For further information on any of the news items listed here, please contact Alice Black, PhD, OPA, Director of Communications & Mission Advancement, at 614-416-1020.


Newsmaker: Ohio Dominican’s new president plans to run the school ‘like a business’ to guarantee its survival

Hayleigh Colombo  –  Staff reporter, Columbus Business First

Ohio Dominican University is a founded ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace

Connie Gallaher is ready to shake up higher education.

After a career serving in leadership roles for all three adult healthcare systems in Central Ohio, the new Ohio Dominican University president said there are many striking parallels between the sectors.

“Not only are we here to prepare and educate tomorrow’s leaders, but you’ve got to run it like a business,” said Gallaher, who most recently served as chief operating officer at OhioHealth and president of OhioHealth at Home before heading into a short-lived retirement.

“It took me back to my healthcare days,” Gallaher said. “Many a nurse or physician or social worker or pharmacist never wanted to hear you talk as though healthcare was a business. They would say, ‘We’re here to take care of patients.’

“What I would tell people is, ‘We’re in the business of taking care of patients,’ ” Gallaher said. “If you don’t also have a business mind about it, one day you are going to lose your privilege of taking care of patients.”

Gallaher replaces former president Robert Gervasi, who served four years in the role before retiring.

Gallaher, who also previously served as an administrator at Riverside Methodist Hospital, Ohio State University Medical Center and Mount Carmel East Hospital, takes the helm at a time when the university needs a boost in terms of enrollment.

Ohio Dominican University has struggled with enrollment during the last decade, an issue that was not helped by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The university had 1,475 students enrolled in the fall 2020 semester, down from 1,641 students in fall of 2019. Many universities across the United States saw this sort of drop during the pandemic.

But ODU’s overall enrollment trend has been one of decline. In 2010, about 3,100 students attended the university.

Gallaher said higher education is an “industry that is going to be disrupted,” and that Ohio Dominican will have to make changes to be sustainable in the future.

“It’s no different than what we saw in healthcare,” Gallaher said. “The vast majority of those independent, smaller, private hospitals had to not only worry, they had to innovate (and) find partners.

“And that’s what I think you’ll see in a fair amount of universities and colleges across this country.”

That innovation could include increasing the number of corporate partners at ODU, shoring up fundraising, and addressing the cost of college, Gallaher said. Her goal is to think differently about what the university will need as it moves forward.

Gallaher said she laughed when Dr. Janet Bay, a neurosurgeon, retired OhioHealth executive and an ODU board member, first told her that the board wanted her to apply for the president’s job.

“I said, ‘What in the world are you thinking?’ ” Gallaher said. “The traditional university president has various credentials behind their name, generally, at the very least a Ph.D.”

But Bay told her the board was looking for someone different.

“She said, ‘Connie, if we wanted what we had always had, then we would follow the same pathway,'” Gallaher said.

In a statement, Bay said “Connie’s impressive background in the healthcare industry aligns more closely with higher education than many might suspect.”

“I am excited to see how Connie leverages her vast experience to find unique, creative and impactful ways to create new opportunities for ODU students to help equip them with the knowledge, skills and experiences they need to achieve professional and personal success,” Bay said.

Gallaher, who was raised Methodist, said she was also called by her faith to take on the new role at the university. Minutes before her interview, she said she read a prayer of discernment.

“I’m going to paraphrase it, but it said, you have been given a mission by God created for you,” Gallaher said. “While you may not appreciate or understand the reason for this mission today, you will be told that in another life. You have not been created for naught. You are a bond between people, a connection. After I got off that call, it was the first time in my career, (that) I understood one thing very clearly: this was not my choice. This time, my career was in other hands.”

She said the board could see her “deep conviction” for the challenge.

Gallaher said one of Ohio Dominican’s challenges is that it has not adequately told its story about its impact in the greater community.

