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Adrian Dominican Sisters Who Served in St. Petersburg Celebrate Jubilees

Adrian Dominican Sisters from throughout the United States came home to their Motherhouse in Adrian, Michigan, for a special week this summer to mark their Jubilees, their years of service and dedication to their Church and the Congregation. The 2016 Jubilee Class includes nine Sisters serving 75 years; 22 celebrating 70 years; 41 celebrating 60 years; 16 celebrating 50 years; and one celebrating 25 years.

Among the Adrian Dominican Jubilarians with connections to the Diocese of St. Petersburg are:

Sister Jean Charles Birney, OP

Sister Jean Charles Birney, OP, a native of Jackson, Michigan, is celebrating 75 years as an Adrian Dominican Sister. A graduate of St. Joseph Academy in Adrian, she entered the Congregation on July 2, 1940 from St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Parish in Jackson. She professed her first vows on January 8, 1942, and her final vows on January 8, 1947.

Sister Jean Charles holds a bachelor’s degree from Siena Heights College (now University) in Adrian and a master’s degree in history from Loyola University, Chicago.

She ministered for nearly 40 years as an elementary school teacher at Catholic schools in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, the Dominican Republic, and Florida. From 1981 to 1999, Sister Jean Charles served in pastoral ministry at St. Jude Parish in St. Petersburg, Florida, visiting parishioners who were sick or shut-in.

Sister Jean Charles has been at the Dominican Life Center in Adrian since 1999, praying for the needs of the world and being present to all the people she encounters. She holds as special, fond memories the times that she taught more than 50 seventh and eighth-grade boys in one class – and the challenge of keeping on her toes with those students.

Sister Jean Irene McAllister, OP

Sister Jean Irene McAllister, OP, celebrating her 70-year Jubilee, is a native of the Detroit area. She entered the Congregation in June 1946 and completed her high school education at St. Joseph Academy in Adrian in 1947. Sister Jean Irene professed first vows on December 30, 1947 and final vows on December 31, 1952. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Siena Heights College (now University) in Adrian.

After serving her first assignments schools in Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan, Sister Jean Irene came to Florida. She served at Holy Family in St. Petersburg from 1976 to 1979 and was a pastoral minister from 1979 to 1988 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Melbourne, Florida, and from 1988 to 2003 at Rocky Creek Village, a senior living community in Tampa, Florida. While serving in Rocky Creek, she was part of a line dance group and kitchen band that performed at nursing homes, senior centers, and parish festivals. She retired to Adrian in 2003.

Sister Jean Irene described her vocation as “a gift and a shared journey with other members of our Congregation. …My heart overflows with gratitude for my 70 years as an Adrian Dominican.”

Sister Mary Kathryn Cliatt, OP

Sister Mary Kathryn Cliatt, OP, the former Sister Helen Maureen, is celebrating 60 years of religious life. A native of Miami, Florida, she graduated from Miami Edison High School and entered the Congregation in June 1956 from St. Rose of Lima Parish in Miami. She professed her first vows in December 1957 and her final vows in December 1962.

Sister Mary Kathryn holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling, both from Barry College (University) in Miami. She did her post-graduate work in sociology at Florida State University.

After teaching at Catholic schools in Florida and Illinois, Sister Mary Kathryn served from 1965 to 1975 as guidance counselor at Tampa Catholic High School. Originally the only counselor, she developed the program to the point that, when she left, the school was served by five guidance counselors.

In 1975, Sister Mary Kathryn began her 30-year work what is now Cedar Hill Enrichment Center in Gainesville, Georgia. The center primarily served low-income people in the cities of Gainesville, Cumming, and Dawsonville, helping the people to meet their material and spiritual needs. From 2010 to 2013, Sister Mary Kathryn and three other Adrian Dominican Sisters served as “grandmothers” to the students at St. Clare Girls’ Center in Kenya – a boarding house for 350 girls who were orphaned or from families so poor that they couldn’t be cared for.

Sister Mary Kathryn is currently engaged in active retirement: serving as mentor and grandmother to a Siena Heights University student who had graduated from St. Clare, as well as companion to first-year nursing students at Siena Heights. She also sits in vigil with Sisters who are dying.

Sister Grace Dougherty, OP
Sister Grace Dougherty, OP

Sister Grace Dougherty, OP, formerly known as Sister Grace Albert, is also celebrating 60 years in religious life. A native of Chicago, she graduated from Aquinas High School in Chicago in 1956 and in June of that year entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation. She professed first vows on December 28, 1957, and final vows on December 28, 1962.

