"Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well,
but the certainty that something makes sense,
regardless of how it turns out."
---- Václav Havel
In the past month, during a gathering of family members and friends, we reached a general consensus that we are living in challenging times. The election revealed how sharply divided we are, and this division continues on a daily basis. We face many concerns.
My home in Clinton Township, Michigan, is less than two miles from a giant sinkhole that has taken three beautiful homes and is going to make traffic difficult, since a major road has to be shut down indefinitely. The sinkhole is as big as a football field and will affect several businesses, including a restaurant run by a family member. This also happened in 2004, when a sinkhole in the same area closed down that same road for more than a year. Some $170 million was spent to prevent a recurrence. Now we have more concerns about mismanagement and how the money earmarked to prevent another sinkhole was actually spent. This is not an isolated incident of governmental mismanagement, to which our friends in Flint can testify. (See below.)
How can we feel secure when the very ground we are walking on is crumbling beneath our feet? What gives us hope when illness, death, and outrageousness surround us? The Vision of the Congregation gives us direction:
Preachers of Adrian
impelled by the Gospel
and outraged by the injustices
of our day
Stirred by the Wisdom of God
and rooted in our
communal study and life in community,
we challenge heresies of local and global
domination, exploitation, and greed
that privilege some, dehumanize others,
and ravage Earth.
Adrian Dominican Sisters' Vision, adopted by 2004 General Chapter
This statement has inspired me to focus on my own life and to join with Sisters and Associates to address the heresies of our world.
In times of doubt and fear, my spirit reminds me of the many people whose wisdom inspires me to get a better perspective. Václav Havel lived a hope-filled life despite living in Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia. He was a playwright, philosopher, and political dissident who spent more than five years in prison for speaking up about the outrages of his country. When he wasn't in prison, his every move was scrutinized by the secret police, and most of his writing was suppressed. Yet he continued to speak up, write, and stand firm. He was a shy person, but nevertheless resilient.
Havel eventually became the first president of the Czech Republic, a job he really didn't campaign for or aspire to. World leaders, including President Obama, sought him for his wisdom. His essay, "The Power of the Powerless," remains a must-read for those who advocate for the poor. Havel died in 2011, leaving a legacy of hope and strength to many.
"The kind of hope that I often think about ...
I understand above all as a state of mind, not a state of the world.
Either we have hope within us, or we don't.
It is a dimension of the soul.
It's not essentially dependent upon some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation."
We don't have to look too far to find role models of courage, strength, and hope around us. We are so fortunate to have one another, as together we seek truth, make peace, and reverence life.
Recently, a group of women in formation for Associate Life met in Adrian for a guided tour of the walk-through History of the Congregation exhibit on the first floor of Madden Hall. Carol Fleming, OP, shared many examples of the undaunted courage and determination of the first Adrian Dominican Sisters, and how they continue to inspire us today.
As part of her talk, Sister Carol showed pictures of the first buildings and how the Congregation has grown in the last 130 years. She distributed a list of the many schools, parishes, hospitals, and literacy centers that were founded or staffed by our Sisters. We come from a long line of ingenious women who were bold and courageous, the very qualities that are needed in the world today. We have much to hope for as we stand on this firm foundation.
Update on the Flint, Michigan, Water Crisis
Many of you are aware that the people of Flint, Michigan, suffered from lead leeching into the water pipes of homeowners, starting in early 2014. This affected the lives of all Flint residents. The impact on children exposed to the lead has not yet been realized. While adults can recover from lead poisoning, children can suffer permanent damage to their immune systems and to their ability to learn.
St. Luke's N.E.W. Life Center ---- co-founded and co-directed by Carol Weber, OP ---- has been a leader in ministering to people suffering from this crisis. Elaine Woods, Associate, has been part of this ministry. Read more about the involvement of the N.E.W. Life Center in this crisis.
The water crisis was the result of the decision by an emergency manager ---- appointed by Governor Rick Snyder ---- to save money by switching from the water of the City of Detroit, known to be safe, to the Flint River. The manager, answerable only to Governor Snyder, based this decision on faulty reporting from various state officials. In addition, a chemical that could have prevented lead from leeching out of the old pipes was not introduced into the water.
