Thursday, January 11, 2018

Death in the family

On Jan 10, 2018 11:03 AM, Pat Daly OPA wrote:
I just received word that Joella Miller's only sister, Patricia, went home to God this morning.  Please hold Patricia, her husband, Dick, their children , grandchildren and Joella in your thoughts and prayers as they all travel on this path in their journey of life.

Joella's contact information is:

                    Joella Miller OP
                    705 E. Siena Heights Drive  #3 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Sr. Phyllis Mrozinski, OP
Entered eternal life on Sunday, July 23, 2017 at the age of 86 after 65 years of religious life.
Mass of Christian Burial:
Thursday, July 27, 2017 4:00 pm
at Dominican Chapel/Marywood.
Evening Prayer with Remembering:
Wednesday, July 26, 2017 7:00 pm
at Dominican Chapel/Marywood.
We commend Sister Phyllis to your prayers.

“For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” (Eph. 2:10) This favorite scripture passage of Sister Phyllis Mrozinski applies to her personally as well as to her life as a creator of beautiful art works. Her handiwork, especially in her favored medium of clay, reflects a lifetime of dedication to God’s good works.
She was born in Bay City, Michigan on September 16, 1930 to Edwin and Martha Rytlewski Mrozinski, the third of six children. When she was an infant the family moved to Saginaw for her father’s employment. Her education began at St. Casimir School in Saginaw and continued at SS. Peter and Paul High School. During her senior year, she was Homecoming Queen. In high school she worked at St. Luke’s Hospital as a nurse’s aide and after graduation in 1948 she was employed as a telephone operator at Michigan Bell Telephone. In 1951 she turned down an offer to become supervisor of the business office to enter the Congregation eight days before her twenty-first birthday. Her sister Vicki had entered previously, and was a great source of information and inspiration. As a postulant, Phyllis was the oldest in a class of thirty. Recognizing her talent for art, Sister Leonora Gallagher exempted her from some domestic and garden duties to allow her time to make feast day and holiday cards as well as other art pieces. During this time she gained a love for prayer and “seeking first the kingdom of God.” On August 15, 1952, she entered the novitiate and received the name Sister Mary Fidelis of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The following August she was professed. Her first mission assignment was at St. Joseph, East Tawas, where she taught grades 5-6 for four years. From there she went to St. Mary, Charlevoix; Holy Rosary Academy, Bay City; Marywood; St. Mary Magdalen, Melvindale; and St. Joseph the Worker, Beal City. While teaching, she took summer courses to complete her BA degree with a major in English. At that time Aquinas College did not have an art major, so she took art classes at Siena Heights (Adrian) and Cardinal Stritch (Milwaukee) colleges. In every school to which she was assigned she taught art and her students won many awards for their art work.
In 1968, Sister Fidelis resumed the use of her baptismal name. In 1974 Sister Phyllis was called to be director of eleven Sisters under final vows who were missioned in western Michigan. She was also guest-mistress at Marywood, artist in residence, and assistant with secretarial work in the central office. She enjoyed designing brochures, flyers, and holiday greeting cards. She continued taking classes in the evening and summers and earned an MA degree in religious studies in 1982. She also accompanied Sister Amata Fabbro on a trip to Israel. At the age of fifty-five, Sister Phyllis requested and received permission to study art at Aquinas College, which by then had a four-year BFA program. Her sculpture instructor, Ron Pederson, recognized her natural talent in sculpture and advised her to make that her major. In her third and fourth years, she was his assistant. Then she accepted a commission to sculpt a life-size image of St. Thomas Aquinas, which she completed in 1989. This beautiful sculpture graces the entry of the main Academic Building on the Aquinas College campus.
Shortly after receiving her BFA she accompanied Sister Marie Celeste Miller, an art historian at Aquinas, on a five-week tour of major museums in Italy, France, the Netherlands, and England. For several years, Sister Phyllis held a part-time secretarial position in the Art and Music Center at Aquinas. Between 1992 and 1994 she served as secretary in the Student Activities office. In 1992 she revisited Europe on the Lands of Dominic pilgrimage. In 1994 Sister Phyllis became a full-time artist in residence at Marywood. In her studio there she created art pieces in both stone and clay models for bronze casting. Some of these, including her sculpture of St. Dominic, can be viewed at Marywood and Dominican Center. She served for several years on the Grand Rapids Diocesan Liturgical Art and Environment Commission. She served in a leadership position in the Dominican Institute for the Arts and created the Fra Angelico Award for the organization. This award was presented to Sister Phyllis in 2006. Devoted to the Eucharist, Sr. Phyllis was committed to participating in daily Mass whenever possible. She also loved the Rosary, and her creative life was clearly informed by her spiritual depth. She described her artistic impetus as a “drive from the core of her being.” She remarked that “in transforming a piece of stone I also am transformed.” Her quiet, secluded studio in the basement of Marywood was for her a sacred, contemplative space where she could indeed participate in that great handiwork of God, as both the beloved creation and the humble, heartfelt creator of good works.
Sister Phyllis will be remembered for her prayerful life, her gentle demeanor, and her works of art which were both vibrant and clear; symbolic and abstract. In life, and now in her new life, she was, and is, truly God’s beautiful handiwork – as her favorite Scripture passage foretold. 

