October 2016  
Director's Reflections

"Every abstract picture of the world is as impossible as a blueprint of a storm.
Don't be ashamed because you're human: be proud!
Inside you, vaults behind vaults open endlessly.
You will never be finished, and that's as it should be."

 
----   Tomas Tranströmer


Some years ago, I was given a book of Tomas Tranströmer's poetry, and I have come to appreciate the wisdom found within the deceptively simple language. Born in Sweden, Tranströmer was a psychologist who counseled juvenile offenders and young adults with addictions. He was a very accomplished pianist as well. In his 70s he suffered a stroke and never recovered the use of his right side. He then played the piano with his left hand only, playing pieces that were composed specifically for him.  He is considered one the greatest modern poets, and in 2011 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Many times, Tranströmer reinvented himself, and his poetry reflects a great hope and yearning for the spiritual. I find his poetry to be very consoling, especially in times of transition.

In the past few months, Associates were asked to study, pray, and discern whether to continue with Associate Life. Every six years, each Associate has a choice to recommit or to discontinue. It is sometimes a difficult decision, especially for Associates who are facing difficulties with aging, illness, and the care of family members in need. Often, the reasons we committed to Associate Life have changed, as have the Sisters and Associates we knew from years ago. 

I would like to remind everyone that there is not one correct "way" of living Associate Life. As our lives change, we can sometimes experience a sadness and tension over what used to be and over the obstacles that we face. Associate Life is found in how we embrace the Dominican charism in the circumstances that we are living in now.

The Associate Life Advisory Board has been considering different forms of Associate Life, including the Prayer Partner. This vital ministry is for Associates who can no longer travel to Mission or Sojourner Groups but who would like to remain connected. In the next few months we will have some suggestions for Associates who would like to be Prayer Partners or take on other forms of Associate Life.

Sometimes, I find myself astonished that I am nearing my 60th birthday. A few weeks ago, as my grandson stepped up into the school bus for his first day of Kindergarten, I felt that surely it wasn't Julian making that big leap but my son Andrew, now aged 27. (Same bus stop, same school.) 

My dad still lives in the house he and my mother purchased after the last of us "kids" had left home. Instead of downsizing, as many retirees do, my parents bought a home that was two-and-a-half times larger than the bungalow all six of us shared for many years. This was to accommodate the family gatherings that they so eagerly awaited. This home, which can easily host a party of 50 or more, has become a refuge and headquarters for our ever-changing family. As the number of great-grandchildren grow, so does the importance of having a gathering place where we can share memories, pray together, and learn from one another. 

And so it is for Associate Life. We grow together through prayer, study, and community. The Adrian Dominican Motherhouse remains our common home and we remember, pray, and challenge one another, no matter what life stage we are in. Often, we need to learn to reconsider the possibilities as the "vaults behind the vaults open endlessly." As our lives change, we can still count on the presence of God, the life that the Dominican charism gives us, and the blessings we receive through the many examples of the Sisters and Associates who have gone before us.

"I am still the place where creation does some work on itself." -  Tomas Tranströmer, 1931-2015

Representatives of Associate Life (RALs) dedicate themselves to communicating with the Associates in their Chapter and to offering chances for Associates to gather for prayer and study. Here is the contact information for our 2016-2017 RALs.
 
One of our discussions at Partners IV focused on reaching out to Associates who are housebound or in nursing homes or who can no longer attend meetings and assemblies. Five Associates volunteered to become part of a new ministry of outreach: calling five Associates three times a year. Through these calls, volunteers would keep in touch with isolated Associates and share the Dominican charism.

We are looking for more Associates to volunteer for this ministry. If you are interested, please call me at 517-266-3531 or email me at mlach@adriandominicans.org. We would like to start this new outreach in November.
 
Vision and Enactments

In the upcoming months, Associates and prospective Associates will use this newsletter to share with one another on the four Enactments that arose during General Chapter 2016. For October and November, I would like each of us to take a close look at the Vision of the Congregation, which is what we commit ourselves to as Associates.

