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December 7, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – In their November 2021 Spirituality live stream presentation, Now and at the Hour of our Death, Associate Nancy Mason Bordley and Sister Mary Ann Dixon, OP, explored different ways that people of faith can come to terms with loss, grief, and death through the paschal mystery.
The monthly spirituality presentations are coordinated through the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Spirituality Committee.
Nancy described five components of the paschal mystery: Jesus’ death on Good Friday; his resurrection on Easter Sunday; the 40 days after Easter, which was a “time of adjustment” to Jesus’ new life and grieving of the loss of his former life; Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven, a time for the early disciples to let go of Jesus as they knew him; and Pentecost, “the reception of new spirit for the new life we are already living.”
Focusing on the period of adjustment between the Resurrection and the Ascension, Nancy spoke of grief and the sense of loss that all human beings experience. “We can paper over the loss with pious platitudes,” Nancy said. “We can numb the pain of suffering and loss. But we need to grieve, and we need to grieve well.”
She added, “Like Jesus, we, too will die and because of him we’re able to pray that our life will be transformed” after death. But Nancy emphasized that loss does not only refer to the death of a loved one but to the diminishment of our own physical powers as we grow older, the loss of a job, or the end of a dream. “Good grieving allows me to experience the sorrow of my losses but also the joy in what I have,” she said.
Sister Mary Ann reiterated the importance of grieving well and the notion that death is only one of many losses we suffer. “We have rehearsals for death – illness, loss of a ministry or job, prestige, independence, and control,” she said. These experiences invite us to let go of security and our need to control, she said.
Sister Mary Ann also pointed to the benefits of experiencing loss in our lives. “When we enter into a loss, we can expect to unearth a surprising new life,” she said. “We can emerge … with new insights, new revelations of God’s faithfulness, new revelations that we might not be able to discover in any other way.”
Watch the entire video below.
December 3, 2021, Flint, Michigan – Sisters Carol Weber, OP, and Judy Blake, CSJ, received the C.S. Mott Citizen of the Year Award during the 2021 Art of Achievement Evening Awards Ceremony, held last month at the Capitol Theater in Flint. Co-founders and Co-directors of St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center, they were recognized for their years of service to struggling people in Flint.
The award is named for Charles Stewart Mott, founder of a major foundation that funds community organizations around the world – including the N.E.W. Life Center.
“It was a very humbling experience because there are a lot of deserving people who do a lot of work in Flint,” Sister Carol said in an interview. “People are so grateful for what we are able to do. It’s a ministry – a call from God. I’m only doing what I’m called to do.”
The ministry of Sisters Carol and Judy is extensive. The N.E.W. Life Center focuses on helping people in the North End of Flint, which is predominantly African American and low-income. Services include a food pantry, a literacy center, employment preparation, and specific job training in areas such as commercial sewing and lawn care.
During the onset of the Flint water crisis in 2014 – when lead was found in the city’s water – the Center played a key role in distributing clean water and in teaching mothers of young children the importance of good nutrition to help combat the effects of the lead. “We’re still having problems with water,” Sister Carol said, adding that the Center received the donation of a filtration system to supply clean water for cooking and drinking.
The Employment Preparation Program teaches participants “soft skills” needed to be dependable workers, as well as specific job skills. The program helps participants to “get a better handle on who they are, what their goals are, and what their life plan is,” Sister Carol explained. The Center also partners with employers who are willing to hire people who have served in prison, she added.
One of the job-training components deals with making pallets for a business that supplies them to General Motors. Another aspect of that program, Sister Carol said, is training workers to take apart wooden crates found in the landfill and giving them to Habitat for Humanity to sell in their ReStore. “We’re trying to teach our people the skill of production,” she said. “The job they will get after on-the-job training most likely will be in production.”
The women in the Center’s commercial sewing company continue making clothing for Stormy Kromer. But, as Christmas approaches, they’re also working on a special project: making personalized Christmas bags – filled with gifts such as socks, underwear, a stuffed animal, a toy, a coat, and a blanket – for almost 500 local children under the age of 10. The N.E.W. Life Center also assembles a family box for other members of the family, including clothing, personal items, and toilet paper.
Sister Carol said two other Adrian Dominican Sisters have recently come to the N.E.W. Life Center to offer their gifts in special ministries. Sister Theresa Mayrand, OP, is beginning a support program for pregnant women and for mothers of small children. Sister Patricia Magee, OP, is starting an after-school educational program for elementary school children from a local Catholic school.
“We’re growing,” Sister Carol said. “People are investing in us. It’s a good time for us in Flint because people recognize what we are able to do. The people in Flint trust us.”
View a slide gallery of the award ceremony.
Feature photo: This is one of more than 1,000 Christmas bags that St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center will be distributing to children in the Flint area. The bags contain gifts such as socks, underwear, a stuffed animal, a toy, a coat, and a blanket. To the right is Sister Carol Weber, OP.