A Better World Begins With You and Me

Blog by Associate Colette Parker, OPA – Co-Director

When I saw the photo of a smiling 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen, my heart cried.

When I saw her bereaved mother, tears flowed down my face.

I was overcome with agony, grief and empathy.

In Nabra, I saw my daughter.

In her mother, I saw myself.

I cried out: “My God! Help this mother! Help her family!”

Nabra’s death is frustratingly tragic: she was beaten and killed early Father’s Day morning as she walked with a group of friends back to her Virginia mosque, after gathering at a nearby restaurant for suhoor (the meal Muslims share before beginning their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan).

According to published reports, Nabra and her friends were walking and riding bicycles – some were on the sidewalk and others were in the road – when an angry motorist drove up behind them and began arguing with a teen on a bike. The motorist drove his car over a curb, scattering the teens. In a nearby parking lot, he got out of his car and gave chase with a baseball bat. When the friends regrouped, they realized that Nabra was missing.

The motorist reportedly caught Nabra, struck her with the bat, placed her in his car and drove away. Her body was found hours later in a man-made pond a few miles away.

Police are describing Nabra’s death as an incident of road rage that escalated into deadly violence. Some, including her parents, are voicing skepticism and asking authorities to investigate Nabra’s murder as a possible hate crime (she was reportedly wearing an abaya and hijab).

Whether it was a hate crime or road rage, Nabra’s tragic death has raised unsettling questions about the role of Islamophobia in our society and whether we are seriously committed to doing something about it.

In a time when racially and religiously motivated tensions have fueled a dramatic increase in hate crimes, those of us who are committed to justice, equality and equity must step up, speak out, and take action to do what we can to end Islamophobia. (Statistics show that discrimination and bigotry against American Muslims is worse today than in the months following 9/11. FBI hate crime data shows a surge in the number of hate crimes nationwide, with attacks against Muslims increasing the most sharply).

We must refrain from and reject hateful rhetoric.

We must educate ourselves to gain a better understanding of our Muslim brothers and sisters and to distinguish the differences between culture and religion.

We must speak out against Islamophobia and stand in solidarity with people of the Islamic faith.

We must embrace our Muslim brothers and sisters.

We must recognize that Islamophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia all are fruits of the same tree of hate.

We must actively engage in re-framing the narrative to prevent more Islamophobia.

I believe that there are enough people of goodwill in the world to make things better – like the thousands of people
who participated in vigils nationwide and poured into the Virginia mosque to pay respects to Nabra and support her family.

Now is the time to make our world a better place!

“…violence is destroying us. You know, we’re seeing violence growing every day in our streets, in our homes, in our towns, in our cities, in the world itself. Everywhere we turn, we see violence and hate and prejudice and anger and all of these negative emotions that are destroying humanity. And we have to wake up and take note of this and try to change our course, so that we can create a world of peace and harmony….”
— Arun Gandhi

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Finding Inspiration

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

How do you find inspiration when you need to uplift your spirits? Do you listen to music, read a book, take a walk in a nearby park, create artwork, do journal writing, cook, or indulge in some other activity?  My three favorite ways of finding inspiration are music, writing, and reading.  I’d love to hear what your source of inspiration is for weathering the peaks and valleys in life.  But, for now, let’s explore some author names and book titles that you might add to your collection of inspirational works.

A Google search for “inspirational authors” will give you such focused lists such as:

I was pleased to see that these lists identified both male and female authors who are from different cultures, ethnicities, and generations.  During my growing up years, male authors dominated the readership of inspirational works from Dale Carnegie to Norman Vincent Peale and from Og Mandino to  Zig Ziglar.  Several of Og Mandino’s fictional works top my list of favorite inspirational readings—The God Memorandum, The Greatest Miracle in the World, and The Return of the Ragpicker.  Mandino’s storytelling style leaves you wondering if his characters are fictional or real as he takes you on a journey of discovery about the meaning of life and hope.

