Relationships for Mission
Celebrating 35 Years of
The year 2020 marks 35 years that the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa and Associates have been blessed by a loving, mutual, and mission-centered relationship. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we had to think of a variety of ways to celebrate this milestone. Associates celebrating anniversaries and those who have made lifetime commitments were invited to write a reflection on their years of relationship. The year listed after their name is their initial commitment date. Over the next couple issues of Sinsinawa Spectrum, these reflections will be shared. Enjoy!
Carol Dapogny, 1985
We met for several months, talking, praying, writing, discussing, arguing, eating, praying, drinking, and struggling for the right words to express a new relationship. There were a half dozen of us, vowed and formerly vowed Sinsinawa Dominicans. And when we gave the original documents as to the shape and form of “affiliates” to the General Council, we knew it was only a beginning. From this vantage point 35 years later, had we thought of ourselves as weavers rather than writers, it would have been easier. We were laying down threads which would give and receive strength and beauty as they grew in relationship with the whole tapestry. I treasure having had the original experience and am grateful for being a part of the tapestry which is the Dominicans of Sinsinawa.
Martha Bartholomew, 1985
East Dundee, IL
“Dominican? What do you mean?” I queried my student at the arts center where I taught painting, pottery, weaving, etc. She proceeded to explain that I reminded her of the Dominicans she knew from the House of Prayer in the village where we lived, Clarendon Hills, IL. It was the early 1970s. “I only know that I seem to come from prayer and study to teaching here. Tell me more.” And two days later, Richardine Downey, OP (1904–1977), was at my door inviting me into a relationship that has never ceased to sustain and inspire and stretch in ever expanding ways. While I was an ordained elder in the Presbyterian church, I was growing as a spiritual advisor observed in becoming “Presbyholic” or a “Catheterian.” And more. Further growth came in study and subsequent recognition of ecumenicity leading to becoming the director of a place of prayer, SILOAM in rural Dundee where with my husband, David, we maintained a small arboretum and provided retreat opportunities for pilgrims for 38 years. It is a sacred privilege to discover “the heart of ministry is relationship” as we play and pray our way on the one journey that matters. Always and still unfolding, in good company.
Catherine Perry, 2005
What drew me? A community of women from whom I could learn and have modeled for me how to live a holy, God-centered life, each from our unique essence. What keeps me in commitment? The nuns are the older sisters I never had, full of wisdom, joy, and
authenticity. I appreciate how the Sisters find value in partnering with lay women like us; we enrich each other’s lives. I can only hope I contribute to our vowed and Associate community a portion of what I’ve received.
Terri Bolotin, 2010
In the shadow of protests following the murder of George Floyd, I know more deeply than ever why I am an Associate of the Dominicans of Sinsinawa. My call to justice needs a community that is rooted in risk-taking. Just as importantly, I have always needed a community of people who study, who ask the questions, who value beauty and Earth and stretch me in ways I am afraid to stretch on my own. In 2010, I became an Associate, 20 years after I had taken first vows in my journey as a vowed member. I never took final vows but remained in community through the powerful love of Sisters and Associates who seemed to not notice that I was neither vowed or an Associate. But I was always welcome! One of the things that most attracted and sustained me was the Dominican quest for truth. When I was pregnant and found my child would be born with Down syndrome, it made all the difference to have companions along the way who heard my grief without trying to fix it. Nora Ryan’s [OP] capacity to enter the world of a child with her exuberant joy reawakened my joy. Emeric Bauch’s [OP] way with children loosened the grip of my chronic grief. It was study that enabled me to be curious at the inexplicable, enabling me to see my son beyond his differences. Patty Caraher’s [OP] zest for hearing the stories, especially from those typically excluded, elicited a sense of wonder—and invited me to an evolving consciousness that valued the empowerment of others. Once I left Atlanta, I continued to come back for regionals. I was inspired by the creativity and commitment of Associates and Sisters there. The sense of mission was a common bond as so many other things changed. This search for truth drew us together for a virtual meeting most recently as we committed to action in the face of the unending outrages of racism. My journey as an Associate continues because “the search—for self, for wisdom, for love, for truth, for justice, for God—is strenuous and unending. We need good companions . . .” (Kaye Ashe, OP [1930–2014]).
Kay Brown, 2004
I was drawn to Associate relationship by my good friend and companion on my journey, Joyce Leibly, OP. My relationship with Joyce also continues to sustain me, but I now have formed many relationships with Sisters and Associates, and my Dominican Family has become my spiritual family and community. The development of my pillars of prayer and study have been enriched and have encouraged me in mission as my relationship with the Dominicans has grown. I see a future with great potential and a strong mission fueled by love. I am thankful every day to have this relationship in my life.
Margaret Adamek Webinger, 1990
Golden Valley, MN
I was called into being 100 years (1947) after Sinsinawa was founded (1847) and one birthday away from St. Dominic, so it seems that the stars were aligned. My “Yes” to lifetime commitment bolsters these challenging days and emboldens both my search and response to truth. I am grateful. As Ram Dass states, “We’re all just walking each other home.”