Dominican Observes Juneteenth with Celebration of Freedom: Remembering Our Shared History

At St. Mary’s Dominican High School’s Juneteenth celebration, the Rev. Ajani Gibson celebrated the Black Catholic Mass in the school Our Lady Queen of the Rosary Chapel.

On June 19, the first officially declared federal holiday of Juneteenth, St. Mary’s Dominican High School’s Alumnae Association presented, Celebration of Freedom: Remembering Our Shared History. The gathering of reflection and rejoicing was a virtual gathering for Dominican alumnae around the country. Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 that the Union Army informed slaves in Galveston, Texas, of the Emancipation Proclamation. More than two years earlier, President Abraham Lincoln had signed the executive order to free all enslaved people in places that were still “in rebellion against the United States.” The effective date was January 17, 1863.

Dominican alumna Arthel Neville (’80) gave a virtual welcome. Before the beginning of the morning Black Catholic Mass in Our Lady Queen of the Rosary Chapel, Robin Barnes (’05) sang, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Mass celebrant was the Rev. Ajani Gibson, who was ordained on June 5th at St Louis Cathedral. He now serves as pastor of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in Treme, his childhood parish that fostered his vocation.

Director Devin Boucree, at piano, with The Young Voices of Praise Choir and Musicians at the Black Catholic Mass, part of St. Mary’s Dominican High School’s Juneteenth celebration.

The Young Voices of Praise Choir and Musicians, under the direction of Devin Boucree, sang his new arrangements of old Negro spirituals, including, “I Am His Child,” “Oh Freedom,” “Kumbaya,” and  “This Little Light of Mine.” Readers were Elana Perriott (’21), Shaysa Lewis (’13), and Nayah Thomas (’20). Giving his blessing at the end of Mass, Fr. Gibson encouraged all to keep their faith and to trust in God.

A presentation, Racism Is A Sin, by keynote speaker Sr. Patricia Dual, O.P., encouraged meaningful conversation and dialog on the challenging topic, and addressed how people of faith must take part in the process of dismantling racism and working toward racial healing and equity. Sr. Dual is a member of the Peace Ministry of Welcome-Vocation Team and Coordinator of Formation for the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

A virtual Jazz lunch break featured internationally acclaimed New Orleans jazz vocalist Sharon Martin. The afternoon sessions featured guest speakers Ansel Augustine, D.Min. – The Importance of Blacks in the Catholic Church Today; Mona Lisa Saloy, Ph.D, New Orleans Black Culture Before and After Juneteenth; Sybil Morial, M.Ed., Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment; Winnie Sullivan, M.S. – Sister Mary Antona Ebo: This Far By Faith.  Dr. Augustine is Executive Director of the Office of Cultural Diversity and Outreach for the Archdiocese of Washington, DC. Dr. Saloy is the Conrad N. Hilton Endowed Professor of English at Dillard University, New Orleans. Educator, activist, and community leader, Mrs. Morial documented her remarkable life in her memoir, Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment. Ms. Sullivan is a writer, editor, and the director of PenUltimate Press, a nonprofit publishing company in St. Louis.

Keynote speaker Sr. Patricia Dual. O.P, addresses attendees of St. Mary’s Dominican High School’s Juneteenth celebration presented by the school’s Alumnae Association.

Dominican’s Juneteenth Celebration featured an art contest that drew 28 entries from the school’s students. Click here to view a video of these pieces.

Judges were New Orleans-based artists Terrance Osborne, Samantha Ramey (’13), and Wade Griffin. The top three winning entries were, First Place – Freedom Is A State of Mind by Jade C. Mason, freshman; Second Place – Healing Wounds by Shania Raimer, sophomore; and Third Place – Flying Free by Ella Stolberg, senior.

The Juneteenth Celebration Committee included Co-Chairs Vallerie Maurice (’78) and Denise Marrero St. Cyr (’82); members Celeste Shelsey Anding (’82), Mary Baudouin (’74), Amanda Bonam (’13), Lisa Bernstein Cates (’84), Katherine Johnson (’03), Shaysa Lewis (’13), Adrienne Breaux Quinlan (’69), Nelita Manego-Ramey (’79), Beryl Radcliff Small (’79), Samantha Ramey (’13), Bianca San Martin (’08), Gloria Thomas (’20), and Nayah Thomas (’20).

Click here to view a video of the open sessions of the event.

Posted in News

Siena Learning Center Featured

June 24, 2021


NEW BRITAIN – Inspired by its community of gardening enthusiasts, the Siena Learning Center created an “International Garden” to highlight the importance of love, joy and peace.





One of the chairs that was painted by a Colombian artist, who is also a learner at the Siena Learning Center

To view this story online, please click here.

Posted in News

Embracing the Transitions of Life

Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

May the God of Transition be with you, inviting you to the new and the unknown where God waits to spring to life in you.”  Maxine Shonk, OP

Before entering religious life, I rarely thought about the word “transition” or the action of “being in transition.”  Yet, I certainly was aware of going through and adjusting to different changes in my life. I was also aware that these times of change were times of great personal growth.  We have all heard the famous quote by the ancient philosopher, Heraclitus, “The only thing constant in life is change.”  Religious life is such a wonderful example and teacher of that principle.  Our Loving “God of Transition” is always inviting us to the “new and the unknown.”