Sr. Phyllis is survived by her sister Vicki (Duane) Balko; brother Chester (Susan) Mrozinski; and brother-in-law Alex Kryska all of Saginaw, MI; nieces and nephews, many friends and members of her Dominican community.

Friday, February 24, 2017

update on Irene Mary's Brother LOdy

Dear DIA sisters and friends,

Just sharing some update with my brother this past weekend....with my continued THANKS TO ALL PRAYERS, MESSAGES, AND MANY GESTURES OF LOVE AND CONCERNS.

My dear Sisters and Friends,
With prayers from you accompanying me and S.Carmel Marie, we drove  to Southern California Presidents' day weekend in between surges of brief showers and clear blue skies. Hwy 101 was a beautiful and captivating, safe, and scenic drive!

We reached our final destination to see my brother Lody and  consequently, 2 other siblings and their families. It was very good to see him although looking weak, pale, in tears and less communicative than his usual happy self. He is up walking with a walker, dragging the oxygen tube around the house and at one point attempted to cook for us...and he did cook "adobo" for me to take out/home the next day.

Since he came home, he had been visited by one therapist and a nurse from Mission Care.  As he said it, that's what they do, their job is a mission. I was impressed with the name they carry; a shadow of commitment and compassion!  I would have loved to meet one or all of them. The 2nd therapist is also scheduled  to come that very day we were leaving.  But we couldn't wait since we had to leave to beat the predicted heavy rain that day.

I trust and am truly grateful for what therapy and care he is receiving and the healing process he is working on. Edna and Nilda (wife and daughter) are giving so much sacrifice of time and energy and work over and above their own jobs and needs.. I've shared with them your messages of  support and prayers via email, etc. And for this, all in the family are deeply grateful, especially my brother who  gave a big smile when he heard of familiar names and even  recalled meeting you as a sister or a friend just from stories told about convent/community, or even more so,  from pictures.  THANK YOU/ SALAMAT PO!
He will have more chemo sessions for 5 weeks; 2x per week.  I don't know however, when this 2nd set will begin..Unfortunately, the chemo will be in Escondido which is so much further and quite a drive. Nilda would be the only one who could drive him, and she works on a midnight shift.. I just hope she can make some kind of reliable driving arrangement, especially taking her child to school
It was a brief visit yet comforting and reassuring just to see him. I know you will continue to bring him to our loving God to hold him and touch him with healing
love and strength.
With much love and thanks,

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Justice and Peace - Support to Flint Michigan

Our Children's art therapy and Creativity groups just made
beautiful pictures of support to children in Flint regarding 
their terrible struggle with toxic water. The children's messages
included all kinds of designs using water and expressing 
sorrow/concern for all that there families were going through. 
Many of them wrote letters of support and concern, also. 

Fortunately, the Dominicans have a woman's center right in 
Flint so that we had a particular group of mothers, grandmothers
and children to whom we could send our pictures and messages. 

 Nancyann Turner, OP 
Director: Rosa Parks Youth Program
Capuchin Soup KItchen
Detroit, MI 48215

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Death of Sister Jean Vianney - Obit

Dominican Sister of Peace Jean Vianney Norris (89) died on December 27, 2015, at Sansbury Care Center, St. Catharine, Kentucky.

