Dominican Sisters Conference Annual Leaders Meeting Open New RoadMap to the Future

By Dee Holleran, Staff Communicator, Peace

Sisters attended the DSC Elected Officers Meeting both in person and virtually, like Sisters Diane Capuano, OP, (Amityville), top left, Diane Morgan, OP, (Amityville), top right, Catherine Walsh, OP, (Hope), bottom left, and Cecilia Canales, OP, (Mission San Jose), bottom right.

Attendees at the 2021 Dominican Sisters Conference were greeted by the theme, “Hope Happens.” And they saw reason for hope, as the annual meeting, which had been completely virtual in 2020 because of COVID, was a hybrid event, with the DSC Executive Committee, the Meeting Planning Committee and the Futuring Leadership Team gathering in person at the Dominican Sisters of Peace Martin de Porres Center October 13-15. Other DSC members joined via zoom for the three-day event, including Sisters in Puerto Rico who were able to participate more fully thanks to the assistance of translator Christin Feagan, OP, (Sinsinawa).

Pat Twohill, OP, (Peace), Prioress, offered a warm welcome to audiences attending in person and virtually. Anne Lythgoe, OP (Peace), President of the DSC Executive Committee, reiterated Pat’s welcome before introducing Joye Gros, OP (Peace) and Teresa Tuite, OP (Peace) to lead the Wednesday prayer service. Following the evening prayer service, Anne asked all attendees to watch for the signs of hope in the conference presentations.

Mary Ellen O’Grady, OP, (Sinsinawa), DSC Executive Director, reported that the DSC has moved its offices to Edgewood College in Madison, WI, and introduced the DSC staff, including Dusty Farnan, OP, (Adrian) at the UN, Madonna Thelen (Dominican Associate of Sinsinawa) Administrative Assistant, Ashley Apollonio, Editor of Dom Life, Diana Marin of Dominican Charism Initiative and Yvette Hutchins, Bookkeeper.

Mary Ellen also introduced the Associate and Sisters Committee, and was joined on screen by members Lisa Kane, OP, (Racine), Mare Wheeler (Dominican Associate of Racine) and Mary Lach (Dominican Associate of Adrian). Other members include Laura Arvin, OP, (Amityville), Corrine Thompson (Dominican Associate of Caldwell), Teresa Montez–Lara, OP (Tacoma), and Mary Ellen O’Grady. Mare, Lisa, and Mary told the meeting about a new questionnaire for Sisters and Associates and encouraged all to sign up for the refreshed Listserv.

Mary Ellen O’Grady, OP, (Sinsinawa), DSC Executive Director, addresses in-person and virtual attendees at the October 13-15 Dominican Sisters Conference Elected Officers Meeting. 

Diana Marin, who is assisting as the Dominican Charism Initiative is transitioned to sponsorship by the DSC, joined the meeting via video to introduce the DCI and explain how it can be utilized by Dominican Congregations and communities. 

In closing, Mary Ellen expressed hope for new ways to celebrate and deepen our commitment to the Dominican Charism, and previewed the content of Friday’s program, which would focus on the Roadmap for the DSC.

Mary Ellen welcomed everyone to the Thursday session of the 2021 Dominican Sisters Conference meeting and introduced Joye and Teresa to lead us in prayer. Afterward, Cathy Murray, OP, (San Rafael) introduced Regina (Reg) McKillip, OP, (Sinsinawa) and Dusty Farnan, OP, (Adrian) for a report from the North American Dominican Justice Promoters and the International Dominican Commission on Justice and Peace. Following this presentation, Cathy, Megan McElroy, OP, (Grand Rapids) and Reg led a conversation regarding the future of justice work. The discussion closed with the creation of a working group to discuss options including a national justice office, regional justice work, and new ways to collaborate on important justice issues. 

Gemma Doll, OP, (Peace), Veronica Esparza Ramirez, OP, (Mission San Jose), Eileen Gannon, OP, (Sparkill) , Sandra Delgado, OP, (Grand Rapids), Margaret Anderson, OP, (Hope), Connie Kelly, OP,  (Hope), Margaret Diener, OP, (San Rafael), Mary Priniski, OP, (Adrian), Pam Mitchell, OP, (Sinsinawa), and Joan Williams, OP, (Grand Rapids) offered to serve on this working group.

After a break, Maryann McMahon, OP, (Racine) introduced the Dominican Futuring Leadership Team (FLT), which includes Carol Dempsey, OP, (Caldwell), Pat Magee, OP (Hope), Donna Maria Moses, OP, (Mission San Jose), Maidung Nguyen, OP, (Peace,),Lorraine Reaume, OP, (Peace), and Kathleen Ann Tait, OP, (Springfield), with DSC Leadership liaisons Mary Ellen O’Grady and Anne Lythgoe. The Team reported on their current and upcoming projects. 

