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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Prayer Request

Please pray for Mary Ellen Paulson who is having eye surgery on Thursday Sept 3.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Death of S. Irene Mary's Mom in Phillipines

When S. Irene Mary went to the Philippines last week her mom was dying. She got there in time and I would send condolence messages by email so she can see them while she is there which will be into October.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Thoma Swanson OP has told us that Aminah Robinson died May 22, 2015. She had been a major presenter at our  gathering in Columbus. We had gone to her show there.  I'm sure that everyone in the DIA who remembers her will rejoice that she had the grace of a happy death.    Let us pray for her as well as her friends and family.

The Virtual Gallery
shown at the gathering can and does include those who are not able to be at the gathering. Kindly send .jpg files, video links, to this email along with the name of the works be it poetry, photos, art, legal youtubes.  We really would like to share your work.  Kindly do it by June 20 if possible.
Part of the virtual gallery includes a memoriam. If you have any pictures of yourself with Adele Rowland at a gathering it would be appreciated. Again send them to me at If they are already on our website I have them. 
The attached article 
is the basis of reflections by the panel in Great Bend. You might recognize this from Grand Rapids Gathering years ago. It is by Ann Willits. It is worth a read even if you are not coming. Send any reflections to me at
Please get in your memberships and any registrations for Great Bend.
Let the preaching Continue!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Adele Roland Our new Patron Saint!

With tears and a heart filled with gratitude I write to inform you that Adele Rowland OP peacefully passed into the arms of our loving God last night about 9 PM.

The funeral Mass is Thursday at 10 AM Pacific time in the Gathering Chapel of the
Dominican Sisters of San Rafael in their Motherhouse. Their wake is private.

I am sure DIA members will pray with them this final journey of our friend, mentor and DIA's" Grandmother." There is a tribute to her on the home page of the website with links to her page and video.

Sister Pat Simpson OP told me how Adele eagerly read each update we sent and always love news from DIA. She read it all on Monday of this week! See the video to us on the website.

I wrote the Sisters of San Rafael in your name of the great inspiration and gift Adele has been to us. I passed along the stories I received months ago when she first went on hospice care. (They have a facebook page and their contact information for condolences is on their website at

Adele was 99 years young. I am sure she is having a few words with Ansel Adams and Fra Angelico to name a few. I am also certain that she will continue to walk with us.

May we learn from her quick witted gracious and loving mentoring how to do that with and for each other and those with whom we minister.

May we pray for the Sister of San Rafael, her family and each other as we mourn.
(She is shaking her head at me saying "What's the fuss? This is wonderful. See you!"

We carry her in our heart.
Barbara Schwarz OP

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Adele Roland OP

Sister is in residence at Our Lady of Lourdes convent in San Rafael, at our care facility for our members.  While not still working in her ministry of photography, she is enjoying chats about her pictures as they are rotated in her room. At 99 years of age, she is frail but thinking about what it will be to be 100 years old in December.

To write Adele:
Lourdes Convent
77 Locust Ave
San Rafael, CA 94901

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Updates on members who are ill

Sue Tracy:

By God's grace and the ongoing tsunami of prayers, I can joyfully report that I am doing significantly better than I was late fall and winter. Spring has brought restored energy to about 85% of my per usual (my sister in law claims that my 85% is about 125% for lots of folks) stamina.

I have completed nine chemo treatments for this metastasized right cheek lymphoma that migrated north to the parietal lobe of the brain. The five day hospital stays have been manageable minus pain, nausea or vomiting. I am grateful that my bodymindspirit has absorbed the high dose methotrexate without harm.

Today [April 21] I have another follow up brain MRI and will find out the results next Tuesday. This weekend I am participating in a cancer survivors/thrivers weekend at a lovely retreat center overlooking Lake Michigan north of Holland, MI. I have given the final Sunday morning talk entitled CELEBRATE LIFE COME WHAT MAY DAY BY DAY twice a year since 1999 to those who have gathered and now I can be an attendee. I'm excited.

Feel free to share this if you so choose, Barb. I value your love and care and that of our Dynamic International Artists .. also known as D I A
Lovingly always, Sue Tracy OP

To send messages contact her directly at

Joeann Daley: This was sent out by Sinsinawa OP

Dear All,

Joeann Daley asked that I provide a little progress report of her health.  Last week I wrote that she was admitted to Columbia St. Mary's Hospital on April 9th with pancreatitis.  She is still in the hospital and tomorrow will graduate to a regular medical floor.  Jo is feeling much better.  She will need some time to regain her strength and engage in rehab therapy.  She is grateful for her care and for your concern.  Please continue to keep her in prayer. 

If you wish to send a card, someone will pick up her mail at her residence and deliver it to her -- in mission list:
4205 N Olsen Ave. #1
Shorewood, WI 53211
Mary Howard 

Note: Her show at the Mound had to be cancelled because of her illness.