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In June 1994, Sister Carmelita reported to the Congregation: “Dominican Center… [is] causing boundaries of separatism to dissolve and people, regardless of race, class, creed, or gender, are coming to Marywood Campus.”

Mike was in the second Spiritual Director Practicum class at Dominican Center. As an ordained deacon, he sought additional resources to support his role in his parish. “Being a spiritual director is profoundly deaconate. Learning the holy listening; it’s something that informs everything I do.

“In the 90s, this experience wasn’t offered anywhere else. And during and after completing the program, I personally felt, and still do, that this Dominican Spiritual Director Practicum should be a requirement for the deaconate.

“The staff and presenters were exceptional. Sister Suzanne Eichhorn was brilliant; Jerry Toshalis, a Methodist pastor and psychotherapist, was so open and integrated in his own spirituality.

“There were no lectures. It was an interactive and profound learning with and from people who were deeply grounded in their realities of faith and spirituality. They were imparting experience as well as knowledge. It was grace.

“It’s all part of the Ignatian spirituality that invites you to enter, to imagine, and be open to our thoughts and experiences of divine grace. It’s life-changing — and that’s what conversion is supposed to be.”

“We believe we bear fruit in the ordinariness of every day—and oftener, perhaps, than we like, in the hardship of pain and loss and difficulty. For the kind of love with which we are blessed is also the kind of love that must be willing to be poured out — in sacrifice and love for others — in tasks that are bigger than ourselves.”

For a time, it seemed that it was women who were most open and responsive to our Spiritual Direction and early programs, recalls Barbara Hansen OP. “Many women have been able to move out of difficult times in their lives — divorce, deaths, life changes. What they found at Dominican Center and Dominican Chapel was safe refuge. Men followed soon after.”

Kelly Wysocki-Emery recalls her experience during a personal retreat. “I sought out a silent retreat. I had only 48 hours, but the time allotted for my silence, my grieving, and sitting with my pain (both past and present pain) was a godsend. Having no distractions, not having to put on a happy face for anyone, and being alone to process what I was experiencing was just what I needed. I consider it an incredible gift that we have this space in Grand Rapids.”

Dot Ledrick, a Dominican Associate and retired marriage and family counselor, was one of the laypersons invited to join the first advisory board for Dominican Center. “Commitment recognizes relationship. It distills, refines, clarifies, and challenges daily living. Dominican life has taught me many ways of being and many ways of being with. How do we best engage our questions? How do we walk humbly? How do we collaborate? How do we listen to the gentle probing of the Spirit?

“Being on campus, working and volunteering with the Sisters, ministering with the Spiritual Formation Program, practicing Spiritual Direction, working on the Associate Advisory Board for twelve years has had a profound impact on my life. With much gratitude, I have been woven into the fabric of this beloved community.”

“Dominican Center at Marywood is such a gift in our community. Under the leadership of Margarita Solis-Deal, I have personally seen the impact of the Center’s renewed commitment to being a safe, inviting, and accessible place for all. A willingness to assess the Center through a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion and a willingness to pause, and in that pausing, honestly and intentionally assess and ask questions such as: ‘Who comes through our doors and who doesn’t? What is the demographic composition of our classes? Who is missing? Who knows about us and who doesn’t? How do we bridge that gap?’ Asking these tough questions has resulted in a shift in the way in which Dominican Center lives out its mission and great commission in community.”