“We’re a secret gem that this city has … and we’re going to learn to tell our story,” Gallaher said. “Use me as an example. I’ve lived here since I moved for undergraduate in 1974, and I knew of Ohio Dominican, but I didn’t know about Ohio Dominican. We have to do, what I would call, humbly brag.”

For example, she said, ODU has an “outstanding” physician assistant program, which educates professionals in an area that is going to be “direly needed” in the economy as needs in the healthcare industry continue to grow.

“We’ve got to share the story about how we believe in helping the underserved,” Gallaher said. “We’ve got to share the story of what we do with the Charles School. ”

The Charles School at ODU is a five-year, tuition-free early college high school where students can graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.

While Ohio Dominican is a community asset, “It’s going to be important that we never rest on our history,” she said.

“A great rich history, still fraught with all of the right mission-oriented things, but we cannot rest on that,” she said. “It is a changing world. The goal is you have to remain fluid, dynamic, willing to spin on a dime.”

Gallaher said Ohio Dominican’s mission has never been more relevant: “To help people prepare intellectually, spiritually, as a whole person.”

“The mission is not for me to rewrite, because it still is relevant and it still works,” she said. “My passion is about the big picture and tomorrow, and really helping organizations evolve.”

What gives her confidence about the future of ODU? She said it is “the spirit of commitment, the spirit of conviction, the spirit of (doing) what it takes to succeed.”

“No one, except the Almighty, can predict the future and guarantee it,” Gallaher said. “But my confidence is in what I see.

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Celebrate the Feast of St. Dominic, August 8, 2021

What a difference a year has made! I hope that this feast of our founder, St. Dominic, finds you well, and that your life, like ours, is beginning to return to normal. After a year like 2020, this quote from St. Dominic as we celebrate his feast on August 8 seems especially apt.

Like Dominic, we have seen the value of prayer and humility in the past months. In a year when our ministries were curtailed, we learned the power of prayer. In a year of civil unrest, we practiced humility in the face of aggression and untruths. And through the power of our prayer and the testimony of our humility, we have come to a new year and new hope – and new ways to minister to the people of God’s church.

But the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop our ministries entirely. Thanks to support from friends like you, we were able to continue to reach out to those in need, touching with our hearts and our prayers at a time when we could not touch with our hands.

  • At our Learning Centers in New Haven and New Britain, Connecticut, we could not gather for classes, and much of our learning was done online. And through your support and their hard work to get grants, both centers were able to help provide food and rental assistance to families suffering from the economic effects of the pandemic.
  • At the Collaborative Dominican Initiate in Chicago, IL, Novice Sister Annie Killian ministered at the Kolbe House Jail Ministry, a ministry of the Archdiocese of Chicago to people impacted by imprisonment. She corresponded with incarcerated and isolated women and men who had recently lost a family member, sharing Christ’s message of peace and hope.
  • In the Gert Town neighborhood of New Orleans, Sisters Pat Thomas and Suzanne Brauer walk with humility among their neighbors, many of whom are elderly, or financially disadvantaged. The Peace Center in New Orleans continues to adapt to the needs of their neighbors with assistance that answers the needs of the day, like education, meals, counseling, and job assistance.

It’s also been a year of work that seems humble. A bag of groceries may seem like a small gift, but to a family with no support during COVID, it was a true blessing. Coloring pages and activity books may have seemed insignificant, but to a child who is stuck inside with her school closed, it was a lifeline of fun and normalcy. A prayer, a phone call, or a letter was not a herculean effort, but we received many return notes saying, “Just knowing that you are praying for us means so much.” Again, in the words of Dominic, we want to do everything, even the smallest things, for the greater glory of God.”

As our ministries across the nation begin to re-open more fully and offer more services to those in need, we ask for YOUR prayers… for safety for our staff, our volunteers, and for those we serve, and for the strength to continue our works of charity and peacebuilding.

We also ask for your continued partnership in our missions of healthcare, education, ecology, housing, spirituality, and social justice. We are happy to share this special St. Dominic’s Day prayer card with you.