Sister Grace earned a bachelor of science degree in home and family life from Barry College (now University) in Miami Shores, Florida in 1967 and a master’s in counselor education from Siena Heights College (now University) in Adrian, Michigan, in 1983.

After teaching at Presentation School in Detroit for the second semester of the 1958-59 year, Sister Grace moved to St. Petersburg, where she taught t St. Jude from 1959 to 1962. She taught f rom 1962 to 1969 at St. Bede School in Montgomery, Alabama and returned to St. Jude in St. Petersburg to teach from 1969 to 1976.

From 1976 to 1982, Sister Grace served for two terms as Provincial in St. Rose de Lima Province, based in West Palm Beach. She then switched gears and served in pastoral ministry: in the Spiritual Care Department at Maria Health Care Center in Adrian from 1983 to 1988 and in the Spiritual Care Department at Mercy Hospital, Chicago, from 1990 to 2009. She is now actively retired and residing in Westchester, Illinois.

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The Dominican Sisters of Adrian are a Congregation of nearly 700 vowed women religious whose roots go back to St. Dominic in the 13th century. The Sisters minister in 26 states; the District of Columbia; the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and in five other nations: Canada, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Norway, and the Philippines. The Sisters and more than 200 Associates are organized into seven regional Mission Chapters, each under the leadership of a Chapter Prioress.

Brother Lucius Amarillas Professes Simple Vow at Saint Leo Abbey Church

Brother Lucius Amarillas made his first monastic profession of simple vows at Saint Leo Abbey Church on July 11. The Right Reverend Abbot Isaac Camacho, OSB, celebrated the Mass and the Benedictine rite of Simple Profession. He was welcomed by his family, friends, members of the Benedictine Monks of Saint Leo Abbey, and the Saint Leo University community.

Brother Lucius professed his temporary vows of stability, conversion of life, and obedience. As a junior monk, he will study a wide range of topics, including monastic and Church history, philosophy and theology. He is the son of David and Renee Kogos of Modesto, CA.



Retirement Fund for Religious Benefits 33,000 Sisters, Brothers, Priests in Religious Orders

The annual Retirement Fund for Religious collection will be held Dec. 12-13 in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Now in its 28th year, the appeal is coordinated by the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO) and offers support for senior Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests whose communities lack sufficient retirement funding. Some 33,000 women and men religious past age 70 benefit.

The Diocese of St. Petersburg contributed $215,857.59 to the last collection. In 2015, the Sisters of St. Clare received financial assistance made possible by the Retirement Fund for Religious. Women and men religious who serve or have served in the diocese but whose communities are based elsewhere may also benefit from the annual collection.

The 2014 appeal raised $28.3 million, and the NRRO distributed more than $25 million in monetary support to 395 religious communities. Throughout the year, additional funding is allocated for communities with the greatest needs and for retirement planning and educational resources. Ninety-three cents of every dollar directly aids elderly religious; the remainder is used for administration and promotion of the appeal.

“We are overwhelmed by the ongoing generosity shown this appeal,” said Precious Blood Sister Janice Bader, the NRRO’s executive director. “Since the fund was launched in 1988, Catholics have donated $755 million to assist religious communities in caring for their elder members.”

The U.S. bishops initiated the collection to address the significant lack of retirement funding among U.S. religious communities. Proceeds are distributed to eligible communities to help underwrite retirement and health-care expenses.

While the response to the collection is unprecedented, so is the need. The total cost of care for senior women and men religious has exceeded $1 billion for each of the last six years. At the same time, the number of religious needing care is on the rise. In 2014, 66 percent of the religious communities providing data to the NRRO had a median age of 70 or older. Accompanying the higher median age is a decrease in the number of religious able to serve in compensated ministry, which further reduces the income available for eldercare.

Hundreds of religious communities also lack sufficient retirement savings, due in part to historically low compensation. “Most senior religious worked for years for small stipends and did not receive retirement benefits,” said Sister Bader. Religious communities are financially autonomous and thus responsible for the support and care of all members. Annual distributions from the Retirement Fund for Religious provide supplemental assistance to help meet such day-to-day needs as prescription medications and nursing care.

In addition to providing financial assistance, the NRRO offers education and resources that help religious communities stretch retirement dollars and plan for future needs. Strategic partnerships with various organizations further these efforts. For example, support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is underwriting the creation of programming and materials that promote the effective management and/or divestment of outdated congregational properties.

