More Sisters Celebrate Milestone Jubilees This Summer
September 7, 2017

Adrian Dominicans (OP) -- The following Adrian Dominican jubilarians have ties to the Diocese of Rockford.

75 Years
Sister Cecilia Marie Brown

Sister Cecilia Marie Brown, OP, baptized Barbara Jane Mary Brown, is a native of Rockford, She graduated from Bishop Muldoon High School, Rockford, in 1941 and holds a number of degrees from Siena Heights College (now University) in Adrian.  

Among her early teaching assignments in Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, she taught at St. Bridget School in Loves Park, from 1966-1967 and at St. Bernadette School in Rockford from 1973-1974. From 1973-1982, she directed the Senior Citizens Program for Catholic Social Services of Rockford and served on the board of directors of Brightside Day Care Center in Rockford. She also ministered at Highview Retirement Home in Rockford from 1988-1989 and as director of a program for seniors at the Sycamore Community Center in Sycamore, from 1992-1998.

Sister Miriam Joseph Lekan
Sister Miriam Joseph Lekan, OP, holds a bachelor’s degree in Latin, with minors in English and Science, from Siena Heights College (now University; a master’s in Latin from DePaul University in Chicago; and she became an LPN through studies at Lakewood, Ohio, School of Practical Nursing. Sister Miriam also has ministry certificates from the Diocese of Cleveland.

Sister Miriam’s first teaching assignment took her St. Edward School in Rockford, where she taught from 1944-1948. She continued to teach in schools in Illinois, Michigan, and Florida, and Ohio until 1981 when she began her studies to be a licensed practical nurse, then served in Cleveland in that capacity until she retired in 2000. She is in active retirement at the congregation’s motherhouse in Adrian, Mich.

Sister Virginia O’Reilly
Sister Virginia (Joan Patrice) O’Reilly, OP, is a native of Detroit and a 1943 graduate of St. Joseph Academy in Adrian, Michigan.  She majored in mathematics and education, specializing in guidance, and later earned a doctorate in clinical psychology. She is a licensed psychologist in the states of California, New York, and Michigan. She first served in schools in Illinois, Florida and Georgia, then in high schools in Michigan and Illinois. In the Diocese of Rockford, she chaired the Mathematics Department at St. Dominic College in St. Charles from 1964-1967. She served at the congregation’s motherhouse also. From 1977-1996 she served in clinical psychology in California, South Africa, New York and Michigan. After her retirement in 1996, she moved to Adrian and continued to serve as adjunct professor of psychology at Siena Heights University, 1999-2003; spiritual director, 2005-2007; and as a library assistant, 2007-2010.

70 Years
Sister Janet Persyk

Sister Janet (Mary Paulette) Persyk, OP, was born in Detroit and graduated from St. Joseph Academy in Adrian, Mich. She taught in elementary schools in Michigan until 1961, when she became a teacher and librarian in Michigan and Florida. In this diocese, she ministered at Mount St. Mary Academy in St. Charles from 1966-1969. Sister Janet shifted her focus to pastoral ministry, serving as chaplain at three hospitals in the Detroit area, then in Chicago until 1999. Returning to Michigan, she volunteered in Henry Ford Hospices, Detroit, and served as a chaplain for retired Adrian Dominican Sisters at the Dominican Life Center in Adrian until 2016.

60 Years
Sister Mary Ann Phillip

Sister Mary Ann (Philip Ann) Phillip, OP, was born in Rockford and graduated from Bishop Muldoon High School. She received a bachelor’s degree in history from Siena Heights in 1964; a master’s degree in education from St. John College in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1975; and completed her Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). After teaching in Detroit for six years, Sister Mary Ann spent the majority of her ministerial years in Ohio: teaching, serving as parish religion coordinator, co-directing the RENEW Program for the Diocese of Cleveland, and serving as a chaplain.

Sister Mary Ward
Sister Mary (Michael Bridget) Ward, OP, hails from Chicago. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and secretarial science from Siena Heights in 1965 and a master of education degree in guidance and counseling from DePaul University, Chicago, in 1973. Her first assignment took her to St. Mary School in Elgin, where she taught from 1958-1963. She spent the rest of her early years of ministry in education in the Diocese of Joliet and the Archdiocese of Chicago, first as a teacher and then as a counselor. From 1975-1988, she served her congregation in Adrian. She then served in a variety of positions in the Archdiocese of Detroit until 2008.

Sister Joella Miller
Sister Joella (Joella Patrice) Miller, OP, a native of Elgin, met the Adrian Dominicans at St. Edward Central Catholic High School in Elgin and entered the Congregation from St. Laurence Parish, Elgin. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history and English from Siena Heights College (now University); a master’s degree in education with a specialty in curriculum from Northern Illinois University; and a master’s degree in religious education from the Loyola University, New Orleans Institute for Ministry Extension (LIMEX). Sister Joella spent her earliest years of teaching and administration in Chicago from 1959-1981. She then returned to the Diocese of Rockford, serving as associate director of education until 1998, then as superintendent of schools for the Rockford Diocese Education Office, 1988-1990, and then as Secretary of Catholic Education/Superintendent of Schools for the education office, 1990-1993. In 1993, Sister Joella was elected Chapter Prioress of the Dominican Midwest Chapter of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. After her term was completed in 1999, she took a sabbatical year. In 2000, she began ministry at the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse until 2011. Now retired, Sister Joella serves in the Motherhouse in any way she can: at the Adrian Rea Literacy Center, the receptionist desk, the Finance Office, and in the choir.

Editor’s note: This information was received too late for our jubilee issue. Sister Alyce Anne VanAcker, OP,  however, was honored for her 70 years as an Adrian Dominican in The Observer’s jubilee section in the June 9  issue.