Preaching


The OP after our names stands for “Order of Preachers,” the formal name of the religious order founded in 1216 by St. Dominic. As Dominicans, we preach with our lives—in both word and deed—guided by a search for truth (veritas) and a commitment to contemplate and share the fruits of our contemplation (contemplate et aliis tradere). 

Our Dominican lives are shaped by the interconnecting movements of study, prayer, communal life, and ministry. 

Dominic so firmly believed in the importance of study to the preaching mission that he provided a rule of “dispensation” from other responsibilities in the event they interfered with study. We are women committed to study. Through prayer and contemplation we interiorize our learnings and enter into communion with the Source of all truth. Our communal life orients us to the common good of the whole Earth community. And in ministry, our preaching takes effect.

As women of the Gospel, our preaching is also expressed in word. Read reflections on the Word of God posted by Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates on the Praedicare Blog below.

 


Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
New Year's Day 2024
Preaching by Sister Fran Nadolny

Monday, January 1, 2024
Numbers 6:22-27
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:16-21

 

Sister Fran Nadolny, OP

Good Morning and Happy New Year! Our New Year greeting and wishes for you are simple, taken right from this morning’s Book of Numbers: May our God bless you and keep you – and give you peace. May it be so all through 2024.

This year I had some kind of revelation as I was struck that we celebrate two feasts of Mary in December – The Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe – and then January always begins with a celebration of Mary, the Mother of God. In fact, in our Church, there are eighteen Marian feast days, and these do not include the numerous special regional feasts that occur annually.

So, why is this? I believe that Divine Creation needed human intervention and a partner to get the job done in the work of bringing the Light of truth and justice and love into the world. That partner was Mary, who was truly a co-creator of “Love Forever Being Born,” which is a title by artist Kelly Latimore for his beautiful icon of Mary. Love Forever Being Born.

Let’s think about partners today. There are life partners, business partners, partners in mission, card and game partners, next-door-neighbor partners, table partners, organizational partners, local community partners, General Council and Leadership Council partners, coalition partners, prayer partners – all trying to get the job done, whatever that job might be. We cannot exist without partners. They need us and we need them. It is impossible to do all the jobs and all the tasks in isolation.

Partners share values, mission, vision. They may not share those values or visions when the partnership begins, but they grow into it, just as Mary did. She pondered these things in her heart from the moment she was asked to be a partner until the moment the earthly partnership ended.

When we observe and ponder the partnership of the Divine Creator and Mary, we are awed by the outcome. As we begin a new year, as we celebrate Mary, it is so valuable for us to ponder our own various partnerships — whether with humans or the divine. What are the gifts that we bring to those partnerships? What are the gifts that we receive from those partnerships? What love and energy for a better Earth community are born from those partnerships? May our first resolution of the new year be a commitment to being a strong and faithful partner – as was Mary, the Mother of God.

 


Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
December 31, 2023
Preaching by Sister Corinne Sanders

Sunday, December 31, 2023
Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Hebrews 11:8, 11-12, 17-19
Luke 2:22-40

 

Sister Corinne Sanders, OP

On this day – the Feast of the Holy Family – we continue to be in the days of incarnation, a time of promises fulfilled. In these days there is rejoicing and celebration as families gather for the holiday with feasting, gifting, and remembering.

We have also seen and have been reminded of the other side of life:

The horrors of continued warfare as mothers hold their young ones, desperate and sobbing.

We see and hear of the families making the dangerous journey from the south to the north, clinging to the hope of a better life for their children.

These are all families, families beloved by God. They are – along with Mary, Joseph, and the child, Jesus – Holy Families seeking to live faithfully in their own places, in their own times.

The long-awaited coming of the Prince of Peace, however, has yet to bring forth the fullness of life and peace.

So still we wait. And still we pray.

Mother Teresa once said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

A simple yet profound statement: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

We belong not just to our immediate family or to one another here as we gather in this chapel as Sisters and friends.

When Mother Teresa says we belong to each other, I believe she is referring to the vastness of the ones numbered in the sky as Abraham looked up as God directed him. God’s vision on that night with Abraham and Sara was of a family whose numbers were too many to count. The Holy Family on that evening was the vastness of the universe created in love.

It was into this “most holy family” that God became incarnate and yet the world has yet to embrace this. Peace is elusive as we dwell and struggle in the divide of our differences rather than reaching across in the common bond of belonging.

