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New General Council Takes Office for Adrian Dominican Congregation

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, welcomes the assembly to the Celebration of Leadership Liturgy.

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.

Members of the 2022-2028 General Council formally accept the responsibilities of General Councilor during a formal ritual with their predecessor: Sister Janice Brown, OP, with her predecessor, Sister Frances Nadolny, OP; Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, with Sister Patricia Harvat, OP; and Sister Bibiana Bless, OP, with Sister Elise García, OP.

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.

Prioress Elise García, OP, reflects on the readings.

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.

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