Gladys noted how she had been influenced by the Dominican family. “When I look back at my life, Dominican priests and nuns have been a firm part of my religious journey,” she said. “I can hear God saying, ‘Gladys, I’m not through with you yet.’”
Eileen Negus, of Adrian, has been involved with Sisters at the Dominican Life Center, especially assisting at Bingo games and baking for the Sisters, funerals, and fundraisers. A life-long Catholic, she assists at the food pantry and hospice program at St. Mary’s Parish in Adrian and with a cancer support group; she lost her only daughter to cancer years ago.
Associate Marge Coneset, mentor of Eileen, met Eileen four years ago when they both took a water aerobics class from the late Sister Rose Celeste O’Connell, OP. During her formation in Associate Life, “it became very clear that Eileen has what it takes to be committed to Associate Life,” Marge said. “Her faith is steadfast and she is grateful to God for all of her blessings. Her love of community and of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and caring for those in need have become her mission.”
Ellen expressed her gratefulness in becoming an Associate. “It has become very clear that my mission of serving my community and my church fits in with the Dominican charism. … I’m blessed with my life and want to help others when I can. I hope to continue my mission as an Associate.”
After the formal introductions, Mary Lach formally questioned Judi, Gladys, and Eileen, on their willingness to be known as an Adrian Dominican Associate. All Associates and Sisters present at the ritual affirmed the new Associates, saying, “We acknowledge the oneness of our baptismal commitment and work together to deepen our faith in Jesus Christ. … May we continue to explore the meaning and exercise of ministry for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a developing future.”
The new Associates completed the formalities of their new status by signing the Agreement of Association, stating their willingness to enter into a formal relationship with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. As a symbol of this commitment, the new Associates each received an Associate logo from her mentor.
At the conclusion of the ritual, the Associates in attendance presented their own signed commitments to Associate Life until the next General Chapter in 2022. The signed documents were placed in a basket at the foot of the altar, where they represented the Associates’ offering of their lives to God.
Associates are women and men – married or single – at least 18 years of age and committed to sharing the Mission and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. While maintaining their independent lifestyles, Associates share in the Sisters’ mission and vision and participate in Congregational, spiritual, and social events with the Sisters.
If you’re interested in becoming an Adrian Dominican Associate, contact Mary Lach at 517-266-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a single Catholic woman interested in discerning vowed religious life with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, contact Vocation Co-Directors Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, at 517-266-3532, email@example.com or Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, at 517-266-3537, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature photo (top): Mentors present the Associate Life logo to new Associates. From left are Associates Gladys Cruz, Connie Brady, Eileen Negus, and Marge Coneset.
Associates sing the Dominican Blessing over the new Associates.
August 16, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – About 50 Adrian Dominican Associates, along with some Sisters, gathered in Adrian August 10-12, 2018, to study and discuss the Congregation’s General Chapter Enactment on Resilient Communities, reflect on Dominican spirituality, deepen relationships with one another, and to welcome three new Associates.
The gathering, Partners VI, is an annual event that signifies the partnership in Mission between the Associates and the Sisters.
Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor and liaison to Associate Life, welcomed the group, which included Associates from Michigan, the Dominican Republic, Florida, and California. She reflected on the meaning of St. Dominic’s dying wish to be buried at the feet of his Dominican brothers. “His request expresses the reality of his brothers’ fraternity as a place of holiness,” she said. “There’s the sense of that holiness among us tonight. It is the holy preaching that you’ll hear about tonight, all day tomorrow, and Sunday.”
Associate Trudy McSorley prepared the group for the work of the next day: study and discussion on the Congregation’s General Chapter Enactment on Resilient Communities. The Enactment calls on the Sisters and Associates to pledge their “lives, money and other resources to facilitate and participate in creating resilient communities with people who are relegated to the margins, valuing their faith, wisdom, and integrity.”
Trudy noted that the Adrian Dominican leadership had designated 2018 as a year of study to learn more about resilient communities. As preparation for the work of the next day, Trudy showed a video with excerpts from a Resilient Communities Symposium, hosted by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and featuring a panel of thought leaders on five aspects of resilient communities: vision, economic empowerment, racial equity, environmental justice, and collaboration.
On the morning of August 11, Associate Dee Joyner, Director of the Congregation’s Office of Resilient Communities, led participants in further exploration of resilient communities and of the people who are relegated to the margins in local areas.
“People are very confused about what is a resilient community,” Dee said. “If you Google it online, you’ll find many references. Each group has a different take on what that means to them.” She invited participants to spend time as a group “unpacking” the meaning of the Congregation’s working definition of a resilient community: “one that has a long-range sustainable vision that emerges from the community through an inclusive, collaborative process that engages diverse grassroots leaders and person who have traditionally been marginalized; creates partnerships built on trust; seeks equity and justice; draws on spiritual wisdom and is healing; and reflects a concern for future generations, living within Earth’s regenerative capacity (i.e., ‘one-planet thinking’). These elements combine to promote the well-being and vitality of the community and its ability to address ongoing stressors from crises or disasters and sustain itself into the future.
Each local Mission Chapter of the Adrian Dominican Sisters has been asked to set up a Resilient Communities committee, co-chaired by a Sister and an Associate, to ascertain geographical areas of need and to work with the people in that area to address the needs that the people themselves experience, Dee explained. Participants were also asked to discuss the ways in which they as individuals envisioned themselves becoming involved in local resilient communities.
Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, Co-director of Vocations, began the afternoon session August 11 by suggesting ways that Associates can help Catholic young adults in their discernment for vocations to the priesthood or religious life. She suggested that the Associates invite other adults in their neighborhoods or parishes to a dessert gathering to raise their awareness of young adults that they know who might have a vocation – who might be active in their parish or in community service. “Young adults want their lives to make a difference,” she said. “They need to be accompanied and they need to be invited.”
Sister Patricia gave a presentation on Dominican spirituality. “Our spirituality is not about special ways of praying but finding a good attitude in the midst of all that is and all that happens,” she explained. “We rely on grace. There’s no other way we can sometimes get through life.”
She drew on Lumen Gentium, the dogmatic Constitution of the Catholic Church issued at the time of Vatican II, to explain the Dominican charism. A charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit, given to a religious congregation for the benefit of the Church, she said. The Dominican charism is to preach the Word of God. “Our mission is to live the charism – a common gift, one that belongs to us as Sisters and Associates. It’s dynamic and unfolding and constantly being rediscovered.”
The evening included the Rite of Acceptance of three new Associates: Gladys Cruz, of Isleton, California; Judi Engel, of Columbus, Ohio; and Eileen Negus, of Adrian. Read more in the accompanying article. The Associates wrapped up Partners VI on Sunday morning before celebrating the Sunday Liturgy at St. Catherine Chapel.
For more information on becoming an Adrian Dominican Associate, contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or email@example.com. If you are a single Catholic woman interested in discerning vowed religious life with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, contact Vocation Co-Directors Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, at 517-266-3532, firstname.lastname@example.org or Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, at 517-266-3537, email@example.com.
Feature photo (top): Stones brought in by Partners VI participants help create the environment for the opening prayer on August 11.