Relationships for Mission

Celebrating 35 Years of Associate Relationship


The year 2020 marks 35 years that the Dominican Sisters and Associates have been blessed by a loving, mutual, and mission-centered relationship. In the July issue of Sinsinawa Spectrum, we shared reflections from Associates celebrating anniversaries and those who have made lifetime commitments. This is a continuation of these reflections. The year listed after their name is their initial commitment date. Enjoy!.

Barbara Roth, 1986Barbara Roth, 1986
West Palm Beach, FL
Being an Associate to the Sinsinawa Dominican community has been a touchstone; a standard setter; an all-embracing foundation of my mature years. Is that process inclusive? Who is gaining here? What is the consensus? Will all views be represented? Who’s voice is not heard? Does Wisdom have the final say? This is the Sinsinawa way of understanding—this they have incarnated for me.


Paula McKenzie, 1991Paula McKenzie, 1991
Madison, WI
When I first met Sinsinawa Dominicans in my parish almost 40 years ago, I was impressed by their joy and their steadfast efforts for social justice. As a graduate student at Edgewood College in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was drawn to study and prayer. One of my professors suggested that deep study was contemplation. I was hooked. My inner spirit felt deeply connected to the prayer, study, and contemplation that I was experiencing with these joyful women. When I became a hospital chaplain and later pastoral care/regional director, it was the strong prayer support of Sisters that connected my call to mission with the mission of the Sisters. Today, as a retired woman, I continue to learn and to engage in social justice issues that Sinsinawa Dominicans support. I study issues that are shared through SinsinOP, and I support those issues with my own efforts where and when I am able. Through my lifetime commitment as an Associate of the Dominican Sisters, I am blessed to share in relationship with Sisters and Associates of this community. It energizes my life as a wife, mother, and grandmother.

Pat Jinkins, 2001Pat Jinkins, 2001
Algonquin, IL
Dominican inquiry—“Martha, I love your cross. How can I get one?“ Martha Bartholomew answered, “Become a Dominican Associate!” I said, “YES,” and the journey began! My Dominican spirituality became such a defining part of me and the heart of my teaching ministry. As a Catholic school kindergarten teacher, the Dominican charism influenced not only my prayer life but my students as well. It overflowed into our prayer experiences, scripture study, and classroom activities. Because the Associates shared the fruits of their labors in working for a holy and just society, I was encouraged to do the same. Our kindergarten classes and sometimes the whole school became a part of projects that promoted work for social justice. We collected pop can tabs for the Ronald McDonald House, bought stuffed animals for children in transition, made stationery for incarcerated mothers, and collected books for the Aunt Mary’s Book Project. In retirement, I continue to proclaim the Gospel through prayer, relationships, study, and working for a just society with “holiness.”

Jana Minor, 1990Jana Minor, 1990
Aurora, IL
Wow—30 years. What a journey! So many blessings! So much learning and growth! I became an Associate because I was involved in an intense ministry to prisoners without a network to keep me valid. I decided I needed to journey with other women doing ministry. I had no idea how much talent and how many gifts my association with this wonderful Dominican Family would bring me. You have taught me so much, inspired me to the depths of my being, and provided me with so many wonderful friendships. For years I had witnessed how our criminal justice system devastated the lives of so many people of color. I had no idea how to address that. Then I was able to join the Antiracism Transformation Team, and I could put words to what I saw happening in that system. Further, I could join with others working to overcome this sin. Together we are creating a louder voice for justice. For eight wonderful years, I was in charge of this form of membership. Again, I had no idea how deeply I would be touched by that experience. I could go on. I end with a huge THANK YOU!

Margaret Patterson, 1999Margaret Patterson, 1999
Lisle, IL
More than 20 years ago, I became aware of how the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters and Associates were involved in the arts and education and peace and justice work. To be even a small part of those endeavors appealed to me. The experience of seeing community up close has made me appreciate how small actions can have a big impact when people work together. It staves off a feeling of helplessness when seeing the world’s problems. That experience and the invitations to participate in the Congregation’s study, prayer, and ministry have sustained me. As for the future, I think about some advice my mother gave me. She told me not to be afraid if I ever was in dense fog. She explained that if I looked ahead, it might seem that I wouldn’t be able to see anything or to find my way, but that I would be able to see close around me. Leaving kindergarten with a friend one afternoon in a very thick fog, I remembered that advice, so I was not afraid. Though we could perceive nothing ahead, we could see enough around us to know where the sidewalks ended and the streets began. We made it home safely. Sometimes we can’t see far ahead, but any community that supports the gospel mandate of spreading the Good News has a future because the God of relationship is faithful. And that faithful God is around us now as we forge ahead together.

Karla Ruggiero, 2010Karla Ruggiero, 2010
Tucker, GA
My Associate relationship to me means my family of life and my spiritual community. I was drawn in as an Associate through my relationships with the Sisters and prayer group in Atlanta. However, I think my first connection was through peace and justice issues during my time as a student both at Queen of Peace High School, Burbank, IL; and Dominican University, River Forest, IL. The social justice activities we did outside the classroom were thought-provoking, made me examine myself, and left an impression. After I moved to Atlanta, I knew I was missing something spiritually. Mary Therese Johnson, OP, connected me with the Sinsinawa Dominican group in Atlanta. After my first meal and prayer with the group, I felt like I was home and prayed they would invite me back into the circle. I have been so grateful to be part of this group and honored to be an Associate. Over the years, my college students and friends would ask why I socialize with nuns. I would explain this group keeps me grounded with real world issues, and my spirit and soul feel alive. During unexplainable moments in life such as the ones now, I know I can turn to my Dominican community for support, reflection, and guidance. My connection to this community is building my relationship and role as an Associate of the Sinsinawa Dominicans. I believe this is my calling—a lifetime commitment of building community, preaching God’s Word, and working for peace and justice.

Click for Spectrum September 2020 Index

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