New Beginnings

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to share in the new beginning for our Dominican Novices at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) in St. Louis, MO.  This year the CDN community welcomed Sr. Phuong Vu (Dominican Sisters of Peace), Sr. Maria Kieu (Mission San Jose) and Sr. Rolande (Maryknoll).  I was grateful to be able to share this sacred time as each Novice started this new beginning in their journey of becoming Dominican!

L-R: Sisters Kieu (Mission San Jose), Phuong (Dominican Sisters of Peace) and Rolande (Maryknoll)


New Co- directors, Sisters Cathy Arnold, OP (Peace) and Lorraine Reaume, OP (Adrian) led us in a prayer ritual that was filled with meaning and symbolism for our new CDN community.   Each Novice was asked to bring a small bag of soil from the grounds of their Motherhouse.   During the ritual they would each mingle their soil together and plant three different plants (symbolic of their particular Congregation) into one large planter to form together a living symbol of this new beginning for the present CDN community.  To conclude the ritual, the three Formation Ministers  for the Novices watered this new living symbol. As I participated in this part of the ritual, the watering of the plants symbolized, for me, each Congregation’s willingness to provide nourishing support and love for this grace-filled new beginning for our combined futures.

Mingling the soil of our Motherhouses

In sharing a few pictures from this inspiring moment, I hope that you, too, will experience some of the grace and hope that I felt in being part of this new beginning.  I was grateful to witness the continued growth of our Dominican family through these faith-filled women. Please remember them all this year in your prayers.

Perhaps God is inviting you to consider a “new beginning” as a religious Sister? Consider attending our next “Come and See” Retreat on September 7-9, in St. Catharine, KY. See our flyer for more details. You may also call our Vocation minister for more information about discernment and religious life.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Progress by the Inch

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Recently, it came to my attention that I am no longer six feet tall. Somewhere along the line I’ve lost two inches because of gravity, aging, and spine surgery some years ago. I have fallen from that lofty height I was so fond of in my youth. It was fun being so tall, it came in handy when picking sides for basketball and when someone short needed something from the top shelf. People liked to comment on my height and the attention was mostly, but not always, enjoyable.

Five feet ten is still respectable, but this fall from being six feet tall got me thinking about how much we look at life with a measuring lens. Football is a game of progressive yards and sometimes inches. Cooks count in teaspoons. Accountants count in decimals. Weather forecasters in probabilities. We focus on small things.

It’s notable that the Gospel story about Jesus feeding thousands of people mentions that a few fish and seven loaves of bread  were on hand. From this small number a great miracle happened. Someone in the vast crowd came forward with this little pittance of a lunch and said, “Here’s something that might help”. And God made something small something great. Something small gave hope.

In other places in the Gospel, other small things mattered. “If I could only touch his cloak…” a small gesture that leads to healing.  A sower sows some seed. Think about how small seed is. It can feed millions. Jesus sought just one lost sheep among 99. God cares about even one sheep.

So why is all this worth writing about? Because small steps matter. A few inches of progress toward greater fairness can keep us from being discouraged. Small steps can be subversive acts of prophetic faith when the world’s pain and suffering can be deafening to those who are listening. (And I think you are listening). I suggest that we should never underestimate the value and importance of noticing that small things can lead to progress on our way to making the world better for someone else.

A small moment when I stop what I’m doing to hear about someone’s personal struggle. A phone call to a public official supporting important legislation, voting in an election. Sharing dessert at lunch.

These days when we are facing daunting and seemingly almost insurmountable problems, small steps matter all the more to keep us from loosing hope. So this is a reminder that small things matter. Sometimes small is just the right size to move a mountain. Hope lies in seeing the way small things make a difference.

Oh, and just to say, one of the advantages of loosing two inches of height is that I notice my slacks fit better. They cover my ankles better now.  Small is beautiful.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Opening Eyes, Opening Ears, Opening Hearts

“What you do to the least of these people, you do to me.”

(Matt. 25:40)

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

A conservative estimate is that LGBTQ people make up about 10% of the U.S. population. Hearing these numbers, I asked myself. “If at least one in ten people identifies as LGBT, how is it that I do not recognize them in my life?  Then a Bible quote came to me; “Have you had eyes but do not see and ears but do not hear?” (Matt.13:13-14) Looking back on my life, I have begun to realize that they were all around me but for some reason, I did not see them.

I began to remember that in my earlier life in Vietnam, I was introduced to the LGBTQ world at a very young age when my biology teacher told my class that her friend had transitioned from male to female. Then, during my high school years, I had two gay classmates. Years later, as a medical student, my friends and I met an intersex person in a hospital whose genital, chromosomal, or gonadal characteristics were not completely female or male. She identified as female and presented as female, but the doctors insisted she be assigned as male. When I came to the United States and attended a community college, I knew another transgender person who transitioned from female to male. To me these people were strange and weird, which is exactly how many of my friends saw them too. I did not try to understand them, or have compassion and sensitivity toward them.

The turning point came for me a few years ago when I came to know a transgender person.  I  listened to that person’s story and came to know the family.  I cried at the profound trauma and injustice this individual and their loved ones faced. I realized that they do not choose to be vulnerable, rejected, or alienated.  I needed to learn and understand more.