If you’re looking for contemporary authors who write inspirational fiction or poetry, you can turn to works by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Maya Angelou, Stephen Covey, Toni Morrison, and Anthony Robbins, to name just a few.  Or, check out this link to 23 Contemporary Writers You Should Have Read by Now or click here to browse through a list of popular inspirational books.  Among some of the popular inspirational titles are Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, The Help by Katherine Stockett, Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss,  Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, and more.

If you’ve read any of these popular works, you’ll recognize that inspirational works appear in children’s and adult books from picture books to biographies, memoirs, and fiction and nonfiction writings.  You’ll read about light-hearted stories to stories about despair to overcoming hardships and positive thinking.  Inspiration can come from many sources and can transport us to many places and unfamiliar worlds.  Often inspirational works are transforming, expanding the lens by which we view the world, increasing our understanding of other perspectives and beliefs, and making positive changes in our own lives.

So, who are the authors whose works have inspired you and touched a deep place in your heart?  What life lessons have you learned from reading books?

Many life lessons appear in one of the most ancient of books, the Bible, and in the teachings of Jesus.  Have you been transformed by your reading of biblical passages?  Do you want to be immersed in a community whose life flows from contemplation and is embodied in a life of prayer, study, community, and ministry?  If so, contact one of our Vocation Ministers to learn more about discerning religious life with the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Sister Rose Miller

Sister Rose Miller, OP

Dominican Sister of Peace Rose Miller, OP, (Sister Rosaire), 91, died on June 11 at the Regina Health Center, Richfield, OH. She was born in 1925 in Akron, OH, the youngest daughter of Fred and Margaret (Lang) Miller.

She entered the Sisters of St. Dominic of Akron, Ohio, now Dominican Sisters of Peace, in 1945, and made her first profession in 1947. Her classmates at the Sisters of St. Dominic referred to her as “Mother” because she worked for two years before entering the order – a rarity in those days.

Sr. Rose earned her Bachelors of Science in Education from Saint John College in Cleveland, OH. She served as both a teacher and a principal in the Cleveland and Youngtown diocesan schools, working with young people from pre-school to college in her 25 years of teaching. She was also involved with a summer camp for children with special needs in the area.

In 1972, Sr. Rose began a new ministry at Saint Thomas Hospital, serving as a receptionist and clerk. Her gentle manner helped put patients and visitors at ease in the sometimes stressful hospital environment. She also served as the secretary at St. Vincent Elementary School, Our Lady of the Elms Preschool and Special Education School. She was a well-known bargain hunter when she served as portress and shopper for the Infirmary at the Elms.

In her memorial, Sister Diana Culbertson joked that Sr. Rose moved so often that she probably never had to unpack. But, she noted, “She was moved so often – not because she couldn’t get along with others, but because she got along with everybody.”

When seeking permission to renew her vows, Sr. Rose wrote:  “It is my firm intention to give the rest of my life to the service of God in our community.”  That is exactly what she did, as she served her Community through presence and prayer until the end of her life.

Sr. Rose was preceded in death by her parents and her brothers, John, Joseph and Paul; and sisters, Sister Agatha, Elizabeth Vorhies, Catherine Wahl and Anna Sorg. She is survived by several nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.

A Vigil of Remembrance and the Mass of Christian Burial were held on June 15 at the Dominican Sisters of Peace Motherhouse in Akron, OH. She was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Akron.

Memorial gifts in Sr. Rose’s memory may be submitted securely online or sent to:
The Dominican Sisters of Peace
Office of Mission Advancement
2320 Airport Drive
Columbus, OH 43219.

Posted in News, Obituaries

Sister Ruth Schirtzinger, OP

Sister Ruth Schirtzinger, OP

Dominican Sister of Peace Ruth Schirtzinger, OP, (Sister Margaret Marie), (73), died peacefully at her home in Columbus, OH on June 6, 2017.  Born on April 16, 1944, to David and Alice (Maloney) Schirtzinger of Columbus, OH, Sr. Ruth entered the Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs, now the Dominican Sisters of Peace, in 1963.

