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Dominican Sisters of Peace celebrate jubilees

    Seventy-two members of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, including seven sisters with ties to the Archdiocese of New Orleans, recently celebrated jubilees of religious profession.
    Celebrating 50 years of vowed life were Sister Shirley Bodisch (formerly Sister Mary Thomas Aquinas), and Sister Therese Leckert.
    Sister Shirley taught at St. Joan of Arc School in LaPlace (1966); St. Peter in Reserve (1968-69); and St. Mary’s Dominican High School (1969-74, 1977-81). Sister Shirley has been ministering to the deaf community for more than 30 years, with service at Rosaryville Spirit Life Center in  Ponchatoula and St. Francis de Sales Parish in Baton Rouge.
    Sister Shirley has served as congregational vocations director, formation director of affiliates and member of the leadership team. She currently serves as the Dominican Sisters of Peace New Orleans Motherhouse archivist contact and a volunteer in deaf services. She also teaches sign language to senior citizens who are hearing, but have always wanted to learn the language.
    “Religious life has been a path in life for me that I can be my best self,” Sister Shirley said. “I feel so close to God. Religious life enables me to grow in that and continue my journey.”
    Sister Therese, a New Orleans native, attended St. James Major School and Ursuline Academy before entering religious life. She holds degrees from St. Mary’s Dominican College, Duquesne University and Loyola University New Orleans and was trained in spiritual direction by the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center.
    She was a missionary in Juli, Peru, where she was a principal, teacher and catechist for four years. Subsequent ministries in New Orleans included service in education and retreat ministry at St. Mary’s Dominican (1971-74, 2001-08) and St. Mary’s Dominican College (1978-81) and vocation ministry for an intercommunity program in Slidell (1977-78) and for St. Dominic Formation House in New Orleans (1981-85).
    She also served in retreat work at Hispanic Basic Communities and in English as a Second Language instruction at the Latin American Apostolate in the 1980s. Her work in campus ministry brought her to Tulane University (1990-92) as well as to other universities outside New Orleans. She was elected to the congregational leadership team five times, which included service as prioress for eight years. She also helped form the new congregation Dominican Sisters of Peace in 2009 and was elected to the first leadership team of this new congregation.
    “I see our world as increasingly polarized,” Sister Therese said. “It pains me to see people unable to work together for the common good.”
    Three sisters celebrated 60 years of vowed life:
    Sister Sylvia Bourgeois, a native of Baton Rouge, taught at elementary schools in Louisiana and as a teacher of mathematics at Dominican High School. She served as principal of St. Charles Catholic High School in LaPlace. Sister Sylvia holds a bachelor’s degree from Dominican College, and a master’s from Marquette University. She completed a course with the National Radio Institute with high honors and also holds a diploma from LaSalle University in air conditioning and refrigeration. Friends have dubbed her “the only nun mechanic in New Orleans,” a title which led to requests that she teach a course in “mini mechanics” on both high school and college levels.
    Sister Judene Lillie, a native of Stuart, Iowa, came to study at Dominican College and returned for more than 60 years. She holds an MBA from Loyola University New Orleans and spent the majority of her years in ministry as treasurer of Dominican College. She served there as a member of the board of trustees and archivist. She also served as a member of the congregational leadership team. She served as associate judge and is auditor for the Metropolitan Tribunal in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. She is a member of the board of trustees for Rosaryville Spirit Life Center in Ponchatoula.
    Sister Mary de Montfort Schexnaydre, a native of Burnside, La., holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Dominican College. While she has taught in elementary schools in Louisiana, her principal ministry was as a medical technologist, first at Seventh Ward Hospital in Hammond and later at the pathology department of Charity Hospital in New Orleans. Her longest ministry was at Rosaryville Spirit Life Center as assistant to the coordinator, as supervisor of laundry and housekeeping, and as minister of hospitality. She resides at the New Orleans motherhouse, where she prays for her sisters, the ministries of her community and the needs of the world.
    Two sisters celebrated 65 years:
    Sister Rose Bowen has taught at elementary schools in Louisiana and at Dominican High School, Dominican College and Loyola University. She also taught at Lynn University in Florida. She holds degrees from Dominican College, Catholic University of America, University of Notre Dame, Loyola Institute for Ministry, and she earned a doctorate from Florida State University. She has served as director of postulants and novices and has served on the leadership team for her community. She has volunteered with NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby in Washington. She is now engaged in spiritual direction and retreat ministry.
    Sister Betty Doskey has taught at elementary schools in Louisiana and at Dominican High School, Dominican College and Nunez Community College in Chalmette. She also taught at Xavier University and worked as research associate at Xavier’s Center for Environmental Programs. Sister Betty holds degrees from Dominican College, the University of Wisconsin, and a doctorate from the University of Notre Dame. She was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and has been a science consultant for various schools.

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