Today, like the child Jesus wrapped in the loving embrace of Joseph and Mary, we are called to grow in wisdom, to enlarge our vision and realize that this feast of the Holy Family celebrates the holy family as the Global Community/Family gathered in one-ness, standing side by side, rich in diversity and expression, praying for, working toward, and cultivating peace so that our children and the children of all creatures great and small may have life in abundance.

This is God’s promise and vision. It is the promise and vision that we work toward in whatever faithful, inspiring, creative, and courageous way as it comes to our doorstep.

Mary and Joseph received those promises and responded as they received into their hearts and home a child of mystery, a child leading them into an unknown future. They fulfilled their obligations and brought home with them a child who would grow in wisdom and become strong and be favored by God.

Is this not the hope of every parent?

In our world – broken and fractured in so many ways – is this hope for our children merely a fairy tale ending? Hoped for but not truly possible for all? Or are we being asked to enter more deeply into the promise and the mystery of being a holy family, bound together in one-ness? A Holy Family – a universe – connected in and through love.

May we enter into this final week of the Christmas season and beyond returning home with Mary and Joseph and the child Jesus to Nazareth. May we grow in wisdom – as we come to see that we belong to each other.

And in this belonging, God’s peace fills our world.

 


2023 Christmas Day
Preaching by Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP

Monday, December 25, 2023
Isaiah 52:7-10
Hebrews 1:1-6
John 1:1-18

Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP

 

At Christmas time, we enjoy the traditional images of the baby Jesus in a manger, with Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the wisemen, the angels, and an assortment of animals. For 800 years that has been our traditional Christmas image, thanks to St. Francis who created the first creche scene.

And yet for some reason the church chooses this very distinct Gospel from John that begins not in a manger, but in the beginning of time and space. We could even call it the cosmic creche.

Why do we have this unusual reading that does not match the images on our Christmas cards at all?

Perhaps because it offers us the bigger picture and the deeper reality of Christ. And the bigger picture and the deeper reality of ourselves and all creation.

It reminds us of Genesis – "In the beginning" – so this is about God’s creation. And what was there? The Word! Remember, in Genesis, it was simply by speaking that God brought all elements of life into being. That’s the same active Word here – a Word that makes things happen! A Word also known as Wisdom.

Light and life and love come into being at the beginning of time. That means us, too. In our human perception, we know that this process began about 13.8 billion years ago. The force of life that God imbued into the universe led to all that has appeared, including us.

Unlike a manger scene, it’s not easy to grasp. I think in recent years, we’ve had a taste of the beauty and power of that Genesis through images we’ve seen from the Hubble telescope, truly stunning and magnificent images.

And yet, here we are on and with Earth, where we live out our lives. And to help us understand the power of connection and love, God became flesh, part of creation. The eternal Word took on the form of a human being who pitched his tent among us, who experienced the world as we do, limited by space and time.

The one who sustains the universe accepted the limits of being a creature in need of food, love, family, and sleep and who experienced disappointments, joys, and suffering. The Word “gets us.” And the incarnate Word shows us how to live and love.

Jesus announced good news, even as he lived in an occupied land, even as so many suffered from illness or rejection around him, even as he was condemned. He brought healing, hope, and salvation and encountered others with profound love and compassion. He was always connected to the source of life and love which is not limited by time and space.

We certainly can get discouraged when we see the struggles in our world and our Earth community. Our hearts ache so much we may be tempted to look away or escape. And yet, deep down, we know there is something bigger that holds us all, that is beyond time and space, and when we connect with that divine force, we too can bring good news with our beautiful feet, like Isaiah says.

I came across a quote that touched me: “The Word spoken in love into the world inscribes a power of self-giving love into the structure of the universe.”

Our invitation is to hold on to the power of self-giving love and to share it wherever and however we can in the world right around us.

The cosmic Christ and the human Jesus have the same message – all is imbued with love, with connection, with relationship, with self-giving.

We experience it in some particular ways in our time here on Earth. And we know there is a golden thread that carries throughout and beyond all time and space that we can hold on to and trust.

The love that stirs in our hearts as we see a little baby in a manger is the same love that permeates the universe.

That’s the love we are called to bring into this hurting world – not denying the negative, just as Jesus did not, but recognizing the power of God from the beginning that still sustains all and draws our entire cosmos forward in love.

For our time on Earth, may we join in that spirit of love and, though our feet may not be so steady, or smooth, we can be assured that they are still beautiful when they bring good news.

Merry Christmas!

