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Torch Bearers

Heritage Project Has Plan to Keep the Siena Heights Mission Going through [spacer height=”-35px”]
Future Generations

Siena Heights University President Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, knows that one day there may not be an Adrian
Dominican Sister on the SHU campus.

Thankfully, that day won’t be soon. However, President Albert and the SHU administration recently put a plan in place to help preserve SHU’s mission and heritage. Thanks to private funding from a SHU benefactor, in January 2014 Sister Mary Jones, OP, (below) was hired as the director of Mission Education and the Heritage Project. Her charge is to create a program that will help carry on the mission and heritage of Siena Heights—as well as the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

“When I got the call from Sister Peg, I was actually involved in discerning my next step in ministry,” said Jones, who had an “eclectic” career as a teacher and in the automotive industry before becoming an Adrian Dominican 10 years ago. “It was a delight, because when I read through what her desire for the position was, it really allowed me to use a lot of the gifts and skills I had created and learned over the years.”

Jones, a Detroit-area native, was a former high school math teacher before she was eventually hired by the Ford Motor Co. as a program planner/trainer. One of her tasks was helping experienced line workers make the transition to using technology in the workplace. She designed a program “from where they were to where they needed to be.”

However, during her time at Ford, she said she felt called to do something else. That “something else” was becoming an Adrian Dominican Sister. And now, she is tasked to develop a program that will help SHU students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends keep the mission alive for generations to come.

“The mission is alive and well right now, but how do we keep it that way no matter who is sitting in the seats?” Jones said. “What can we put in place so the heritage continues?”

She is creating a three-level plan that will leverage technology to help people learn. Most of her materials are web-based, and include videos and other visual learning tools to help people through the program.

“If they have access through a web site, they are more than welcome to participate,” said Jones, who also is looking at developing a mobile app. “The goal is for me to have 15 or 20 of those little options that they can access through their phone to really further develop their understanding of the University community they know and love.”

She is also currently recruiting leadership to help drive the program. The final stage is having “torch bearers” who will not only become mission “experts,” but will also be able to be its teachers after completing a three-year commitment.

“We need to have folks who are really on fire with the whole heritage idea and what our mission is here,” said Jones, with the “fire” referencing the dream St. Dominic’s mother had at his birth that envisioned him as a “light of the Church.” “We want to find those folks and give them a special name ‘torch bearer.’ And when they are done … they become the teacher, not just the torch bearer.”

Jones is targeting a January 2015 launch of the full program.

While the primary goal is to have current SHU students, faculty and staff experience and complete the program, she said having alumni participation is also a key element to its success. In fact, alumni who have stories or information about Siena’s heritage or who would like to host a heritage-related event are encouraged to contact her.

“Some of it is already working, and it’s exciting,” Jones said. “I look forward to people asking questions, because the more questions you get, the more interest there is.”

To learn more about the Heritage Project, contact Jones at or 517-264-7105.

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