| By Stephanie Van Koevering

Sisters in Service

Across the Diocese of Lansing, many women are called to religious life. They take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience to better serve and support others in living lives of faith.

One of our religious communities is the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. With a motherhouse in Ann Arbor, its women minister to students in schools across Michigan, the United States, and even overseas.

As a well-educated, dynamic team of energetic sisters, their work in diocesan schools is impressive. They build strong relationships with students to help foster robust faith journeys and effective academic outcomes. We’ve connected with four of them to understand what they do — and why they do it.

Sister Maria Fatima, O.P.

Now in her 11th year of teaching, Sister Maria Fatima is in her third year at Spiritus Sanctus Academy Ann Arbor, where she teaches middle school history.

“I enjoy forming relationships with my students that ultimately lead them closer to our Lord,” she says. “As a middle school teacher, I love it when we are talking about different mysteries of the faith, and you can see something click in their eyes: the truth of the mystery is sinking into their minds in the fullness of its reality for the first time!”

Because Spiritus Sanctus has fewer than 200 students, Sister Maria Fatima says there is a unity of mission in mind and heart that flows from the daily celebration of the Mass. 

“God’s will has placed me where I am right now,” she says. “He desires to grow my heart in love for the students I have the privilege to teach now. Each year, the Lord expands my heart more to see and love my students.”

Sister Anthony Marie, O.P.

“My vocation is such a precious gift. The longer I live as part of religious life, the more I understand what it means to be chosen.”

Originally from La Crescenta, California, Sister Anthony Marie continues to celebrate her vocation. She came to Ann Arbor in 2014 and has been teaching math and science for two years at Resurrection School in Lansing.

“There is nothing in this world like teaching! What is so beautiful about being a consecrated religious is that I am never alone in the classroom. No matter how unpredictable the day may seem, I am utterly confident that I know Christ stands beside me and that he is the true teacher,” she says. 

Sister Anthony Marie says Resurrection School is a special place.

“The community is passionately dedicated to forming saints. Not only do staff members want their students to become saints, but the students themselves are striving to become the saints God calls them to be,” she says. “Resurrection is a place where students can be kids and still encounter Christ in whatever they do.” 

Sister Irenaeus, O.P.

As a science teacher at Lansing Catholic High School, Sister Irenaeus loves moments when students truly encounter wonder.

“In biology, it might be wonder at creation or a weird animal.  In anatomy or health, it’s a beautiful gift to see students wonder at their own creation and the gift that each one of them is,” she says. “At the high school level, I get the chance to walk with students as they discover who God has made them to be and learn how to respond to his love in the midst of life’s challenges.”

Sister Irenaeus recalls one of the most impressive moments of her ministry: a time when a couple of senior guys approached her to ask for advice on how to make a good confession.  

“For the next few months, I walked with them, and I saw them meet Jesus on one of our retreats. Their faces lit up as they experienced the freedom they had longed for,” she remembers. “Those final months of high school, their entire way of thinking and acting was transformed. Even if those few souls were the only ones I ever touch or bring closer to Jesus, those souls are of infinite value. All of heaven rejoiced. For one soul, any amount of prayer and sacrifice is worth it!”

Sister Elizabeth Ann, O.P.

“I love helping students appreciate the beauty and reasonableness of our Catholic faith. My youth minister in high school was the first to present the faith to me that way, and I strive to be like him,” she says. 

Now in her 10th year of teaching, Sister Elizabeth Ann provides theology instruction at Father Gabriel Richard (FGR) High School in Ann Arbor. And she wakes up each morning with an awareness of how blessed she is to be a religious sister. 

“I love the totality of it: Jesus has given himself totally for me, and I get to give my life totally to him in return,” she says. “He wants me to build up, encourage, and inspire my students and colleagues with hope, despite the many troubling trends of our culture today. He wants me to help them remember that he is always present.”

FGR is unique, she says, in its emphasis on both the head and the heart. 

“Most schools tend to emphasize one over the other, but FGR balances both very well,” she says. “We take seriously our role as partners with God in proclaiming the Gospel. It also made me realize that God hungers for these students more than we do! 

“He desires so much to be close to us, and that is amazing!”