“We remain committed to ensuring the broadest and most beneficial use of donations to the Retirement Fund for Religious,” said Sister Bader.

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Monk Ordained as Catholic Priest During Feast of Saint Leo Mass

ST. LEO, FL — The annual Feast of Saint Leo Mass included a special component this year for the Saint Leo University community as one of the Benedictine Monks of Saint Leo Abbey was ordained.

The Most Reverend Robert Lynch celebrated the Mass on November 10 at the Abbey Church along with concelebrant Abbot Isaac Camacho, OSB, as Clement Rees, OSB, was ordained as a Catholic priest. View photos from the ordination here.

Clement Thomas Rees was born in 1957 in Texas to Tom and Mary Jane Rees. He has two siblings. He spent four years in the U.S. Navy as a medic and graduated from the University of South Alabama in 1985 with a business degree. He underwent a conversion, became Catholic and began a solitary journey, traveling to the United States and retiring to a sailboat in Florida.

A friend brought him to Saint Leo Abbey where he became a novice in 2008. He graduated from Saint Leo University with a Master of Arts in theology and was sent to study at St. John’s Abbey Seminary in Minnesota. Brother Clement was made prior at Saint Leo Abbey on March 21, 2015, and ordained deacon on May 29, 2015, by Bishop Lynch.

At the ordination Mass, Bishop Lynch spoke of the Rule of Benedict, upon which the Order of Saint Benedict was founded and upon which the university’s core values are based. “Brother Clement, the Rule by which you lived your life has prepared you for priesthood,” he said. Read Father Clement’s reflections on his ordination to the priesthood here.

The Feast of Saint Leo Mass also marked the closing of the 125th anniversary of Saint Leo Abbey and Holy Name Monastery.

Sister Elizabeth Mathai, O.S.B., Made Her Perpetual Monastic Profession

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Sister Elizabeth Mathai, O.S.B.

Sister Elizabeth Mathai, O.S.B., made her perpetual monastic commitment on April 11, 2015. The solemn ceremony took place at Holy Name Monastery with Mass celebrated by Abbot Isaac J. Camacho, OSB. Sister’s celebration began with the entrance procession and the ancient monastic tradition of statio which provides a moment of silence and recollection to center hearts and minds on the solemnity of the occasion. Statio also serves as a way for the monastic community, the Benedictine Sisters of Florida, to lead the Scholastic, Sister Elizabeth, into the celebration and thus ritualizing the community’s promise to accompany her on her lifelong journey of seeking God.

In her reflection, Scholastic Directress Sister Mary Clare Neuhofer remarked that “the Sisters felt the text of the Profession Litany (which they had sung) really described Sister Elizabeth. We experience her as a joyful person, a prayerful person – one who is humble, one who lives by faith and is firmly grounded in love and peace.”

As part of the ceremony, the traditional Benedictine ring blessed by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB, Prioress, was placed on Sister Elizabeth’s finger – a symbol of her total commitment to God and to the Benedictine life.

The traditional Benedictine ring is a symbol of total commitment to God and to the Benedictine life.
The traditional Benedictine ring is a symbol of total commitment to God and to the Benedictine life.

A profession candle was also presented to Sister Elizabeth to reflect a deepening of the commitment made at her Baptism where a candle was given to represent the life of the new Christian receiving the light of faith. The profession vow document was then signed at the altar by Sister Elizabeth which emphasizes the Word of God as the root of Benedictine life.

The joy of this very special event was evident when the over 60 attendees including the Benedictine Sisters, St. Leo Abbey monks, family and friends gave loving congratulatory hugs to Sister Elizabeth.

In her remarks, Sister said, “Today I joyfully give thanks to the Lord for His faithful love in my life and for His call. I give thanks for the love and support of those who have journeyed with me: my family, friends, those whom I have met in my ministry and especially, the Sisters of Holy Name Monastery.

Father Damian DuQuesnay, O.S.B., Awarded Doctor of Humane Letters

An Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree was awarded to Father Damian DuQuesnay, O.S.B., in a special ceremony as part of Sunday Mass, March 8, at Saint Leo Abbey. He was conferred the honorary degree by the Board of Trustees of Saint Leo University in a resolution dated February 7, 2015.

A full church stood and applauded as Dr. DuQuesnay was hooded by Dr. Arthur F. Kirk, Jr., president of Saint Leo University. Dr. Kirk lauded Father Damian as a “true man of faith” and called him “our hero.”

Full story and more photos of Father Damain: