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2017 Jubilarians Preach the

truth as if you

had a million voices. –St. Catherine of Siena


What is a Jubilarian? Our Hebrew roots provide a tradition for Jubilee to be celebrated every fifty years. In our Dominican tradition we have developed our own customs. Our celebration of Jubilee brings our Jubilarians back to their origin in the Congregation. We honor each woman and find ways to identify her unique contributions to our lives. We tell stories about our lives, our learnings and our joys and sorrows. We celebrate! Each Jubilarian has a story to tell, and the common threads of our stories are enhanced by one another. The unfolding of the mystery of God’s presence in our lives is awesome. We recognize this unfolding mystery of dying and being reborn as we walk together throughout life. Each Sister’s YES, each day, enhances the whole community. As we continue to be inflamed with contemplative love daily, we are so grateful for these holy women who celebrate their Jubilee this year, and we continue to be enriched by their lives.


In memory of the Jubilarians who share eternal life... 75 Years – 1942 Beata Bugala Jeannine Kalisz

70 Years – 1947

Jeannette Chiasson Amata Fabbro Margaret Schneider

50 Years – 1966 Jude Bloch

We remember with fondness the Jubilarians who celebrate with us bathed in the glory of Eternal Life.


Monica Meyer, OP “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.” Hebrews 10:7

I

was born in Albee Township into a “Yours, Mine, and Ours” family on September 22, 1928. I was the 17th child in a family of 18 where I learned love, sharing, forgiveness, generosity and hard work! My parents, immigrants from Germany and Czechoslovakia, were farmers and so I grew up living on an 80-acre farm among the crickets and grasshoppers. My parents were Catholic and I had to attend catechism classes on Saturday mornings. The instructors were Dominican Sisters serving in Chesaning. I earned my BA Degree at Aquinas College, my Masters in Elementary Administration and Supervision from Western Michigan University, and a Certificate in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University in New Orleans. I am a licensed Workshop Way® Consultant and co-authored books with Grace H. Pilon, SBS, foundress of Workshop Way®. My goal as an educator was to also teach the 3 Rs of Reverence, Respect, and Responsibility. I have taught in the archdiocese of New Orleans and in the Michigan dioceses of Saginaw, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Gaylord. I’ve had a variety of professional experiences. I love people, am a positive and happy person. I have a great sense of humor which leads to lots of laughter. I thank God for every good gift on this my 70th Jubilee!

Sr. Monica tutors a child at the WORD program.

70 years


Theresa Bray, OP How can I ever thank God for all the blessings bestowed on me! Seventy years, hard to believe! How quickly the years of Love and Service pass. I am grateful for the gift of faith, family, friends, and Community of Sisters. I say, “Thank you, God.�

I

was born December 25, 1927 in Hart, Michigan to Frank Bray and Sophie Retzior. I am the seventh of eleven children, six boys and five girls. I first met and was taught by the Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters in the Catholic elementary school in Weare, Michigan. This association led me to attend high school at Marywood Academy as an Aspirant and upon graduation, I entered the convent. After attending Aquinas College I began my teaching ministry in St. Joseph Parish in Saginaw. I spent 35 years teaching in grades K through 4. What means most to me is having been able to touch the minds and hearts of the very young. My years at Marywood have brought out the gift of being present to others and sharing joy and faith with the residents here at Aquinata. I know I am personally and deeply loved by God who fills me with great happiness and has given me energy to put my faith and love into practice.

70 years


Margaret Thomas, OP Our God is so good, so strong, and so powerful, there is nothing our God cannot do!

