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March 24, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – The Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse Campus celebrated National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW) by reaching out March 14 to local Partners in Mission – Motherhouse Co-workers, Siena Heights University Torchbearers (faculty and staff members who are specially trained in the Mission of the Adrian Dominican Sisters), and tutors of Adrian Rea Literacy Center.
Begun in 2014, NCSW is recognized March 8-14 to shine a spotlight on the commitment and ministries of U.S. Catholic Sisters. Adrian Dominican Sister Mary Soher, OP, was instrumental in this initiative.
In recent years, the Adrian Dominican Sisters marked the week with special outreach programs to the Adrian area community. “This year we decided to bring [the NCSW celebration] closer to home with all of us on Siena Heights Drive,” said Sister Rosemary Abramovich, OP, Co-chair of the Campus NCSW Committee.
The Committee invited Torchbearers, tutors, and Sisters to the March 14 Mission Retreat, a program presented four times throughout the year to help the Congregation’s new Co-workers become more steeped in the Mission of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. “The Mission Retreat is all about what our partnership means,” explained Erin Dress, Director of Human Resources.
Sister Esther Kennedy, OP, traced the Congregation’s history from St. Dominic’s original mission in 13th century Spain to combat the heresy that creation is evil and only the spirit is good. He founded the first convent of Dominican cloistered nuns in 1206 in southern France, which, in turn, ultimately founded 11 other convents for women. The Adrian Dominican Sisters trace their history to one of those convents: Holy Cross in Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany, which sent four Sisters to the Americas.
“The seeds of St. Dominic scattered across the ocean, landed in New York, and soon spread to Michigan,” Sister Esther said. The foundation of Sisters who originally came to Adrian to serve at St. Mary and St. Joseph Parishes eventually grew. In 1885, the community became a province of the original New York foundation, and in 1923 became a separate Congregation of Dominican Sisters.
“You are bringing forth the seed in this time,” Sister Esther told the participants. “It is a new moment in time for collaboration with people and for working with others in really profound ways.”
Sisters Peg O’Flynn, OP, and Carleen Maly, OP, shared their own call to the Mission as Adrian Dominican Sisters. Sister Peg said that many of her family members served in religious life and that she was pleased to enter the Adrian Dominican Congregation. She currently serves as the Congregation Fleet Coordinator in the Finance Office and as interviewer for a series of videos, Our Dominican Lives: A Sister’s Story. Sister Carleen, Director of the Adrian Rea Literacy Center, recalls hearing a message from God, “Be for more people,” and entering the Congregation in response.
Jennifer Hunter, Executive Director of Campus Services and the daughter of a Lutheran Minister, also shared her story. While working at ProMedica Health Systems, Jennifer received a call from a friend, informing her of an opening for Executive Director of Campus Services for the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She began in that ministry in October 2012. “I feel like this is my call,” Jennifer said. “God knows what he’s doing and leads you to serve those who need you. I’m a Partner in Mission, learning from the Sisters, serving alongside them.”
Several participants in the NCSW program recognized their own call to the Mission.
Tina Adams sees her role as tutor at Adrian Rea Literacy Center as “giving back. I see tutoring as part of the mission, making the adult learners more comfortable and familiar with our language.” She said she appreciates the many opportunities that the Sisters give to the adult learners and others in need.
Tim Tracy, who works in the Technology Department for the Congregation, said, he sees the Mission in action as he assists Sisters, listens and shares his own knowledge of technology.
Melissa Tsuji, Career Services Specialist at Siena Heights University, graduated from there in 1990. “One of the reasons I was excited to be a Torchbearer is that many of my role models as a student were Adrian Dominicans,” she said. “Every day I get to walk with our students and help them figure out their story. … The work that I do with our students helps them to understand their multifaceted role in the fabric of the Siena community but also the greater community and the world as a whole.”
Read more about how you can become a Partner in Mission as an Adrian Dominican Sister, Associate, or Co-worker.
Feature photo (top) Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor, welcomes the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Partners in Mission to a special program for National Catholic Sisters Week.
March 4, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – The City of Adrian and Lenawee County face a number of challenges. But given the community’s assets – such as caring people and about 800 nonprofit organizations – the community can face those challenges, particularly by building on collaboration already in place among service agencies.
That was the gist of an update by the Adrian Resilient Communities Committee, formed in response to the Adrian Dominican Congregation’s 2016 General Chapter Enactment on Resilient Communities. The Enactment calls on the Adrian Dominican Congregation to “facilitate and participate in creating resilient communities with people who are relegated to the margins, valuing their faith, wisdom, and integrity.”
The Congregation spent a year studying resilient communities and shared some of the findings during a public symposium in March 2018 and an educational forum in August 2018. Committees have been formed in Adrian and in the Congregation’s Dominican Midwest, Dominican West, Florida, and Great Lakes Mission Chapters to explore opportunities to build resilience in their regions.
Jennifer Hunter and Sister Sharon Weber, OP, Co-Chairs of the Adrian Resilient Communities Committee, focused their February 25 update on the results of the Committee’s year of research and next steps in collaborating with people of Lenawee County.
Jennifer, Campus Administrator, reported on the statistics that the committee had unearthed: Adrian’s population of 20,000 in a county of 98,000 residents; the median wage of Adrian households, almost $34,000, compared to a national average of $59,000; and a poverty rate of 27 percent compared to a national average of 14 percent.
Sister Sharon, Vice President for Academic Affairs for Siena Heights University in Adrian, spoke of lessons the committee learned from their own involvement in the local area, as well as from listening to Co-workers, local community members, and Sisters. One of the greatest assets of the area is the attitude of the people, she said. “This is a caring community, willing to help each other.”
But, Sister Sharon said, people in the community also identified a number of challenges: the lack of accessibility to mental health services, reliable public transportation, food security, jobs with living wages, services for youth, affordable and accessible day care, and affordable housing.
The Committee’s research also focused on effective approaches the Committee and the Sisters, Associates, and Co-workers in the area can take in working with the community to address the challenges. “It helps to start where you’re wanted,” Jennifer said. “Don’t call [people] into your board rooms to sit around your conference room tables or don’t call them into your house. You go to their churches or their park benches or their spaces where they feel the most comfortable, and they’re going to open up to you.”
Habitat for Humanity of Lenawee County, which has worked with the people of Adrian through their East Side neighborhood revitalization program, proved the effectiveness of gaining the trust of the residents. “They learned that it takes years to build trust,” Jennifer said. The hardest lesson of all, she added, is to “give up control if you really want the residents to take charge of their future. Sit back and be a participant as opposed to leading that charge.”
Sister Sharon outlined next steps that the Committee planned for the coming year:
The goal, Sister Sharon said, is to build resilient communities that feature “sustainability, partnerships based on trust, equity and justice, spiritual wisdom, and healing.”
Serving on the Adrian Resilient Communities Committee are Sister Rosemary Abramovich, OP, Sister Maurine Barzantni, OP, Joel Henricks, Ashley LaVigne, Brad McCullar, Sister Pam Millenbach, OP, Amy Palmer, and Sister Kathleen Schanz, OP. Associate Dee Joyner, Director of the Office of Resilient Communities, and Sara Stoddard, Finance Director, are members ex officio, and Kris Cooper, executive assistant, serves as the Committee’s secretary.