She was born in Jamaica, NY on April 11, 1926 to Bartholomew and Letitia Cogin Norris. A Dominican for 69 years, Sr. Jean earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology/Chemistry/Math from DePaul University (Chicago, IL) and a Master’s of Science in Teaching in Biology/Secondary Education from Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA). She ministered as a teacher at St. Mary (McQuady, KY); St. Louis Bertrand (Louisville, KY); St. Bartholomew (Chicago, IL); St. Michael (Orland Park, IL); SS. Simon and Jude (Louisville, KY); SS. Simon and Jude (Brooklyn, NY); St. John Berchman (Chicago, IL); N. Cambridge Catholic High School (Cambridge, MA); St. Patrick High School (Charlestown, MA); Pope John XXIII High School (Everett, MA). Sister later became an Educational TV Consultant for the Diocesan Educational Office in Charlestown, MA. In 1997, Sister Jean was a Pastoral Team Member in Charlestown, MA.

In 2003, Sister moved to St. Catharine Motherhouse, St. Catharine, KY and provided community service. In 2006, she began a ministry of prayer at Sansbury Care Center, St. Catharine, KY.

Sr. Jean enjoyed painting, especially flowers and nature. Her paintings grace the hallways at Sansbury Care Center. She was a member of the Dominican Institute of the Arts.

Sr. Maureen Flanagan remembers Sr. Jean as “a woman with many hats.” She loved the classics and was an avid reader. For seven years she took a class of students to Europe and shared her love of art, music and the classics with her students.

Sr. Paschala Noonan said that Sr. Jean could have had a successful career as an artist, travel agent, seamstress or dress designer. Instead she spent 53 years teaching in country grammar schools and city high schools.

Sr. Jean recounted her teaching debut in a two-room school in McQuady, KY. “Life in McQuady was a culture shock,” the native New Yorker said. “No indoor plumbing, no central heating, no nearby stores. For three years I made a weekly seven-mile walk to get groceries. Meat was a luxury. From the children I learned how to manage a pot-belly stove, how to teach four grades in one room, and how to call a school holiday when the creek overflowed and the outhouses floated.”

Sr. Jean is survived by several nephews and one niece.

The visitation begins at 3pm, Wednesday, January 6, at the Sansbury Care Center Chapel. The funeral will be held at 10:30am, Thursday, January 7, at Sansbury Care Center Chapel. Burial will be at the St. Catharine Motherhouse cemetery.

Memorial gifts in Sr. Jean’s memory may be sent to Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Dr, Columbus, OH 43219-2098. To make a secure online donation or to view a full obituary, please visit

Monday, November 2, 2015

Gratitude and the Homily for Stephana Toomey OP by Anne Lythgoe OP

First of all I would like to thank everyone for their prayer for me and my family and Pat for writing Stephana's notice. Below is the homily Anne is giving today at Stephana's funeral mass.

FINAL Homily: Sr. Stephana Toomey, OP
Anne Lythgoe, OP      November 2, 2015

First all, let me acknowledge Joseph and Mary Lackner, Stephana’s family, who are here today. Joe and Mary, your presence here is a consolation to us and we hope that our prayers and presence will be consoling to you. Thank you for coming.
I wish those of you who did not know Stephana would have had the opportunity to know her in her better days.  When she came here to Mohun her health was quite frail. So there has been little opportunity to know her lovely smile and the way she laughed. It had a bit of a giggle in it. She always waved to you with the royal wave [left hand held palm in] as if her royal highness was passing by.  I hope you take a minute to enjoy looking at just some of her artwork on the display outside chapel. It includes a small sample of her work in chapels, motherhouses, and interfaith prayer centers around the country.

