Our 2016 Jubilarians
Meet our Racine Dominican Sisters who are celebrating special anniversaries, or jubilees, in ministry this year.
Each jubilarian shared her reflections in response to the questions:
With the ministry- and life-experience you now have, what wisdom or insights would you impart to your newly-professed self? What would you tell that young, enthusiastic Sister?
Sister Rose Ellen Mlodzik
Don’t assume you know it all.
Be ready for changes – have a positive attitude and an open mind.
Learn from the good example of the older sisters and others.
Be slow to be critical and judgmental of the actions of others. Avoid being sarcastic.
Ask for, and take, advice from your superiors or other trustworthy people.
Choose your friends carefully and wisely. One loyal, loving and true friend is a priceless treasure.
Join in group discussions; offer to help with projects the community is working on.
Set aside some quiet time for yourself – a quiet time and place – to think over the events of the day and to say special prayers for the sisters, and for the Executive Team, who have a big job to do.
Keep in mind the old adage: YESTERDAY is history – TOMORROW may never come – all we have is NOW.
Sister Esther Szambelan
To my newly “professed self,” I wish to impart gratitude and continue the mission God provides for me here and now.
To the young enthusiastic sister: “be open to opportunity and let the light and love of Christ guide you.”
Sister Juliana Dischler
First – I would ask the young, enthusiastic sister what she sees as challenges today. With her thoughts in mind, I address the challenges of today.
Today we, as a nation, have big challenges. For me, the family is a big challenge in this electronic age. Why is this? Since the electronic devices are so individualistic, one needs to rebuild relationships with Mom, Dad, and one’s brothers/sisters. A nation is as strong as its families. Family living has deteriorated to all the IPads which seem to replace relationships built on person-to-person oral contact. One cannot have a relationship of things. One needs people to build family relationships.
Families, many of them, need training in building communication and relational skills. The electronic devices make word transmission use simple and automatic. Transmission of words is only one piece of one’s whole composition. Working together responsibly on many areas of the human being is needed to build strong relational bonds of trust and love. How about asking families to unite in faith, hope and love to make families strong in what is sturdy and lasting.
Sister Dorothy Ann Greiber
Seventy-some years ago, in my youthful exuberance, I was filled with great hopes and plans for the future. One desire I had was to become a religious sister and to teach little children. My aunt was a Racine Dominican, and I wanted to be just like her. It was during my sophomore year in public high school that I had the opportunity to visit the convent in Racine where young girls studied to become sisters. Living with these girls and their mistress was my chance to find answers to the questions I had about religious life. I went home very excited, and with my parents’ consent, my life was going to follow a more religious path.
As years passed, I was determined to set high goals, to succeed no matter how difficult. Being with fellow religious, the everyday challenges did not seem so insurmountable.
My advice to you who are interested in religious life is to find opportunities that offer challenges, putting yourself in new situations so your work can be enjoyable. Think positive in all circumstances. Find peace, especially through prayer, hospitality and service to others. Challenge yourself to do something you have never done before.
Sister Bernadette Weinberger
I wish to make the world a better place. I try to be friendly and appreciative. I talk to people, listen to them and try to help them. I am at home with others. I am free to make decisions and live the gospel as Jesus lived it. I try to share humor and happiness.
Sister Rose Marie Dischler
Jubilee Jottings for a Beginning Racine Dominican Sister from the 60 (80) years of Rose Marie Dischler’s lived experience...
Life’s Alphabet Chowder
Sometimes a letter of the alphabet reminds me of what is important in life. I pass on to you a few suggestions of what I have learned as a Racine Dominican Sister and even before. You can add to the list or make your own.
Air is a gift for everyone. Are you polluting it? It is a symbol of the Spirit of God. Make an Angel in the snow.
Be with God. Try to Balance work and play.
Take time for Contemplation. Conversion is a life-long process. Do something Creative.
Dig into what you have put off for too long. Dance your prayer.
Eat food that nourishes your body and soul; Exercise regularly. Leave the Environment better than when you found it.
Grow in your Faith. Be Flexible with both people and work. Feel the Fresh air when you go outside. Be a Friend.