There is so much to do to bring Christ’s peace to this world, but as Dominic told his friend Francis If we hold together no earthly power can withstand us.

We hold together in prayer, and we bring your intentions to God in our prayers daily.

We also hold together in service, and your generous donations make that possible.

Together, we will bring the peace of Christ to the world.

Please click here to download our St. Dominic’s Prayer Card   







Please click here to view a video about the early days of the Dominican Order. 



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Kansans Of Faith Evangelize For Saving The Planet From Climate Change

Brian Grimmett, July 13, 2021


Click here to listen to the High Plains Public Radio story.

Heartland Farms near Great Bend, Kansas is operated by the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

The sisters at Heartland Farms mark just one of several religious communities in Kansas turning their attention to a modern crisis — climate change. Motivated by their religious beliefs, they make a faith-based case for environmentalism.

GREAT BEND, Kansas — The Dominican Sisters of Peace have been farming with their faith in mind for more than three decades.

In the middle of a state where large-scale commodity and livestock farming has transformed the landscape, the order of nuns aim for a lighter touch on the land.

“If you don’t have a life-sustaining planet, you don’t have life,” said Sister Jane Belanger, who’s lived on the farm for about 13 years. “And if I could quote scripture, ‘I came to bring life and bring it more abundantly.’”

The sisters at Heartland Farms mark just one of several religious communities in Kansas turning their attention to a modern crisis — climate change. Motivated by their religious beliefs, they make a faith-based case for environmentalism.

Four sisters live at Heartland Farms. They’re joined by a rotating group of volunteers who earn room and board by helping out with chores. The sisters offer camps and classes on how to grow organic crops and spin fiber. (The raw wool comes from the alpacas the sisters keep on the property). They also sell what they don’t eat at a local farmer’s market.

“That speaks to people,” Belanger said. “We’re not coming in to solve your problems or tell you what to do, but we are offering an alternative way.”

Still, the message can draw opposition. Belanger recalled a conversation she had with a member of Heartland Farms’ advisory committee — someone she described as a good Catholic man — who said that as much as he admires what they’re doing, there’s no way he could do it on his farm.



She said people can, understandably, be set in their ways, including doing things that contribute to climate change.

Other religious communities that focus on the environment say they face similar resistance.

“We have some churches that are good at promoting ecological ideas and some that aren’t,” said Helen Meuting, one of the nearly 100 Benedictine sisters at Mt. St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas. “We’re kind of like the squeaky wheel. We have to keep saying it.”

The sisters at the monastery try to live the principles found in Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato sí, which focuses on the environment and its destruction.

The sisters grow an organic garden, harvest honey from several beehives on the property and have installed a 150-kilowatt solar system to help offset their electricity needs. They’ve also issued a statement calling for political leaders to support climate friendly legislation and a transition to renewable energy.

Mueting said those and other actions they’ve taken are driven by faith and a sense of responsibility for all of God’s creations.

“If we destroy the environment, we’re morally responsible for the people of the future as well as for the poor who are most devastated by climate change,” she said.

Making a connection between the impacts of climate change and care for the poor, she said, will be key to convincing more people of faith to act on climate change.

Some religious leaders hope that the moral appeal for action will even help combat theological based opposition built on the idea that there isn’t a need to care for the environment because God gave man dominion over the Earth and that Jesus Christ will one day come and renew it.

“To say it’s all ending anyway or even let’s bring it about, is like, to me, theologically really wrong,” said Cathleen Bascom, the bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas.

Bascom is also part of the left-leaning advocacy group known as Kansas Interfaith Action. It’s members often testify on climate issues to committees at the state Capitol.

“This is shepherding,” she said. “Because I want our children and grandchildren to be able to drink and be able to have crops and we’ve got to see this as holy.”

Religious communities can play a unique role in addressing climate change, said Rabbi Moti Rieber, the executive director of Kansas Interfaith Action. He said people of faith who view climate issues as moral issues are able to reach those that otherwise would only see it through a political lens.