We also have the tabernacle stephana designed for the Dominican Retreat, McLean VA.  It is a superb example of her work, vibrant colors, almost fire like in the way she captured light with faceted glass. 
She was an amazing artist, a brilliant colorist and a friend of Thoma Swanson and many sisters who are members of the Dominican Institute for the Arts.
Stephana came to Dominican life already prepared for the life of a preaching artist. She received her BFA from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia in 1952 and four years later, entered the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de’ Ricci, later earning a master’s degree in Art Education from  the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia -- which happened to be adjacent to Elkins Park. She spent a few years in retreat ministry at Elkins Park and in Kendall FL and on the staff of our residence for women, the Lucy Eaton Smith house, in Philadelphia. But those ministries could not offer enough creative outlet for this clearly brilliant and gifted artist who painted in oil and watercolor and could see what the rest of us could only see dimly.  Her vision of the world was hard to contain, and for her sisters to understand sometimes. She could see everything and just “this much” all at once.
I remember visiting her at the Lucy Eaton Smith and on the wall in her studio there was a round wood panel.  On closer examination I realized that it was three planks of wood all with knots placed at just the right spot, the wood was warm yellow and gold, the “lifelines” of the tree and the swirl of the knots created the impression of three golden angels floating within the frame. She called it the “Glory Panel” and to this day I can recall it vividly. She saw in a plank of wood the face of angels.  This is how she preached, not with words, but with visual ideas that engaged us in a dialogue with the divine. We can appreciate this visual language the interplay of nature and the spiritual more clearly today than we were able to then.
I think the leadership of the congregation back then was probably quite confounded in what to do with Stephana’s enormous talent. Not long after my visit, she went to study and earn Certificates from the International Center for Mosaics and Glass in Ravenna, Italy and the Aegean Center for Art in Greece.
When she came back, in 1976, she founded Efharisto Studio, Inc., in Baltimore, Maryland.   Efharisto is a Greek word for thanksgiving, and of course, from it we get “Eucharist”.  No doubt a result of the influence of her study in Greece and the work she produced from that studio has been a source of spiritual food for thousands of people every since.

In Baltimore, she and her colleagues designed liturgical spaces as well as the art forms used in liturgy, including:  glass, mosaic, fabric, wood and iron.  Her work can be found in numerous churches, schools and motherhouses: among them the Motherhouse Chapel of the Presentation Dominicans in Dighton, MA; a Jesuit High School in Blakefield, MD;  St. Francis of Assisi Parish Church in Apopka, FL, the Franciscan Sisters Chapel in Aston, PA, Oakland Mill Interfaith Center, Columbia MD, Methodist Hospital in Philadelphia, Bon Secour Health System, and numerous other  public and private venues.

Stephana was also a watercolorist, producing designs inspired by nature. She also designed a medal for the Franklin Mint and work for the Touch and Feel Chapel for Children with Special Needs at the Gallagher Center, Timonium MD.  (She created a holy water font using a gigantic undulating seashell).

In 1999, Sister Stephana received the Fra Angelico Award for lifetime achievement from the Dominican Institute for the Arts.  She received a number of other awards for her work throughout the years. But the tribute from DIA meant the most to her.

I believe her strongest gift was in shaping the way people experienced the space where prayer took place. Her studio motto was “part of prayer is experiencing the setting”. In developing the setting, she made a conscious effort to bring theology, liturgy and scripture to bear on the planning and design of liturgical space and to have that space be an embrace of the local cultural and religious practice of the faithful.  The artforms she created were not just ideas she had, but responses to the spiritual longing of those who would use the space, long after she was finished creating it. Themes of creation, baptism, communion, forgiveness, water, fire, earth and sky permeate her work. Her work made the spiritual truths we share accessible to people in the pews.

Her preaching lives in brick and mortar, in glass and fiber, in wood and iron. Who among us can say that our words live on beyond our preaching them? Stephana’s  preaching is alive today in many places of worship

In the first reading today, from Jeremiah, the potter sits at the wheel ready to create from the clay, but when the clay turns out badly in his hands, he simply begins again. The artist always, begins again and again and again.  Stephana would draw 20, 50, 100 renditions of an object in her effort to express the one final version that was best.  A true artist who was never satisfied, always beginning again, not spending much time admiring a finished piece. She always talked about what was next, never lingering long on a single idea.

Art and Fear: On the Perils and Rewards of Artmaking:

David Bayles and Ted Orland write: “Art is like beginning a sentence before you know its ending. The risks are obvious: you may never get to the end of the sentence at all--- or having gotten there, you may not have said anything. This is probably not a good idea in publc speaking, but its an excellent idea in making art.