H

ow do you put 70 years of “lived reality” as a Dominican Sister into words? How does this small town/farm kid from Michigan tell of her dreams of living in the mountains in an ivycovered castle? (The mountains came later and my ivy-covered castle dream was Marywood, circa 1946.) During these many years, I have ministered as a teacher and principal, and now enjoy my “easy” years as Director of Faith Formation and RCIA. I have traveled throughout the U.S. – hitting all 50 states. I’ve visited the Lands of Dominic, had an immersion experience in Monteria, Colombia, visited Europe during World Youth Day, and traveled to Europe, Nova Scotia, the Cayman Islands and Mexico, backpacked in Canada, and visited Puerto Rico while on the Secondary Committee of the NCEA. I have served on committees for the Community, as well as several in the Archdiocese and with the Colorado Department of Education – along with doing numerous workshops in both Catholic and public schools. I have had countless opportunities to lead retreats and days of recollection for a variety of ages and causes. For play, I have biked, rollerbladed, hiked, backpacked, camped, climbed “14ers”, skied, and run in numerous 5K’s and 10 K’s. I have been blessed to live with prayerful, joyful, and holy women who have challenged, prodded, and taught me to pray, study, and preach – and to relax and laugh. Their example, love, and courage have “given hope to me” and helped me come to this Jubilee Day! In summary, “Our God is so good, so strong, and so powerful, there is nothing our God cannot do!” AMEN – AMEN – ALLELUIA

Sr. Margaret with Fr. Joseph and Monty Smith at the dedication of his Eagle Scout Project.

70 years


Marie Benedict O’Toole, OP “It is good to give thanks to God, to make music to His Name, and proclaim God’s love each day.” Psalm 93 This is what makes my life as a Grand Rapids Dominican so up-lifting. Each day is a gift and is filled with many ways to enjoy it. I want to thank my loving family, my community, and faithful friends for the support they have given me throughout these 70 years.

I

was born in Merrill, Michigan to Benedict and Marie O’Toole in 1925. I am the seventh of ten children in our family. At the present time I am the only member of my family still living. I was educated at Sacred Heart School in Merrill, Michigan with Dominican Sisters as my teachers. I worked for a year at J.C. Penney in Saginaw, Michigan after high school. During that year a friend of mine told me she was going to enter the Convent at Marywood. I decided to go with her in 1946. She didn’t stay, but here I am celebrating my 70th Jubilee. I attended Aquinas College and Western Michigan University. My ministries were elementary school teaching and tutoring for many years. I am a person who likes to walk and travel. I have enjoyed a number of trips with friends, but one of the biggest thrills of my life was walking across the Mackinac Bridge on Labor Day with hundreds of people.

70 years


Lupe Silva, OP

“Gracias a Dios” continues to be the mantra of my life.

I

was born on November 19, 1928 to Brunita and Lucio Silva, the youngest of 15 children. I was first welcomed and enfolded into the Silva family, the Merrill village neighborhood, and Sacred Heart parish. At home was where I learned and lived the “welcoming of all,” “doing whatever was needed” and the experience of daily prayer. The Dominican Sisters’ care and presence in the community led me to join them.

On September 8, 1946, my Sister journey began. These years placed me in service as teacher, principal, Director of Religious Formation, and Pastoral Associate. I have served as Director of the Hispanic Formation Program and Vicar for Hispanics in the Diocese of Saginaw. Gracias a Dios for my supportive family and friends, and my Dominican Sisters with whom I share life, prayer, and study. Thanks to all the dear ones who have graced my life in ministry.

Kit Fessenden, Sr. Lupe Silva, Sr. Angelina Abeyta , and Sr. Roseline Elemowu stand in front of the 41 beautiful dresses they sewed for children in Nigeria.

Life continues to evolve and challenge me here at Marywood. My ministries now include care of my sister, Juanita, volunteer seamstress, and daily response to whoever knocks at my door. I am grateful for the variety and richness of opportunities.

Sr. Lupe helps her sister Juanita glue Christmas scenes onto cards during an Energize Your Brain activity.

I know and believe that as Dominican women “We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.” I say “Gracias a Dios”.

70 years


Barbara Hansen, OP Sixty plus years and counting! These have been years of blessings in abundance.

