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Sister Adrienne Fallon, O.P. 76, knew when she was only in third grade that she wanted to be a sister, so at age 16, after years of being taught by the Dominicans, she started teaching CCD class to try her future career on for size. It was a perfect fit. She entered the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell in 1953 and was immediately sent out to teach elementary school, sometimes with as many as 50 children in a class. Over the course of 55 years, she taught English, French, science and religion in kindergarten through eighth grade. In the 1990s, she was head of the CCD program at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Whiting, N.J. Although she retired in 2008 at age 73, she was soon pressed back into service when the pastor of St. Elizabeth’s asked her to teach CCD part time, bringing her ministry full circle. She eagerly accepted and stayed on for three more years until her “official” retirement in 2011.
“I’ll never retire,” says Sister Adrienne, who visits Sisters living in the infirmary at our Motherhouse, and drives older Sisters to doctor appointments or to go shopping. On top of all that, in 2010 she started the Dominican Lay Fraternity at St. Elizabeth’s parish for men and women who have committed themselves to seeking a deeper and richer spiritual life as members of the Dominican Laity.
Sister Gerardine Mueller, O.P. is 90 years old and says, “I want another 90!” She enjoys life so much – her work, her interests, even the challenges. She entered the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell in 1939, and taught history and geography in second and fifth grade in Upper Montclair, N.J. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Notre Dame and went on to teach high school art. She eventually founded the Caldwell College Art Department. Even now, she continues to teach, if a college student needs to learn a specialized art form such as metal work, copper enameling or stained glass.
Stained glass is Sister Gerardine’s true specialty, and you can find her magnificent creations in Saint Catherine of Siena Convent and Healthcare Center as well as at Caldwell College. One of her students, for Sister Gerardine’s 90th birthday celebration, wrote this testimonial: “There are very few people who have dramatically changed my life. Sister Gerardine is one of them. Her sparkling blue eyes see what lies within and beyond, and what her eyes don’t see, her heart and soul feel.”
Sister Barbara Moore, O.P. Associate Professor of Theology at Caldwell College, has for ten years coordinated its graduate program in Pastoral Ministry. Before returning to full-time college teaching, Sister Barbara served as Pastoral Associate at Blessed Kateri Parish in Sparta, NJ during its first seventeen years. This experience prepared her to understand the academic and professional requirements of lay ministers, but more importantly, her parish relationships also motivated her determination to deepen students’ personal faith experience. Recently, Sister Barbara has found that offering theology courses online has opened up teaching’s pastoral dimension in a way she had not anticipated. “Somehow, students seem to share their faith journeys more freely with me and with each other online than they ever do in the classroom. Their questions demand more than academic information and engage my pastoral skills to focus on theology’s relevance in peoples’ lives and in the realities of their world.”
Sister Anne John O’Loughlin, O.P. has taught in schools throughout New Jersey, focusing on high school social studies and history, and serving as a high school librarian. In 1962, she became college librarian and also taught Library Science at Caldwell College. In 1969, she was appointed President of Caldwell College and served for 10 years. She later worked for the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of New Jersey, representing 16 State Department of Education officers for colleges. After serving as Assistant to the President of Seton Hall University, Sister Anne John was asked to come back to Caldwell College, taking on the job of Provost. Always ready for a challenge, in 1987 Sister Anne John was charged with establishing a development office to help raise funds to renovate our community chapel, a job she did with great success and enthusiasm.
Although she’s “retired,” Sister Anne John continues to work in the community library two days a week and drives older Sisters to doctor appointments and on other errands. She’s also an active member of the Kiwanis Club, which focuses on helping children. Despite her high-powered resume, when she reflects on her accomplishments, Sister Anne John comes back to a simple truth: “No matter what else I did, I was a Dominican Sister first and foremost. Therefore my prayers were daily, and the benefactors were remembered daily.”
Sister Donna Ciangio, O.P. founding Director of Church Leadership Consultation, enjoys a truly global ministry. For over thirty years, Sister Donna has collaborated with everyone from cardinals to catechists on all seven continents. Her task is to develop both lay and clerical leadership with skills to promote parish vitality, pastoral direction, adult faith formation, and small Christian communities. Recently, technology has helped to relieve her strenuous travel schedule which in a given month might range from Latin America to the Philippines. For example, regular Skype conversations now allow Sister Donna to maintain friendships with diocesan leaders from Dublin, Ireland and Durbin, South Africa. Closer to home, Sister Donna serves as the Director of Faith Formation at St. Rose of Lima Church in Short Hills, New Jersey, as an adjunct faculty member in Drew University’s Doctor of Ministry program, and as parish consultant for the Jesuit National Conference USA, and for RCL Benziger Publishing Company.
Sister Honora Werner, O.P. ministers as director and professor in the doctoral preaching program at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri. Aquinas, the only Catholic school in the US to offer a doctorate in preaching, educates religious and lay people for service and leadership in the Church. The online doctoral program serves students from the USA, Canada and overseas. Sister Honora works mostly from an office in Caldwell! She travels to St. Louis a few times each year when her students come in for intensive weeks of study. There are 94 graduates of the program and 47 currently studying. Graduates gift the Church as teachers, writers, and, of course, as preachers.
Sister Patricia Daly, O.P. Executive Director of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, engages in a preaching ministry beyond any classroom or pulpit. As a
financial consultant to forty religious congregations in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, TRICRI educates financial managers to screen corporations which manufacture dangerous products like weapons and genetically-modified organisms and/or who engage in unfair labor practices. Sister Pat’s organization represents the combined investment power of religious organizations at shareholders’ meetings concerned with issues like human rights, environmental protection, and human trafficking. Asked, “Does it work?” Sister Pat happily points to Ford Motor Company as “a successful transformation of a corporate culture to attend to a broad spectrum of sustainability issues.” As a Dominican, Sister Pat finds her unique “ministry of preaching in the marketplace amazingly fulfilling, addressing today’s crises, confronting the heresy of greed at all cost.”