Fourteen Persons Make Commitment as Associates of the Springfield Dominican Sisters

Springfield, Ill. A commitment ceremony for the 2023 Springfield Dominican Associate class was held in-person at Sacred Heart Convent Chapel on Sunday, May 7, 2023.

During the homily of the Mass Father Michael DeTemple, OP, chaplain for the Dominican Sisters, thanked the associates for their commitment and reminded them to trust in Jesus no matter what is going on in life. He shared with them the famous prayer of St. Teresa of Avila:

Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; all things are passing; God alone remains. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing for God alone is enough.”

New Springfield Dominican Associates help with the mass. Stephanie Steel, left, reads an intention as Colleen Peabody, right, listens.

The new associates prepared for commitment by participation in nine monthly sessions of prayer and study about the history of the Order of Preachers and the Springfield Dominican congregation, about the theology of mission and ministry, Catholic Social Teaching, and liturgy and prayer. Each candidate was accompanied by a sponsor—a sister or an associate—who answered their questions and offered encouragement during their period of discernment before commitment.

Dominican associates embrace the Dominican traditions of prayer, study, community, and ministry. They respond to God's call to share the Gospel by preaching it through the witness of their lives.

Each associate was called forward by the associate program director, Sister M. Joan Sorge, OP. They stated publicly their commitment to “preach the Word and witness Gospel values,” and received an associate pin from Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, prioress general of the congregation.

Sister Rebecca Ann accepted the new associates’ commitment statements and thanked them for their dedication in preaching the word of God.

“We are truly blessed by the witness that we see before us. You clearly live the word of God in your lives with a commitment that proclaims ‘God is here,’” said Sister Rebecca Ann.

The first Springfield Dominican associates made commitment in 1991. Since then, hundreds of women and men, baptized Christians in the United States and Peru, have become associates.

Dominican associates make individual commitments to volunteer ministries in their own parishes and communities. They may also join the sisters on committees and boards, work side-by-side with the sisters in their ministries, or provide logistical support for the congregation’s public events. To learn more about becoming a Springfield Dominican Associate visit springfieldop.org/associates or call Sister M. Joan at 217-787-0481.

Sister Bernice Juip, left, listens to Sarah Fafoglia as she reads her Associate Commitment statement Sunday, May 7 at the Sacred Heart Chapel in Springfield.

The Dominican Sisters of Springfield are part of a worldwide Dominican family, the Order of Preachers. For more than 800 years, Dominicans have preached the Gospel in word and deed.

The Springfield Dominicans were established 150 years ago in Jacksonville, Illinois and relocated their motherhouse to Springfield in 1893. Today, thousands of Dominican sisters, nuns, priests, brothers, associates, and laity minister in more than 100 countries around the world. To learn more about the Dominican Sisters of Springfield visit springfieldop.org.

By region the associates are:

Central Illinois

Janet Chiavaro, Taylorville, Ill., is a parishioner at St. Mary’s Church and works as a patient access specialist at Memorial Hospital. Janet’s commitments include serving as an organist and soloist for funeral masses, helping with the Mary Garden on the parish grounds, and continuing to listen to God’s voice in her work, at home, and with family and friends. Sponsor: Ann Moroff. Prayer sponsor: Sister Maira Barry.

John Clark, Springfield, is a member of St. Agnes Catholic Church, Springfield. He is a learning and development instructor for the Illinois Department of Revenue. His commitments include living his Catholic faith and leading by example, participating in opportunities for spiritual growth as a father and grandfather, and listening to God’s voice as he calls him through life. Sponsor: Barb Leaf. Prayer sponsor: Sister Maristella Dunlavy.

Sarah Fafoglia, Springfield, is a member of St. Agnes Catholic Church, Springfield. She is an underwriting assistant for Allstate, Springfield. Her commitments include actively serving and supporting her parish and her children’s school at St. Agnes. She plans to continue her study of the Bible with the goal of being more attentive to what God is teaching and leading her to do. She also will live her faith by practicing what she has learned and leading by example for her family and community. Sponsor: Sister Bernice Juip. Prayer sponsor: Sister Margaret Grueter.

Susan Kerouac, Springfield, is a parishioner at the Church of the Little Flower and a retired teacher. Her commitments include being a Eucharistic minister, singing in the funeral choir, and preparing food for funeral luncheons at Little Flower. She plans to continue teaching her grandchildren to appreciate Earth by recycling, recycling items to use in making crafts, and collecting cards and calendars for the women’s prison in Lincoln. Sponsor: Sister M. Clare Fichtner. Prayer sponsor: Sister M. Emmeric Emerick.