You are filled with Grace. Walk Grace-full-ly. Savor Gospel Lectio Divina.
You are meant to be Happy. If you aren’t, seek counsel. Have a Hobby and/or a pet.
“I am who am,” said God to Moses.
Jesus is the eternal love of the Trinity. “We are compelled to Justice.” (R.D. Constitution) Have you taken a stand on a justice issue? “The Joy of God is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8/10)
Kick an old habit.
“My Love will never leave you.” (Is. 54/40) Learn about the world. Have you contacted your Legislators?
You have been Mercied….by God. (Pope Francis) Memories of your ancestors allow you to be humbly grateful.
Take a walk in Nature and let it heal you.
Be Open to change and new ideas.
Let Prayer be central in your life.
Quiet times are pregnant treasures.
Reflect on the origin of every creature; we are all gifts and gifted. Recall the 8 Rs at the Eco-Justice Center: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Responsibility, Reverence, Respect, Rethink, Repair.
Study. Enjoy the Stars, the Sunrises and Sunsets, the Sounds of birds. There is no substitute for a good night’s Sleep.
“We are committed to Truth” (R.D. Constitution). Be Thankful. If it is the only prayer you say, it is enough. (Meister Eckhart)
Walk under the Umbrella of God’s loving presence. Befriend the Universe.
You are the Victory won by Christ’s sacrifice.
Water is a gift that has no substitute. Drink it with thanksgiving; save more of it. Write in your journal. Write when you feel anxious.
Perk up your ears to the Xylophone in the band.
You are chosen!
When you realize that your Zeal or Zest for going on is waning, that anger or depression are clouding your path, seek help.
Sister Celia Evers
Give it all you’ve got!
It’s been a good life with many happy memories. The highlight was serving in Kenya. The people were lovely, so welcoming, and we did whatever was necessary to help them. Ministry in Rosedale, Mississippi, to young adults was special, too.
I enjoy our new residence and sharing my room with the dolls my mother made for me. I took them on my missions. In addition to their representing various cultures, it was nice to have a touch of Mom with me wherever I was.
Sister Paula Marie Jarosz
Lead by the Spirit, this self is in awe of what has been. With faith, hope, and a deep sense of being loved by God, I was moved, at the age of 23, to ask and was accepted into the Racine Dominican Order. Things are different today than when I entered. Vatican II came about. Racine Dominicans carried St. Dominic’s torch of truth forward in new ways of thinking, acting, and serving. Each new day has enriched my being and sustained my becoming. I realized that you would help build community and community would build you. Community supports; prayer sustains; study enriches; and ministry fulfills daily living. At this time, the wonder of 60 years lived in the faith of being loved by many is humbling. Appreciation of the women who have gone before us deserves remembering. Gratitude is extended to each sister in community who shares her bountiful faith life and to the Creative Force that sustains us all. I have been impressed with and encouraged by women who are shining examples of their commitment to religious life.
Grade school and high school education was guided by Dominican influence. I worked in a bakery for seven years and spent three years learning banking. Developing new skills, the wonderment of new thinking, different thinking, unique people and an amazing world were astonishing at times. Learning to drive a car was an ambitious experience accomplished before entering the convent. I had to work and persevere at the process, until finally, I had my license. When I entered the convent, it was not common for sisters to drive.
In gratitude to my family, I rejoice and give thanks. My parents, John and Agnes Jarosz, lived a life of working and giving. Being the third oldest of eight children (baptized Roseanna), I realized there was always something new and different happening. Likewise, entering religious life has been like entering a family. Being a sister was always and still is a developing mystery for me; I find it intriguing and challenging. Earning my degree before teaching and completing a minor in library science have been supports. Years later, I became certified as a chaplain, worked in a hospital, a nursing home, and later, while subbing daily in Milwaukee Public Schools, cared for my mother during her last 10 years.
A sister in community celebrating her 50th jubilee a few years ago wanted to visit the national parks and needed a companion. I was free and accepted the invite. What a trip! What an experience of developing relationships! It was a learning experience all the way.