 


2023 Christmas Eve
Preaching by Sister Elise Garcia, OP, Prioress

Sunday, December 24, 2023
Isaiah 9:1-6
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-14

Sister Elise Garcia, OP

 

“Divine Love Becomes Incarnate.”

That’s the wonderful title of the chapter in a new commentary that begins with today’s Gospel. The commentary is part of a marvelous new series offering a feminist interpretation for every book of the Bible. It’s titled, Wisdom Commentary, and its editor and co-author is our Grand Rapids Dominican Sister Barbara E. Reid, OP.

Divine Love Becomes Incarnate. Isn’t that precisely what we hold in wonder and awe in our hearts every year at this time? That God so loved the world as to incarnate Divine Love, taking on human flesh – flesh conceived in a woman’s womb, where the alchemy of life forged over billions of years of evolution is recapitulated in one cell after another, with elements made from stardust. It’s no different than the way each one of us became flesh in our own mother’s wombs, growing from atoms to cells to limbs with the same cosmic stuff that made frogs and whales, sparrows and elephants.

In a remarkable poem, Gerard Manley Hopkins compares Mary, the Mother of God, to the air we breathe “which by life’s law my lung must draw and draw.” The very air we breathe reminds him of her who, he writes, “gave God’s infinity dwindled to infancy welcome in womb and breast, birth, milk and all the rest.” It was “Of her flesh he took flesh.”

These tangible details and others we find in today’s Gospel are not insignificant. They speak of God’s intent and the meaning of the incarnation.

As Luke tells the story, God’s infinity was dwindled to infancy in the womb of what we know from biblical scholars and Scripture was a poor and astonished Jewish girl. The infant Jesus was born to her and her accepting fiancé as they made the journey away from home to take a census required by the oppressive Roman empire for purposes of economic exploitation. They could not find shelter, so Mary gave birth to the infant in a stall for animals and then laid him in a manger, which is a feeding trough. The Divine revelation of this extraordinary birth came not to Caesar Augustus but to shepherds, who in those days were women as well as men, out in the fields tending their flock at night.

Over the years we have taken all the harsh edges off this story, depicting it in beautiful and charming nativity scenes. No shepherds that smell like the sheep. No signs of Mary’s hours of pain in labor. No evidence of the hunger of poverty or the persistent fear of violent oppressors. These are all tangible realities of the time and place into which Divine Love became incarnate.

That is why an image now circulating around the Internet is so piercing in its truth-telling. It’s an image of Mary and Joseph watching over the infant Jesus, lying on a pile of rubble in the Holy Land, surrounded by bombed-out, collapsing buildings. The image speaks of the truth of the unutterable horror of war – and of it being the probable site of Divine Love incarnate today.

As God’s infinity dwindled into infancy and became flesh in Mary’s body more than 2,000 years ago, so has God’s infinity dwindled into each one of us as the ever-present light of Christ. The Prince of Peace we await is alive within each one of us, awaiting the way we – each in our own tangible particularity – will give birth to peace on Earth.

We heard it said years ago in Medellín: “Peace is not found, it is built.”

And so as we celebrate this beautiful Christmas Eve, when Mary is tending God’s infinity dwindled into infancy, let us call on her to help us tend that Divine Love incarnate within our own hearts so that together we can build the peace we all long for in our beloved Earth home.

Perhaps we can join with Gerard Manley Hopkins in the prayer to Mary he wrote in closing his poem:

Be thou then, thou dear
Mother, my atmosphere; …
Stir in my ears, speak there
Of God’s love, O live air,
Of patience, penance, prayer:
World-mothering air, air wild,
Wound with thee, in thee isled,
Fold home, fast fold thy child.

 


2023 Feast of St. Dominic
Preaching by Sister Patricia Harvat, OP

Tuesday, August 8, 2023
Isaiah 52:7-10
2 Timothy 4:1-8
Matthew 5:13-19

Sister Patty Harvat, OP

 

We place upon your table a gleaming cloth of white:
The weaving of our stories, the fabric of our lives;
The dreams of those before us, the ancient hopeful cries,
The promise of our future: our needing and our nurture lie here before our eyes.

     - "We Come to Your Feast," song by Michael Joncas

At any time during meals or even during physical therapy, you can hear family stories being told about people’s grandparents, parents, or siblings. Some are serious, some are comical, and some have been embellished through the years. What all the family stories have in common is they try to relate what was important to that family. Stories reveal values and priorities of how life was to be lived.

Dominic left us family stories. He did not leave behind books or documents. The stories we have evoke wonder and not explanation. So I thought today I would relate a few of those stories and look at what values they reflect, and then consider "what is our living legacy of Dominican stories?"

