Sister Angela Susalla, OP – 70 years
ADRIAN, Mich. – The Adrian Dominican Congregation celebrates the dedication and commitment of 44 Sisters who in 2021 mark their Jubilees, their milestone years of service and dedication to the church and the congregation. The 2021 Jubilee class includes one sister celebrating 80 years, 11 sisters celebrating 75 years; 14 sisters celebrating 70 years; 17 sisters celebrating 60 years; and one sister celebrating 25 years.
One Jubilarian, Sister Angela Susalla, OP, has connections to the Diocese of Jackson. Formerly known as Sister David Mary, she is celebrating 70 years of religious life.
A native of Detroit, Sister Angela served for more than 30 years at Catholic Social Services in Tunica, an agency of the Sacred Heart Southern Missions. She graduated from Rochester High School in Rochester, Michigan, in 1951 and entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation on June 24 of that year. She professed her first vows on December 27, 1952 and her perpetual vows on December 27, 1957.
Sister Angela earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1963 and a master’s degree in mixed science in 1970, both from Siena Heights College (now University) in Adrian.
After teaching in Detroit and Aiken, South Carolina, Sister Angela taught second grade at St. Mary in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, from 1961 to 1963 and eighth and ninth grade at Blessed Sacrament in Tallahassee from 1964 to 1965. From there, she moved on to teach in Grafton, West Virginia and West Palm Beach, Florida, until 1976.
That year, Sister Angela switched gears to pastoral ministry, serving as a pastoral worker and catechist at a parish in Eleuthera, Bahamas, for one year and as a pastoral worker for the Diocese of Memphis for five years.
After studying at Regis College in Toronto, Sister Angela began her long-time service in Catholic Social Services in Tunica, Mississippi, an agency of the Sacred Heart Southern Missions. As a pastoral minister at Catholic Social Services, she particularly remembers visiting an elderly man who was living alone in a dilapidated house. When, at her request, she read Psalm 51 to him, she remembers that both of them were in tears. “I will never forget praying with him and feeling the presence of God,” she said. “He died the next day. I’m sure God welcomed him.”
Retired since 2014, Sister Angela resides at the Dominican Life Center in Adrian and is involved in the ministry of prayer and presence.
“During my 70 years, I believe I have grown both professionally and spiritually because of being an Adrian Dominican Sister,” Sister Angela said. “The decision I made as a senior in high school was a blessing then and continues to be a blessing for me every day as I can still pray and serve our Sisters whenever I can.”
Sister Helen Strohman (M. Maurice) – 70 Years
DAVENPORT, Iowa – A native of Keswick, Iowa, Sister Helen Strohman was born in 1932, entered the Congregation of the Humility of Mary in 1951 and made her first vows in 1954.
Sister Helen received a BA in elementary education from Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa. She also attended St. Ambrose University in Davenport and Drake University in Des Moines.
Sister Helen’s ministry of teaching found her in Iowa at St. Alphonsus in in Davenport, St. Mary in Marshalltown, St. Mary and St. Patrick in Ottumwa, St. Donatus in St. Donatus, Assumption Grade School in Granger, Christ the King, St. Anthony and Holy Trinity in Des Moines. She also taught at St. Austin in Minneapolis and Sacred Heart in Camden, Mississippi. She was the director of the YES Program in Canton, Mississippi (1990) and a pastoral minister at St. Joseph Church in North English, Iowa. She was teacher and then director of the Rainbow Literacy Center (1994-2002) and worked for the MadCAAP educational program (2002-03) in Canton. Sister Helen taught in the Madison County Jail in Mississippi and helped create the volunteer program Seeds of Hope in Des Moines, Iowa.
Sister Helen currently lives in Canton and is on call for a storage facility. Her parish, Sacred Heart, is the home of two retired Irish priests where they celebrate the Eucharist together each day.
Sister Lael Niblick – 50 years
A native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Sister Lael Niblick first professed vows in 1971 for the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes, a community that promotes justice and builds community.
Sister Lael received a BS in education with minors in theology and science from Marian College in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. She also attended St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, receiving a Masters degree in religious education and youth ministry, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
In addition to her degrees, Sister Lael has received over 20 certifications. These include certifications and workshops in religious education, advanced scripture, alcohol and drug intervention for teens, prevention of child sexual abuse, satanic cult awareness, parish management, racism, prison reality, fundraising and even clown ministry.
Additionally, she spent time in Boliva on a Spanish immersion trip with the Maryknoll Institute in 1992; as well as spending time completing various spiritual and educational workshops in Honduras from 1993-1995 and Nicaragua from 1995-2009.
Sister Lael has served many ministries since 1967, including those in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; Bensenville, Illinois; La Ceiba, Honduras; and Bluefields, Nicaragua before serving in the Diocese of Jackson as a Lay Ecclesial Minister for St. Helen parish in Amory, Mississippi.
What affirms Sister Lael’s lifelong commitment as a vowed religious is living life as a journey. “Sometimes it is rocky, sometimes filled with wonder. Walking with others sharing the Gospel affirms my own call,” said Sister Lael. “Each day presents a new story and recommitment.”
She approaches each person with the gifts she has to share and believes the mission of Jesus is living the Gospel. “Sharing means both giving and receiving,” says Sister Lael. “Be open to the richness of diversity and build the Kingdom of God with the whole world and creation.”