Praying with or without Words

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

I have had a laminated picture card in my prayer book since the 1990’s. When we received our long awaited copies of DOMINICAN PRAISE in 2005, I transferred the card to the back of my see-through protective cover, and it has been there ever since. Given to me by a friend sister artist, I especially like its colors and design, but have not given much thought to the quote printed on it until the other day.

It reads: “PRAYER is not so much about talking to or addressing God, but rather about deepening our awareness that GOD—the Breath of Life present throughout the universe—comes to visible expression in us.”  [author undecipherable]

That day for some reason, it held my attention and stayed on the periphery of my mind for several days, inspiring me to review the evolution of my own personal prayer over the years.

As a young Sister and for several years, I wrote out my prayer as a monologue or dialogue in a journal, sharing all my troubles, concerns, joys and everyday happenings with God as with a best friend/Divine Counselor. It started as a way for me to stay awake and focused during my personal prayer time. Gradually my prayer with many words led to more frequent silent pauses of insight, appreciation, awe, and longer periods of wordless contemplation.

Praying without words made me wonder if I was praying at all; I was so used to using words. But my spiritual director encouraged me to trust my wordless heart prayer as much as my mind’s prayer of many words.

Our daily Common Liturgical Prayer–Mass and Liturgy of the Hours—uses hymns, psalms, prayers, readings; along with signs, symbols and actions—to express and celebrate Christ, our faith and reality as Church, and to draw us into awareness of God, into communion, transformation, silent adoration.

On Saturday, April 14, as our Mission Group meeting opening prayer, Mary Otho, OP, led all of us assembled in a time of contemplative prayer. Inviting us to quiet ourselves and enter our “inner room” where we come into God’s Presence, she then used the triple ringing of a gong to signal the beginning and end of 10 minutes of “prayer without words.” Slowly repeating “I AM,” (God’s name and ours) helped me quiet my busy mind, and call me back to silent presence when distracted. Gradually the “I” dropped off to simply “AM.” When the gong sounded to end the prayer time, it seemed a surprisingly short 10 minutes.

Surrounded by 80+ other Dominican Sisters of Peace united in silent wordless prayer, was peaceful and sacred–prayer “not so much talking to or addressing God, but rather deepening our awareness that God—the Breath of Life present throughout the universe—comes to visible expression in us.”  Word made flesh. Body of Christ. That is what it’s all about. My card has been waiting all these years for me to discover its message!

Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates, “radically open to ongoing conversion into the peace of Christ,  commit ourselves to be women [and men] of peace who: study, contemplate, and preach God’s revelation discovered in the unfolding mystery of creation and in Sacred Scripture.”   — 1st Chapter Commitment, 2009 and 2015


How do you discover God’s revelation?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Sr. Alicia Alvarado Inducted into Cleveland International Hall of Fame

Dominican Sisters of Peace celebrate Sr. Alicia Alvarado’s induction into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame, left to right, Sisters Mary Phuc Nguyen, Marilyn Mihalic, Mary Ann Wiesemann-Mills, Alicia Alvarado, Marilyn Ambrosic and Barbara Ebner.

The Cleveland International Hall of Fame inducted Dominican Sister of Peace Alicia Alvarado, OP, at a dinner ceremony on April 17.

Sister Alicia Alvarado was born in Villalba, Puerto Rico, and immigrated to Cleveland’s West Side with her brother and sister when she was just 6 years old.

Sister Alicia entered the Sisters of St. Dominic of Akron, now the Dominican Sisters of Peace, in 1979. She has ministered with Hispanic communities most of her religious life, serving as Hispanic Program Coordinator on the Commission on Catholic Community Action for the Cleveland Diocese, Associate Director of Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Toledo, OH, and the Director of the Catholic Hispanic Center and the Los Caminantes Project in St. Louis, MO.

Sister Alicia returned to Cleveland to serve as Director of the Hispanic Office for the Cleveland Diocese in 1998. She served as on the Leadership Team of her Congregation and as the Executive Assistant to Councilman Joe Santiago, Ward 14.

Sister Alicia has received numerous awards for her work in social justice and her ministry among the Hispanic population. Among them are the Individual Award for Justice and Peace from the Cleveland Commission on Catholic Community Action in 2003, the Community Relations Award from the Hispanic Business Association (Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for Ohio) in 2003, 2004’s Madrina Award (Godmother of the Community), and the Lifetime Community Service Award from the Cleveland Hispanic Roundtable in 2017.

She has been a member of numerous professional societies. She was the first Hispanic woman on the Board of Trustees of Cuyahoga Community College, served as Ohio Representative and in other roles for the Midwest Catholic Association of Hispanic Ministry, and was a member of the National Farm Workers Ministry Board.

Presently, Sister Alicia resides at Our Lady of the Elms Motherhouse in Akron and remains quite active with various social justice organizations.

Sister Alicia was inducted by former White House Fellow Jose Feliciano.

Posted in News

Help the Dominican Sisters of Peace set the World Afire

Support the Dominican Sisters of Peace Annual Appeal

On April 29, we annually celebrate St. Catherine of Siena, one of our Dominican saints and the first woman to be named a Doctor of the Church. I invite you to support our St. Catherine Annual Appeal and to partner with us as we strive to promote peace and to help the poor.

Catherine was an amazing woman! She spoke truth to the leaders of the Church and helped to strengthen it during a time of immense internal strife. She was partly responsible for the return of the Pope from Avignon to Rome, and carried out many missions to princes and Bishops on behalf of the Church.

