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March 27, 2023, Mining, Pampanga, Philippines – With profound joy and gratitude, the Adrian Dominican Sisters of the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter dedicated their new Central House, which serves as a residence and office building. The celebration included Mass; a formal dedication and blessing of the building and its rooms; and a festive dinner.
Nearly 300 people attended the event, including more than two dozen clergy from dioceses where the Sisters minister. The Mass was concelebrated by four bishops, including Florentino Lavarias, DD, Archbishop of San Fernando; Paciano Aniceto, DD, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga; Bishop Roberto Calara Mallari of the Diocese of San Jose (Neuva Ecija); and the Bishop of the Diocese of Caloocan (near Manila), Pablo Virgilio David, who is President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. Also attending were members of the Pampanga Association of Women Religious and of the Dominican Sisters International from the Philippines; Adrian Dominican Sisters from the United States, including former Prioress Patricia Siemen, OP, current Prioress Elise D. García, OP, former General Councilor and Administrator Frances Nadolny, OP, and current General Councilor and Vicaress Lorraine Réaume, OP; local officials; lay Dominicans; and students, co-workers, and friends of the Our Lady of Remedies Sisters.
The Central House replaces the original Motherhouse of the Our Lady of Remedies Dominican Congregation, founded in the 1960s with support in the formation process from the Adrian Dominican Congregation. In 2011, the Our Lady of Remedies Congregation merged with the Adrian Dominican Congregation.
Left: A happy crowd gathers for the ribbon cutting of the stairs leading to another floor of the Central House. Right: Sisters process through the corridors of the new Central House, named the Adrian Dominican House of Remedies.
In 2022, the Sisters in the Philippines were asked to vacate their Motherhouse – located on land owned by the Archdiocese of San Fernando – so the Archdiocese could use the space to expand its seminary.
The three-story Central House, named the Adrian Dominican House of Remedies, is on the campus of the Dominican School of Angeles City, a mission of the Sisters, in the barangay or neighborhood of Mining, Province of Pampanga, Philippines. The building includes nearly 40 bedrooms, offices for the Chapter Prioress and the Treasurer, a chapel, a conference room, archives, refectories (dining rooms) for Sisters and guests; a kitchen; a community room; and outdoor areas, such as a labyrinth, grotto in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and a greenhouse. It also will include solar panels and improved Internet and Wi-Fi.
Left: Long view of the chapel. Right: The dining room.
In an earlier interview, Sister Maria Yolanda G. Manapsal, OP, Chapter Prioress of Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, spoke of the Adrian Dominican House of Remedies as a place that can serve the people of Mining. “We are planning to extend our ministry to the street children of Mining,” she said. “It will be a great opportunity to work with people who are poor.”
In her address to the assembly toward the end of Mass, Sister Yolanda expressed deep gratitude for the Adrian Dominican House of Remedies. “Our hearts are filled with joy and gladness with this dream come true,” Sister Yolanda said. “After saying good-bye to our Motherhouse where we lived for almost 50 years, God has surprised us with this edifice.” She described the Adrian Dominican House of Remedies as a “beautiful home we can call our very own,” and credited the “grace; divine providence; and the outpouring love, mercy, and compassion of our God.”
Sister Yolanda thanked all who helped in the funding and construction of the Adrian Dominican House of Remedies: the 2016-2022 General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters; other benefactors, sponsors, friends, and family whose donations made the building’s construction possible; local government officials; the construction company and the landscaper; Sisters in the Mission Chapter who solicited donations and helped in the preparation of seedlings for the garden; members of the previous Mission Council, headed by former Chapter Prioress Sister Rosita Yaya, OP; members of the Construction Committee; and other Adrian Dominican Sisters.
“God will surely bestow upon you hundredfold blessings,” Sister Yolanda said. She concluded by asking God to “make us worthy of this place by being blessings to others, too, and give us the grace to become the best version of ourselves for others.”
Sister Elise D. García, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, offered her own words of encouragement to the Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter and to all who were involved in the construction of the Adrian Dominican House of Remedies.