The afternoon ended with small group discussions considering the question: Given your experience, what do you think is essential in Dominican life and mission?

The Friday, October 15, 2021, session of the Dominican Sisters Conference annual meeting began with prayer led by Joye and Teresa, including a special memorial to the indigenous groups who lived on the land where our Motherhouses stand today.

Attendees at the Dominican Sisters Conference Elected Officers Meeting, held October 13-15 at the Martin de Porres Center in Columbus, OH, including: Front Row, from left: Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP, (Peace); Sr. Terry Rickard, OP, (Blauvelt);  Sr. Maryann McMahon, OP, (Racine); Sr. Cathy Murray, O,P (San Rafael); Sr. Pam Mitchell, OP, (Sinsinawa): Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen, OP, (Peace); Sr. Donna Maria Moses, O,P (Mission San Jose); Sr. Mary Ellen O’Grady, OP, (Sinsinawa); Sr. Megan McElroy, OP, (Grand Rapids).

Back Row, from Left:  Sr. Pat Twohill, OP (Peace); Sr. Pat Magee, OP (Hope);  Sr. Gene Poore, OP (Peace); Sr. Dusty Farnan, OP  (Adrian); Sr. Corinne Sanders, OP (Adrian); Sr. Gemma Doll, OP (Peace); Sr. Janice Brown, OP (Adrian); Sr. Kathleen Tait, OP (Springfield); Sr. Therese Leckert, OP (Peace); Sr. Diane Capuano, OP (Amityville).

Anne introduced Margaret Mayce, OP, (Amityville), DSI International Coordinator and Gene Poore, OP, (Peace), North American Continental Coordinator for DSI, for an update on the work of Dominican woman around the world, which of course has been challenged by the danger of the pandemic. At the end of the presentation, the Memorandum of Understanding, related to the ongoing operational expenses of the DSI, was approved with a vote of 16 yes and one abstention, and Gene was approved as the DSI North American Continental Coordinator for an additional year with a unanimous vote.

Pat offered an overview of plans for the Bicentennial celebration of the arrival of Dominican Sisters om the United States, which will begin April 19, 2022, and include a special event with Claire Noonan of Dominican University in River Forest, IL, on July 23, 2022.

Mary Ellen reminded the participants about the dates for various Congregational Chapters to be held in 2022 and the next DSC Leaders’ Meeting to be held October 13-15, 2022, in Milwaukee before calling a break.

Anne presented the Executive Committee Report, which reviewed the 2021-2022 Roadmap and goals of this plan that have been reached  over the past year. Breakout sessions addressed the value of the roadmap and the needs of the world around us that might also need to be addressed. Maryann McMahon, OP, (Racine), DSC Treasurer, reported on the financial state of the DSC and plans for the future.

After congregational breakout rooms and some discussion and clarifying questions, the DSC budget was approved on a vote of 16-1, and the Roadmap 2021-2022 was approved unanimously.

Teresa and Joye lead the participants in the closing prayer, which recognized Congregations that have Chapters during 2021 and 2022, including Adrian, Maryknoll, Peace, Mission San Jose, Racine, Houston, and Sparkill.

Anne thanked and blessed Pam Mitchell and Corinne Sanders for their service on the DSC Executive Committee and for their willingness to continue to serve a second term. She also thanked Gloria Marie Jones, OP, (Mission San Jose) and Diana Marin for their work Dominican Charism Initiative. Anne also thanked Mary Ellen for her service as Executive Director.

Mary Ellen thanked all those who made this virtual meeting a success:  the Executive Committee, the Planning Committee, the Tech Team, the Ritual Committee, the Presenters, the Translator, the note takers for the meeting and all the participants.

Teresa and Joye concluded the 2021 Dominican Sisters Conference with the song “We Shall be Known.” The meeting closed “officially” with a short dance party that brought in-person and virtual participants together in celebration.

The DSC Planning Committee includes Anne Lythgoe, OP, (Peace), Mary Ann McMahon, OP, Mary Ellen O’Grady, OP, (Sinsinawa), Diane Capuano, OP, (Amityville), Megan McElroy, OP, (Grand Rapids), and Cathy Murray, OP, (San Rafael)

The DSC Executive Committee includes Anne Lythgoe, OP, (Peace), Maryann McMahon, OP, (Racine), Pam Mitchell, OP, (Sinsinawa), Terry Rickard, OP, (Blauvelt), Corrine Saunders, OP, (Adrian), and Janice Brown, OP, (Adrian).

Archived recordings of each session are available below:

Click here to view the entire photo album from the gathering.