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October 10, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – The new Prioress and General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters formally took office October 8, 2022, during a special liturgy, the Celebration of Leadership. The Congregation’s new leadership team is composed of Sister Elise D. García, OP, Prioress of the Congregation; Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; and Sisters Janice Brown, OP, Corinne Sanders, OP, and Bibiana “Bless” Colasito, OP, General Councilors. They will hold office through June 30, 2028.
The new Prioress and General Council were elected during the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ 2022 General Chapter, held June 27, 2022, through July 2, 2022, in Chicago. Normally held at the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse in February, the 2022 General Chapter was delayed until June in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, the outgoing Prioress, welcomed the assembly of Sisters, Associates, Co-workers, family members and friends, and representatives of the Congregation’s sponsored and legacy institutions and explained the significance of the ritual.
The Transfer of Leadership “is a significant moment in the life and history of the Congregation,” Sister Patricia explained. “It marks a new chapter … a tradition where the former leadership team serves and then returns to the circle of members, as the new leaders rightly mark their place.” She encouraged the Sisters, Associates, and partners in mission to “boldly, joyfully, and in great trust in God’s presence commit our love, our support, and gratitude to our new General Council as they lead us into a more richly diverse, expansive community.”
Preparing for the Transfer of Leadership Ritual are Father James Hug, SJ and Sister Judith Benkert, OP, and, clockwise from right, Sisters Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Frances Nadolny, OP, Patricia Harvat, OP, Bibiana “Bless” Colasito, OP, Corinne Sanders, OP, Janice Brown, OP, Lorraine Réaume, OP, Elise García, OP, and Patricia Siemen, OP, at the ambo.
After reading a proclamation from the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Constitution, spelling out the role of leadership in the Congregation’s governance, Sister Patricia called forth her successor, Sister Elise, asking if she accepts “the responsibility as Prioress of the Congregation to carry forward the decisions and directions of the General Chapter 2022 and to care for the common life and ordinary governance of the Congregation.” Sister Elise declared her willingness.
In turn each member of the outgoing General Council – Sisters Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Frances Nadolny, OP, Patricia Harvat, OP, and Elise García, OP – called forth her successor and formally questioned her about her own willingness to take on the responsibilities of General Councilor.
In her reflection on the readings, Sister Elise expressed her gratitude to the 2016-2022 General Council for the love they poured out during the past six years in a very difficult time, and for their predecessors since 1923, when the Adrian Dominican Sisters were established as a separate Dominican Congregation. She also acknowledged the contributions of “more than five dozen” General Councilors over the years; more than 3,000 women “who have given their lives in extraordinary service as Adrian Dominican Sisters,” and the many who led dedicated lives – before their mergers – as Edmonds Dominican Sisters, based in the Seattle area, and Sisters of the Our Lady of Remedies Dominican Congregation, based in Pampanga, the Philippines. The Congregation has also been blessed by the lives and gifts of Associates, Co-workers, Partners in Mission in sponsored institutions and legacy institutions, and bold spiritual seekers, she said.
“We make this transition of leadership at a hinge moment in the life of our Congregation and the life of our Earth community,” Sister Elise said. “Religious life is undergoing epochal change. It is a painful gift to be living through this now as we [complete] one form of religious life and give birth to another.” She noted the grief of burying 240 Sisters in the past six years, as well as the personal sorrows and losses carried individually by those involved in the Congregation.
Still, Sister Elise said, “we come to this table as a people of faith in God and in each other – in the goodness of life and its miraculous unfolding over billions of years to this moment, in the power of finding purpose and meaning in this brief sojourn.” She noted the “ever ancient, ever new” call of Jesus to love one another as he has loved each of us – a call illustrated in the Enactments of General Chapter 2022.
Jesus’ call to love one another “is nothing less than turning the world in a new direction,” Sister Elise said. “It is the gift of being alive at this transformative time when how we are and what we do makes all the difference. So, let us go forth into our new chapter.”
The joyful Liturgy concluded after Communion with profound expressions of thanks from the 2022-2028 General Council to the General Council of 2016-2022 for their creative and faithful leadership during difficult times.
Read more about the new General Council and about the 2022 General Chapter Enactments.
A recording of the Eucharistic Liturgy with the Celebration of Leadership is available below. Additional photos of the event are available for viewing on the Congregation's Facebook page.