There are three characteristics Dominic would want us to remember in listening to these stories:

  • Trust in God
  • Tenderness with others
  • Truthfulness with himself

The final line of the Gospel, “Know that I am with you always until the end of the world,” was something Dominic trusted to be very true. He trusted God was and always would be with him in any circumstance of his life. As he prayed overlooking the valley of Prouhile and saw a ball of fire, he trusted this was God’s inspiration to begin the Order of Preachers. He continued to trust in God as he sent the friars out two by two all over, trusting in the gratuitousness of God’s love and mercy to guide and protect them. And then we know his invitation to women and men, married and single, to be a part of this new group was complete trust that God would see it flourish. In doing so Dominic established a full lay ecclesial community.

The second characteristic is tenderness with others. Isaiah’s reading reminds us of Dominic’s journeys. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings.” As Dominic walked up and down roads leading to many cities he encountered many people. He saw the poor begging along the road side as he carried his books of learning. That’s when we hear the story of Dominic saying, “How can I study from these costly books made from the skin of animals while the people I pass do not have enough to eat?” I like to always think he learned this kind of tenderness from his mother, who we will recall gave the best wine from the family wine cellar to those who came to the door begging.

Dominic was tender with the friars also. Each superior was empowered to dispense the friars from any particular requirement of the rule which might interfere with the work of saving souls. Hence a friar could miss prayers if he had to study for preaching. There is another story of a novice who had some issues and was brought to Dominic asking him to dismiss him. After a dialogue with the novice Dominic said we need to give him a second chance.

The third characteristic is truthfulness with himself. The second letter of Timothy reflects well Dominic’s sense of self: “Preach the word, stay with the task convenient or not, be steady and self-possessed.” We can only imagine his many conversations with the Albigensians who were so confused about their faith. We remember the story of the innkeeper and Dominic staying up all night till he helped him see the truth.

So what is our legacy of stories that we have to tell? To people like Jamie, who will be joining us as a candidate in September; to or our Sisters under 70; or to our Associates, Co-workers, and Partners in Mission? Or today on this feast, what Dominican family stories do you have to share at lunch or supper? Especially over a nice glass of wine or sparkling water! Dominic’s mother would be happy to see that!

What story of trust in God would be important for you to share that would be helpful to someone struggling with trust?

And from your many ministerial experiences:  What do you remember about your tenderness with others, or giving someone a second chance?

And perhaps something more personal:  How you were truthful with your self and how did this lead to a deepening of your Dominican vocation?

The author Amy Tan wrote, “The path of our lives is the stories that we remember.” The path of our lives is revealed in our Dominican family stories that are as interesting and fascinating -- if not as humorous -- as our own family stories that we remember.

People want to know:

  • How did you fall in love with God?
  • What adventures have you had in seeking God?
  • How did you find God during your quest that has lasted 30, 40, or 50-plus years?

Dominic left us a living legacy in each other. Its legacy continues to shape us.

Holy Father Dominic,

We place upon our table a gleaming cloth of white:
The weaving of our stories, the fabric of our lives;
The dreams of those before us, the ancient hopeful cries,
The promise of our future: our needing and our nurture lie here before our eyes.

Let us celebrate that today as Sisters, to one another and to our many friends!

 


2023 Morning Prayer for the Feast of St. Dominic
Preaching by Sister Mary Ann Dixon, OP

Tuesday, August 8, 2023
Ephesians 3:7-9, 11-12

Sister Mary Ann Dixon, OP

When I was asked to share a brief reflection on St. Dominic today, I was tasked with introducing Dominic, telling stories for the Co-workers and the Sisters. So here is Dominic, the CliffsNotes Edition. I’ll ask the Sisters to think about a question, and I’ll share a few of the legends about Dominic which reveal a bit of the essence of his life.

Even as a young child, Dominic preached to his friends. As a young man in service to the Church, he was a companion to a bishop, and in their travels they saw many effects of heretical teachings from what today we might call a cult.

In time, Dominic visited the town of Prouille, France, and saw a town in devastation after a war. The people had abandoned their faith. They were led astray by cults that were against the Church. There was indifference, immorality, discord, violence, greed, and civil anarchy. Sound familiar? And Dominic thought, "This is where I’ll establish a base."