After 40 years of teaching, I retired in 2005. Service turned toward ministry: with the elderly; parish involvement (Over 50 Club, lector, Eucharistic minister); League of Women Voters; FOWL (Friends of Wisconsin Libraries); representative on the West Allis Block Committee; and representative on the Milwaukee County Department on Aging. In 1983, I started and continue volunteering every Tuesday night at Guest House, a safe place for street people in Milwaukee.
Sometimes you walk alone. Sometimes it is wise to walk and talk with others. Jesus said, “Be not afraid, I am with you always.” I believed this and went on my way. Learn to receive criticism graciously. Often I thought I was being a presence of God for others. Yet, they in return showed me the Creator’s love. Bask in your desire to love God. Grow in your understanding of what this means. There is a time for everything in living. Your participation has its own time. Give consideration to your resilience. Move at a comfortable pace for you. Memorize a statement, poem, or joke and share a good laugh. Work at being positive in your remarks. Be with others and share your creative ability.
Prayer has its own reward. It is a time for being alone or sharing with others. One can seek the presence of the Creator daily through prayer. Some lines or words in a reading will speak directly to the reality of the moment. St. Dominic searched for truth. He walked the way – Praising, Blessing, and Preaching. I think prayer is being in touch with beauty. This could be words, nature, space, self. I do this in my own way, touching people’s hearts with a handshake, a smile, a word, or a hug.
As I bring this to a close, the thought comes to mind, “You’ve really been moving around.” One needs to allow time for self and do it thoughtfully and slowly. We are challenged daily to educate ourselves. It is fun and important to be aware of the changes taking place all around us and within us. Community living provides the necessary time, space, and money to accomplish a variety in interests, concerns, and personal needs. Be grateful! Richard Rohr’s quotation gives me hope and the will to continue this awesome way. “The most courageous thing we will ever do is to bear humbly the mystery of our own reality.”
Sister Mary Watson
I was so excited and happy then! I knew something great was coming. The important thing is how we care for ourselves and others in all we do. And how do we care for God within ourselves and others? To me, these 60 years have all been good and still are.
Sister Kathy Slesar
I entered the Racine Dominicans in 1987, when I was 40 years old. In the 25 years since I first professed my vows, I have served as a pastoral minister in a few parishes, worked as our director of vocation ministry, and in 2010 I became vice-president of our community. Besides these ministries, I also served as the chairperson of the Mission Fund Allocation Committee and lived in a few different local houses.
Being a novice at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate taught me the importance of knowing the wider Dominican Family, and learning about other Dominican congregations affirmed my choice to be part of the Racine Dominicans. It also marked the beginning of my connection with the wider Dominican family and that connection continues today.
Looking back at these many years since I entered, this is some of the wisdom or insights I would offer to myself when I was first professed:
• Whenever invited to preach, say Yes, even if a bit unsure about doing it.
• Whenever called by the community to do something, say yes because it will lead you to places you never imagined, and it will help you grow.
• Be open to possibilities.
• Discover balance in living the vows; it is okay to still want towels and sheets that match.
• Keep a light grasp on possessions, power and relationships; you will still have them, but they are not what matters most.
• You will be surprised at the questions that arise.
• Always have beauty in your life.
• Faithfulness will be your joy.
• It’s not about being perfect or doing it right; be faithful to showing up and doing what you are called to do.
• Know the why behind your actions.
• Seek to understand, and remember there are always at least two sides to every situation.
• Don’t be afraid to speak the truth in a loving way.
• Take care of yourself.
• Make time for what matters – connecting with God, community, family, friends, taking days away, and regular exercise.
• Spiritual direction and an annual retreat help you focus on your spiritual growth and your relationship with God.
• Recognize how we all have a very limited understanding of God, and respect differences in theology.
• Read the book, Love Poems from God; it will help you understand how much God loves you!
• Living the Gospel is hard work; if it was easy, many more people would be doing it!
• Do not be afraid; God is always with you. “The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.”
• There is an infinite supply of grace.
• Ask questions that lead to understanding.
• Always keep a sense of humor, and whenever possible, relish life!
• Keep the bigger picture in mind, especially when dealing with small stuff.
• Be joyful ... that is what Dominic modeled for all of us.