Today I am going to the Vatican

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

By the time you read this blog, Sr. Pat Dual and I will have landed in Rome and will be on our way to Convento Santa Sabina, the Motherhouse of the Dominican Order, where we will stay while attending a Congress on Vocational Discernment at the Vatican.

I am so excited!

I’ve been to Rome once before – as a pilgrim following in the footsteps of Dominic, where we traveled from his place of birth to where he ministered throughout France, Italy and to Rome where he founded the convent in which we will be staying.

Our Pope really stirs things up.

Santa Sabina

Our Pope can really get people moving.  Since he was elected he has been creating new ways of being and doing his ministry as the head of the Roman Catholic Church.  The meeting we will be attending came about when Francis called a Synod (meeting) of Bishops to focus on “Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment.”  In this meeting, those of us in Vocation Ministry will share our reality, hopes and efforts to invite young people to seriously consider what God’s call is in their lives.  The results of our meeting will be shared with the Synod next fall.

He wants to smell like the sheep.

Pope Francis really wants to know what youth and young adults experience in the church, how they desire to be more active in it and how together we can grow our church into the future.   He wants to get to know them personally and as a group.  Thus, youth and young adults will be gathering in Rome early next spring to share their experiences, hopes and dreams.  I can imagine Francis anticipating that meeting with much joy and perhaps he is even saying, “I am so excited.”

We are excited and honored to participate in this program and we will be keeping all those who are discerning God’s call in their lives close in our hearts and prayers this week.  We’ll be back soon, so if you’d like to start a conversation about a call to religious life, just drop us a line and we’ll be happy to walk with you on this amazing journey of discernment.

Posted in God Calling?, News

How I Learned About Prayer From a Most Unlikely Source

Sr. Elaine DesRosiers, OP

I want to share how I learned about prayer from a most unlikely source – a little Calico kitten.
A kitten, you ask? Yes, when I was living in Indiana, little Calie came to stay with me when her folks went away.

My first lesson from Instructor Calie began on the afternoon I decided to stretch out on my bed to relax and to pray. “How good it is to be with You. How good it is to be with You” was my mantra, repeated over and over in God’s presence. While I was doing this, the kitty jumped up and placed herself on my belly. Her deep purring felt that she was saying to me, “How good it is to be with you. How good it is to be with you.” I felt sheer joy at her reaching out to me. It occurred to me that God might be just as pleased with me when I place myself in the Almighty Presence and purr, “How good it is to be with You. How good it is to be with You.”  The kitten had taught me a lesson in contemplative prayer.

Through little Calie I learned something else about the Presence of God – about God’s being present to me, and I to God. I was conscious of Calie’s presence at all times, especially when she was sitting in my lap, purring (praying?) When she was silent, or in another room, or otherwise not making her presence known to me, I was even more conscious of her presence. On the other hand, this little bundle of fluff was giving me the example of choosing to be in God’s presence. Most of the time, if I moved to another room, she’d be there before I could set foot across the threshold! She wanted to be in my presence! If I left the house, she was right there at the door waiting for me to return. God is ever present to me, and I to God. As a wise person once asked, “If God seems far away, who do you think moved?”

The little kitty also led me to understand prayer of petition. Was not Calie petitioning me when she constantly plagued me for scraps of food whenever I was eating? Wasn’t she acknowledging her need and desires, making them clear to me? Did I answer her prayer?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes maybe, depending what the food was. Was it something I knew was not good for her? If so, I did not give it to her. Or I might delay and give it to her later. Did she understand this behavior on my part? Probably no more than I do when my prayer of petition is apparently unanswered, or answered in a way I did not expect.

We had truly bonded, this little kitty and I. I perceived that she was treating me as her god and provider. And I experienced what I think was unconditional love for this little creature.

Yes, the little kitty taught me a lot about prayer.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

COP23: Dialogue for the Common Good

Blog by Justice Promoter Kelly Litt

As Dominicans, we preach through our words and actions using a style of collaboration and constructive dialogue called disputatio. Disputatio allows us to engage in honest conversation with others, entering the space with respect and honesty in order to learn from one another and share our Gospel values.

Recently, I learned of the tradition of Talanoa practiced in Fiji and other Pacific Island societies. Talanoa is similar to disputatio in that it is a way to engage in dialogue in a transparent, honest, and respectful way. The foundation of Talanoa is to tell stories by sharing hearts and giving space to all participants.