“It’s up to us to demand that our political leaders take this conversation seriously and begin to address these issues,” Rieber said.

And while there’s still a long way to go to convince people of the seriousness of the climate crisis — including getting more religious leaders to talk about the issue from the pulpit and during Sunday school — Rieber said caring for God’s creations is a sacred duty.

“One of the reasons why we do this is because we’re convinced that it matters to God,” he said. “So therefore it should matter to us.”

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to

Copyright 2021 KMUW | NPR for Wichita. To see more, visit KMUW | NPR for Wichita.

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Artist Gaye Reissland, OPA, reveals her ‘Inner Thoughts’ at Fresh A.I.R. Gallery show

Joel Oliphint, Columbus Alive July 12, 2021

Reflections on an anxious year inspire work in ‘Coping Mechanisms’ exhibition, on view now at Bridge Gallery in Franklinton

“Halo” (48” x 36”; charcoal on canvas) by Gaye Reissland

Columbus artist Gaye Reissland is the activities director at a convent of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, which meant her work constituted an essential service during the pandemic. The sisters, most of whom are older adults, had to remain at the convent to stay safe, and Reissland was tasked with finding fun, productive activities for them.

“My boss texted me on a Saturday night: ‘You’re going to be in charge of making masks.’ And I said, ‘I don’t know how to sew. Is this a joke?’ And she said, ‘I wish I was joking,’” said Reissland, who made her way to Joann Fabrics. Fortunately, she discovered the sisters had plenty of sewing skills.

Over the course of the pandemic, Reissland fretted over the safety of the sisters, isolating and taking extra precautions to prevent spreading the virus to the convent. At the same time, Reissland moved in with a boyfriend who struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, adding another layer of anxiety. “The CDC would come out with guidelines that would put his OCD into overdrive and drive him bananas,” Reissland. “I’d be in the bathroom and he’d say, ‘That didn’t sound like a 20-second hand wash to me.’”

Meanwhile, as the pandemic raged, it became apparent that COVID-19 was disproportionately affecting older adults and people of color. “It was like I had a target on my back, because I’m no spring chicken. … I’m pushing 60 now. I’m a grandmother. I’m African-American, and I’m curvy. I’m not skinny,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh, my God. I’m going to die.’ It was terrifying.”

Those anxieties manifested in a painting Reissland made during the pandemic titled “Inner Thoughts.” Worry emanates from the face of a woman Reissland created with acrylic paint and oil pastels, the chaotic pops of color hinting at the emotional turmoil churning in the subject’s mind. “A lot of my inner thoughts were, ‘What am I gonna do? I don’t know what to do. Jesus, help me. Jesus, take the wheel,” she said.

"Inner Thoughts" by Gaye Reissland

“Inner Thoughts” and other works by Reissland are currently on display as part of Fresh A.I.R Gallery’s “Coping Mechanisms,” a multi-artist exhibition held at the Bridge Gallery inside the 400 West Rich building in Franklinton (Fresh A.I.R.’s Downtown gallery space remains closed due to COVID precautions; A.I.R. stands for Artists In Recovery.) A virtual version of the exhibit will also available at Fresh A.I.R.’s website.

Reissland also channeled her creative energy into paintings Downtown during the Black lives matter demonstrations last spring and summer, making portraits of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in a stained-glass style that presented the three as saints. Nearby, Reissland painted the words, “Black lives martyred.”

“I found the protests to be a positive experience. It gave me hope for my granddaughters. It gives me hope for the future,” she said. “The younger people, they’ve got the right idea.”

The sisters at the convent helped Reissland get through turbulent times, as well, acting as a surrogate family when she couldn’t be with her blood relatives. “I work with these women who are very wise, very learned and very, very spiritual. They were in constant prayer for me and my family, and that gave me great comfort,” she said.

Reflecting on the difficulties of the past year now, Reissland feels fortified. “The pandemic let me know that everything that I need, I already have,” she said.

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