Margarita Solis-Deal has served as director of Dominican Center at Marywood since May 2015. She is daily inspired by the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids and is blessed by the village that contributes to advancing the mission of Dominican Center. She remains spiritually hopeful and is grounded in her belief in a loving God that surpasses all understanding.
One of Margarita's spiritual inspirations is Jean Donovan, one of the four churchwomen murdered by the Salvadoran military in 1980 during that country’s vicious civil war. Her short-lived life was guided by a calling she felt a strong need to answer. Her zeal for the people she met in El Salvador and her commitment as a laywoman to join the Cleveland Diocese mission team, inspired Margarita when she heard of Jean's story as a 20-year old. Being from northern Ohio, Jean Donovan's story moved quickly through the Cleveland Diocese. Her story in Ana Carrigan's book, Salvador Witness: The Life And Calling of Jean Donovan continues to inspire Margarita today.
Journeying and caring for her mother while Alzheimer's slowly overshadowed her mother's mind and memories - yet, could never take her spirit.
Early morning prayers, morning coffee, photographing beauty, immersion experiences into diverse cultures, walks that feel like workouts. and just being with her husband, Darryl Deal.
The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela, edited by Sahm Venter
Diane Zerfas, OP, is the coordinator for the Spirituality Center for Dominican Center at Marywood, and is deeply involved in the center's Spiritual Formation programs through the planning and teaching of Foundations in Spirituality, Spiritual Companioning, and Spiritual Direction Practicum. She holds bachelor's degrees in math, chemistry, theology, and education from Aquinas College; master's degrees in Arts in Religious Studies and in Pastoral Studies; a Specialized Certificate in Parish Life and Administration; and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction. Sr. Diane has ministered in many ways, including teaching high school as well as serving as formation director for Grand Rapids Dominicans, initiation and evangelization director at St. Mary Magdalen in Kentwood, Diocesan director of RCIA for the Diocese of Grand Rapids, co-director of Pastoral Life at Marywood, and leadership team member for the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids.
Carmelita Switzer, OP, serves as a staff facilitator and presenter for Dominican Center at Marywood. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Religious Studies from Aquinas College and a Master of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies from Providence College. She completed Pastoral Studies with an emphasis in Formation Studies at Aquinas Institute on the campus of St. Louis University. Her ministries include teaching, pastoral ministry in a parish setting, and pastoral administration in a parish that had no priest. She has also spent time in ministry on behalf of the Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters as director of formation and as co-director of Pastoral Life for the Marywood Campus. Coming from a rural farm community background she loves Michigan’s many lakes and natural beauty and God’s creatures large and small. Study of spirituality and living an integrated contemplative and active lifestyle have been long-time interests and priorities.
Ann Walters, OP, earned her master’s degree in Christian spirituality from Creighton University. Sr. Ann is active in leading adult faith formation classes, workshops, and seminars; preaching at and directing retreats; and providing spiritual direction. Her past work includes serving as co-director of Collaborative Dominican Novitiate of the United States Dominican Women’s Congregations; director of formation for Grand Rapids Dominicans; and elementary and high school education administration. She has also been active in inner-city ministries in Detroit; Chicago; rural northern Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; and Gusau, Nigeria, West Africa.
I am working toward my bachelor’s in business administration at Aquinas College.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work at Dominican Center for 11 years now.
Finding quiet, still moments to process life and escape into silence.
I try to live out the values of the Sisters both in my professional and personal life: dignity, service, stewardship, collaboration, hospitality, inclusion, and learning.
It changes often, but right now it is “we rise by lifting others.”
Amanda Dobson is the associate coordinator for the Foundations in Spirituality Program and is a member of the Formation Team at Dominican Center. Amanda is a 2019 graduate of Richard Rohr's Living School (Albuquerque, New Mexico), a spiritual director, wife, and mother of three.
Cindy Warner came to the Dominican Center in February 2020 as a program intern and now serves as virtual program developer and designer. Dominican Center has always held a sacred space in Cindy's heart and is a place she considers “home.”
Cindy has more than 12 years of experience in the book publishing industry where she worked as a sales representative. She also works with a local high school assisting students with testing, work permits, job shadows, and educational development plans. In 2019, after many years away, Cindy returned to Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree and to follow a new path. Her passions include studying the mystics, learning about transformation, and reading all the books from the Dominican Center Bookstore.
Cindy lives in Jenison, Michigan, with her husband, three children, and dog.