Indeed, God goes before us on our paths of change. The gift of approaching our transitions with open hearts and minds, is the blessing of allowing God to transform us into our best selves. I am grateful for the openness of several of the women in formation with our congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Peace, who are transitioning to the next stage of their initial formation journey.  I am inspired by their openness to continue the new and changing path of their journey, opening themselves up to new experiences, such as new locations, new local communities, and new ministries.  Each of the women in formation, who are anticipating a transition in the next few weeks and months, have allowed themselves to be open to God and the unknown path of their future.

Candidates Cathy Buchanan and Tram Bui will become Canonical Novices in July and will begin the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) in Chicago, on August 14, 2021. They are looking forward to deepening their knowledge and experience of Dominican life.  Sr. Ann Killian has recently returned from the CDN and did a short preaching for her Welcome Back ceremony at Evening Vespers, which I invite you to read.  Sr. Annie will be part of a new local community that is forming in South Bend, Indiana on July 1, 2021.  She will begin her Apostolic novitiate year in ministry doing a Fellowship at Notre Dame University.  Sr. Margaret Uche will renew her vows of Temporary Profession and recently began a summer unit of CPE.  Sr. Ellen Coates will make her First Profession of Vows in the congregation on August 1, 2021.  Additionally, Sr. Ana Gonzalez will make her Perpetual Profession of Vows on August 8, 2021.  These women in formation, along with Sr. Phuong Vu, who made First Profession of Vows on December 8, 2020, have whole heartily embraced the transition and unknown elements of their future as they continue the path of their journey into religious life.

Transition is a part of all our lives.  Even religious life, itself, is in transition, but moving toward a hopeful future. The good news about transition is that if we allow our hearts and minds to be open, God will enable us to grow through the transformative process of change.  I want to invite you to please keep all our women in formation in your prayers as they continue the many transitions in their journey.  And may “The God of Transition” be with all of us!

Call us if you feel that God may be inviting you to become a Sister!


Pat Dual, OP

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Knowledge Is Power

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

I graduated from high school in 1967, and during those years the Dominican Sisters engaged us in so many ways to enlighten, inspire and motivate us to see what was going on with the war protests, the civil rights movement and the world of the missions. The high school was a charter member of the Catholic Students’ Mission Crusade and, as a result of my membership in it, I learned all about the Micronesian, Polynesian and Melanesian island groups and began my deep desire to visit some of the African countries. We sponsored bake sales and made caramel apples for sale to earn money to “buy” Pagan Babies (and we got to name them, too). We had the experience every two years of the CSMC Conference for high school students from around the country and held at the University of Notre Dame. 10, 000 students and mentors gathered to hear speakers from around the world, missionaries with years of experience, e.g., Maryknoll Sister Maria del Ray, author and world traveler to so many mission lands; Monsignor Ssebayigga from Uganda who told us of the Mountains of the Moon( and who just passed in 2006); John Cardinal Wright who sang about the “little boxes on the hillside that all looked just the same”, but he compared them to the hovels of Appalachia not just the sameness of suburbia; and so many other inspiring missionaries. They lit the fire in so many of us to get to the work of home missionaries or international missionaries. We would save the world for God because all of those people were heathens and needed our help! Boomers—-this was our truth then, and you know it!

Somewhere along the line, I read Michener’s book Hawaii, and, as crazy as it sounds, that is where I had my AHA moment about the colonial mentality of our church and white society. My attitude was never the same and I wanted to learn more about not only how the church repressed the native spiritualties, but also what the people in those different places really believed in and why. There is such a thing as African theology and spirituality and, like our Native Americans, their connectedness to the earth is immense and intense.

Knowledge is a dangerous thing, for true! My intellect and my spirit now know how much damage has been done to the minds of citizens of all countries. White is not the best; it is one among many. White is not the safest; it is just as fragile. White is not the strongest; it has its weaknesses. White is not the smartest, but it does have access to better education most of the time. White is not always right…..

A few days ago, there was the remembrance of Juneteenth, the day when the slaves on Galveston Island finally found out that Lincoln had freed them—two years before. Why did it take so long for them to hear something that was “old news” to Blacks in other states and unimportant to their white masters? Poor communication lines from outside the state have been blamed, but the White masters on the island knew and didn’t want to lose their workers before crops could be harvested and barns could be built, so they waited a little while. No harm done, and it kept the economy alive.

There is so much to unlearn about the growth and development of our country. History is still being written, still being discovered. It must not make us feel bad or depressed. It must make us want to really be the best at cherishing the lives of all those God has created. It must make us realize the mistakes that were made, why they were made and make sure they are not still being made or ever made again. It is hard work, but what we learn will guide us, and our prayers will inspire us.

Posted in Weekly Word