Introduction by Sister Amy McFrederick, OP: At our July 2016 Assembly in Columbus our Associates’ panel was asked to share ways they live out the commitments unanimously chosen by the Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates at our 2009 and 2015 Congregational Chapter Meetings held in St. Louis, MO. Associate Helen McKinley was asked to speak about our second commitment: Create environments of peace by promoting non-violence, unity in diversity, and reconciliation among ourselves, in the Church and throughout the world. The following is her presentation:
My name is Helen McKinley, and I have been a member of Journey of Hope Associate group for over ten years. I don’t know where I heard this or maybe I read it, but I believe Associates to the Dominicans are a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, and multi-cultural group who love Jesus and each other deeply. No matter the background, or how much money a person has, we have some of the same stories. We have something in common with the early followers of Jesus. Let’s use one of the apostles for an example. In the bible the story of the life of Judas tells us that he was a violent Jewish Nationalist that sold Jesus out for thirty pieces of silver. How many times have each of us done something that is displeasing to Our Father. In His word we are assured that Jesus loved Judas and all of us the same, no matter what we do or not do. When we look at others that are different from us and exclude them for the way they dress, the color of their skin, they don’t have a doctorate or not as much money/social standing then we are being exclusionary. Jesus’ walk on earth and ultimate death and resurrection, taught us that we are all imperfect. He provided us with a template for life. “Thank you, God.” As we journey through life we understand that life is better when done together.
In trying to use God’s template in my life and live out the charism of Dominican life three things that come to mind.
1) KAIROS: a prison ministry I was heavily involved in for over fifteen years. Now I try to get on the prayer chains for teams. This is a ministry giving incarcerated men and women a three day weekend that was modeled on the Cursillo program. Its intent is to feed their minds, stomachs and souls. There are several programs under the KAIROS umbrella because every prison is different. The goal is to let the residents know that they are loved. We don’t know what they have done to isolate themselves from society. We don’t need to know. In the prison our purpose is to.. Listen, Listen, Love, Love. Reminder to self: don’t be exclusionary.
2) Veterans: The needs in our Veteran Communities never end. There are so many that are homeless, living under bridges, hungry and in desperate need of socialization with people that are non- judgmental. My work with them runs from A – Z: Chillicothe veterans nursing home to give them ice cream once per month, monthly bingo, stocking food pantries, advocacy, holiday dinners, delivering food and spiritual materials to homeless. Reminder to self: don’t be exclusionary.
3) And last the Journey of Hope Associate group is blessed to be involved in a project giving communion to the residents at Mohun. They represent another population, our blessed seniors. Some are unable to attend Mass in the chapel because of their illness. We distribute communion to them every Saturday and the first and third Sundays of each month. All Associates living in Columbus are invited to share in this tremendous blessing. The enjoyment and spiritual fulfillment we receive is immeasurable. Again a reminder to self: don’t be exclusionary.
All Associates in ministry with Dominicans have an opportunity to be involved in living the four pillars of Dominican life is some way. Remember God does not call the perfect…God perfects the called.