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Read oral history stories of Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters by Aquinas College Students.
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Barbara Hansen, OP, and Elizabeth Richer

It has been two years since the 2014 inaugural celebration of National Catholic Sisters Week. The purpose of National Catholic Sisters Week is to shine a national spotlight on Catholic sisters and raise awareness of their profound influence on young women. It was that same year that we heard about an ongoing project called SisterStory that kicked off with more than 50 pairs of Catholic sisters and college students across the country gathering at St. Catherine University. Our own Sister Barbara Hansen and Aquinas College student Elizabeth Richer attended that first event. 

As the enthusiasm grew, so did the involvement. Sister Barbara and Amy Dunham Strand, Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies and Director of theTapestry in Time and Period Pieces sm Jane Hibbard Idema Women’s Studies Center at Aquinas College introduced the oral history project to students in Amy’s Women’s Studies program. Seven students, including Elizabeth, were paired with seven Dominican Sisters. 

Next week, during National Catholic Sisters Week, Mar. 8-14, our Congregation will begin introducing the Sister/Aquinas Student pairs who have undertaken the living history storytelling project known as SisterStory.

Want to read more about the lives and times of the Dominican Sisters and the people who have been part of our lives? Tapestry in Time, The Story of the Dominican Sisters Grand Rapids, 1966-2012 is available in the Dominican Center Bookstore.

Sr Joan Thomas Feature Ad GRD Website
Coming to religion while embracing diversity (Dec. 2015)

Sister Joan Thomas’ mother was Catholic and Sister Joan did attend Catholic school, but her father was Methodist and therefore brought another religious view into her life. This was so special to Sister Joan because she was very grateful for having and understanding many world views so that she not only understood her own religious experience better but could be more understanding and accepting of other people’s beliefs as well. When I learned this, I was filled with admiration, as many stereotypes I had been carrying in the back of my head broke down around me. I was in the presence of someone who was committed to their faith without sacrificing the ability to embrace diversity. (Read more)

SisterStories: Sr. Joan Thomas and Ellyse VanderKamp


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Read SisterStories about Sisters from all over the United States written by student authors from other Catholic colleges and universities.