Just Pray

Blog by Associate Peggy Frank

I recently heard an excellent homily that made me think of our Dominican Prayer Associates. It was the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord. The Gospel was the familiar reading from Luke in which the righteous man Simeon and the prophetess Anna both recognize the infant Jesus as the long-awaited Savior.

In his homily, the priest, Fr. Michael Lumpe, likened Simeon and Anna, who “never left the temple,” to today’s monastic sisters and brothers in convents and monasteries world-wide, who have committed their lives to prayer. Prayer, Father said, is not only important, it is urgently needed amid the turmoil, confusion and sometimes just plain madness of modern times.

So true! And I agreed with his accolades for modern day monastics. Still, I couldn’t help drawing parallels to those dedicated Dominican Associates who likewise focus on prayer. They may not live in monasteries, but Dominican Sisters of Peace Prayer Associates provide a strong bedrock of prayer support for the many various and diverse ministries of our branch of the Dominican Family.  Every day they actively pray, for our crazy world yes, but also for us, our Order, our Congregation, our Sisters and Associates and our many vital ministries around our crazy world.

DSOP Associate guidelines provides the option for Active Associates to transition to the status of Prayer Associates if/when personal limitations restrict them from being active. Similar to those Sisters who change their primary ministry to that of prayer when they move to an infirmary or extended care facility, Associates too can change their primary ministry to prayer as their life circumstances change.

Sometimes, I guess because it is so often accompanied by age and/or infirmity, the importance of this form of prayer ministry is under-estimated. What a mistake! Jesus Himself has commanded us to pray, and to pray often, as he did.  I believe in the power of prayer, and today I especially appreciate the powerful prayer of our Dominican Prayer Associates, to whom I would like to say, thank you!

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Love Messages

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

Sitting on my office desk is a heart-shaped pop-up note dispenser that was given to me as a gift.  Posted on the dispenser are the words “GOD LOVES YOU” in uppercase letters.  What a beautiful, simple way of keeping in sight a reminder of God’s affirming love.  Sometimes we need to surround ourselves and others with messages of love.

There are many ways God shows us love and sometimes it’s the little things people do for us.  For example, one frigid day, a gentleman saw me struggling with opening my car hood and came to help me.  I thanked him for his kindness and felt in that moment that God sent him to help me.  Just one of those messages of love and support that we can easily miss and shrug off as seemingly insignificant.

Driving into work one day, a vanity license plate with the words “I AM LOVD” caught my attention.  The words could have been a self-affirmation for the driver or a message to those seeing the plate.  Whatever the case, I thought it was one of those mystical moments of God sending a love message.  May you see and hear the love messages God is sending to you today.

We can be messengers of hope and love, not only around Valentine’s Day, but every day.  We can seek out opportunities to be agents of God’s message of love in simple and creative ways that may have a profound impact on another person’s life.  To realize that we have the power within us to be vessels of God’s love and compassion is something to reflect on.  Or, as Mother Teresa once said, “I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world” because she notes also that “I believe God loves the world through us—through you and me.”

If we believe that we are indeed made in the image and likeness of God, we can meet God in the crossroads of our life’s experience and see that God is always with us.  So if today you hear God’s voice or feel God’s presence, take heart and know that God loves you.  And, if you need a reminder, create a post-it note and place it on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator to see every day.

If you are eager to spread God’s love to others, why not consider being God’s disciple as a religious sister.  One of our Vocation Ministers will be happy to discern how God is calling you.  Click here for the names and contact information to reach one of our sisters.  Or, you may want to join us at our upcoming “Come and See” retreat, which is being held March 9-11, 2018 at our Columbus Motherhouse.  This free retreat is a great opportunity for personal reflection and to explore Dominican life, meet our Sisters, and share in our community life.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Musings on Ash Wednesday as Valentine’s Day

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

I once had a cat named Ollie. Consider him a “comfort service animal” as we say these days, who accompanied me through the years of my study at Aquinas Institute. He was a tuxedo cat, always elegantly attired, but actually quite easy-going, pursuing his comfort, just hanging out. For a cat his size, though, he had a rather limited voice range, just a high pitched “mew” which pertained largely to food and going out.

After Aquinas graduation, work brought us to Cleveland, and life in an apartment where the door to “out” was three flights down. A small “mew” uttered at the door would no longer suffice.  So he developed a new voice, widened his range to dramatic melismas reaching from tenor to soprano, expanding his lungs and larynx to turn “Mew” into “Miai-owwww-wooow—aioooow.” And it served him well, bringing his person hurrying down the stairs.

A cat “will do/ as he do do/and there’s no doing anything about it,” T.S. Eliot observes in his “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” True to his feline nature, Ollie saw life as a project of bending humans to his will. He knew his real name: Number One. If DNA could exist as a single spiral, it would be found in the genome of a cat.

Today is Valentine’s Day. And today is Ash Wednesday. The convergence of these two, the interaction of popular culture and liturgical observance, imagining gritty gray crosses and blooming red hearts together, suggests to me a different approach to Lent. To wit: Human DNA is a double helix, and there is always The Other. We are bonded to each other before our birth in mutual need. We grow up in the give and take of relationship and as Christians understand it, despite our differences, we are born and sustained by the immensity of God’s ever-creative love, and find mercy and salvation in the cross and resurrection of Christ Jesus. We are called and sent to love and be loved, living with the very real challenges of imaging Christ, the One For Others, our source of unity and peace. For God so loved the world.  I AM became incarnate as I AM for OTHERS. Lent is a purposeful reinvestment in loving as he did.

In the Gospel passage today, Jesus is not establishing Lenten practice. We know that his companions did not fast and weren’t particularly observant Jews. His point was the  attitude which underlies our relating to God and others, a warning about human temptations to the “selfies”–self-absorption, self-centeredness, self-enhancement, self-promotion, even self-discipline—all ways in which the most virtuous of human efforts can be subtly turned into All-About-Me.