The Attorney General of Michigan has, to date, indicted 13 city and state officials, including two emergency managers. Michigan taxpayers are paying for Governor Snyder's legal defense. While it is not exactly clear yet who is criminally or civilly liable, it is safe to say that many people failed the people of Flint, who are now, at best, greatly inconvenienced.
While many of us have moved on to other news stories, the residents of Flint remain unable to use the water in their homes, and must use bottled water for bathing, cooking and drinking. This is an example of the time it takes for these situations to be corrected. It will soon be three years since the first warnings of this crisis.
Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, of Clinton Township, MIchigan
Profile of an Associate: Patricia (Patty) Gillis
When you discover that Patricia (Patty) Gillis co-founded Voices for Earth Justice (VEJ), you won't be the least bit surprised that she most resonates with the enactment that calls upon Sisters and Associates to "sacrifice to mitigate significantly our impact on climate change and ecological degradation."
Pray for our Deceased Associates
In late December and early January, two of our Associates
---- Helen Michels and Joyce Frugé
---- went on to their eternal reward. Please read the profiles of these two beloved Associates.
Helen Michels, Associate
Helen Michels was one of 14 children born to Anton and Lucille (Owens) Michels. She was born in 1936 in Palm Bay, Florida, but moved around Florida, as her father was a carpenter involved in various building projects. The family settled in Sanford, Florida, where many of her siblings remained.
Joyce Grundy Frugé, Associate
Joyce Frugé, the first of the three children of Roy and Beatrice Grundy, was born on July 3, 1932, in Wyandotte, Michigan. She attended Our Lady of Lourdes grade school and high school. Joyce was an Adrian Dominican Sister for 25 years, entering the Congregation in 1950 and known by her religious name, Sister Clement Marie.
From our Associates
As we look back over the past year we recall times wonderful and others difficult in some way for each of us.
We express our gratitude to Our Heavenly Father for the fortitude He gave us to see our way through the hard times, and we rejoice as we are mindful of the many "awesome" things with which he gifted us.
I pray the New Year brings choicest blessings of peace, love, joy, and good health, to you and your families.
Betty Castro, Prospective Associate, of Sun Lakes, Arizona
The Second Enactment:
"Recognizing the violence against the Earth Community that places our common home in dire jeopardy and intensifies the suffering of people on the margins, future generations and all creation, we will sacrifice to mitigate significantly our impact on climate change and ecological degradation."
Please respond to this Enactment for the March newsletter by Friday, February 10, 2017.
The Sword and the Serpent
and The Tenth Region of the Night
I recently read two books by Taylor Marshall,
The Sword and Serpent
and its sequel,
The Tenth Region of the Night: Sword and Serpent II
. The first is a tale of St. George and the slaying of the dragon. The focus is on faith, courage, and doing the right thing. The second book follows St. George (Jurian in the novel or sometimes referred to a Georgios) as he seeks to rescue a friend, Menos, from the Romans. It is a gripping tale of the early Church in the Roman Empire on the eve of the Great Persecution. It takes the history of the late Roman Empire under the Emperor Diocletian and a young Constantine, interwoven with legends of St. George the Dragon Slayer, St. Christopher the Christ-bearer, and St. Catherine of Alexandria.
Although written as a story, these books are truly Christian in nature with elements of true friendship, self-sacrifice, and enduring Christian love. The books also include elements of the historical and contemporary: vivid characters in search for the truth, friendship and family, perseverance and hope, regret, forgiveness, commitment, fear, and bravery. Finally, the books bring us to our own personal relationship with God. Both are really great reads.
Patricia O'Neill, Associate, of Plantation, Florida
I had the opportunity to see the recently released movie,
, a powerful film by Martin Scorsese, and would highly recommend it. It is a film about faith, doubt, and struggle, which are timeless and to which we can all relate. The film is getting rave reviews and will be an Oscar contender on February 26.
Scorsese based his decades-in-the-making film on the original novel by Shusaku Endo about two 17th-century Jesuit missionary priests (portrayed by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who travel from Portugal to Japan in search of a mentor (Liam Neeson) who has gone missing and rumored to have apostatized, living as a Japanese man.
