News | Live Stream | Video Library
Contact Us | Employment | Donate
June 23, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – “Women over recorded history have always made an impact. … We need to improve the world where we are, as we are. This is our turn, my friends. The world we have created is [the product] of our thinking. It cannot change without changing our thinking.”
These words of encouragement came from Sister Patricia McDonald, OP, during a live-stream presentation by several Dominican Sisters who reported on their experiences of the 67th meeting of the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), at the United Nations in March 2023. The live stream presentation on CSW 67 by Dominican Sisters was broadcast June 20, 2023.
Founded in 1947, the CSW is “the biggest global policy entity for women by the United Nations,” explained Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP. The Commission is “driven to advance the rights of women and girls everywhere,” she said, adding that CSW 67 ended with 89 agreed conclusions.
As the Dominican Representative to the United Nations, Sister Durstyne invited Dominican Sisters from throughout the world to attend CSW 67. The Sisters stayed together at the Center at Mariandale, a retreat center owned by the Maryknoll Sisters, and commuted together daily to the United Nations to attend three or four of the many side events offered to the public. Back at Mariandale, they shared dinner and discussions about their experiences.
Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, Director of the Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation, connected the work of the CSW to the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ 2022 Enactment on Women. The Enactment commits the Congregation to “strive to attain gender equality and women’s full and equal participation and decision making in Church and society.”
“We all agree that the realization of all human rights and the fundamental freedom of all women is essential for the empowerment of women,” Sister Kathleen said. “What is implicit in our Enactment and in the agreed conclusions [of CSW 67] is a world where women and girls have the right to live free of violence, go to school, participate in the decisions of the societies in which they live, and receive equal pay for equal work.”
Sister Bibiana “Bless” Colasito, OP, General Councilor, spoke to the theme of CSW 67: technology and women. “There is a need to address challenges associated with the misuse of new and emerging digital technologies which can be used to incite violence, hatred, discrimination, and hostility,” she said. “Technology can make or break a woman. It can make a woman when it is used to develop her full potential, but it breaks a woman when it is used to inflict pain and suffering in her life.”
Other Adrian Dominican Sisters who attended CSW 67 and who spoke during the presentation were Sisters Ellen Burkhardt, OP, Patricia Leonard, OP, and Judith Friedel, OP. Adrian Dominican Sister Judith Benkert, OP, also in attendance, read the written experience of Sister Sarudzai Mutero, OP, of Zimbabwe. Other presenters were Sister Philomena Benedict, OP, of England, and Sister Venentia Velase “Velie” Muthembu, OP, of South Africa. The Sisters from England and Africa represented Dominican Sisters International.
Sisters who attended the UN Session but were not quoted in the article, from left to right: Sister EllenBurkhardt, OP; Sister Judith Benkert, OP; Sister Patricia Leonard, OP; Sister Judith Friedel, OP
Watch a recording of the presentation below.
June 26, 2023, Adrian, Michigan – After fleeing the terrorist group ISIS in 2014, leaving their convents in the Nineveh Plain, spending years in internal displacement, and returning to their homes to begin recovery, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Iraq still face an uncertain future.
That was the message that Sister Huda Shito, OP, Prioress of that Congregation, brought to Adrian Dominican Sisters during a special presentation last month. She visited Adrian shortly after the graduation of one of her Sisters, Raghad Saqat, OP, who recently completed her doctorate in physics at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Sister Raghad will teach physics at the University of Mosul in Iraq.
Sister Huda spoke of the Sisters’ exile and of the difficulty of returning home after the liberation of the cities in the Nineveh Plain. “We found all the damage that affected our villages, most of our convents, houses, and churches,” she said. After rebuilding their damaged properties, the Sisters continued their mission to the people of the area.
Sister Huda Shito, OP, left, Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Iraq, gives an update on the situation for the Sisters in Iraq, while Sister Raghad Saqat, OP, PhD, listens
“The first challenge we faced was the situation of the country, which is still unsettled,” Sister Huda said. “There is no clear vision. We go to sleep and we do not know what is going to happen tomorrow.” Still, she said, the Sisters strive to give hope to the people and to persuade the Christians to remain in Iraq.
Although her report on the current situation in Iraq was often painful, the arrival of Sisters Huda and Raghad in Adrian was also in many ways a joyful reunion. The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Iraq – even in the midst of the U.S. invasion of Iraq – developed a close relationship with Sisters in many U.S. Dominican congregations, including the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Several of the younger Sisters from Iraq were sponsored by U.S. Dominican congregations for higher education in the United States.
Sister Elise D. García, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, spoke to this close connection during her introduction of Sister Huda. “Like all the Dominican Sisters we have been privileged and honored to call our own during their amazing studies here in the United States, we have cherished the five years we have had with Raghad,” she said. She thanked Sister Huda and the members of her congregation for the trust they placed in the Adrian Dominican Sisters for allowing them to sponsor and host their Sisters during their studies.
The close bond was even more evident at the conclusion of the presentation, when Adrian Dominican Sisters Suzanne Schreiber, OP, and Carleen Maly, OP, performed a light-hearted song they had written in tribute to Sister Raghad.
Watch the entire presentation in the video below.