Radically Open

Introduction by Sr. Amy McFrederick:

On this feast day of St. Dominic de Guzman, founder of the Order of Preachers, I wish all who are drawn to the Dominican charism and spirituality special blessings as we celebrate with gratitude and joy! In the spirit of Dominic whose love for the poor and marginalized led to the founding of the Dominicans 800 years ago, I am happy to share Associate Mary T. O’Connor’s presentation given during the Associates’ Panel at our Congregational Assembly. She was asked to share how she is living out this Chapter Commitment made by Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates, together in mission: Radically open to ongoing conversion into the peace of Christ, we commit ourselves to be women and men of peace who promote justice through solidarity with those who are marginalized, especially women and children, and work with others to identify and transform oppressive systems.

MaryT.OConnor.OPA
Blog by Associate Mary T. O’Connor

“Radically open” by Associate Mary T. O’Connor

Within a few months of moving to Akron four years ago, a young friend and I began attending daily morning Mass at St. Vincent’s. He was from a different faith background, and we would have great conversations on the way to Mass. I saw a small item in the bulletin about Dominican Associates and was drawn to make the phone call. Like so much of my life over the past ten years, I cannot explain the direction of my spiritual life, but it has radically altered my physical life. Being a Dominican Associate continues to be a place of challenge, growth, familiarity, safety, community, direction – a wonderful paradox for which I am deeply grateful.

The challenge of being radically open asks the impossible, but it is a challenge to be welcomed. In response to that challenge, I have completely discarded my remarks. And like almost all things that seem impossible, one only need be willing to consider an idea that seems fearful, threatening or overwhelming. God really does the rest. That is the best explanation I have for my presence in an intentional community in Summit Lake, Akron Ohio. It certainly wasn’t my idea! We are given a chance to really take the journey – and like any accomplishment, you do not get there by accident – I see that I was stepping into a way of living, into service, but for a long time it was only practice. Then one day you realize that you have become what you were practicing.

The architect part of me gives me a framework for the practice. It became an instrument for service. Sure, the result of the work of an Architect is important – the finished project. But that is but a moment in the life of whatever WE think is the finished project. It is the entire process – and every part of it is equally important for integrity and connection, and that is without end, constantly evolving and what gives a place its underlying spirit.

So if I say that everyone deserves good design, and I try to see what that means to live that – I am alive to the world around me at all times. I am a part of a much greater process – and I can do my part, imbue everything I do with what I call ‘good design’ – and know that this intention will bear fruit that I cannot know of. The work we do, whatever it is, does live after us. So what does all this mean in the context of social justice meets architecture? If I live in an intentional community in a challenged neighborhood, as I do, it means that the work we do in community needs to be for the community that lives there. We need to really see our neighbors and to throw out the ideas we have for what it COULD be and to see it for what it is, and what is good in it as it is. This is not to romance poverty! But over my own lifetime I have seen again and again how good intentions by professionals actually hurt those they were intended to serve. That the system is rigged towards a kind of development that benefits those who would make money on the development rather than what is best for the people already living there. So the entire setup – planners, funders, architects, builders – becomes a machine that feeds on poverty. My neighborhood is beautiful. Since I have been living there, I see how this house is changing the street, the feeling in the immediate area. It is a good thing, a safe place, an open door for all sorts of things that did not exist before. We may be the first house in the whole area who chose to live here, who wanted to live in this neighborhood instead of having no choice. That fact alone makes for a change – that this is a place that has value, such that someone can want to make it home.

Posted in News

Cleveland Cavs Revisited – What Does It Mean for You to Believe?

Blog by Sr. Cathy Arnold, OP
Blog by Sr. Cathy Arnold, OP

The night of the seventh and final game of the NBA Championships this year, I watched the short video that immediately preceded the game.  The video ended with the words – Believe, Believe, Believe.  As much as I wanted the Cavaliers to win, I questioned, does it really come down to believing?  But at halftime, I found myself saying the words, believe, believe, believe.  Now I’m not saying that Cleveland players and fans believed more than Golden State players and fans, but what stays with me is the word and action – believe.

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Posted in God Calling?, News

What Do You Take For Granted?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP
Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Well, look around. What DO you take for granted?  I’m just back from a mission trip to Kingston, Jamaica. It was a very eye opening, challenging and amazing experience.  Here are three things that I took for granted before going on this trip.

Sharp pencils.   In the Whitewing neighborhood, we volunteered at the summer school program of St. Pius Parish. I worked in the Learning Center where we did a math or English project each day.  We used pencils for our work but the pencils kept breaking.  Every time we would just get them sharp enough to use (with a small manual sharpener), they broke.  It was so frustrating!  I will never take a good sharpened pencil for granted again.  And one with a good eraser is definitely a blessing!

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Posted in Weekly Word

Stopping the “Honor Killings”

Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP
Blog by Sr. Judy Morris, OP

When 25 year-old Qundeel Baloch was murdered by her brother, Muhammad Weseen, Pakistan and the world took notice.  Baloch is one of 297 victims of “honor killings” this year alone according to the country’s Human Rights Commission.  She was a popular social media star who incurred the wrath of her brother by her free spirit.  Her brother’s response:  “Girls are born to stay home.”  In his opinion, she brought dishonor to her family.

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Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Journey of Hope

Blog by Associate Helen McKinley
Blog by Associate Helen McKinley

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.  Continue reading →

Posted in Associate Blog