To quote from a newspaper review, the film "deals with themes that are no common currency these days: faith, belief, conscience, culture, and the clash of those ...." Scorsese says, "Trying to understand true Christianity, it has to do with compassion and love and selflessness. How do you do it in this world? ... What does spirituality nourish? ...." The story raises a wide range of questions while portraying the persecution of Japanese Catholics. Through this film we experience the interplay between faith, loneliness, doubt, and oppression.
The story evokes the Passion of Christ and would be of great use in parishes or study groups during the Lenten season. The Pastoral Center at
offers the novel and a personal and group reading guide,
Faith Stripped to its Essence
, by Patrick T. Reardon. These can be ordered at bulk pricing.
Janice Donner, Associate, of Eagle River, Wisconsin
I just finished reading the novel
Great Small Things
by Jodi Picault. She is an excellent writer and researcher; the book addresses racism in a way that takes it home.
Tricia Layden, Associate, of Seatac, Washington
God and the Afterlife
Jeffrey Long, MD, an oncologist, has long been fascinated by Near Death Experiences (NDE) and wrote about them in his best-selling book,
God and the Afterlife
In this book, he surveyed the effects of having an NDE on hundreds of people. How did their lives change? Did their relationship with God change? He surveyed people from diverse cultures, religious traditions and levels of education, and found great commonality.
I was interested in this as my mother had an NDE during her first heart attack, and she talked about this often. It did change how my mother thought about God, as it did the hundreds of people Dr. Long interviewed. The greatest change in those surveyed was the lack of fear about death and dying, and how their lives became much more loving.
Mary Lach, Associate, of Clinton Township, Michigan
The Underground Railroad
Colson Whitehead's book, winner of the National Book Award, isn't an easy read as it relates stories of different people trapped in the outrageousness of slavery and its ongoing effect on their lives. The book is well written, but I can't say I enjoyed it. I will say that it definitely was worth my time, and I do recommend it, unless reading for you is an escape.
The secondary characters in this book are very important and together weave a story of pre-Civil War America that wasn't quite captured in textbooks. In light of our enactment to educate ourselves on diversity, this is an important book.
Mary Lach, Associate, of Clinton Township, Michigan
Schedule for Mary Lach,
Director of Associate Life
Working Days: Monday to Thursday
Working in Adrian
January 30 - February 2, 2017
February 13 - 16, 2017
February 27 - March 2, 2017
Working from Home Office
in Clinton Township, Michigan
February 6 - 9, 2017
February 20 - 23, 2017
Eternal rest for:
- Jake Medlen, stepfather of prospective Associate Cheryl Boyce. Mr. Medlen died on November 2, 2016.
- Helen Michels, Associate, of Sanford, Florida, who died on December 28, 2016.
- Joyce Frugé, Associate, of Redford, Michigan, who died on January 7, 2017.
John Coleman, Associate, of Adrian; Elvera Paul, Associate, of Waterford, Michigan; and Patty Seckel, Associate, of Clinton Township, Michigan: request continued prayers for themselves.
Jacci Brown, Associate, of Waterford, Michigan: undergoing medical tests. Jacci is on our Advisory Board.
Jan Huvaere, of Harrison Township, Michigan: for her health issues.
Rita Dougherty, Associate, of Chicago: recovering from a fall.
Terry Ann Viegas, Associate, of Detroit: recovering from serious health issues.
Joyce Reigelsberger, Associate, of Tempe, Arizona: for her dearest daughters, Julie and Mary.
Kathleen Unti, Associate, of Coventry, Rhode Island: for Walter and Michael, her husband and son.
Carol Johnson, Associate, of Decatur, Illinois: recovering from back surgery. Carol is on our Advisory Board.
Trish Layden, Associate, of Seatac, Washington: in thanksgiving that her granddaughter Theresa is married and expecting. Thanks for the prayers!
Prayer (lots of it!) for our nation ...
Roseville Associates Group
11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Adrian Formation Group for Associate Life
Session 3 on Dominican Spirituality
1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Madden Hall Book Group
11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 28, 2017
March 1, 2017
Associate Life Advisory Board
Please feel free to contact members of the Associate Life Advisory Board with your questions, ideas, or concerns.