Feature photo (top): Members of the 2022-2028 General Council are, from left, Sisters Janice Brown, OP, and Bibiana “Bless” Colasito, OP, General Councilors; Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; Sister Elise García, OP, Prioress; and Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, General Councilor.
July 7, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – In a historic General Chapter, the Adrian Dominican Sisters elected their next Prioress and General Council and set the direction for the next six years.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, formally opened the Congregation’s 19th General Chapter, held June 27 to July 2, 2022, in the Marriott Chicago O’Hare Hotel. The dates and place of General Chapter 2022 were an unprecedented departure from the Congregation’s practice of meeting in Chapter in February at the Motherhouse in Adrian. The changes were made to keep the Sisters who reside at the Motherhouse – as well as the Delegates – as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chapter’s 125 Delegates elected a Prioress and General Council to lead the Congregation through June 30, 2028. They will formally take office in October.
Sister Elise D. García, OP, Prioress-elect, served as Communications Director for the Adrian Dominican Sisters from 2011 until her election to the General Council in 2016. With Sister Carol Coston, OP, she co-founded and co-directed Santuario Sisterfarm, an ecology center in Texas dedicated to cultivating biodiversity and cultural diversity.
Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Vicaress/General Councilor-elect, recently completed her ministry as Co-director of the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate, where U.S.-based congregations of Dominican Sisters send their novices for formation in religious life. Sister Lorraine served as Pastoral Associate for Hispanic Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Anchorage, Alaska, and as Pastoral Associate at Ste. Anne de Detroit, a largely Hispanic parish.
Sister Janice Brown, OP, General Councilor-elect, served in the Detroit-metro region for more than 15 years as Executive Director of two of the Congregation’s literacy centers, Dominican Literacy Center and Siena Literacy Center. Before entering the Congregation in 2003, she was a single mother, raising her daughter and working in banking and finance. She was an Adrian Dominican Associate and, after her daughter lived on her own, felt called to religious life.
Sister Bibiana “Bless” Colasito, OP, General Councilor-elect, was born in the Leyte Province of the Philippines and joined the Dominican Congregation of Our Lady of Remedies in Pampanga, the Philippines, in 2000. That congregation merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 2011. Sister Bless has been involved in school administration and social action, currently serving as Head of the Commission on Family and Life for the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, Philippines.
Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, General Councilor-elect, serves as Director of the Office of Sustainability for the Adrian Dominican Sisters and assists the Office of Immigration Services as a paralegal. Before her election to the General Council in 2010, she was principal of Rosarian Academy, sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and located in West Palm Beach, Florida. She also served as Director of Mission and Ministry at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida, and as Director of Formation for the Congregation.
The General Council-elect succeeds Sisters Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; and Patricia Harvat, OP, and Elise D. García, OP, General Councilors.
The General Chapter Delegates also approved five Enactments to set the Congregation’s ministerial direction for the next six years. The Enactments were formulated from issues and concerns raised by Sisters and Associates during a virtual Congregational assembly in October 2021 and by groups of Sisters and Associates who submitted issues and action plans in November and December.
The Enactments are:
Diversity: “Challenged by the Gospel and outraged by systems that oppress, dehumanize and deny the image of God in each of us and Earth community, we commit to: acknowledge and repent of our complicity in the divisions prevalent in our church and our world; act to dismantle unjust systems; and build the beloved community in which everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, hunger, and hate.”
Dominican Vowed Life: “We are passionately committed to vowed Dominican life. Trusting in the Spirit and embracing the gift of our charism, we invite women to join us in our call to preach the Gospel.”
Spirituality: “Living in a time of global chaos and Paschal hope, and rooted in our Dominican tradition, we recognize our spiritual longings and those of the world. We commit to deepening our spirituality, attending to the evolutionary awakening of human consciousness and living into the transformation to which we are called both personally and communally.”
Sustainability/Laudato Si’: “Affirming the urgent need to live in right relationship with Earth community, we commit to address the cry of Earth and the cry of those who are poor by joining the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.” Based on a 2015 letter by Pope Francis on Earth, our Common Home, the Laudato Si’ Action Platform is a seven-year plan in which Catholic organizations such as parishes, dioceses, schools, and religious communities commit to working toward seven sustainability goals to heal Earth and work against global climate change.
Women: “Valuing human dignity, and aware of the injustice of patriarchy which maintains the subordinate status of women and girls throughout the world, we strive to attain gender equality and women’s full and equal participation and decision making in church and society.