800th Jubilee of the Order of Preachers
After eight centuries, Dominican life is still fresh and new. This freshness is reflected in the words of a new candidate to religious life, Ana Gonzalez: “I love the joy I find in my Sisters living the Dominican life,” Ana said. “I love the way they rejoice in God’s gifts. And I appreciate the opportunity to be in an environment that keeps me grounded on my priority – God! When you approach one of the Sisters, be prepared to be blown away by the amazing work she is doing in the name of God to empower others.” New candidate Margaret Uche, who lives with Ana, added, “The Dominican Sisters have love and compassion for those they serve. Young people will find nothing but joy in this community.”
This November, the Order of Preachers, to which the Dominican Sisters of Peace belong, began a year-long celebration of 800 years since its oﬃcial approval by Rome. However, the story begins even earlier.
The inspired preacher Dominic, 810 years ago, converted a small group of women in France from their heretical beliefs and then heeded their plea to find them a place where they could live together. These women became the contemplative Dominican community of Prouilhe, France, a foundation that still exists. Ten years later Pope Honorius III oﬃcially approved the Order of Preachers (the priests and brothers).
Three centuries ago in France the first congregation of Dominican women who lived an “active” life was founded. These women cared for the poor and educated children, meeting the urgent needs of their day. Their congregation still exists today.
Many saints whose names we recognize – Catherine of Siena, Rosa de Lima, Martin de Porres, Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas – and others have been inspired by the mandate given to Dominic: “Go and preach because you have been chosen by God for this ministry.”
Preaching takes many forms but is always grounded in the person of Jesus and the message of God’s love. The Dominican Sisters of Peace preach through teaching, health care, ministry in parishes and spirituality centers, ecology centers and working with immigrants and refugees.
“As a Dominican Sister of Peace I continually seek to study and take action to share the good news of God’s love, justice and mercy for all, including Earth,” Sr. Cathy Arnold, OP, says. “New insights and new approaches come when we center our lives in love and contemplation. I have great hopes for us and for all humanity, creatures and Earth for the next 800 years.”
The Dominican Sisters of Peace minister today in 26 states and three other countries responding to the diverse needs of our times. Dominicans teach in schools and universities, work in healthcare, minister with immigrants and refugees, care for Earth, preach in the pulpit or through the internet and engage in countless other ministries. And always they remember the example of Dominic who preached the Word of God to all he met and sought to reconcile sinners to God.
Dominican Sisters preach through our eﬀorts to make the world more peaceful. “As a Dominican Sister of Peace I believe that I am called to be the peace I hope to see in the world,” Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP, said. “I long for the day when constructive and respectful dialog is the norm and peacemaking and peacebuilding skills are taught and practiced in our schools, homes and churches.”
After 800 years, the Dominican Sisters of Peace look to the future with hope. “When I look at the future, I see the great hope and promise that is energizing our Church today in the messages and actions of Pope Francis and in the continued committed actions of today’s women religious,” said Sr. Pat Dual, OP. “I encourage people to learn more about how the Dominican Sisters of Peace serve the Church and address the needs of our time while working to eﬀect systemic change toward more social, economic and environmental justice. Go to our website! Read our blogs! Volunteer with us! You will experience the sense of joy that is evident in our lives as we minister and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and action.”