Stephanie Steele, New Berlin, Ill., is a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Springfield, and teaches junior high language arts and 5th grade religion at St. Agnes Catholic School, Springfield. Stephanie’s commitments include spreading the witness of God’s love to her students and others, helping the Dominican Sisters of Springfield with preserving their history in the archives, staying active in the Cor Unum women’s ministry and living a prayerful life. Sponsor: Sister Lori Kirchman. Prayer sponsor: Sister M. Jerome Quinn.

Deena Warrick, Decatur, Ill., is a member of Holy Family Parish, Decatur, and is a reimbursement specialist at Cancer Care Specialists of Illinois, Decatur. Deena’s commitments include guiding the youth in Dominican values as a youth group coordinator for the Decatur and Mt. Zion Catholic parishes, serving as the junior high PSR teacher at Holy Family, and serving as Eucharistic minister and greeter at Holy Family. Sponsor: Diane Keller. Prayer Sponsor: Sister M. Francella Vyverman.

Laura Wheeling, Springfield, Ill., is a member of St. Agnes Church, Springfield, and is a stay-at-home mom. Laura’s commitments are helping make a map of the trails at Jubilee Farm, learning how the Dominican saints shared God’s love, and supporting her child’s Catholic education through finances, volunteering, or teaching. Sponsor: Sister Phyllis Schenk. Prayer Sponsor: Sister M. Bride Quinn.

Christina Wise, Springfield, Ill., is a member of St. Agnes Church, Springfield, and serves as a volunteer youth minister at the parish. Christina’s commitments include living in the manner of the Gospels, continuing work with youth ministry and youth retreats, and experiencing the Holy Spirit by meeting others who share the same values and interests. Sponsor: Sister Martha Carmody. Prayer Sponsor: Sister Beth Murphy.

Becky Woiwode, New Berlin, is a member of the Centenary United Methodist Church in Jacksonville and serves as administrator at Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield. Becky’s commitments include participating in the antiracism team at the convent, working to communicate the Dominican charism to her coworkers, and becoming more faithful to her commitment to her church. Sponsor: Sister Marilyn Jean Runkel. Prayer Sponsor: Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma.

Northeast Illinois-Northwest Indiana

Jennifer Lyn Arreola, Lansing, Ill., is a parishioner at All Souls Catholic Parish, and employed as a kitchen and bath designer in Calumet City. Jennifer’s commitments include serving as a catechist and lector at her parish, volunteering as a bereavement minister at monthly meetings, and emulating Mary, the mother of Jesus, in her role as wife and mother. Sponsor: Denise Iggins. Prayer sponsor: Sister Teresa Marron.

Sarah Grauvogl, Schererville, Ind, is a parishioner at St. Thomas More Church, Munster, Ind., and works as a teacher and director of women’s Kairos retreats at Marian Catholic High School, Chicago Heights, Ill. Sarah’s commitments include living and sharing the Dominican charism though her work in the classroom and in Campus Ministry, being open and responsive to the needs of MCHS, growing as a teacher, and listening to God’s call for her life. Sponsor: Denise Iggins. Prayer sponsor: Sister Paul Mary Janssens.

Linda Hansen, Schererville, Ind., is a parishioner at St. Michael the Archangel in Schererville and serves as vice president of ministry and mission at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Ill. Linda’s commitments include developing new programs at MCHS that give meaning to the Dominican charism, standing for life, and being an active leader in her home parish through liturgical ministry, adult education, and social and fundraising events. Sponsor: Sue Brown. Prayer sponsors: Sister Marilyn Jean Runkel.

Colleen Peabody, Homewood, Ill., is a member of Infant Jesus of Prague/ St. Veronica in Flossmoor, and is the vice president for institutional advancement at Marian Catholic High School, Chicago Heights, Ill. Colleen’s commitments include advancing the mission of MCHS, serving as a witness of God’s love to MCHS students, deepening her faith and understanding of the Dominican charism, and loving others as she has been loved. Sponsor: Cecily Fultz. Prayer sponsors: Sister Agnes Ann Pisel.


Eleonora Babayants, Redwood City, Calif., is a parishioner at St. Dominic’s Church, San Francisco, and St. Raymond Church, Menlo Park, Calif. She works as an information management consultant. Eleonora’s commitments include preaching the Gospel for the salvation of souls through her words and actions, providing support and service in Western Dominican province churches and organizations, and continuing to make her soul pleasing to God. Sponsor: Sister Agnes Ann Pisel. Prayer sponsor: Sister Linda Sue Noe.

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