Mindy Hills is a spiritual director and assists with retreat coordination at Dominican Center. For her directees, she holds a grace-filled space so they can deepen their awareness of how God illuminates their faith journeys. Mindy is attuned with spiritual wisdom and loving intentions to walk with others. She believes when we connect with our inner light, we renew our sense of joy, thereby empowering our soul's purpose to reveal itself. Mindy's experience also includes working as both a respiratory and physical therapist, which allows her to lead with a compassionate heart for enhancing wellness.
For 25+ years, Sandra Mitchell served as a writer and marketer for corporate healthcare, higher education, nonprofits, and small business. Now that she's an independent writer and marketer, Sandra finds she's most gratified when collaborating with those who nurture heart-centered wellness practices, ministries, nonprofits, and solo entrepreneurships. Specific experience includes designing and managing websites and blogs; writing content for online and print publication; designing print materials; leading social media efforts and paid search campaigns; and much more. Sandra's degree is a bachelor of arts in English from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Combining her coaching background with her experience as a creative, it’s Sandra's honor to provide creativity coaching as well as facilitate writing circles. It’s always her intention to hold a safe space for clients and fellow creatives to explore, make sense of, and find freedom from that which may be holding them back from fully
stepping into their creative gifts.
Amy Young is a licensed clinical social worker and provides a holistic approach to counseling through her private practice in Hastings, Michigan. She is also a singer/songwriter performing throughout Michigan with the band Daves at 7. Amy has been married to Bruce for 33 years; they have two kids, three grandkids, and two dogs.
In addition to serving as a volunteer crisis counselor, Brian McCourt is a certified spiritual director with the Kaufman Interfaith Institute serving the Grand Rapids interfaith community. He is passionate about helping people become aware of their inner journey, which includes healing, wholeness, unity, and action.
The work around Brian's Spiritual Belonging program builds on the need for a more practical and accessible approach to spirituality, which includes providing people with tools and experiences through group work. While a contemplative at heart, he believes that our journey eventually needs to move to a place of serving others with an emphasis on justice and equity. After all, if the extent of one's spiritual journey is limited to their own healing and connection with the divine, then there is a missed opportunity to pour our important work into helping others.
Brian has lived, worked, and traveled overseas extensively, including various faith pilgrimages. His passion for social justice includes work done in Sudan, Rwanda, and Guatemala. When he is not working with Dominican Center at Marywood and Kaufman Interfaith Institute, he manages a team of architects for Steelcase, where he has worked for 25 years. Brian holds a master's degree in contract law, served on many boards, and is committed to helping to address systemic racism in this country.
Erin Skidmore is the good food systems director at Access of West Michigan, where she has worked since 2017. Erin supports Access’ Good Food Systems initiatives with the goal of cultivating a just and equitable food system for all. Erin's journey with food has been wide as she has dabbled both in culinary and farm work. She values opportunities for learning and growth that have been a part of her food and life journey and appreciates the wonderful people doing this challenging, but beautiful work.
Esther Yff-Prins listens to sacred stories in spiritual direction and mentors aspiring spiritual directors. She writes poetry and lives an intentional, contemplative life.
Liz Collver has worked at the Versiti Blood Center of Michigan since July 2019 as an account representative. Her role is to connect with the Grand Rapids and Wyoming community to find sites to host mobile blood drives and educate about the constant need for blood donation in our local community. Before working at Versiti, Liz worked in higher education for 10 years as an administrator and faculty member. A constant thread in her career has been building relationships to bring about positive change, and she feels blessed to do this type of work each day.
Lorilyn Wiering is a soul care practitioner who is passionate about facilitating spiritual freedom rooted in Original Blessing, the acknowledgment that we are made in the image and likeness of God and pronounced to be not only good, but very good. She believes that this Original Blessing finds expression through Open Mind, Open Heart, and Open Will. Trained as a teacher, spiritual director, and Enneagram practitioner, Lorilyn is at ease speaking boldly and listening deeply, always drawing on her commitment to the nurture of her own and others' Open Mind, Open Heart, and Open Will.
An avid gardener, she comes alive in the presence of Nature’s rhythms, recognizing, honoring, and nurturing self and others in seasons of growth, fullness, loss, death, rest, and rebirth. She is married to Vernon, her husband of more than 28 years, and is mom to their three children, Madeleine, Basil, and Reuben.
Matthew J. Laidlaw is a student, teacher, pastor, author, and spiritual director. Matthew is the director and lead teacher of Open Circle, an "inclusively-Christian" spiritual community in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is an ordained minister and has served in executive and administrative leadership while working in both school- and church-based pastoral ministry for the past 15 years. Matthew is a graduate of Kuyper College, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and the Living School for Action and Contemplation. He has also lived in the Middle East, studying at both Jerusalem University College and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Matthew and his wife, Stephanie, live in West Michigan with their two young children. You can find out more about Matthew at matthewlaidlaw.com.