A religious sect that had taken hold attracted and recruited women, even young girls. It taught that eating, drinking, and procreation were evil and that renouncing all worldly pleasures would make them perfect. The sect believed in reincarnation, suggesting that after many lifetimes the person could become perfect, in their estimation.

Some women who had left this group were impoverished because their families had rejected them. Dominic arranged a place of refuge for the women. That was the beginning. Today, his story would be a 60 Minutes episode!

At the same time, Dominic also saw that only the bishop was preaching to the church members and not regularly. The people were deprived of the Word of God. An idea was emerging. Aha! He would ask the rescued women to teach the faith to children. He would begin a group of preachers and call it an "Order of Preachers," abbreviated OP – and now you know!

And now to my Sisters, I ask, "Even though many of us chose the Dominican Order because we knew a Dominican Sister, as you learned more about the man Dominic, what did you grow to appreciate about him?" Perhaps you could share your answer with someone today.

Here are a few snapshots from stories about Dominic. When I participated in a "Lands of Dominic" pilgrimage in the year 2000, our guide, Sister Mary Ellen Green of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, told us as we traveled from town to town and heard stories of events from those towns, "All of it is true, and some of it really happened." These "memories" represent a glimpse into the man, Dominic.

  • Dominic didn’t preach at, he dialogued with. It was said that he spent a whole night in dialogue with an innkeeper, and by dawn the man was ready to return to the Church, abandoning the heresy he had embraced. Here we see Dominic’s ability to listen.
  • When a famine ensued, Dominic sold all his books to buy food for the starving, thereby revealing Dominic’s compassion.
  • In a standoff against heretics, when challenged to throw his rationale into a fire three times, he did, and three times it did not burn. Dominic’s commitment to truth was tested like gold in a furnace.
  • Although historians cannot find sources for this, it has been said that because the Dominican Order had a democratic form of government, Thomas Jefferson was inspired by the Order when he fashioned our government. Unique, at that time, the Dominican order has always had participatory governance.
  • Dominic was called “the joyful friar” apparently because when heretics attempted to kill him, he just laughed at their threats, saying he’d join his sufferings with those of Jesus. This story reveals Dominic’s serenity under stress.

And finally, one for which I found two Dominican sources, Marie-Humbert Vicaire, OP, and Simon Tugwell, OP: On his deathbed, Dominic said to a gathering of friars and novices who were keeping vigil, “I’ve been a virgin all my life, but I have enjoyed talking to younger women more than listening to older women.”

So, my Sisters (and all women of a certain vintage), let us be young at heart, giving joy to the joyful friar.

 


2023 Founder's Day Mass
Preaching by Sister Elise García, OP

Tuesday, June 27, 2023
Ruth 1:8, 14-18
Ephesians 2:19-22
Matthew 7:24-27

Sister Elise García, OP

Happy Founder’s Day!

What a joyous occasion it is to celebrate the 100th anniversary of our foundation as an independent Congregation – the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary.

And how appropriate that it should come on the heels of our annual Jubilee celebration! Many Sisters, over the years, entered on June 27, marking this as their entrance day – without having any idea of its significance!

Years ago, Rosemary Ferguson, OP, shared with me her regret that we didn’t have a Founder’s Day to honor Mother Camilla Madden, OP. So, Rosemary, I ask you on the other side of the veil to please take Camilla’s hand and join us now in celebrating the gift of her extraordinary leadership and that of all the pioneer women who risked this venture amid the alien corn.

Some, like Camilla, came by boat from as far away as Ireland, landing in New York and then joining other pioneer Sisters sent by train halfway across the country to this in-land peninsula – with a number going way beyond to a western peninsula.

In time, drawn by her visionary leadership and generous spirit, many more women began to come to Adrian from other parts of Michigan and neighboring states. Like Ruth following Naomi, they lodged where she lodged; her people became their people; her God, their God.

Over these 100 years, women have come from all over the United States, Canada, Latin American and the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and Asia. And now, many of those women are buried with Camilla in the same sacred ground where she is buried – as most of us will be one day.

As I was reflecting on this joyful celebration, I was struck by the fact that we are now about the same size as we were in 1923 when we became independent. There were more than 400 of us Sisters in the St. Joseph Province when we separated from Newburgh. We are now 412 Sisters in our Congregation.

I invite us to think about this mirror image. It offers a profound way for us to reflect on this Founder’s Day.

This kind of mirroring is a powerful literary form in storytelling that scholars find in Bible stories, biblical passages and psalms. It’s called a "chiasm" – c-h-i-a-s-m. A chiasm is a literary form that "consists of paired events arranged symmetrically around a center core,"1 as modern-day mystic Cynthia Bourgeault writes.

