Since every era has its own set of crises, preaching is always in season. For the 413 participants in the Dominican Sisters Conference Convocation in Wheeling, IL, everything began and ended with preaching – and preaching the just word provided the challenge. It seemed that St. Paul’s words to Timothy were meant for each of us: “Preach when it is convenient or inconvenient.” In her preaching, Patricia Bruno, OP, asks: What is the grace we need to move forward – as Dominicans, as Christians, as citizens of the world?
The challenges in the 21st century are often complex, overpowering and divisive, and often we are called on to preach in a world that wants easy answers. I believe the grace we need is courage that enables us to “speak truth to power,” the courage of Dominic to face fierce foes, and to widen the circle of preaching. We need the courage of Catherine to move from the narrow confines for women of her era.
The beast that we meet head on is fear. Fear of failure, misunderstandings, sanctions, division that many before us have faced. The “culture of indifference” of which Pope Francis speaks is the ongoing challenge that was our focus in several workshops, including Care of the Earth, Human Trafficking, Migration, Women’s Issues, Poverty and Economics. The focus – where do we go from here?
We were aware of the tragedies happening outside of our building – nine students in Oregon gunned down and 22 civilians in an Afghan hospital killed by a US military air strike. The unfettered power of government and corporations provided more context for discussions.
In a moving finale, Sisters and Associates signed letters to leaders of the House and Senate and President Obama asking for support of the Paris 2015 agreements. This moving procession symbolized our continued effort to meet the needs of the time, preaching the just word at every opportunity.