O

n September 7, 1956, I entered Marywood with the intention of only staying 10 days, during which I would prove to God that I did not have a vocation to religious life and could still enter Mercy Central School of Nursing on time. Those 10 days have now extended to 60 plus years and counting! These have been years of blessings in abundance. How else might I have enjoyed educational experiences at Aquinas College, Ole Miss, University of Oklahoma, Fordham, and Washington Theological Union? Where else could I have walked with so many remarkable women with lives dedicated to others? There have been ministry challenges and opportunities at St. John’s, Essexville; Aquinas College; St. Rose of Lima in Gaithersburg, Maryland; in Congregational leadership; as Justice Co-Promoter; and 13 wonderful years at GRTV interviewing non-profit organizations. Who would have thought that a kid from Hannah would visit Rome and Peru twice, tour the Lands of Dominic, follow the paths of John and Paul in Greece and Turkey or walk the steps of Jesus in Israel? I thank God’s unconditional love for providing parents, siblings, extended family, and so many enriching friendships that contribute to my growth and development as God’s beloved servant.

60 years


Cecilia Faber, OP

I give you thanks for this wondrous life - all your works are wonderful.

Sixty years of Dominican Life have truly been a gift and blessing for me. I have so many things to be thankful for. I was raised in a strong Catholic family that nourished my faith and prepared me to answer God’s call to religious life. I am grateful for the wonderful women who entered with me who helped me through college in those early years, and to the many mentors, sisters, and friends that I have been privileged to have through the years. I am grateful for the many opportunities for study, spiritual retreats, travel, and community. This has truly been a wondrous life.

I

was born at our home near Beal City, Michigan, on March 31, 1934, the second youngest of twelve children. I attended kindergarten at a one room country school and entered St. Philomena Catholic School for grades one through six. I finished my junior high and high school education at Beal City Public School. I worked in an insurance office after high school. My vocation was sparked in sixth grade by Sr. Leona Loyer. It wasn’t until my visits with my sister, Sr. Doris, at Marywood that the Call became a reality and I entered Marywood on September 8, 1956. I graduated from Aquinas College and began ministry as an elementary teacher Sr. Cecilia visits with the Sisters and and principal in schools in Michigan and residents at Aquinata Hall, helping New Mexico. After sixteen years as a them to decorate Valentine’s Day lunch bags for Kids Food Basket. school teacher, I became a Director of Religious Education programs for children attending public schools, and later served in pastoral ministry focusing on adult education, liturgy, and service to the sick and homebound.

60 years


Vera Ann Tilmann, OP “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever!” Psalm 136:1 Diamond Jubilee - sixty years! The power of GRATITUDE and acknowledgment of the many blessings in my life have been the source of much JOY throughout these sixty years. My deepest thanks to my Dominican Community, family, and friends.

I

was taught by the Grand Rapids Dominicans during my grade school years. Since my family lived but a short distance from the convent, it was easy to be influenced by the Sisters. I entered Marywood in 1956, and soon realized that being “Dominican” meant study, study! I completed BA and MA Degrees at Aquinas College, and further studies included an MA Degree from Central Michigan University. My life has been dedicated to Education - teaching or administration in schools in Grand Rapids, Byron Center, Lowell, Bay City, and Coopersville. During twenty of those years, I sang with the Mellow D’s. After retiring from full time teaching, I spent thirteen years developing and directing The WORD Project After-School Program for at-risk children. Presently, I tutor/mentor at schools in Grand Rapids, with a major focus on Literacy. I feel so blessed to be able to continue doing what I love and I surely continue to “rejoice in every good thing God has given to me!” (Deut. 26:11) Sr. Vera and a student

from Sibley School share a book together.

60 years

Favorite leisure activities include reflection/ solitude/prayer time, reading, traveling, playing cards with Sisters and lay friends, spending time in nature, knitting, listening to music, and biking.


Maureen Sheahan, OP “See! I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand.� Isaiah 49:15

M

y life began with my devoted Mother and Dad as the oldest of four children. I spent eight happy years with the Grand Rapids Dominicans at St. Philomena School in Beal City. After high school I felt drawn by the example of the Dominican Sisters and so entered Religious Life at Marywood in 1956. Over the years my vocation has taken many turns. These were formative years for me: summer workshops and earning a certificate for Food Management from St. Louis University, ministering in three dioceses in Michigan and Wisconsin, in two seminaries, with Hospice and Head Start along with my volunteer work in a food pantry for people with needs. Coming full circle, I pray at this time of Jubilee for all the many people, living and deceased, who have shown me the hand of God at work in my life.