A chiastic structure usually reveals a larger story at work – one that operates beyond linear time and space. It is a structure that reveals a deep pattern with echoes of its core resonating at mirror ends.

We can see the mirror ends – the 400 Sisters at one end of the story with us 400 Sisters at the other end. What might be the center core that resonates throughout the pattern?

Our readings today illuminate that center core beautifully.

In the story of Ruth and Naomi, we hear the powerful call of a loving and devoted sisterhood – "Where you go, I will go" – in service to God and God’s people. In the letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians, we hear the call to be one with Christ Jesus in whom we are "built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God." In the Gospel of Matthew, we hear the call to be "like the wise ones who built their house on a rock," by listening to and acting on the words of Jesus.

The resonance of that center core – as the readings reveal – is felt in the lives of the first 400 pioneer women, the 412 of us alive today, and the more than 2,000 other Sisters who in the other mirroring times between then and now fully gave their lives to this radical purpose and are now watching over us (joyfully, no doubt).

Today we are celebrating a larger story whose pattern is less about going backward or forward in linear time than it is about reflecting, as Cynthia Bourgeault would say, the "balanced parts of a unified whole"2 whose purposiveness is beyond time and "whose fullness of meaning can be found only by reading the entire pattern."3

This pattern will continue to resonate in the next mirroring movements of our beautiful Dominican religious life. We will see it reflected in coming years in the women who will continue to cast their lots with one another, risking an uncertain future that is already supported by beautiful chiastic patterns that show a crisscrossing of congregations, a crisscrossing of languages, a crisscrossing of ethnic, racial and national boundaries – all building together spiritually a dwelling place for God in our beautiful Earth home.

------

1 Cynthia Bourgeault, Eye of the Heart (Boulder: Shambhala, 2020), 69.
2 Ibid., 90.
3 Ibid., 75-76.

 


2023 Jubilee Mass
Preaching by Sister Elise García, OP

Saturday, June 24, 2023
Isaiah 61:1-3, 10a
Ephesians 1:3-6
John 15: 5, 14-17

Sister Elise García, OP

Happy Jubilee, dear Sisters!

What a joy it is to be celebrating all our Jubilarians together this year – that’s a first – in person and without masks!

For 25, 50, 60, 70, and 75 years you have lived that Gospel message – “to go and bear fruit that will remain” for years to come, long past your time on this Earth home.

It is my honor to extend the deep gratitude that all of your Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates, friends and family hold in our hearts for the extraordinary years of service you have given throughout your 2,545 collective years of vowed life.

Decades ago, each of you received a call. “It was not you who chose me but I who chose you.”

I invite you to take a moment to close your eyes and reflect on when it was that you first heard the call to enter religious life.

  • Where were you?
  • How old were you?
  • How surprised were you?
  • How long did it take for you to say “yes”?

Most of you heard that call somewhere in the United States and were drawn to enter the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary here in Adrian, Michigan. Some of you were already Dominicans, born and raised in the Dominican Republic, when you heard the call to enter the Adrian Dominican Congregation. Another among you came from Canada.

Yet another heard the call to religious life in the Philippines, traveling 8,000 miles across the globe for formation here in Adrian, and then entering through a portal that became the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies in the Philippines.

Some of you Jubilarians were called to enter the Dominican Sisters of the Holy Cross in Edmonds, Washington. And another one among you was called to enter the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de’ Ricci in Pennsylvania.

All of you are together in this Congregation now, reflecting the rich diversity of our Dominican life and the awesome power of the call, which has a way of taking us to places we never imagined.

And that’s true for all of you. Each of you possesses an incredible openness and a fidelity to follow God’s call, no matter when, where or how often you heard it.

Most of you knew when you entered that you might be called to teaching – even if you knew nothing about teaching at that time. And what extraordinary educators you became and have been to students around the globe, in kindergarten through high school, in colleges and universities, and to adults in literacy centers, seeking GEDs or English proficiency. Some of you were also called to be school superintendents, principals, guidance counselors, librarians, secretaries, and campus ministers.

How many of you thought you would be called to serve as therapists, counselors, or spiritual directors? Or to serve in multiple roles in parishes and dioceses, offering expertise in canon law, liturgical ministry, religious education, as vicars, musicians, and in adult and youth ministries and pastoral care?