“The construction of this convent is a sign of hope in our world – not just here in Mining, not just here in Pampanga or the Philippines, but truly a sign of hope for our entire world that there is a presence of our beautiful Dominican community here – a witness to the love of God that is within us and that is manifested by each and every one of the Sisters who will call this Dominican house home from this day forward,” she said.
February 2, 2021, Detroit – The week of January 18, 2021, was a turning point not only for the United States as its new President and Vice President, Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris, were inaugurated. It was also a turning point for Sister Racquel Rones, OP, who became a new U.S. citizen the next day, January 21, at the Detroit District Office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Sister Racquel took her oath of citizenship with about 25 other people who came from a variety of countries. Because of COVID-19 protocols, she said, the new citizens were encouraged to leave after they received the certificate and could not participate in the tradition of shaking the judge’s hand. Still, she said, she celebrated with her local community from Adrian who had accompanied her to Detroit: Sisters Jo Gaugier, OP, Tarianne DeYonker, OP, and Attracta Kelly, OP.
“I am so happy,” said Sister Racquel, a native of the Philippines and a member of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in Pampanga, the Philippines. She was inspired by the welcoming words of the judge who presided over her Naturalization ceremony. “He told us, ‘Don’t forget January 21, 2021 – you’re celebrating your second birthday,” she recalled. “He encouraged us, when we’re able to travel, to discover the United States, our new country, with many mountains and beaches.”
Sister Racquel entered the Dominican Congregation of Our Lady of Remedies in 2000 and made her final profession of vows in April 2009. When the Remedies Congregation merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 2011, she said, she was encouraged to consider applying for U.S. citizenship because of her youth and the possibility that one day she might minister in the United States.
Her ministries have included managing the Dominican Religious Store in San Fernando, Pampanga; serving as teacher, librarian, and bookkeeper at Dominican School of Apalit in Apalit, Pampanga; and serving as school treasurer at Holy Rosary College Foundation in Tala, Caloocan, and at Immaculate Conception Academy in Guagua, Pampanga. In addition, she served as pastoral minister at St. Eystein Menighet Parish in BodØ, Norway.
Sister Racquel is no stranger to the United States. Shortly after the two congregations merged, she spent a year with her sister in California.
Before coming to Adrian in January 2020, Sister Racquel received a letter from Sister Attracta, Director of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Office of Immigration Assistance, listing the documents she would need to prepare to apply for U.S. citizenship. Her application was filed the second week of March.
“The hardest part [of becoming a citizen] was preparing for the interview and the exam,” Sister Racquel said. “Living with the community, watching the news, and being immersed in the culture really helped me, but what was really the hardest part was studying for the civics questions.”
She found support from her local community; from Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, and members of the General Council; and from the Sisters at the Motherhouse, who encouraged her and prayed for her. In addition, Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, helped her to study for the exam and Sister Carleen Maly, OP, Director of the Adrian Rea Literacy Center, helped her improve her pronunciation of English.
In the end, Sister Racquel said, she was surprised by the easiness of the questions. “I didn’t find it hard,” she said. “If you’re open and ready, just challenge yourself. I was expecting the worst [of the exam], but my experience was not bad…. Prayers really work. Trust God.”
The new citizen also received informal education about the U.S. culture from her life with her local community in Adrian and from watching the news. She was particularly struck by the continuing efforts of African Americans – with the help of other Americans – to achieve racial equality through the Black Lives Matter movement. “It’s really enriching my history,” she said. “I’m so touched by their experience and how resilient they are, to be still fighting for their rights in this country.”
Sister Racquel also felt the shock of the Sisters in her community over the insurrection that took place at the Capitol on January 6 – and the excitement at watching the Inauguration. “We watched all day,” she said.
Once she receives her U.S. passport and visits her sister in California, Sister Racquel anticipates resuming ministry in the Philippines or Norway. But, she said, part of her will remain in her new country.
“I’m ready to embrace the future as an Adrian Dominican Sister,” Sister Racquel said. “I am so happy to know our Sisters, to share stories and life with them. … I will look back when I’m in my ministry, wherever that is. Now I have confidence.”
Feature photo: Sister Racquel Rones, OP, proudly displays her citizenship certificate and the U.S. flag on the day she became a naturalized U.S. citizen.