60 years


Joan Thomas, OP When I think of having the gift of THIS MOMENT in time…living SIXTY YEARS in our treasured Grand Rapids Dominican Community…it is a profound blessing and reality!

I

f I had not answered the Call to Religious Life, I am not sure how my personal, spiritual, and professional growth would have unfolded. My journey of Dominican Life through prayer, study, service, and community has provided me SO many venues in the world of music. These include the ministries of teaching, leadership, organization, marketing - and the reality of being touched by the lives and hearts of people across our country. I hope that together we have made a difference in the world. Meister Eckhart says it so simply, yet so deeply, for me: “If the only prayer you ever say in your life is THANK YOU, that will be enough!” And so I say thank you dear family, sisters, colleagues, and friends. May the song in our hearts be filled with peace for all peoples.

60 years


Marjorie Stein, OP “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:11 It is only by the grace of God and support of family and community that I am celebrating 60 years as a Grand Rapids Dominican Sister. I have been blessed.

I

was born and raised in North Dorr, Michigan. My parents are Donald and Helen Stein and I am the second of seven children. My first eight years of education occurred at Visitation school in North Dorr. I was an aspirant at Marywood 11th and 12th grades and became a Postulant in 1956. After my first profession I began LPN training and ministered at the Marywood Infirmary, Aquinata Hall, Blodgett, and St. Mary’s hospitals in Grand Rapids. After 25 years of nursing, I trained in cosmetology and began this service to the community. For many years I volunteered at Dégagé, serving the homeless in Grand Rapids. My third career involves assisting our Sisters as they move into and around the Marywood Campus. I call myself the “Nun with a Cart.” My life has been full!

Sr. Marjorie smiles with her cart as she offers assistance to a Sister.

60 years


Mary Catherine Fodrocy, OP I look back on these 60 years with joy and gratitude. Both the smooth times and the rough times have contained their gift.

I

was baptized on September 25, 1938 at St. James Church in Montague, Michigan and grew up in Dalton Township about midway between Muskegon and Whitehall. My very first contact with the Dominican Sisters from Marywood was through their religious correspondence course. Our pastor signed up all school children. Sr. Rosella would write encouraging notes on the completed lesson before she returned it with the new lesson. Meeting some Dominican Sisters in person didn’t come until I began the 8th Grade at St. Joseph School in Muskegon.

Sr. Mary Catherine attends the celebration of Baptism - a significant part of her ministry is walking with others on their journey of faith.

60 years

Ministry has taken me to several places in Michigan. Various ministry roles have been teaching, administration and pastoral ministry with people from 6 to 100 years old. The unifying thread going through these ministries has been walking with people through the ups and downs, twists and turns of our journey of faith. I have been touched by them and they have been touched by me. My life has been enriched by the many blessings and opportunities for growth that have come to me through my family, community, co-workers, and friends. My prayer is gratitude for all of you.


Susan Ridley, OP “Here I am Lord, send me.” Isaiah 6:8

I

was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on September 14, 1938. My father, Howell Ridley, a southerner, married my mother, Gladys Boylon, a northerner. My parents, older sister, younger brother, and I grew up in Grand Rapids. From the age of five, Grand Rapids Dominicans have taught, inspired, and challenged me.

I attended Marywood Academy K–12 and received my BA and MA from Aquinas. I ministered as a Teacher, Elementary School Principal, Religious Education Coordinator, Pastoral Minister of Christian Service, Parish Social Action Coordinator, and Director of Christian Service for the Diocese of Kalamazoo (25 years). A priority in my diocesan ministry was to share the wisdom of Catholic Social Teaching and the Two Feet of Christian Service: Charity and Justice. From 1987–2012, I interacted with staff members from Michigan Catholic Conference, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Home Missions, and Catholic Relief Services, attending conferences, workshops, sponsoring special campaigns, and grant writing. It was my privilege to attend many marches and Group from Kalamazoo rallies in DC, Michigan, and Ohio for important participating in the Annual social issues: hunger, homelessness, human March for Life in DC. trafficking, immigration reform, life, peace, poverty. They have enlivened and filled me with hope, just like our Annual Dominican Days. In this 60th jubilee year I give heartfelt thanks to God, my family, my community, and the people who have accompanied me on my journey.

