Adrian Dominican Associate Nancy Mason Bordley is a trailblazer as the Founding Director of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Office of Dominican Charism, established May 1, 2022. The Congregation’s General Council established the office to animate and support women and men in their commitment to Dominican life and spirituality and to “foster community, deepen spirituality, and engage social action aligned with the Dominican Charism.”
Heading the new office is a good fit for Nancy in many ways. She grew up with the Dominican Charism in her blood. She was raised in a Dominican parish, St. Vincent de Ferrer, in Madison Heights, Michigan, and educated by Oxford Dominican Sisters in elementary school and by Adrian Dominican Sisters at Bishop Foley High School in Madison Heights. “The pillars and charism of preaching in an informal way were just part of my life, even growing up,” Nancy said.
Nancy lived out the Dominican Charism throughout more than 40 years of ministry: as a spiritual director, music director, director of religious education, director of liturgy, and pastoral associate in five parishes in southeastern Michigan. True to her Dominican roots, she has preached at more than 120 Sunday liturgies in the past 20 years and has continued to work with Dominicans on various projects and boards.
“What I’m finding right now is that my 40-plus years in parish ministry has been a huge gift and resource for me in this job,” Nancy said. “Everything I did when I look back on it in some way prepared me for this ministry.”
Active in Associate Life – as a Representative of Associate Life, a member of its Advisory Board, and a leader of the Envision 2030 Committee that worked to envision the future of Associate Life – Nancy also looks forward to reaching out to others attracted to the Dominican Charism: Co-workers at the Motherhouse in Adrian and in sponsored and legacy institutions, alumni from Dominican schools and parishes, and donors.
In the months since she began her present ministry, Nancy has initiated a new model of Associate Life: an organization of Associates and other interested partners in mission into three circles – spirituality, community, and social justice – as well as a formation committee.
“We have 45 people in one of the three circles or on the Formation Committee,” Nancy said. “Some are vowed members, but the majority are Associates who are taking on leadership and are meeting monthly to make plans. … The Circles are a paradigm shift for leadership in Associate Life – moving from one person [the Director] who was the overseer of Associate Life and provided the vision – to really grassroots leadership of Associates taking on responsibility.”
Nancy was joined in her ministry on January 2, 2023, by Liz Keith, who was a consultant in establishing the office. “We will be working together very closely … to come up with new proposals for moving forward in the next three years,” she said.
Much of their work together is done remotely as Liz works in the Las Vegas area, where the Adrian Dominican Sisters have a legacy institution, St. Rose Dominican Hospitals. Hopes are to increase outreach to Associates around the United States and beyond – for Nancy and Liz to be “out and about to greet Dominicans at different gatherings” in different areas, Nancy said.
Nancy also hopes to expand her outreach to other partners in mission. “I think a big part of my responsibility has been and will continue to be to engage and invite and remind,” she said. She hopes to help various Partners in Mission to “feel part of the Dominican family and connected to something bigger than themselves, bigger than Adrian, in something that’s more global.” Nancy has a deep vision for the future. “There’s something that’s being born and something emerging … to take the charism into the future,” she said. “I think people became Associates and wanted to share in the Mission and Vision of the Sisters, but now they have the charism, and we cherish that so much that we want to take it into the future. It’s a huge responsibility.”