Recently I was blessed to meet another transgender person. After forty years of struggle to be the woman that was not inside of him, he is now a handsome man who is successful in his profession. He helped me to see transgender people from another perspective.  Each person is different, but all go through unbelievable pain, struggle and rejection. But yet, with courage and help, many of them get to the other side of that experience and live generous, productive lives with self-confidence.

As a Dominican trying to preach the Gospel through my living, I am questioning myself.  As a Dominican Sister of Peace, can I let LGBTQ people touch my heart and feel free to love and care for them as God loves and cares for them, without being afraid or judgmental?  Can I be a model of compassion to future generations in the Church as we live the Gospel in the midst of a violent world?

I thank God for giving me opportunities to meet such a diversity of people.  This community of marginalized people is educating me to appreciate the different parts of the Body of Christ.

For many years, I had eyes but did not see, and ears but did not hear.  How about you, my sisters and brothers in Christ?

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Channeling Anger into a Transforming Force

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I saw something recently that made my blood boil – a video surveillance tape showing a 71-year-old man being attacked by two teenagers.

The footage shows the septuagenarian walking along a street when the hoodlums approach and kick him, knocking him to the ground. When the man (wearing a Sikh turban) gets up, he is kicked again and knocked to the ground, where his turban falls off his head. Then one of the ruffians kicks him multiple times while he is on the ground and spits on him. The two then walk away.

What a hateful, repulsive, horrific, abominable, repugnant display of human behavior.

Although I felt justified in being incensed, I began to slip into the belief that anger is bad and that I needed to get it under control.

As I examined this inner conflict, I considered how our goal as spiritual beings is to live life in peace and love and I acknowledged the reality that there are situations that push our buttons.

The truth is that as spiritual beings, part of our journey includes experiencing the diverse complexities of human emotions, including anger. I concluded that anger is not always a bad thing. In fact, some anger can actually be healthy and constructive.

Yes, it is true that anger can hurt us, but it is also true that anger can unleash what it really feels like to care. Healthy anger can help us ascertain our truth and take a stand for what we value.

I concluded that my anger was a healthy response to injustice, an instinctive response to unfairness. My anger was a form of protest to the unfair treatment (or abuse) of the man –Sahib Singh Natt. It was the unfairness, or injustice, that provoked my anger, or indignation. Therefore, the anger was not the problem. The injustice that provoked the anger was the problem.

My anger revealed that I value the humane, fair, and just treatment of others.

When anger tells us that something is wrong, it also provides the energy to make it right. My anger moved me to prayer for Sahib Singh Natt and his family and his attackers and their families. And it fueled me with the determination to continue raising my voice against injustice and taking actions that will move the needle toward justice.

I encourage you to do the same.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

How I said ‘Yes’ to the Lord!

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

“God is good, all the time.”

“All the time, God is good.”

“I say Yes to the Lord; Yes, I say Yes to the Lord”

These words are often chanted and sung by teens and young people. All of us know God is good all the time and it may be easy to say “I say Yes to the Lord,” but doing what this “Yes” requires is not easy, especially when God’s plan is not on our own agenda and God’s way is not our way.

A long time ago, I passed a vocation booth and the Sisters there at that booth stopped me. I wanted to move on but they invited me to come to their booth. Reluctantly, I entered and sat down with them. They began to introduce me to their community. I did not pay attention to what they said because I did not want to enter any religious order at that time. After a few minutes, they asked me for my contact information and I hesitantly wrote down my name and address for them.

As I left, one Sister said, “Please take time to read these materials” while another Sister handed me information about her community.

“OK!” I replied and put the information in my bag.

After going home, I took out the free items I collected from different booths and went through the Sisters’ community materials because I was curious about what I might learn. There was one article written by a new member, sharing her experiences in living with the Sisters. Another article encouraged people to explore religious life. Hesitantly, I emailed the Vocation Director to see if I could meet with her without knowing if it was the right decision or not.

After having a few conversations with the Vocation Director, listening to her challenging and encouraging words, I said to myself; “If I can spend many years studying, why not spend one or two years exploring religious life, about which I know little. Maybe my idea of religious life is different from the reality of this life. If I don’t like it, I can leave, but what I will gain from this experience may benefit me, especially in strengthening my faith.” Finally, I said “Yes to the Lord” and entered religious life.

Now, having lived  with Sisters in community, learning how good God is and how to say Yes to God in a profound way, I can really appreciate the moment the Sisters stopped me and encouraged me to consider religious life. Twenty years later, I can honestly say that religious life is much more than what I had imagined and it is where I have found great joy.

Religious life is a beautiful life. However, it is often hidden or overlooked in the midst of other calls, and many hold inaccurate assumptions about this life. Even though the call to religious life may not appeal to you at this time, you may want to take time to consider what this life offers. If you can say; “God is good, all the time,” “All the time, God is good,” or “I say Yes to the Lord,” then you may want to take another step towards discerning whether God is calling you to religious life.  Our Vocation Ministers can help you with this discernment.  We also have a “Come and See” weekend on September 7-9 this year at St. Catharine, KY, which will give you an opportunity to explore what religious life is about. To register, please click here.

Posted in God Calling?, News