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Miami Shores, Florida – Barry University’s 75th anniversary as a Catholic university offered a perfect opportunity to reflect upon the vision of its religious sponsors, the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan. Founders' Week 2015, held November 9-14, presented a variety of scholarly and fun activities designed to connect Barry’s Mission and Core Commitments with contemporary social justice issues and stances taken by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Throughout the week, students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members explored how the University’s unique legacy and heritage calls us to action today. 

Enjoying Barry’s Founders’ Week activities are back row, from left, Sisters Mary Tindel, Nancy Murray, Kathy Nolan, Carleen Maly, Patricia Siemen, and Mary Frances Fleischaker, and, seated, from left: Sisters Nancyann Turner, Linda Bevilacqua, Sara Fairbanks (as Mother Gerald Barry), Mary Ann Caulfield, Evelyn Piche, and Myra Jackson.

The week began with the traditional Founders’ Week Mass, hosted by the Office of the President and Campus Ministry. The Mass was celebrated in the newly renovated Cor Jesu Chapel and included music from members of the Cor Jesu Music Ministry and the Department of Fine Arts. The Mass was followed by the dedication of the St. Dominic statue located adjacent to the chapel. 

In her remarks, President Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP, PhD, shared, “With affection and gratitude, we dedicate this statue of St. Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order, ‘Preacher of Gospel Joy,’ in honor of the Dominican Friars, distinguished professors and chaplains, whose ministry of teaching and preaching enriched and continues to enrich and enliven Barry’s mission and life. For them we give praise and gratitude to God.”

On Tuesday, a special presentation, “Founding our Future: A Celebration of our Adrian Dominican Legacy,” featured three Adrian Dominican Sister panelists and keynote speaker, Jo Piazza. The presentation began with a special appearance by Barry’s first president and founder, Mother Gerald Barry, a. k. a. Sister Sara Fairbanks, OP. Following her historical rendition, the Founding our Future living history video highlighting the stories of 25 Adrian Dominican Sisters was shown. 

Sister Pat Siemen, OP, Director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence and coordinator of Mission Integration, introduced Sister Carleen Maly, OP, Director of the Adrian Rea Literacy Center; Sister Kathy Nolan, OP, Coordinator of the Office of Global Mission, Justice and Peace; and Sister Nancyann Turner, OP, Director of the Rosa Parks Children and Youth Program at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit. They focused on how Barry’s Dominican heritage calls us to respond to the signs of the times and how the various ministries of the Sisters manifest their social justice mission. Students, faculty, and staff then attended lunch breakout sessions with the Sisters. 

That evening, Jo Piazza, an award-winning journalist who wrote If Nuns Ruled the World: Ten Sisters on a Mission, gave the keynote address, followed by a panel discussion by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.  

Wednesday morning found students, faculty, and staff dressed in green for the annual Arbor Day celebration. First celebrated on May 2, 1941, Arbor Day called for every new class to plant a tree which was then blessed by the University priest. Throughout the years, the Barry community has honored Arbor Day by planting community gardens and sustainable foliage that honors Barry’s commitment to recognize the sacredness of Earth. Orchids are also planted to honor Sister John Karen Frei, OP, PhD, who served at Barry for over 48 years.

A luncheon celebrated another special 75th anniversary event: the launching of the Adrian Dominican Associate Life program at Barry. In partnership with the Sisters, the program will offer faculty and staff an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the University’s Dominican heritage and Adrian Dominican foundation. Barry’s program will include six sessions offered by Adrian Dominican Sisters in Spring 2016. 

That evening, the University community was treated to Sister Nancy Murray’s performance of St. Catherine of Siena. Cor Jesu Chapel was the perfect setting for her one-woman play. This is the third time Sister Nancy has used her education and pastoral skills to delight the Barry community with this inspired portrayal that feels both medieval and modern. Across campus an hour later, more than 1,000 Barry students attended Midnight Madness to gear up for the home basketball game planned for Friday night. 

Thursday’s Community Fest celebration drew over 1,000 faculty and staff to this fun- filled afternoon, which began with the traditional cake-cutting celebration honoring the birthday of Bishop Patrick Barry. Other activities included a variety of spirited competitions, such as musical chairs and bed races.  

The week was wrapped up with the Core Commitments luncheon, which each year is hosted by one of Barry’s two colleges or seven schools. Dean Tomi Mandakovic welcomed attendees to hear student and faculty presentations from the Andreas School of Business (ASB). Four projects that highlight the connection between ASB and Barry’s Core Commitments were presented during the luncheon. 

The Founders’ 5 K Fun Run ended the week on Saturday with a walk/run through campus and the surrounding community. Sponsored by the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, the event was planned by students to benefit a service organization. 

Founders’ Week 2015 was partially funded by the Congregation to foster lay leadership efforts at Barry. During this special anniversary year, the University is launching its Leading the Legacy program, which offers many opportunities to hear firsthand about the current work of our religious sponsors through their ministries. 

The feedback from a new Barry employee sums up the perception of these efforts nicely: “I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated getting to know about the University, its Sponsors and Founders during Founders’ Week 2015! I especially appreciated learning more about the Dominican Sisters and their past and present work. I had no idea what a powerful and progressive group of champions these women were and are!” 

Please take time to view videos from two of Barry’s Founders’ Week 2015 events below: 

Founding Our Future: A Celebration of our Adrian Dominican Legacy
If Nuns Ruled the World: Sisters on a Mission


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