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Adrian, Michigan – There is something special about going to class next door to the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse Campus. The students learn when they first arrive about the history of the campus and its growth from a small women’s college to an award winning, growing university. However, Sisters and students want to do more than just come for a visit. Siena Heights University is committed to offering chances to create these opportunities and relationships.

Finding New Ways to Enter into Relationship with Sisters

Sister Donna Joan Mehney speaks to first-year students.

Back in early 2001, a Siena Heights University (SHU) campus minister, now Sister, Lorraine Réaume, OP, began a program called “lunch with a nun” and over 70 students signed up. The students came to the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse to have lunch with the Sister. 

While this program continues today, it has led to another program brought about by a Siena student who had the desire to have an even deeper relationship with a Sister. Tiffany Swoish (’14) contacted Sister Elaine Lederer, OP, and the Adopt a Sister – Adopt a Student program was born. This program allows Sister-Student pairs to develop a relationship over the entire school year and beyond. Last year, more than 30 Sister-Student pairs took part in the program, and another 15 pairs continued their relationship from the previous year. It was this program that allowed Siena Heights to get involved with a national program connecting young women and Sisters.

Sisters and Young Women Connecting

In 2014, the Conrad Hilton Foundation issued a grant to St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, to develop opportunities for young women to form relationships with religious Sisters. The result is SisterStory, an ongoing story of National Catholic Sisters Week. The SisterStory program, co-directed by Siena Heights University Board Member, Sister Mary Soher, OP, brings college women and Sisters together for sharing and storytelling. After getting to know one another over a semester, the Sister is formally interviewed by the student with video. A formal transcript is created and entered into the archives. 

Siena Heights was one of the first universities to participate, with five Sister-Student  pairs taking part. Their stories are shared on the official SisterStory website, which actively promotes religious life.  

Siena Heights University is blessed to be adjacent to the Motherhouse of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and we look forward to continuing to deepen our connection with the Sisters – one relationship at a time. 

Sisters Donna Joan Mehney (left) and Jeanne Lefevre welcome interested students (left photo). Julianne Bonk with Sister Mary Beubien (center photo). Sister Mary Louise Gass chats with Megan Macek (right photo).


Feature photo: Sister Norma Dell with Sydney VanHoose



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