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June 7, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – The fire and exuberance of the Holy Spirit – combined with the joy of welcoming a Sister home to the community – brought a special celebration of praise to St. Catherine Chapel on June 5, 2022. The assembly of Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, and friends was celebrating both the Feast of Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Church – and the Transfer of Vows of Sister Elisabeth Nguyen, OP, from the Vietnamese Dominican Sisters of Phu Cuong in BienHoa, to the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Sister Elisabeth has been connected in various ways to the Adrian Dominican Sisters since she arrived in Adrian in 1968 to study at Siena Heights College (now University). While still a member of her Dominican congregation in Vietnam, she became an Associate of the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 1991.
An Associate is a woman or man, at least 18 years of age, who is called to the Dominican charism, or spirit, and makes a non-vowed commitment to partner with the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
The Transfer of Vows brought Sister Elisabeth full circle, to vowed membership with the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
“I feel great,” Sister Elisabeth said in an interview. “My journey is finally coming home to Adrian, and I feel complete. It’s time to be part of this wonderful congregation.”
Prioress Patricia Siemen, OP, welcomed Sister Elisabeth with “great joy” and with gratitude to her Dominican congregation in Vietnam. Sister Elisabeth formally professed her vows to Prioress Patricia Siemen, using the traditional Dominican formula. “To the honor of Almighty God, I, Sister Elisabeth Nguyen, reaffirm my commitment and promise obedience to God, to our Blessed Mother Mary, to our Holy Father St. Dominic, and to you, Sister Patricia Siemen, Prioress of the Congregation, and to your lawful successors, according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitution of the Sisters of St. Dominic of the Congregation of the Holy Rosary, until death.”
Sister Patricia presented Sister Elisabeth with the logo of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, signifying her vowed membership to the Congregation. The transfer was completed with the signing of official Vatican documents by Sister Patricia; Sister Elisabeth; and two formal witnesses, Sister Mary Priniski, OP, Chapter Prioress, and Sister Mary Jane Lubinski, OP, Mission Prioress of the Catherine of Siena Mission Chapter. The assembly affirmed their own joy by singing the Dominican Blessing over Sister Elisabeth.
In her reflection on the Pentecost readings, Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Council Liaison to the Formation Office, focused on the Pentecost story through the historical memories of St. Dominic and Sister Elisabeth. Just as the Holy Spirit prompted the first disciples to leave the safety of the Upper Room to preach to the world, St. Dominic and Sister Elisabeth left their own Upper Rooms to follow the call of Jesus, she said.
It was on Pentecost Sunday 1217, Sister Patricia noted, that St. Dominic convened a Chapter of his young Order of Preachers in Toulouse and announced that he was sending his friars out into the world to preach. “Just as the disciples were gathered in the Upper Room, the Dominican friars were gathered in the Upper Room in Toulouse, and Dominic unlocked the doors for the Holy Spirit to lead them into new adventures,” Sister Patricia said.
In the same way, Sister Patricia noted many “Upper Rooms” that Sister Elisabeth was called to leave to live out her life of ministry and mission. The first Upper Room was in Vietnam in 1967, when Sister Elisabeth was one of four Vietnamese Dominican Sisters who received scholarships to study at Siena Heights College in Adrian. They arrived in August 1968 and were warmly greeted by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
With the fall of the South Vietnamese government in April 1975, Sister Elisabeth was called to leave the Upper Room of Adrian to help with the resettlement of 135,000 refugees from to the United States – including members of her own family. “This is when Elisabeth’s work of resettling the Vietnamese and other refugees from all over the world brought her to this Upper Room for many years,” Sister Patricia said.
Specifically, Sister Elisabeth was called to resettlement work through Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Oakland, California. “I went to Oakland for temporary ministry,” she recalled in a 2016 interview on the occasion of her Lifetime Achievement Award for 40 years of refugee resettlement work. “I never thought I’d my whole life out here, but I love the work I’m doing.”
In 1991, Sister Elisabeth visited her Dominican community in Vietnam and decided to remain a member but, at the suggestion of Sister Donna Markham, OP – then on the General Council – she became an Adrian Dominican Associate.