While this is a beautiful tradition and a great way to engage with those we interact with, I was pleasantly surprised to hear this was the foundation for dialogue the United Nations was using at the 23rd Conference of the Parities to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP23 UNFCCC). COP23 was held in Bonn, Germany with Fiji presiding over the conference this year. For the last 23 years, parties of the UNFCCC have gathered to implement the framework and deal with climate change. You may recall that COP21 was held in Paris and resulted in the Paris Agreement.

This year, COP23 dealt with the technicalities of implementing and financing the Paris Agreement. Just in the last two months, Nicaragua and Syria have signed on to the Paris Agreement, leaving the United States as the only country not participating. While the withdrawal by the United States and the COP23 agenda of finances could have been a hindrance to progress, the tradition of Talanoa provided the space for all to express their needs and concerns frankly while being heard by others. This dialogue style focuses on the common good, which is crucial when discussing global climate change.

There is still a great deal of work to be done to curb climate change, and time is not on our side. Yet this COP23 convention gave glimmers of hope and, with the tradition of Talanoa, it brought countries of the world together to work together for the good of all. That’s positive news we can share!

Posted in News

One Drop at a Time

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

It’s a routine I have gratefully embraced since last June: every three weeks I dutifully show up at the cancer center, wait a few minutes until I’m called, then settle into an alcove next to others who are receiving various types of chemo. Equipped with a couple of pillows, a warm blanket, and a good book, I watch nurse Karen skillfully insert the needle into my good vein on my left arm and start a saline drip. A few minutes later she along

with another nurse as witness ask my name and birth-date before hooking up the clear packet of Herceptin, then for the next half hour while I enjoy reading my book or doze off in a cat nap, it painlessly flows into my body one drop at a time.

Yes, I am grateful to submit to this routine for a year in hopes that these Herceptin infusions, along with a tiny hormone suppressant pill taken daily will eradicate the cancer cells that may be hiding in my body. I image the clear liquid dripping steadily through the plastic tubing as bringing healing to me one drop at a time.

Last Saturday evening I saw the movie WONDER. It is about Auggi, who was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome. He had already suffered through several surgeries to address its symptoms and his face was very scarred and ‘abnormal’.  Home schooled by his mother, he was about to enter a public school for the first time in the fifth grade. As he bravely lived through the experience, the amazing person he was growing into was revealed bit by bit.  Unexpected acts of kindness opened up new friendships, and gradually Auggi’s presence influenced the whole school, one person at a time—like healing coming to them one drop at a time. If you have not seen it, go. It truly is a WONDER.

Last night on 60 Minutes, I rejoiced to learn about chef Jose Andres from an up-scale restaurant in California, who decided to use his skills to help feed the hungry people of Puerto Rico devastated by the hurricane. While FEMA stalled out by bureaucratic red tape, he simply began cooking hot meals and serving them to suffering people one meal at a time. As other cooks and volunteers joined him, the meals multiplied by the thousands, and even those who lost everything came forward to lend a hand to help prepare and deliver the hot meals to people in out-of-the-way places. That’s what it takes–one person at a time, one meal at a time.

I believe God’s power at work in us, living the Good News, preaching the Gospel “from the pulpit of our lives”—through deliberate acts of kindness, forgiveness and reconciliation, honest civil conversations, gratefulness, compassion, generosity, and loving service— bring healing to our broken world–one choice at a time, one drop at a time.

Perhaps our individual prayers and non-violent actions for peace may seem like next to nothing, hardly able to right the world’s wrongs. But joined with countless others striving to BE PEACE, BUILD PEACE, PREACH PEACE, things like hunger and maybe even war and every form of oppression can be conquered in our world.

One tiny snowflake weighs next to nothing, but millions of snowflakes landing one by one on the same roof can eventually become heavy enough to collapse it.


Posted in Associate Blog, News

Thanksgiving Again and Again and Again

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

I am having a hard time not using the usual clichés and trite expressions that have always surrounded Thanksgiving. Now, I could follow the liturgical calendar, where the readings are all about the end times and suggesting we had better be preparing.  Or I could go with the secular calendar which has had us thinking about Christmas since Labor Day. So how do we squeeze in this day in our lives.

Maybe it could just be consideration of this question. Is Thanksgiving a season of the year or a state of mind?

“Gratitude can transform

common days into Thanksgiving,

turn routine jobs into joy,

and change ordinary opportunities

into blessings”.

  1. A. Ward
Posted in News, Weekly Word