A New Candidate of the Dominican Sisters of Peace
With great joy we received Ellen Coates as a candidate into our Congregation on Sunday, February 19, 2017. This Welcoming Ceremony was held in the St. Catherine of Siena Chapel at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT. More than 40 Sisters, family and friends were in attendance (check out the event on Facebook!).
Over the past two years, I have walked with Ellen as she discerned God’s call to religious life. Celebrated in the context of Evening prayer, the service follows a flow of hymns, psalms, scripture, intercessions, along with the formal request of the candidate to enter our congregation. We, the Sisters, then affirm that we will walk with, encourage and guide her on this journey.
I had the great privilege of offering a reflection on the scripture readings chosen for this occasion. They were from Luke and Revelations and each had the theme of seeking, knocking and asking. I shared how these readings, God’s Word, intersected with Ellen’s life and candidacy.
I would like to share with you my preaching from this ceremony.
A Preaching by Sr. June Fitzgerald
Breaking open the Word of God – these two readings – we reflect on the Gospel of Luke 11:9-10 and Revelations 3:20-21, 22. What is it that God wants us to hear? What does God want us to take away from this moment?
I read them, prayed with them, savored them and I listened…
with my ears and also with the ear of my heart…
to the Spirit of God
and asked what is it you want us to hear?
And as I let the Word sink deeply
Instructions for the journey
The journey of one who seeks with open eyes and open heart…
We read from the Gospel of Luke 11:9-10
“So I say to you,
Ask, and it will be given you;
search, and you will find;
knock, and the door will be opened for you.
For everyone who asks receives,
and everyone who searches finds,
and for everyone who knocks,
the door will be opened.
This is what Ellen has been doing for many years – especially most intently over the last few years as she has listened to God’s whisper of an invitation.
…As she listened – it became louder and then so loud she could no longer push it aside –
And she reached out…
She Asked? What? Who? Me? Now?
An amazing call for anyone…but now God?
She went on Retreat
She began to speak to others about this…
Then she was drawn in…
By a single word – but not just a single word –
A way of being
She was drawn in by Peace –
To Be Peace
To Preach Peace
To Build Peace…
These words resonated in her heart and she heard God calling her to embrace Peace.
Called to be part of something larger, something elusive, and yet something that is one of the World’s Greatest Needs…Peace.
Ellen once shared with me that it was as if her entire life has prepared her for this…This call to Peace…
Her faith, education, travels, jobs, relationships, reaching out to the most vulnerable – women and children – those who do not have advocate – leadership training, mentoring, problem solving. Getting in touch with her deepest self…
God was leading – at times she didn’t even know she was on the path – and yet she was. And so she is here with us today – embarking on this next step of her journey.
It is a journey that women and men have been setting out upon since the time of the early Christians who went out into the desert to dedicate their lives completely to prayer, meditation on the Word of God, and ascetic practices.
Then, over 800 years ago Domingo de Guzman – or as we know him today – St. Dominic began to preach and to teach the people of God the Truth of God’s Word. He assembled a band of preachers to do this in the countryside of France. In 1206 he first established a monastery of women – who became the first Dominican Nuns. This monastery still exists to this day.
In 1216 the Dominican Order, or as we are commonly known the “Order of Preachers,” was officially recognized by the Church.
As Dominicans, we are all called to preach the Word of God in our lives, our community witness, and if necessary with our words.
Indeed, we are living witnesses to the fact that God continues to call women to vowed membership within the Order of Preachers for the sake of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Today we are gathered to officially welcome Ellen as a Candidate into our congregation. In a few minutes we will hear Ellen ask to “live as a candidate with the Dominican Sisters of Peace, to learn what it is to be a Dominican, and to continue to answer God’s call.” To continue to ask, seek and to knock.
This is the first step in a long process of formation in becoming a Dominican Sister. She will join with us in daily prayer, study, community, and ministry and around the Eucharistic table where we are nourished with the Body of Christ – so that we may become the hands and feet of Christ to all we encounter daily.
As a congregation we have dedicated ourselves to building, preaching and being peace. Ellen has been called to explore this life with us in community.
Part of our daily commitment is to pray for peace.
I would like to close here with a prayer that we pray daily. It is a prayer for Peace that our Sr. Theresa Tuite wrote. Let us reflect on this prayer together and may it become part of who we are and strive to be.
Prayer for Peace
Ever Creating God,
Still Point of Eternal Peace,
stir up within us
that all may be one.
Free us to be instruments of your peace.
Jesus, Word birthed from creative love,
Word spoken and broken,
Unending Word of Peace,
enable us to be
Preachers of that Word,
bearers of the message of your peace.
Holy Spirit of Unfolding Peace,
Breath of God’s Love,
enkindle in us the desire
to be embers of your peace
with a passion
that will set the world on fire.