And after finally making it through Formation, relieved that you never were sent home despite the multiple threats, who among you thought you would ever serve in Formation? And what about those of you who, perhaps like others might have had a few challenges with leadership, and then ended up being called to serve as Congregation Prioresses, General Councilors, Vicaresses, Provincials and Chapter Prioresses?

Who among you thought your vocation would find expression through your giftedness as an artist? Or as a communicator in public relations? Or through healing ministries in nursing, pharmacy and healthcare, or as a convent administrator?

Did any of you imagine that your passion for justice, peace, and making our world a better place might be given voice in corporate boardrooms, prison ministry, liberation theology, justice and ecology centers, community organizing or retreat and conference centers?

These are among the many beautiful and surprising pathways you 25, 50, 60, 70 and 75-year Jubilarians have taken in your faithful years of religious life.

Each of today’s readings speaks of how God has chosen us or how we were chosen by Jesus. The prophet Isaiah says “God has anointed me, and sent me into the world to bring good news.” Saint Paul tells the Ephesians that God chose us “before the foundation of the world.” And in John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.”

We have been chosen – all of us, beloved by our God. That insight is a gift of our Christian faith.

It is another – and rarer – gift of our faith tradition to be called, as you were, to give your entire lives in radical service to the Mission of Jesus.

It is a call that only takes effect if given a response. The call could not bear fruit without your “yes.”

As I look around this chapel, bringing into our circle the Jubilarians who were not able to be here in person, I see the light of the Gospel shining in each of you, a sign of the rich fruit you have brought to bear through your “yes.” Each of you heard the call, responded, and were then, in the Mission of Jesus, “sent into our world to be with others bearers and recipients of his love, co-creators of his justice and peace.”

Thank you for your astonishing “yes” so many years ago. And for all the other “yesses” you have given over the years when you were called to let go of one ministry for another, one place and way of living for another, one congregation for another, one way of being in service for another, and so many other letting go’s up to this very moment – each time opening a new doorway revealing God’s abundant love.

We – your Sisters, family, friends and Associates – love you, admire you, honor and respect you. We are so grateful for the radical witness you have given to God’s immeasurable love with the beauty of your lives and your joyful Dominican spirit.

Thank you. Gracias. Salamat po.

 


Mass for Deceased 2023 Jubilarians
Preaching by Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP

Friday, June 23, 2023
Song of Songs 2:10-14
John 15:15b-17

Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP

Can you feel it? Can you feel their presence?

These 69 women who’ve gone before us, who are joining us here, now, at this sacred moment, this thin time – thin places as the Irish call them – where life as we know it and life in the world beyond connect. They are here to celebrate our shared lives and commitment that are bigger than time and space as we experience them. Our foresisters are here and they rejoice with us. They know directly the voice of God who calls them, “my love, my fair one.” We all knew that voice at some point, and responded, “Yes, here I am.”

Sometimes we can forget the power of the love that first called us on this path, that continues to call us. Perhaps you even chuckled when you heard, “your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” We might not always feel very sweet and lovely. But in the eyes of the Divine we all are simply beautiful. Our foresisters who’ve gone before us know that fully now as they bask in the divine gaze of the fullness of eternal Love.

And isn’t that the spirit of love we have tried, at our better times, to reflect to those we encounter, to those we want to serve? We want to reflect to others their dignity and beauty in the eyes of God – we want to love. That’s why we said yes to this call.

Sometimes we may have lost this inspiration, or have had ministries in which the act of love wasn’t always clear, or had inner struggles that turned us in on ourselves. And that is a part of any life that aims to love fully.

Yet, Christ still calls us friends. No one gives up on a friend because they don’t love perfectly or consistently. Just as Jesus trusts the disciples in John’s Gospel and sends them forth, even knowing their many limitations, so God trusts us, even now, to love one another in whatever way we can.

Last Sunday I was very touched as I watched a sister during Mass. There was another sister sitting near her who was having trouble finding her place in the hymnal. The first sister went over and gently opened the book to the correct page. Later, she noticed that the sister wanted to stand for the Gospel, but was having trouble, so she went over and helped her up. Now the first sister herself is unable to stand for long and actually sat down after helping the other sister up. She was mindful, kind, and loving and I could see the gratitude in the sister who received her care. That was an example of compassion and love right here in this chapel. We see it all the time.