You are invited to share by answering these questions:
  1. What speaks to you in the Vision?  What challenges you?
  2. Name a specific goal you have to live the Vision in your life as an Associate.
Please submit your response to me by Monday, October 10.
From Our Associates


Kaleidoscope, a Mission Group in the Great Lakes Dominican Chapter, and the Mission Group of which Karen McDermott, Associate, and I are members, went to Flint on August 20 to volunteer at the "Family Fun Day," sponsored by St. Luke's N.E.W. Life Center. The event was organized by Carol Weber, OP. The Kaleidoscope members volunteered in a variety of ways: helping with children's games, measuring children for school shoes, overseeing the bicycle raffle; and generally helping to make the day live up to its name, "fun!" I took family photos and created the photo collage (above) for the Center and sent individual family photos to folks as well.

Deb Carter, Associate, of St. Joseph, Michigan

Many thanks for the beautiful plaque acknowledging my 25 years as an Associate. I am so grateful and was so very surprised. We had a wonderful celebration at our recent Anawim Mission Group meeting. Sister Noreen Nolan celebrated 70 years; Elisabeth Lang, Associate, celebrated 50 years; and I celebrated 25 years as an Associate.

Nancy Fortman, Associate, of Marina, California

Why I Have Recommitted to Associate Life

Top row, from left, Associates Susan Jacobson, Carol Fowler, Barbara Baumgardner, Janice Donner; bottom row, from left, Nery Cummings, Nancy McNulty, Tom Layden, and Patricia O'Neill

Every six years, we ask all Associates to contemplate their commitment as an Associate and to decide to continue or to discontinue. Renewal Certificates will be given out at the Chapter Assemblies, or mailed to you if you cannot attend. I haven't heard from everyone yet. Please send an email or call me with your decision.

Here are just a few of the responses we have received:
 
"I love learning and sharing with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. They are such a wonderful part of my life."

Maria Castillo, Associate, of Adrian, Michigan

"I cherish belonging to the Adrian Dominicans as an Associate. My life is richer and more rooted in my spirituality because of my association."

Susan Jacobson, Associate, of Ann Arbor, Michigan
 
"For me, there's never been a question in my mind of whether or not to continue. I value my Adrian Dominican connection far too much not to. But after this General Chapter and given what's going on in our world today, I feel even more strongly about it."

Arlene Bachanov, Associate, of Lansing, Michigan
 
"I renew my commitment to God, Saints Catherine and Dominic, and the Dominican Sisters and Associates of Adrian. I do this in the context of prayer and with great hope and joy."

Carol Fowler, Associate, of Chicago, Illinois
 
"After much discernment, I feel very connected and grounded in my relationship to the Adrian Dominican Sisters. I am committed to trying to foster new relationships and grow spiritually over the next years."

Barbara Baumgardner, Associate, of Lexington, Kentucky

"I am looking forward to studying and discussing The Enactments with other Associates, and in my Mission Group and to finding in them the guidance for application in my own life."

Janice Donner, Associate, of Eagle River, Wisconsin

"I believe strongly in the charism of the Order and what they believe in. I love my Mission Group and feel blessed to be part of such an amazing group of women." 

Nery Cummings, Associate, of Wantagh, New York
 
"My Dominican experiences as an Associate, as well as following and being immersed in the Dominican charism, are very important to me. My prayer, study, community and mission have all grown through this commitment." 

Nancy McNulty, Associate, of Scotts Valley, California
 
"Connection, companionship, and encouragement" 

Tom Layden, Associate, of Seatac, Washington
 
"I am committed to living as a Dominican and I find being part of my Mission Group aids in my spiritual growth. I am uplifted by the joy of the Sisters and I am heartened by the growth of Associate Life."

Patricia O'Neill, Associate, of Plantation, Florida
Reviews

Book Recommendation:  "Tears to Triumph: The Spiritual Journey from Suffering to Enlightenment," by Marianne Williamson

In her latest book, Marianne Williamson addresses the nature of suffering and how it leads to wisdom. She writes, "Enlightenment isn't a learning, but an unlearning. It's a process, usually involving a lot of trial and error, through which we come to reject the ego's guidance and accept love's guidance instead." The book addresses suffering and wisdom from the Buddhist, Jewish and Christian perspectives and includes prayer. Highly recommended.
 
