As some of you know I am an Associate of the Adrian Dominican Sisters in Adrian, Michigan. They started Barry University (Miami, Florida) as well as the school where I teach in Florida, St. Anastasia’s. My mentor, Sr. Helene Dompierre was at St. A’s for almost 40 years, but a little more than 2 years ago she got very sick and went back to the Motherhouse in Adrian. We both thought we had said goodbye for the last time when I saw her off at the airport, but last week we enjoyed yet more quality time together, and this time it was in the best place ever: The Motherhouse in Michigan! What a place! What a good trip! What a wonderful time with such a special, holy woman of God!
Sr. Mary Louise picked me up at the airport & upon arrival at the Motherhouse gave me the “driving tour” of the campus. Such a pretty location among the farms & corn fields, with the fair grounds just over the ridge on the other side of Siena Heights Drive. She dropped me off at the Weber Center & I checked into room 318, a corner room overlooking the back of the INAI studio (formerly the laundry room!). Each morning sunlight poured into my room & woke me up, sometimes before my alarm sounded.
So! After unpacking I took a walk & soon became the new favorite snack-food of Michigan’s version of mosquitos! Traveling Tip: When a brochure tells you where to find the “OFF!” spray by the back door, you can be sure these bugs have 2″ fangs!!!! I’m used to mosquitos, but these things must have been genetically modified by some of Monsanto’s GMO corn in the fields around the county!
My walk took me to the cemetery, past the greenhouse, and two of several gardens I would later visit with Sr. Mary. Some of the sisters make jokes about how the residencies are set-up in relation to the cemetery; the closer you live to the cemetery, the closer you are to death. Rather morbid, but everyone seems to chuckle about it. These sisters have an amazingly healthy outlook on life and death! As for the cemetery, it is a beautiful space! Who wouldn’t want to be buried here?
On June 29th of this year we lost another “holy woman of God” (I met more of them on my trip), Sr. Paul Emelia Brown, OP. After a month-long battle of trying to recover from injuries sustained in a car accident she passed away. She was Sr. Helene’s “room mate” for 25 years in Florida, and a beloved member of our Mission Group. She was cremated & then buried in Adrian just a few days before I arrived. I found where she is, in the center of one of the far circles (her stone isn’t made yet). I prayed her favorite prayer, the Memorare.
The cemetery is made up of large concentric circles which are added to each year and go back to the beginnings of the congregation/community when the first Dominican sisters arrived from New York in the late 19th Century. The site is so peaceful and beautiful; I saw three deer run by at the lower edge where the woods begin.
Wonder & awe! It was sunset; time to go.
[More about my trip & my experiences in “Part II!”]