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February 20, 2022 Was Celebration of Final Mass with Sunday Assembly at Dominican Chapel/Marywood

The energy and joy were palpable as the Dominican Sisters welcomed the Sunday Assembly home for a final celebration Mass on February 20. After almost two years of separation because of COVID and with the sale of the Motherhouse building we gathered to be Dominican Chapel/Marywood for one last time.

For 63 years this chapel had held Community prayer and liturgy: chanting daily prayers, quiet meditation, Eucharist with chaplains and Dominican priest-teachers from Aquinas College, receptions and vow celebrations of new members and funerals sending members home to heaven. It was a rich, prayerful location that was part of the identity of the Grand Rapids Dominicans.

And then in 1985, with a further Vatican II renovation, the doors were thrown wide for anyone who would like to worship with us. And to our surprise and joy, many came.

We shared our riches: a love and experience of liturgy and prayer, beautiful music, and a lovely setting. They came with babies to be baptized, children to be welcomed to the Table, friends, and family members to be formed in the sacraments of the Church. They came with desire to “be Church,” to take responsibility for liturgical ministry, to preach through beauty in the planned environment for each liturgical season, to fill the chapel with song with many musical instruments and a 50+ voice choir.

They reached out to people in need by contributions of food and finance for St. Joseph the Worker Parish and Catherine’s Care Pantry at St. Alphonsus. They walked together to raise money for the Hunger Walk every spring. They brought pajamas and socks and whatever was suggested to love their neighbor. They welcomed everyone without label or judgment, especially those hurt by the institutional church. Their faith blossomed in our inclusive language, Dominican preaching, and joy in the Word.

This is the kind of church that Pope Francis longs for. A synodal church, one where people journey together, care for the poor, and take responsibility for the future of humankind and the earth, our common home, as followers of Jesus.

This Sunday the Sunday Assembly thanked the Sisters for the home they have experienced with us by celebrating with joy, with music, with flower arrangements, with liturgical ministries, with community. From this ‘synodal’ foundation hopefully they will be able to take the pearl of great price with them wherever they celebrate Eucharist and form the Body of Christ.

This Sunday the Sisters thanked the members of the Sunday Assembly for gifting us with years of their lives and a love and joy that give us hope for the future.