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Adrian Dominican Sisters Welcome Four Associates in Virtual Ritual
New Associates as of August 28, 2022

September 6, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – The Adrian Dominican Congregation formally welcomed four new Associates August 28, 2022, during a Ritual of Acceptance held via Zoom. 

Associates are women and men at least 18 years of age who feel called to the Dominican Charism (spirit) and who make a non-vowed commitment to associate themselves with the Adrian Dominican Sisters and with other Associates. While maintaining their independent lifestyle, they are invited to share in the Sisters’ mission, ministries, and spiritual and social activities.

Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, welcomed about 78 participants: the new Associates, their mentors, Associates, Sisters, family members, and friends. 

During her reflection, Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Council Liaison to Associate Life, noted that the ritual takes place during a time of transition. The 2016-2022 General Council is preparing for the formal transfer of leadership on October 8, 2022, to the General Council elected in June at the 2022 General Chapter. The Ritual of Acceptance also takes place as Associate Life is being enfolded into the new Office of Dominican Charism, which will also encourage the charism among Co-workers at the Motherhouse and sponsored institutions, benefactors, and other Partners in Mission.

“We’re all setting out on a new journey with an extended view of our Dominican Charism,” Sister Patricia said. “It’s an important time to be part of our being together.” 

Mary led the Ritual of Acceptance, calling on the mentors to introduce the prospective Associates and asking the Associates of their reason for answering the call to become an Associate.

Jane Bertsch

New Associate Jane Bertsch with her mentors
New Associate Jane Betsch, center, participates in the Ritual of Acceptance with her two mentors, Associate Judith Engel, left, and Sister Suzanne Schreiber, OP.

Jane Bertsch, a native of Missouri, moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, where she was taught by the Adrian Dominican Sisters at Cardinal Newman High School. She was an Adrian Dominican Sister for 11 years, but never lost a connection to the Congregation. She has served in religious education, as Director of Training and Organizational Development for the Detroit Public Transportation Department, and as Executive Director of Guest Relations for the Detroit Medical Center. Since her retirement, she has served in literacy training and hospice care.

“Although I left the community 12 years ago, my contact has remained strong,” she said. “I have always considered this group to be a source of inspiration and support.” Through Cross Threads, a group of former Adrian Dominican Sisters, Jane learned about Associate Life.

Jane “embodies the Dominican foundational elements or threads woven together,” said Sister Suzanne Schreiber, OP, one of Jane’s two mentors. “As a seeker with an inquiring mind, study is her natural way into prayer and contemplation. Always open to new insights, Jane seeks to go deeper.”

Associate Judith Engel, Jane’s other mentor, affirmed Jane’s inquisitive mind, noting her own delight in reconnecting with Jane. “Jane always was and always will be a Dominican called to give a sense of truth in her life,” she said. 

Patricia “Patty” Driscoll-Shaw

New Associate Patricia Driscoll-ShawPatricia “Patty” Driscoll-Shaw, of Huntley, Illinois, is also a former Adrian Dominican Sister. Sister Esther Kennedy, OP, her mentor, described Patty’s 32 years of ministry as an Adrian Dominican Sister, serving as nurse and as a healthcare advocate for the people in need in Peru, Guatemala, Panama, and Honduras. In her love for mission work, Patty discerned becoming a Maryknoll associate and, while ministering in Guatemala, met another Maryknoll missionary, Dan Driscoll, whom she married. 

Noting Patty and Dan’s continued solidarity “with all the people suffering in the world,” Sister Esther spoke of the couple’s work in marriage preparation and in other areas with African American people in Chicago. Sister Esther noted that Patty, now suffering from health problems, is “actually living now a really wonderful ministry of presence, responding to the call with greater awareness and responsiveness to your circumstances.”

Patty said she was impressed by the Adrian Dominican Sisters from the time she was about 6 years old and walked seven blocks to school every day. “I loved walking behind the Sisters and carrying their books and hearing them laugh,” she said. She noted the Sisters’ “lightness and yet a depth for issues and people and things that need depth. … All that laughter unites us to our mission – the depth to bring us to various ministries in the mission but always with the presence of God.”

Danoushka Capponi

New Associate Danouschka CapponiDanoushka Capponi, now residing in Miami, Florida, met the Adrian Dominicans through her involvement at Barry University. Born in Cannes, France, she moved to Belgium at the age of 7. She met her husband – who died 24 years ago – while attending the College of New Rochelle in New York. Her son Michael founded Global Empowerment Mission (GEM), a nonprofit organization that brings aid to any area suffering from natural disasters or conflict. He serves as President and Director of Global Operations for the USA, Caribbean, and South America and the European regions. Danoushka serves as Director of Educational Programs.

Danoushka spoke of her spiritual life as a young girl and her desire to be foolish in the eyes of the world and wise in God’s eyes. “The whole Holy Trinity got to work on me,” she said. “God the Father whose loving presence has been warming my heart; the Son who spoke to me in Galilee and gave me a specific roadmap to mission; and the Holy Spirit who guided me to Barry.” Danoushka thanked Mary Lach for her influence as well. “I will proudly proclaim the Dominican Charism of truth,” she said.

Sister Mary Frances Fleischaker, OP, her mentor, came to know Danoushka through her involvement at Barry University. “One of the things that impresses me most about Danoushka is her deep involvement in international connections with social justice and charity,” Sister Mary Frances said. 

James Mallare

James Mallare, a licensed public health practitioner, is a doctoral candidate at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he met the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, a member of James’s dissertation committee, invited him to Adrian to help her with a study on retired Adrian Dominican Sisters. While in Adrian, he became acquainted with the Dominican Charism. 

Sister Carol Jean Kesterke, OP, his mentor, noted that he was born in Windsor, Ontario, and in 2013 moved to Detroit to become a U.S. citizen. His connection to the Adrian Dominican Sisters grew as the Sisters prayed for him when he faced health problems, she said. 

“In his third year, James experienced a tugging of the Spirit to explore a new form of spiritual life,” Sister Carol Jean said. “I have found James to be thoughtful. With [his] previous Franciscan formation and his recent embrace of our Dominican charism, there’s this dynamic going on in him as he attempts to integrate them.”   

James noted that his call to Associate Life was “not a straight path. Nothing in our life is. When I first met the Adrian Dominican Sisters, it was then that I knew how Elizabeth must have felt during her visitation with Mary – each Adrian Dominican carrying Christ within herself, and me, excited but scared.”

Associate Life

The Ritual of Acceptance continued with each new Associate lighting a candle that had been given to them as a symbol of the light of Christ. Mary asked the new Associates and their mentors to sign a document formally recognizing their commitment to the Adrian Dominican Congregation and invited the Associates to put on their Associate logo.

Candidates for Associate Life undergo a period of formation, during which they study Dominican history and spirituality and come to know the Mission and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. For information about joining Associate Life, contact Mary Lach, Director, 517-266-3531, mlach@adriandominicans.org; or Associate Nancy Mason Bordley, Director of the Office of Dominican Charism, 517-266-3534 or nmbordley@adriandominicans.org.

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Avatar  nancyann turner last yearReply

The story on the new associates is quite amazing and reinforces the idea that we still have work to do and we are not "finished". Some harvest is coming from our past...but there are still new seeds to plant.



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