In her reflection, Sister Patricia noted that when Sister Elisabeth attended a 2019 gathering of Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, and Partners in Mission, Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, invited her to come home to Adrian. “The Holy Spirit took hold of Elisabeth from this Upper Room where she had lived for 50 years, unlocked her door, and encouraged her to renew her vows with the Adrian Dominican Sisters,” Sister Patricia said.
“Thank you, Elisabeth, for coming home, for unlocking the doors of our Upper Room,” Sister Patricia said in concluding her reflection. “Thank you, Elisabeth, for reminding us of our own love story and to fall in love with the God of light, of, fire and warmth, our Comforter, who alone is our inheritance and joy, and to enable us to believe in the amazing things that await us beyond these locked doors.”
View the recording of the Mass below
For information on vowed life with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, contact Sister Mary Jones, OP, at 517-266-3532 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on becoming an Adrian Dominican Associate, contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or email@example.com.
Feature photo: Sister Elisabeth Nguyen, OP, professes her vows to Prioress Patricia Siemen, OP, while her witnesses – Sister Mary Priniski, OP, left, Chapter Prioress, and Mary Jane Lubinski, OP, Mission Prioress – offer encouragement.
March 12, 2020, Henderson, Nevada – Five women – all Co-workers at Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals – were welcomed as Adrian Dominican Associates during the Ritual of Acceptance March 7, 2020, in the chapel of the Rose de Lima Campus of the hospital system. Several Sisters and Associates gathered in the chapel, along with friends and family members, to welcome the new Associates.
Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, presided over the Ritual of Acceptance and offered a reflection on the Dominican charism. She noted that the new Associates are “charism carriers,” and that the ritual is a confirmation of who they already are. “You don’t become an Associate just by signing a document and receiving a pin,” she said. “This ceremony celebrates that you have the Dominican charism already – your ministries, your sharing, reflect this.”
These Associates have studied for the past year, under the guidance of Sisters Kathleen McGrail, OP, Carol Elya, OP, and Mary Jean Williams, OP. During the ritual, they shared their reasons for becoming Associates. All five spoke of the Dominican charism, which they see reflected in the lives of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Donna Barnes-Riggins, a registered nurse, ministers at the St. Rose de Lima Campus as a house supervisor, helping patients and staff to get what they need while the patient is hospitalized. Donna hopes to strengthen the Dominican charism she learned by observing our Sisters and through study and contemplation.
Teressa Conley served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Rose De Lima Campus and, until 2016, also served Chief Operations Officer for the Siena Campus. She began her 30 years of experience in health care as a nurse. Most recently she was Vice President of Operations Transformation for CommonSpirit Health, which was established with the recent merger of Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives. Currently semi-retired, she continues to work as a consultant. Teressa is drawn to the Dominican charism, including the Dominicans’ “contemplative spirit and their courage to engage in the contemporary and challenging issues of our times.”
Holly Lyman, as Director of Community Health at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, works with people at all stages of life, from neonatal to the elderly. A native of Utah, she has been working with the Adrian Dominican Sisters for 18 years. Married and the mother of two, Holly was mentored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters through the Ministry Formation program. She earned a certificate of theology from Aquinas Institute of Theology, a Dominican graduate program, which helped her to understand the Dominican charism.
Natasha Mulrooney, who grew up on a farm in Iowa, is the philanthropy manager at Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals. She holds a master’s degree in counseling. A newlywed, Natasha has an adopted daughter named Cierra. She came to know the Adrian Dominican Sisters through her work at the hospital and hopes to continue to grow spiritually.
Aimee Moran Yannis, Director of Imaging and Respiratory at Rose De Lima Campus, has been working for the Adrian Dominican Sisters for several years. She wishes to grow in her spiritual life and to be a source of light, truth, and joy to others. The mother of five and grandmother of three, Aimee is active in her parish in youth ministry and as a Eucharistic minister.
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.
For more information on becoming an Associate, contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a single Catholic woman interested in vowed religious life – or know of a young Catholic woman who is – contact Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, at 517-266-3532 or email@example.com or Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, a 517-266-3537 or firstname.lastname@example.org.