ADRIAN, Michigan — During a historic General Chapter, the Adrian Dominican Sisters elected their next prioress and General Council and set the congregation’s direction for the next six years with “enactments” concerning diversity, sustainability, the dignity of women and girls, and other issues.
Sister Patricia Siemen, prioress, formally opened the 19th General Chapter, held June 27-July 2 chapter in Chicago.
A July 7 news release said the dates and location were a departure from the congregation’s practice of meeting in February at the motherhouse in Adrian, but the changes were made to keep the sisters who live at the motherhouse — as well as the 125 chapter delegates — “as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The newly elected prioress and General Council will formally take office in October and will lead the congregation through June 30, 2028.
The prioress-elect is Sister Elise D. García, who was communications director for the Adrian Dominican Sisters from 2011 until her election to the General Council in 2016. With Dominican Sister Carol Coston, she co-founded and co-directed Santuario Sisterfarm, an ecology center in Texas dedicated to cultivating biodiversity and cultural diversity.
Sister Lorraine Réaume is the congregation’s vicaress/general councilor-elect. She most recently has been co-director of the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate, where U.S.-based congregations of Dominican sisters send their novices for formation in religious life.
Réaume served as pastoral associate for Hispanic ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Anchorage, Alaska, and as pastoral associate at Ste. Anne de Detroit, a largely Hispanic parish.
The three newly elected general councilors are Sisters Janice Brown, Bibiana “Bless” Colasito and Corinne Sanders.
Brown served in the Detroit metro region for more than 15 years as executive director of two of the congregation’s literacy centers, Dominican Literacy Center and Siena Literacy Center.
Before entering the congregation in 2003, she was a single mother, raising her daughter and working in banking and finance. She was an Adrian Dominican associate and, after her daughter was living on her own, felt called to religious life.
Colasito was born in the Leyte Province of the Philippines and joined the Dominican Congregation of Our Lady of Remedies in Pampanga, Philippines, in 2000. That congregation merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 2011.
She has been involved in school administration and social action, currently serving as head of the Commission on Family and Life for the Diocese of San Jose in the Philippines.
Sanders is director of the Office of Sustainability for the Adrian Dominican Sisters and assists the Office of Immigration Services as a paralegal.
Before her election to the General Council in 2010, she was principal of Rosarian Academy, sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and located in West Palm Beach, Florida. She also served as director of mission and ministry at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida, and as the congregation’s director of formation.
The newly elected sisters succeed Sister Siemen, prioress; Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, vicaress/general councilor; Sister Frances Nadolny, administrator and general councilor; Sister Patricia Harvat, general councilor; and Sister García, general councilor and now the newly elected prioress.
The General Chapter delegates also approved five “enactments” to set the congregation’s ministerial direction for the next six years:
— Diversity: “We commit to: acknowledge and repent of our complicity in the divisions prevalent in our church and our world; act to dismantle unjust systems; and build the beloved community in which everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, hunger, and hate.”
— Dominican vowed life: “We are passionately committed to vowed Dominican life. Trusting in the Spirit and embracing the gift of our charism, we invite women to join us in our call to preach the Gospel.”
— Spirituality: “We commit to deepening our spirituality, attending to the evolutionary awakening of human consciousness and living into the transformation to which we are called both personally and communally.”
— Sustainability/”Laudato Si'”: “We commit to address the cry of earth and the cry of those who are poor by joining the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, a seven-year plan in which Catholic organizations such as parishes, dioceses, schools and religious communities commit to working toward seven sustainability goals to heal earth and work against global climate change.” The platform is based on Pope Francis’ 2015 “Laudato Si'” encyclical.
— Women: “Valuing human dignity, and aware of the injustice of patriarchy which maintains the subordinate status of women and girls throughout the world, we strive to attain gender equality and women’s full and equal participation and decision making in church and society.”