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August 21, 2020, Chicago – Alison Altmeyer, Executive Director of Aquinas Literacy Center, was welcomed as an Adrian Dominican Associate July 29, 2020 during a Ritual of Acceptance held via Zoom. Also being accepted that evening was Annmarie Kallenbach, formerly of Chicago and now residing in Adrian, Michigan, where she serves as a nurse practitioner.
Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, welcomed more than 70 people who witnessed the online Ritual of Acceptance. “We join our hearts in relationship and we welcome Annemarie and Alison to Associate Life,” she said.
Mary noted the more than 800 years of Dominican teaching, tradition, and history that have been passed down to the Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates. “As new Associates you are part of this legacy of Dominican charism,” Mary said. “We want you both to know how warmly we welcome you as you embrace the Dominican charism in your own life.”
Alison, a native of Des Plaines, Illinois, received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Secondary Education from Marquette University. She met Adrian Dominican Sister Noreen Burke, OP, while teaching at Maria High School in Chicago from 2001 to 2004. “It was not long before the seeds of the call to Associate Life were planted,” said Sister Norine Burns, Alison’s mentor. Alison applied for the position of Executive Director of Aquinas Literacy Center in 2004 and was hired.
“She will be an asset to Associate Life,” Sister Norine said. “She has captured the Dominican spirit and possesses a clear sense of her call to follow Jesus.”
Alison said she felt the call to become an Adrian Dominican Associate in the summer of 2019, while serving on the Dominican Midwest Chapter’s Resilient Communities Committee and attending a gathering of 600 Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, Co-workers at the Motherhouse in Adrian, Michigan, and in the Congregation’s sponsored institutions, and other Partners in Mission.
“I’ve known the Sisters for 19 years, but my admiration for these smart, strong women convinced me to ‘formalize’ my relationship,” Alison said. “The formation process began a dialogue that has helped me to be better in my ministry.”
Alison said that through her ministry at Aquinas Literacy Center, “I’ve learned to embrace the Sisters’ spirit of welcoming and hospitality, inclusivity, joy, and wisdom.” Under Alison’s direction, Aquinas has continued to offer a safe, welcoming environment for all who walk through its doors.
Alison met her husband, Peter Harley, at Aquinas in 2011 and they were married on January 6, 2019. They enjoy the theater, trying new restaurants, and cheering on the men’s basketball team at Marquette. But they are especially united by their Catholic faith; Peter serves as Coordinator of Children’s Faith Formation at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.
“Our Catholic faith is at the center of our marriage,” Alison said. “My faith serves as my guide in life.”
Associates are women and men, at least 18 years of age, who make a non-vowed commitment to partner with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. While maintaining their own lifestyle and remaining financially independent, they participate in various spiritual, social, and ministerial experiences with the Sisters and live out the Dominican charism, or spirit, in their daily lives.
If you feel called to be an Adrian Dominican Associate, contact Mary Lach at 517-266-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a single Catholic woman interested in vowed life as an Adrian Dominican Sister, contact one of the Co-Directors of Vocations: Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, at 517-266-3532 or email@example.com.
Feature photo: Alison Altmeyer, left, is surrounded during her Ritual of Acceptance by, from left, Sisters Joan Mary, OP, Eunice Drazba, OP, and Norine Burns, OP.