Celebration of Leadership 2022 Preaching by Sister Elise D. García, OP Saturday, October 8, 2022 Wisdom 7:21-23, 27-28, 8-1 1 Corinthians 12:4-12 John 15: 12-17 It is my joy to add my warm welcome to Pat Siemen’s to each and every one of you gathered here or tuning in from your rooms on campus or from your homes around the United States, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Norway, Canada – or wherever else you might be. Lorraine, Corinne, Janice, Bless and I are honored to have you join us in this celebration of transferring leadership – an intrepid step we have taken as a community of vowed Dominicans every six years for nearly the entire 99 years we have been an independent congregation. I say "nearly" because for a short while, we did this every four years – as Carol Johannes, especially, will recount. And I say "intrepid" because we dare to risk electing and installing a new leadership team after we’ve had what, by all measures, could be said to be an outstanding one. Thank you, Pat, Mary Margaret, Fran, and Patty for the incredible love you have poured out in service to our Congregation and to the whole Earth community during these past six and a half years. Bless, Janice, Corinne, Lorraine and I are deeply indebted to you as we step into the offices you have blessed with your presence and assume the awesome responsibilities you have so faithfully carried on your shoulders through one of the most difficult times in our history. As I reflect on the beautiful reading from Wisdom, I see that her spirit, "intelligent, holy, unique…never harmful, loving the good…firm, secure, tranquil" has passed into your holy souls and those of so many of our predecessors, producing "friends of God and prophets." Among them are our Mothers Camilla, Augustine, Gerald, Genevieve and Laurence Edward who became Sister Rosemary; and Sisters Carol, Nadine, Pat, Janet, Donna, Attracta, and Pat. We are so grateful for your faithful leadership as Prioress. And thank you to each and every one of the nearly five dozen women who have so generously served as General Councilors, Secretaries and Treasurers from 1923 to the present day, and the many more Sisters who have served as Provincials and Chapter and Mission Prioresses. You have helped shape us into who we are today, in communion with the more than 3,900 women who at one time or another during these past 99 years have given their lives and extraordinary gifts of the Spirit in service to the world as Dominicans of Adrian – and a number of you, prior to merger, as Dominicans of Edmonds and Our Lady of Remedies. Our community has been extraordinarily blessed by all these women and by the hundreds of companions in Dominican life we call Associates, Co-Workers, Partners in Mission in our sponsored institutions, and bold seekers on the spiritual journey. Each of these, parts of our body, offering different kinds of spiritual gifts – with Wisdom, the artisan of all, renewing everything. We make this transition in leadership at a hinge moment in the life of our Congregation – and of our Earth community. As most of us know, religious life in the United States and most parts of the world, is undergoing an epochal change. The kind of change religious life has undergone every 400 or 500 years. It is a painful gift to be living through it now, as we are witnessing the end of one life form – even as we give birth to a new one. We witness the end in losses that are hard to bear: We buried 240 of our Sisters these past six years, each one an "ordinary woman gifted with extraordinary courage and radiant faith," as our Sister Noreen McKeough put it so eloquently. And many of us here present in this chapel, or viewing from afar, have suffered profound personal losses in recent days, months, or years that weigh heavily on our hearts. We cannot embrace the new life that we know is emerging without acknowledging, holding, and honoring the grief we have so deeply felt. Without acknowledging and accepting all the ways our lives have changed these past two and half years through an historic global pandemic; through physical or mental challenges and diminishment; through the social and political divisions that have riven our nation and world; and through the record fires, floods, droughts and other devastating disasters of climate chaos. But we come to this table as people of faith – in God or in each other. In the goodness of life and its miraculous unfolding over billions of years to this very moment. In the power of finding purpose and meaning during our brief sojourn on our common Earth home. Our beloved Sister Rosemary Ferguson, reflecting on the extraordinary time of renewal that she courageously led us through in the late 1960s and ‘70s, wrote: "A new life was being breathed forth for us to bring into being." And so it is for us now, as a Congregation and as a human species in our evolutionary unfolding: A new life is being breathed forth for us to bring into being. And that call to new life is the ever-ancient, ever-new call we heard in today’s Gospel: love one another . It could not be simpler – nor more challenging and profound. We see it in the call of our 2022 General Chapter Enactments where we challenge ourselves to address the evils of racism and white supremacy and systems that oppress and fracture the beloved community. Where we challenge the injustice of patriarchy that maintains the subordinate status of women and girls in Church and society around the world. Where we call ourselves to respond to the cry of Earth and those who are poor in the few years we have remaining to veer off the catastrophic path our world is on that will imperil life for generations to come. Each of those commitments, supported by our 2004 Vision to live in right relationship with the whole Earth community, is nothing less than a call to undergo a profound transformation of consciousness, personally and communally. It is a spiritual call into the depths of the Gospel call to love one another. It is a call we can live into whether ministering with the indigenous Aeta people in the mountains of the Philippines; the students in our sponsored institutions and Escuela Fe y Alegría in the Dominican Republic; the immigrants we accompany here, in Chicago, and in the Arctic Circle of Norway; or with the global corporations we engage as shareholders and the community organizations we invest in. We can live into it serving patients in our legacy hospitals, people in need of spiritual direction and pastoral care, and in our response to urgent calls for justice with wonderful partners like the National Black Sisters’ Conference, AHLMA (Asociación de Hermanas Latinas Misioneras en América), the LGBTQ community, indigenous allies, and through our global sisterhood with our IHM neighbors down the River Raisin and our Dominican Sisters in Iraq and around the world. It is a call we can live into with powerful effect from our rooms in Maria, Regina, Weber, Assumption and our new convent in Mining – through our enduring practice of contemplative prayer and daily acts of loving kindness. Our Carmelite Sister Constance Fitzgerald, OCD, describes the evolutionary movement we are called to enter a "deeper movement into the within-ness of the universe." That "within-ness" is the heart of the universe – the vast and deep space where the Spirit of Wisdom and Divine Love abide, always and everywhere accessible to us. A new life is being breathed forth for us to bring into being. Let us tap into the depths of our contemplative Dominican roots to broaden the path of radical relationality that the Jewish Nazarene we follow first carved into evolution with his call to "love one another as I have loved you." It is an evolutionary path that the great mystics further deepened, providing us guidance that we are now summoned to follow in these urgent times to bring into being the new life that is being breathed forth. It is about nothing less than turning the world in a new direction – from and towards the depths of the Love that gave it birth and sustains us. It is the gift of being alive at this transformative time when how we are and what we do can make all the difference. Let us go forth into our new chapter. ¡Adelante!