People who need certainty in their lives are less likely to make art that is risky, subversive, complicated or iffy. What is really needed is nothing more than a broad sense of what you are looking for, some strategy for how to find it, and an overriding willingness to embrace mistakes and surprises along the way. … and tolerance for uncertainty is the pre-requisite to succeeding.”

The kingdom of God is like a merchant who finds a perfect pearl and sacrifices everything for it. The Kingdom of God is like a person who finds a treasure in a field and gives up everything to have it. The Kingdom of God is like an artist who is given a vision and pours herself out again and again in pursuit of its expression.

The Kingdom of God is like a fisherman, whose catch of found objects becomes something of beauty, that feeds the soul, bring out both the old and the new.

Stephana’s imagination and contemplation were rooted in her deep Dominican heart. While most of us would say that the act of preaching is an art, Stephana, like most Dominican artists, believe art is preaching.  Her art gave visual expression to the Gospel we are commissioned to preach in the words of Paul to Timothy: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.

Efharisto, Eucharist, Thanksgiving. Today we thank you Steff, for the beauty you have given to the world, for your proclamation of the Word, for the preaching that lives in glass and wood, iron and paper. Thank you for giving voice to the truth of the Gospel, even when it was inconvenient. You have performed the work of an evangelist.  You have fulfilled your ministry.

Rest now in peace, free of all anxiety and care. Allow your God to welcome you to heaven and enjoy the embrace of Jesus. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Death of our beloved Barbara ChenicekOP

It is with a heavy heart  that I write to inform you that Barbara Chenicek OP, our Adrian Sister and Fra Angelico master artist has been wrapped in the arms of our loving God she so wished to share.

Her life was cut short by an aneurysm . Barbara was surrounded by her family and sisters in the Adrian Dominican Life Center when she died this October 13.

All the chapels and churches she built with her dear friend, Rita Schiltz OP, as INAI studio, were not just buildings but projects whose life force built and sustained communities brought together in the process. People gathered to make the hangings they designed. Her pride was not in the awards but in the communities that found God in the process.

This loss is real for all of us in DIA. Every time I went to Adrian we would see each other and spend some time together. Her wisdom and affirmation was gift.  At the last gathering in Adrian we shared the video of the Great Bend Chapel we would see in July and she opened the studio to allow us a special look at her latest efforts.

At Adrian during the 2000 DIA Gathering, she and Rita presented the installations they had in a quiet space in INAI studio.  We toured the studio and saw all the materials laid out for quilts in a chapel, cut and numbered to be sewn.  Their awards are numerous and their magnificat was the joy of the creative process.

Barbara was a talented artist who generously shared her gifts with joy and precision. She met with Elizabeth Michael Boyle, OP to share her experiences for the OPUS project.  Barbara embodied the God who embraced her in death.  All of us are richer for having known her. 
Let us pray for her, her family and the Adrian Community whose love and support helped to realize her art and her person.

May she rest in the unifying  creative love of God!

If you have any stories about Barb please send them to me so I can see they get to Adrian and our newletter. You can send cards to Rita at
                            Rita Schiltz OP
                            1277 E Siena Heights Dr,
                            Adrian, MI 49221-1755
Barb ate and prayed with Rita everyday and I know she would appreciate our love and care for Rita.

Thankful for our Sister
Barbara Schwarz OP
DIA Board President


She whom we love and lose
is no longer where she was before
she is now wherever we are.
St John Chrysostom

I feel the loss of Barbara's presence to us even from so far away as South Africa.  I cannot imagine what this will mean for Rita.  I loved her burst-open poetry that give voice to language of the Spirit, her endless creative outpouring that gave life to all who came into her ambience, igniting others with that God-caught experience.   Enhanced by the special creative friendship with Rita, they have ignited sacred spaces wherever they have been, and especially in the contemplative INAI studio.

It is our loss, but she is Home, where her heart has travelled to all her earthly life.  We can continue to meet at that Centre.

Sheila Flynn OP

It's quite a shock and a loss for the community and for the DIA..However, her art and her memories will live on. And yes the fruits of her life are multiple and growing in abundance.
Special prayers for Rita and the Adrians,
Irene Mary Diones OP

Remembrance and funeral is currently at