60 years


Lillian Bockheim, OP Glory and Praise to our God who alone is light to our days. Many are the blessings to those who trust in God´s ways.

S

ixty years of blessings. How can I give thanks to the Lord for his great goodness to me? I have received so many, many blessings: my wonderful Bockheim family, my St. Alphonsus Redemptorist family, friends, my Dominican Family and Community; so many wonderful inspiring women and men, friends and all those who have accompanied me on my life´s journey. I am especially grateful for the years in Chimbote and to the people living in poverty that have welcomed me into their hearts and homes. One feels humble in the presence of the poor.

When Esau looked about , he saw the women and children. “ Who are these with you?” he asked. Jacob answered, “They are the children whom God graciously bestowed on your servant.” Genesis 33:5

60 years

I give thanks for the many years of blessings. Blessings like stars in the sky just cannot be counted. When we take the time to look at them they fill us with profound awe, joy, and deep gratitude. May St. Dominic look down on us all and smile.


Judith Kirt, OP “Life is the childhood of our immortality.” Goethe

I

was born in Lake Leelanau on November 21,1938 to Dennis and Mildred Kirt. St. Mary’s Church and School continue to nurture faith, education, service, and community for our family. I was in the tenth grade when Fr. Schrems posed a question, “Who is going to take Sister’s place?” My silent response was “I will”. After high school I began my journey toward 60 years of Dominican Life. Many wonderful people have shared life and ministry with me. Teaching fourth graders or high school sophomores, I expected their best effort. Grand Rapids, Bay City, Mt. Pleasant, Saginaw, Beaver Island, Traverse City, and Fremont were my teaching missions. Summer work at St. Mary’s histopathology lab provided me “real world” experiences to inspire students toward medical careers. Whether teacher or administrator, my north star was: “Kids and teachers are unique individuals and my most important ministry.” Reading, brook-trout fishing, small game hunting, gardening, carpentry, sports, crocheting, quilting, stamp collecting, photography, rock polishing, and general repair work are among the many hobbies I enjoy. Podiatry care and leading a monthly Cancer The one that Survivor’s Prayer group deepened my relationships didn’t get away. with Sisters and my God. Though now limited in activities, my smile and quick wit seem to bring delight. Only a ‘yes’ to God can make my life really fruitful.

60 years


Phyllis Klonowski, OP

Jubilee, like an anniversary, marks time by remembering, asks for the forgiveness of debt and/or actions to strengthen relationships with God and neighbor, and celebrates the abundance of blessings experienced.

T

he oldest of five daughters for Daniel and Regina (Peplinski) Klonowski, my life was rich with deep Catholic faith, education, and Polish customs. These marked each sacramental and growth step in my birth and faith family, St. Josaphat Parish, Carrollton. Community was learned as one witnessed and practiced acceptance/ inclusion. Presence was felt and given as support amidst trial and loss. Voice was heard. Fear was weakened. Hope, courage, and trust strengthened. Love to transform discrimination and avoidance.

Whew - national exam questions?! Really? Sr. Phyllis helps a student find answers.

My acceptance into the Grand Rapids Dominicans on the wave of Vatican II, the Vietnam War, and Civil Rights movement challenged my prayer and mission life. Being invited and confirmed through the community, Pharmacy became my portal for service. Believing medication is an aid for healing and focusing on a person not a disease, I have sought affordable access and safe understandable use of medicine. My claimed voice helps Love transform healing.

My prayer, answered hourly, is “to be open to receive God’s love and to respond as fully as I am able”, “to love each person who crosses my path.” Gratitude, joy, and the music from Lori True’s hymn “Let This Be the Time” ring in my heart. “May this be the time when Peace, Justice, and Transformation” do mark all our lives. Amen.

50 years


grdominicans.org • (616) 514-3106 • dominicancenter.com 2025 Fulton Street East • Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Dominican Sisters Grand Rapids 2017 Jubilarians  

Our Hebrew roots provide a tradition for Jubilee to be celebrated every fifty years. In our Dominican tradition we have developed our own cu...

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