As I contemplate today’s pairing of hearts and ashes, I see the romance brought up against the grit of loving. Most often, the practice of loving doesn’t come shaped like a valentine, or a purring kitty warm on one’s lap. It can be demanding, costly, confusing, unfulfilling, exhausting, and with no return guaranteed. The cross of ashes is written on the heart. Lent reminds us that underneath our first name, “ Beloved,” God has inscribed a second name, the same that Jesus bore, “I Am For Others.” Lent opens the heart and bears the cross.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Giving is Its Own Reward

Empowering Adult Learners through Literacy

Siena Learning Center Volunteer Tutor Jeanette Moretti.

It’s a scientific fact – giving feels good. Generosity reduces stress, fights depression – it’s even been shown to increase one’s lifespan. If you need an example of this, look no further than Siena Learning Center in New Britain, CT, and one of its most enthusiastic volunteers. Meet Jeanette Moretti, who has been tutoring there for about seven years. She started when she was 80 years old.

“I became a tutor at Siena Learning Center because my work at a local bank had caused me to be very involved in the community,” said Jeanette. “I retired at 62 and immersed myself in local politics and nonprofit organizations. This work made me more aware of the many needs in our area. Being a lifelong resident of New Britain, I wanted to give back. I felt like I still had something to offer at 80. I was strong in English language skills, so I decided to teach English. I found Siena through my local parish bulletin and liked the thought of the affiliation with the Dominican Sisters of Peace. My mother’s name was Domenica, so I thought it was a natural fit.”

Jeanette explains that she has found volunteering as a tutor a self-serving act. “Working as a tutor is mutually rewarding,” she said. “When my Learners say thank you, I also thank them. I find it fulfilling to help them by sharing my knowledge – and it’s fun! When my Learners are empowered by an expanded knowledge of language  it feels
wonderful for me and for them.”

Many of the Learners at Siena Learning Center are immigrants who cannot read or write in English. Jeanette knows that what she is teaching them makes a real difference in their lives. “My Learners are often at a disadvantage while at work, or applying for a job, and even at the doctor, because they can’t fully and freely communicate. I feel good knowing that I am helping them with not just reading, but by imparting wisdom and important skills for life.”

More than giving her time and talent, Jeanette also financially supports the Learning Center. “I receive so much joy working at the Center that I want to give back. Because I teach there, I also know that the items that are supplied to the Learners for free, like books and resource materials, are not free for the Center. I am enough of a business person to know that a nonprofit cannot continue its good work without contributions.”

The results of the work done at Siena Learning Center can be amazing, Jeanette says as she talks about one of her
first Learners. “She told me that if it was not for Siena, she would not have had anything,” Jeanette said. “The reward
for my time with this Learner is that she went on to attend a community college and is presently working as a medical
professional. She made a better life for herself and her family.”

As the daughter of an Italian immigrant, Jeanette explains that she understands how immigrants suffered and struggled to learn in a new country. She recalls, “I worked with my mother when she studied for citizenship, and I remember our joy with her achievement.”

Jeanette feels so strongly about the good that Siena Learning Center does in the community that she joined
their Advisory Council. “I am helping Siena with introductions to the community and opening doors,” Jeanette said. Starting with the human connection between Tutor and Learner, Jeanette has moved to assisting Siena Learning Center build new connections that will help to improve the lives of more people in the New Britain area.

The Dominican Sisters of Peace sponsor three adult learning centers with the belief that education is the key to
success, improved quality of life and empowerment.

If you would like to volunteer with one of our ministries, please click here.

Posted in News

Standing Firm in Truth: The Legacy of Asma Jahangir

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

The world has lost a powerful voice for peace and justice.

Asma Jahangir, a steadfast champion of human rights and women’s rights, and a pro-democracy activist, passed away on Sunday. After her death, many people took to social media to offer condolences:

  • “Heartbroken that we lost Asma Jahangir – a saviour of democracy and human rights…” (Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai ).
  • “Asma Jahangir was the bravest person I knew. She fearlessly stood up to dictators, thugs, misogynists. She was never daunted by the attacks that came her way. She never wavered from her principles. Her loss is incalculable.” (Amnesty International’s South Asia director Omar Waraich).
  • “What a brave woman. Pakistan is poorer without her. People like Asma are anchors of a society.” (Pakistani Minister for Foreign Affairs Khawaja M. Asif)
  • “A horrible loss for all of us. Will miss her incredible courage in insisting that human rights cannot be comprised, ever.” (Human Rights Watch South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly).
  • “Asma Jehangir’s death is a loss of a strong voice for the marginalised and oppressed. Despite our differences I always respected her for her fight for human rights and for standing up for her convictions.” (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Imran Khan)
  • “ ‘Speaking truth to power’ a phrase, we often use. #AsmaJahangir lived, practiced till her last breath. Questioned mullahs, military, judges, politicians, all the powerful; defended downtrodden. Faced threats & attacks. Was never afraid. What a hero. We have to contend with a void.” (Pakistani Daily Times editor Raza Ahmad Rumi).

Jahangir, a prominent Pakistani human rights advocate and attorney, was fearless in speaking loudly against those attacking minority religions and women. She braved death threats, imprisonment, and beatings as she pushed for human rights.

What a great example of believing deeply in what you say and fighting every day to have that heard – speaking truth to power, taking a risk to stand for something – whether or not it’s convenient, popular, or dangerous..

In remembering Asma Jahangir, I am committed to following her great example of fighting for those who are marginalized and oppressed and of being a pillar of truth and light.

I invite you to do the same.

Posted in Associate Blog, News