Adrian Dominican Sister Margaret Mary (Agnes Carol) McGill, 97, died Jan. 27 in Adrian, Michigan.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, she was in the 78th year of her religious life.
She ministered in elementary and secondary education, as a college professor and department head, with the ministry of education and culture in Hungary, and as a paralegal.
In the Archdiocese of Chicago, she taught at Our Lady of Good Counsel (1946-1948).
Adrian Dominican Sister Patricia (Jean Edmund) Downey, 84, died Jan. 28 in Adrian, Michigan.
Born in Chicago, she was in the 66th year of her religious life.
Sister Patricia ministered in elementary and secondary education and educational administration in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. In the Archdiocese of Chicago, she was president of Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette (1988-1995).
She became a resident of the Dominican Life Center in 2010.
She is survived by a brother, Edmund Downey.
Adrian Dominican Sister John Norton (Catherine) Barrett, baptized Catherine Barrett, 98, died Feb. 7 in Adrian, Michigan.
Born in Detroit, she was in the 74th year of her religious life.
Sister John Norton ministered in elementary and secondary education for almost 68 years in Michigan, Illinois and Florida. She became a resident of the Dominican Life Center in Adrian in 2016.
In the Archdiocese of Chicago, she taught at St. Mary Mount Carmel (1952-1953) and St. Kilian (1953-1957).
Divine Word Father Derek Simons, 86, died at Techny on March 2.
Father Simons, an award-winning television producer and civil rights champion, used communication and video to promote dialogue among people of different cultural, religious and racial backgrounds.
Born in Swansea, Wales, in 1937 and raised in London, Father Simons served two years in the British Royal Air Force, studied law, worked in broadcasting at the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation in Wellington, and in advertising in Sydney.
Baptized Anglican, he converted to Catholicism after an unlikely encounter. As a young professional, he met Catholics at a party in New Zealand. He then began reading the works of Graham Greene and Cardinal John Henry Newman, accepted an invitation to a Good Friday service and then chose Catholicism.
He entered the Society of the Divine Word in 1964 and professed vows in 1966 in Roscommon, Ireland. Ordained to the priesthood in 1970, Father Simons was employed by the Archdiocese of Chicago as a producer-writer with the Catholic Television Network of Chicago. He produced more than 200 television and audiovisual programs for priests and parishes.
He also served as a creative consultant with Paulist Productions in Hollywood, California, on the Insight television series and after-school specials.
In the 1980s, Father Simons founded and served as executive producer of Ethnic Communications Outlet/Chicago (ECO), a creative production house devoted to the empowerment of various ethnic groups. Through his work with ECO, he collaborated with many notable professionals, including singer Marilyn McCoo, model Beverly Johnson, theologian Martin Marty, actress Helen Hayes and entertainer Steve Allen.
In addition to his work with ECO, he served as creative director for World Alive, a multimedia exhibit about missions at Divine Word International, which later became Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center.
The quality of his work continued to be noticed in the 1990s and beyond. In 1996, Father Simons received the Silver Dome Award by the Illinois Broadcasters Association and was tapped by ABC News/Nightline as part of a national resource team. He appeared on Nightline with Ted Koppel and co-hosted and produced “The Race Question” radio series on Chicago’s WLIT-FM.
In 2001, Father Simons established Angels Studio, an independent production house that developed and supported programs and resources to promote ethnic equality and understanding.
He also helped to found Catholic Schools Opposing Racism, a student/teacher organization that offered workshops and educational materials to more than 300 schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Ever-evolving projects continued into the new millennium. He launched the annual JustStories Festival. Begun in 2002, JustStories highlighted storytellers dedicated to social justice.
In 2010, Father Simons was awarded an Oracle Award from the National Storytelling Network for his service to the arts and community of professional storytelling. In 2014, he moved to Techny and continued his communication ministry.
In addition to his work in communication, Father Simons also served as a priest in two of Chicago’s oldest African American parishes, St. Elizabeth and St. Anselm, now merged into Our Lady of Africa.
Father Simons held a master’s degree in film from Columbia College in Chicago.
Adrian Dominican Sister Paul James (Lois Marie) Villemure, 94, died March 11 in Adrian, Michigan.
Born in Michigan, she was in the 74th year of her religious life.
She ministered in education in Puerto Rico, Illinois and Florida. She became a resident of the Dominican Life Center in Adrian in 2013.
In the Archdiocese of Chicago, she taught at Regina Dominican High School.
She is survived by brothers Joseph, Matthew, Thomas and Peter.