Sr. Ruth earned a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Education from Ohio Dominican (Columbus, OH) and Marygrove College (Detroit, MI) respectively. She taught kindergarten and primary school in several central Ohio cities and served as a school administrator as well. Both her fellow teachers and her students spoke of her classroom being a place of laughter because she believed that learning should be fun.

Perhaps because she was part of a large family of eight siblings, Sr. Ruth was a born caretaker. Because of this, she returned to school and received her Bachelor of Science in from Ohio Wesleyan University (Delaware, OH). In her new ministry at Riverside Hospital in Columbus, OH, she served on the Vascular Thoracic Unit. In speaking at the occasion of her golden jubilee, Sr. Ruth said, “My patients are often scared and apprehensive. The simple prayer I can offer patient and family before surgery seems to mean so much.”

Sr. Ruth was also a volunteer at Kobacher Hospice (Columbus, OH), where she was honored in 2007 with the Compassionate Care Award. Both patients and staff recognized her for her “continued expertise, motivation, and her caring manner.”

Sr. Ruth was a person of great joy – and she shared that joy with her Sisters, her family, and her friends. She loved spending time with her family at their retreat in Michigan – both for the fellowship and for the opportunity to be close to nature. She enjoyed watching the birds and animals and took great pleasure in tending to her garden.

Sr. Ruth was preceded in death by her parents, her brother, Philip Schirtzinger, and nephew Stephen Marshall. She is survived by her brothers and sisters, Robert, Rosemary, Patricia, Margaret, Marie, and Edward; numerous nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews; many cousins, aunts and uncle.

A Vigil of Remembrance and the Mass of Christian Burial were held on June 13, 2017, at the Dominican Sisters of Peace Motherhouse in Columbus, OH. Burial was at St. Joseph Cemetery in Columbus, OH.

Memorial gifts in Sister Ruth Schirtzinger’s memory may be submitted securely online or sent to:
The Dominican Sisters of Peace
Office of Mission Advancement
2320 Airport Drive
Columbus, OH, 43219

Posted in News, Obituaries

Sr. Marie Martha Turowski

Sister Marie Martha Turowski, OP

Dominican Sister of Peace Marie Martha Turowski, OP, (94), died on June 4, 2017, at the Sansbury Care Center, St. Catharine, KY. A native of Philadelphia, Sr. Marie Martha was the eldest child of Martha and Raymond Turowski and had two brothers and two sisters.

She was born in 1923 and entered the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de’ Ricci, now the Dominican Sisters of Peace, in 1946. She graduated from the St. Bartholomew Commercial School (Philadelphia, PA) in 1940 and earned her certificate to teach CCD in 1962.

Sr. Marie Martha, best known as simply “Marie,” spent the majority of her religious life in the place where her own vocation began – the Dominican Retreat House in Elkins Park, PA. She became a Dominican Sister after attending a retreat at the House in 1945 and truly enjoyed welcoming others to both the retreat house and to a deeper relationship with God.  She also served in New York, Florida, and New Mexico.

In her memorial at the Funeral Mass, Sr. Patricia Moran remembered Sister Marie’s love of and gift for food. She lovingly prepared meals for more than 100 retreatants every weekend at Elkins Park, making cooking and baking both her art and her ministry. She once joked of her beloved friend and study companion, Sister Ruth Elsner, that “Ruth feeds the mind and I feed the stomach.” No one ever left Sister Marie’s table unsatisfied.

She moved to the Dominican Sisters of Peace Care Center in St. Catharine, KY, in 2013, where she enjoyed a life of prayer and companionship with her sisters.

Sr. Marie Martha was preceded in death by her parents, two of her brothers and one sister. She is survived by her sister, Eleanor Foley, and several nieces and nephews.

A Vigil of Remembrance and Funeral Mass were held on Thursday, June 15 at the Sansbury Care Center Chapel. Burial was at the St. Catharine Motherhouse cemetery.

Memorial gifts in Sr. Marie Martha Turowski’s memory may be submitted securely online or sent to:
The Dominican Sisters of Peace
Office of Mission Advancement
2320 Airport Drive
Columbus, OH 43219

Posted in News, Obituaries