The Dominican Sisters of Peace are inspired by the example of St. Catherine of Siena. One of Catherine’s most famous sayings is “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” Each of the Dominican Sisters of Peace strives to listen to God’s voice in order to be who God calls her to be. Each Sister strives to live a life of peace-making wherever she is and in everything she does.

Our Sisters live out the mission of St. Catherine in many different ways…

  • Trudy Tanner in Garden City, KS, is an example of the enduring power of love. She works with victims of human trafficking, and recently opened the Oasis of Peace, offering a home and transitional services for trafficked women and their children.
  • Manuela Crisologo Gonzales participates in the Pastoral Bible Delegation for the Diocese of Chimbote, Peru. She helps to offer scripture workshops for adults in parish settings, and she also mentors university students who seek to deepen their faith.
  • As a forensic social worker, Kathy Broussard is the voice of the accused in criminal cases in New Orleans, LA. Her work to humanize those charged with serious crimes in an effort to avoid the death penalty protects the dignity of human life.
  • Our retired and infirm Sisters continue to serve in a ministry of prayer and presence in our Care Centers and Motherhouses. They pray daily for you and for peace.

We do not minister alone. As Catherine heard God say in her Dialogue, “I wanted to make you dependent on one another so that each of you would be my minister, dispensing the graces and gifts you have received from me.”

We depend on you and your generosity. Your gift to our Annual Appeal helps to support our Sisters. Your prayers and gifts of time and donations give our ministries life as we work to share God’s peace with those in need around the world.

Out of love and gratitude, we pray for you and your intentions daily. Please send us your prayer intentions on the enclosed card, so that we may be mindful of your special intentions.

Thank you for your generous response to our Annual Appeal. Be assured that your gift to the Dominican Sisters of Peace will strengthen us in our Dominican life and help us to set the world on fire with God’s love.

To support our Annual Appeal, click here.

To view our Saint Catherine’s Day video, please click here.

Posted in News

Car Prayers

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

…adventures of an itinerant vocation minister….

I pray in my car.

Actually, my confession is that I pray in my car more than I do in our chapel.

You may not think that is such a big admission but, you see I’m a Sister.  I am a Catholic Dominican Sister with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  In our Constitutions (the general guidelines for our life and how we live it) it stresses that we are women of prayer.  That is true, I am a woman of prayer and I’m also an “itinerant,” which means “traveling from place to place.” As an itinerant I often find myself somewhere between here…and there…. Thus, I often find myself praying in my car.

Do you pray in your car?

I suspect you do.

Several years ago I came across a book called My Monastery is a Minivan by Denise Roy.  In it, Roy, a mother of four children, writes of how her thoughts about prayer, holiness, and places of holiness had changed over the years.  Having studied theology, she envisioned places of prayer as monasteries, chapels, convents, and churches.  Then, in the reality of her life as a wife, mother and woman of prayer, she found that her minivan was indeed her monastery.

So, in a way, my car is my chapel.

When I was discerning my call to religious life, I was working full time and had a commute of 45 minutes to an hour each way.  The cassette (yes, a few years ago) I’d pop into the player each morning and evening was one of John Michael Talbot’s which contained psalms of Morning Prayer – on the way to work – and Evening Prayer – on the way home.  This practice eased me into the day and grounded me in prayer and in my awareness of God. It sustained me and nourished me as I traveled and as I continued to discern, “The Call.”

There are other sisters I know who pray in the car.  Sister Aimee Ryan and I lived together in Miami.  Sr. Aimee had a practice of praying a decade of the rosary each time she waited at a light to cross U.S. 1.  Some days she could pray an entire 10 decades in her travels around town.  For me, as a young sister, her witness of faith inspired me to find ways to remind myself to pray when stopped at a light or passing a church or other landmark.

The practice of prayer while traveling is an ancient one.  We hear of pilgrims to the Holy Land, as early as 100 AD, praying the Way of the Cross as they journeyed to Jerusalem.  Prayer on the go, or traveling prayers are ever ancient and ever new.

St. Dominic prayed as he traveled by foot from Spain to France to Italy.  He was said to either speak of God or to God as he walked.  Often he would break out into holy song and praise of God’s creation as he went through fields of sunflowers or crossed rushing brooks.  He delighted in God’s creation and he told God and all who would listen.

Today, as I drive from Massachusetts to Connecticut and tomorrow when I get in the car again, I will be praying.  I’ll pray for you, for our world, for those who are celebrating life and those who are waiting to enter into the next life and all the while I will be thanking God for the many gifts that surround me each day.

How will you pray in the car today?

Posted in God Calling?, News

Can you feel the Fire?

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

The Acts of the Apostles are exactly the Scripture passages we need to be reading these days. They are filled with the stories of the new communities being formed after the Resurrection. They convey that enthusiasm generated by the Holy Spirit. The words of the apostles and their activities are proof positive that Jesus is alive and well in their hearts and minds and must be talked about wherever they travel.

So why now is this so important? Look around, my friends. Most of our world is in pain in some way. We could all make lists of the ailments in our areas, I am sure. But listen, we are the apostles of today! Have we lost some of that enthusiasm that we see and hear in the apostles actions and words? They do not seem to be afraid of anyone or anything so long as they are speaking with the fire of the Spirit and using the words that Jesus gave them

For me, I turn to a Gospel song called “Fire”. The refrain tells it all:
Fire, shut up in my bones…it won’t leave me alone;
Gonna sing ‘til the Almighty power comes around;
SPIRIT’S got me so I can’t sit down.

Am I on fire with the Gospel? Does it matter to me anymore? Of course it does, but how is it shown in my life? That is the 21st century question.



Posted in News, Weekly Word