I want to end by sharing something I experienced on my retreat last summer. Perhaps this happened to give me some encouragement in the new role I was about to take on General Council. I wasn’t even in a moment of prayer or reflection, I was just rummaging around my bedroom at the retreat center, and suddenly I became aware of the presence of my foresisters. It was a gentle presence, a comforting presence. After I sat with them, I wrote the following:

“Our sisters go before us and are with us. We are not alone. They have the bigger picture. They aren’t expecting the impossible from us. They just want to help us carry it. They are full of kindness and compassion.”

We are united today in our love, our commitment, and our fidelity. In the great timeless force of Love that carries us all, we celebrate our foresisters and know they still share the journey with us. And we respond, encouraged, full of kindness and compassion and love.

 


St. Catherine of Siena Feast Day 2023
Eucharistic Liturgy
Preaching by Sister Janice Brown, OP

Friday, April 28, 2023
1 Cor 2:10b-16
John 7:14-18, 37-39

Sister Janice Brown, OP

Today we celebrate in anticipation of St. Catherine of Siena’s Feast Day. This is an excellent day to celebrate St. Catherine, our Dominican Heritage, and the gift of the Spirit.

In John’s gospel, we find Jesus and his followers in the middle of the Feast of the Tabernacles, a seven-day festival celebrating the harvest. The Jews were amazed at how well Jesus knew the scripture. Where did he get this knowledge?

Jesus was the master teacher. He knew the Word of God because he became the Word of God. He spent hours in prayer, nurturing his relationship with the one he called Abba. Jesus knew himself; he knew from whom he came, and to whom he would return.

At the end of today’s Gospel, the Spirit is mentioned, as the one to be sent to believers after he has been glorified. The one who could work through the believers to bring Good News, the living water. Jesus quotes Isaiah when he says:

"Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water."

This takes us to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Paul is explaining that the Spirit "searches everything, even the depths of God." Paul goes on to say that our human spirit knows our human spirit. In the same vein, the Spirit knows God. We know Christ, and through Christ we know the Spirit.

Today we celebrate in anticipation of St. Catherine of Siena's feast day. Catherine carried on Jesus' legacy as an influencer in her time. Like Jesus and Dominic before her, Catherine cultivated her relationship with God. Even as a child, she negotiated with her parents to have the space that allowed her to enter her "inner cell of self-knowledge." Catherine came to see herself through the loving eyes of God. Her true self. She drew closer to Jesus and let the Spirit lead her into a closer relationship with the Divine, developing the certainty she would later take to the world.

Like Jesus and Dominic, Catherine loved the world. She lived during the 14th century, a wretched time of the bubonic plague and the church schism. The world seemed bleak, yet there was hope. Catherine moved into public life, responding to the needs she saw right before her. First as a nurse and eventually writing letters to patriarchal rulers, including the pope. She was determined and believed that she needed to speak as if she were a million voices, so sure that if you didn’t speak out, the world would die.

It wasn’t easy for Catherine. She was ridiculed and ignored. Catherine’s spiritual director, Raymond of Capua, wrote that God spoke the following to Catherine:

I have no intention whatever of parting you from myself, but rather of making sure to bind you to me all the closer by the bond of your love and your neighbor.

God never left her; the Spirit continually guided her.

Do you see us in this story?

We are at a unique time in our history. As a congregation, we are changing rapidly. Religious life is transforming. The world still needs to know there is hope. Yet, in our Dominican tradition, how do we respond?

Earlier at the prayer service, Nancy Mason Bordley talked about the Dominican Charism, the Dominican Mantle, being taken on by coworkers and associates. How are we changing? How do we do what is ours to do, and speak out as if we have a million voices? Recently I have been working with a few coworkers on our history. Coupling that with the grace of sending our sisters home to God has been amazing, I have had the privilege of hearing the sister’s individual legacy through the eyes of the Congregation, and their family and their friends. I have never been so affirmed in this life. Clearly the Sprit has been with us through these times. The Spirit remains with us today and will be there into the future. What is our next adventure? Where is Spirit leading us now?

So today a fine day to celebrate. We celebrate St. Catherine of Siena, our Dominican Heritage, the gift of the Spirit and each other.

In closing, I want to share one of St. Catherine's prayers with you. May it touch your heart as we, together, enter the inner cell of self-knowledge and let the Spirit lead us into a deeper knowledge of God.

"Eternal God, you are a mystery as deep as the ocean. The more I search, the more I find; the more I find, the more I search for you."

Amen, Alleluia!



 

LINKS

word.op.org - International Dominican Preaching Page

Catholic Women Preach - Featuring deep spirituality and insights from women

Preach With Your Life - Video series by Adrian Dominican Sisters

 


 

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