Movie Recommendation: Sunset Song, now available on DVD

This movie is adapted from the book by Louis Grassic Gibbon, and portrays life in rural Scotland before the Great War. The movie's cinematography is gorgeous, belying the fact that the story focuses on Chris, who endures much suffering and abuse. The movie reflects many of the topics in the book I recommended, Tears to Triumph. How can someone rise above life's challenges and find healing and love?

Mary Lach, Associate, of Clinton Township, Michigan
 
Movie Recommendation: Facing the Giants

As an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Barry University, I find that engaging students in the classroom when teaching leadership can be challenging with all the theories and models of leadership available to them. The film Facing the Giants (2006) is an effective way to introduce management students to the study of leadership.

Leadership is so important to a business career and many other functions in society. However, it actually falls under the discipline of management. Henri Fayol, a scholar from France, came up with the functions of management. Four of them have been coined as key management functions: controlling, leading, organizing, and planning.

When using scenes from the movie Facing the Giants, a discussion-learning approach helps students discover the application of leadership theory and the rationale of spirituality and leadership. The film has been used in management education for many years this way. Because this movie offers scenes that depict life-changing experiences, I apply the scenes when I teach management skills and competencies. Discussion questions for management, spirituality, and leadership are provided to help facilitate the discussion before and after the movie scenes or the entire movie are shown.  

The following questions can be used to facilitate the in-class discussion in the area of management and spirituality:

Have you ever felt that some type of universal power intervened for you, leading to some type of success in your life?


Compare and contrast members of the football team before and after they began to become more spiritual.

 

How has your faith affected you in your personal or work-life, your parent's life, your friend's life?

 

Do you think that St. Dominic may have used his persuasive techniques to help people who seemed to be afflicted or who were unbelievers in their own spiritual journey during his time?


Dr. Michael Provitera, Prospective Associate, of Miami, Florida

Schedule for Mary Lach,
Director of Associate Life

Work Days: Mondays to Thursdays

Working from home office in Clinton Township:
October 3-6, 2016
October 17-20, 2016
Monday and Tuesday, October 24-25, 2016
 
Working in Adrian
October 10-13, 2016

Prayer Requests

For the repose of the souls of:
  • Betsy Schenkel, Associate, who died on September 9, 2016.
  • Marianne Stapleton, dear friend of Peggy Rowe Linn, Associate, of West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Sister Paula Merrill (Charity of Nazareth) and Sister Margaret Held (School Sisters St. Francis), who were murdered in Mississippi. These women ran a clinic for those with little or no health insurance.
Patty Seckel, Associate, of Clinton Township, Michigan; John Coleman, Associate, of Adrian, Michigan; and  Elvera Paul, Associate, of Waterford, Michigan: request prayers for themselves.

Tibi Ellis, Associate, of West Palm Beach, Florida: for TJ, her son, who is seriously ill.

Joyce Reigelsberger, Associate, of Tempe, Arizona: for her daughters, Julie and Mary, and her sister, Janet.

Evelyn Rodgers, Associate, of Chicago: for Phyllis, her dear friend, whose husband was killed while jogging.

Lisbeth Johnson, Associate, of Grand Rapids, Michigan: for her husband Dale, adjusting to life after serious surgery.

Pat O'Neill, Associate, of Plantation, Florida: for her sister, Rita, receiving cancer treatments.

Mary Bommarito, Associate, of Grosse Pointe, Michigan: for Barney, her brother, who faces surgery and treatments.

Tricia Layden, Associate, of Seatac, Washington: for her granddaughter Theresa, who is pregnant; for Greg; and for a young man who has been arrested.

Upcoming Events

Great Lakes Associates Gathering
11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 4, 2016
St. Basil's in Roseville, Michigan

Madden Hall Book Club
11:30 a.m. Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Chapters 12 and 13 of The Other Side of Chaos by Margaret Silf
 
Talk by Sister Patty Harvat, OP, General Councilor
10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, October 13, 2016, in  Weber Auditorium
Sister Patty will share her wisdom on Dominican spirituality. The event will be live streamed. Please let me know if you would like to join us for lunch afterwards.
 
Meeting of Directors of Associates
Thursday to Sunday, October 27-30, 2016
Sinsinawa, Wisconsin

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