ALL SAINTS DAY Matthew 5:1-12a

Blog by Sr. Theresa Fox, OP

In the Gospel for All Saints Day Jesus names the beatitudes – that is “be attitudes” – attitudes of being – ways of acting. These are not laws. Instead they are named as guides for us as we journey through life. On All Saints Day we celebrate the feast of “a great multitude, which no one could count from every nation, race, people and tongue” (Revelation 7:9)

Some of the great multitude we knew. They were our parents, siblings, friends, Dominican Sisters. Just recently, several of our Dominican sisters of Peace joined this great multitude. This great multitude also includes people unknown to us – the innocent victims of war or violence, faithful parents who raised their children to live authentic lives, and then lived to a ripe old age, those who died of disease before living a full life, and so many more. The list goes on and on.

This great multitude are those who took the beatitudes seriously. In one way or another, they lived them. Some were known to be meek – slow to anger and quick to forgive. Others hungered for righteousness, marched and wrote letters to change unjust situations. Still others were peacemaker in his/her family. Many were persecuted for the sake of justice. Their attitudes and the way they lived during their lives on earth may not have made headlines. But God knew of their mercy or peacefulness or justice seeking. God called them to their reward of the fullness of heaven.

These beatitudes, bring us to today, All Saints Day. We remember those we knew who have died; we add those unknown, all who have not been officially canonized by the Church. We thank them for their lives. We thank them for their example.

But it can’t end there. We too are called to live as Jesus taught. We too are called to be peacemakers, clean of heart, merciful. We too are challenged to live the beatitudes – attitudes of being – ways of acting.

The question to ponder might be; for what beatitude will you be remembered?

Posted in News, Weekly Word

October 20, 2018 The Day God Smiled and Cried

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

Sunday was an especially amazing and yet difficult day –  a day when God smiled and cried at the same time.  Sunday was the dedication of the first Social Justice Park in the United States.  The Washington Gladden Social Justice Park, a brainchild of associate Rev. Tim Aherns, had its grand opening. Although it was a damp, dreary, cold day, hundreds came out including Dominican Sisters of Peace and their Associates.

At one point, the rain began and colorful umbrellas covered the crowd like so many mushrooms.  It occurred to me that God was crying about all the injustice happening in our world– the shootings in Pittsburgh and the Kroger outside Louisville, KY, the pipe bombs, the caravan from Honduras and the fear mongering bent on stopping them at our border, the laws and rules determined to keep refugees and asylum seekers from being welcomed, the bombing in Syria and Yemen, and many, many more actions that don’t seem to represent the values of our country.

Then, in the midst of the rain came the sun.  Just a glimmer at first but later bright, warm, loving sun embraced our cold, damp bodies.  It seemed miraculous to me – almost as if God was smiling down on the park and all the folks supporting it.  There was reason for us to be happy at that moment as we heard from various speakers of the promise of the park.  We need a park full of beauty to keep us thinking about and acting for the cause of justice. 

I was particularly moved by the poem written and read by Sara Abou Rached, a 19 year old raised in Syria whose family came here because of the war, who described America “as one reliant woman who is loud, proud, strong. Whose shoulders shelter continents. Who arms extend and reach beyond oceans.”  Yes…. America who is welcoming and sheltering and peaceful.

She reminded me of the greatness of America in a time when it’s easy to feel the stinginess of our government’s actions and overwhelming amount of injustice.

In his daily email on that same day, Fr. Richard Rohr wrote that that we are each love. “When [we] don’t live according to love, [we] are outside of being. [We] are not real or true to ourselves. When [we] love, [we] are acting according to our deepest being, our deepest truth.  [We] are operating according to our dignity…This kind of love is… outflowing.”  That same day, God cried and smiled on us at the same time, an outflowing of God’s presence to remind us that we must also promote an outflowing of justice.

You can listen to Sara’s entire poem here:

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Gifted by Life’s Challenges

Blog by Sister Amy McFrederick

Life can throw us all kinds of challenges—whether small, medium or seeming insurmountable, they call something more from us.

This morning, fussing with my uncooperative hair and complaining to myself about the beautician who didn’t cut it to meet my expectation, and noting that I must not have been clear about what I wanted, I finally submitted. “O well, what is IS,” and I grab my curling brush. It’s amazing how that little wand in hand can improve my mood. And just when I think my hair is beyond repair, it sometimes turns out better than ever!

Later this morning when I opened Pat Farrell, OP’s daily online posting, OPREACH, I was greeted with: “Even when life challenges us, it’s a gift beyond all measure.” — Parker Palmer

I got to thinking how often life doesn’t give us exactly what we want or expect, but when we rise to the occasion, do what we can to make the best of it, things often work out well enough. We may be surprised how well it turns out—and sometimes even see that the challenge was really a special blessing or gift.

One day some of my Sister friends and I planned to meet near Kansas City for a weekend of prayer, sharing and relaxing together. I was going to leave St. Louis around 4 p.m, Friday after work to be there between 8:30-9:00 p.m. When I tried to pack my weekend bag, I felt an inner force preventing me from moving in that direction. Instead of doing what I had intended, I found myself redirected several times. The clock kept ticking, and at 5 p.m. I saw myself turn on the TV, sit and watch the news, making me wonder: “What is wrong with me? Why am I doing this? I need to get going!” Suddenly around 6:30 p.m. I felt released from whatever was holding me back. I flew into action, and was soon on the highway.

As I approached Kansas City, NPR news reported a terrible accident on the same interstate highway I was taking. It had held up traffic for about 3 hours and was now finally clearing. I arrived at my destination around 11 p.m. safely, mystified, and with a thankful heart. Was it intuition? God? My guardian angel?  The puzzling ‘force’ holding me back proved truly a blessing for me – “a gift beyond all measure”.

I was visiting with a 40-50 year old man who was a quadriplegic due to a diving accident when he was 19. He described it as being the worst day of his life. As he continued to talk, he shared how much he treasured his faith in Christ, and how deeply enriching and meaningful his relationship with God and with other people of faith had become to him. He had a profound spiritual depth that he shared freely and with ease. 

When I asked him what his life was like before that terrible accident, he said he was “pretty dissipated”, and had little or no faith. Suddenly, his eyes lit up as he said, “You know, I have always cursed the day I became a quadriplegic. But now I wonder if it had not happened, if I would have ever looked for or found God—the  greatest gift of my life!”

I have heard other stories of persons who found great gift hidden in some of their life’s worst challenges. Have you ever been served a life challenge that was truly a gift in disguise? I invite you to share your story.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Sr. Mary Carmel Lectora, OP

Sr. Mary Carmel Lectora, left, along with Sr. Mary Daniels, right, served as a witness to the temporary profession of Sr. Ana Gonzalez, center, in 2018.
Dominican Sister of Peace Mary Carmel Lectora, OP, (96) died at the Mohun Care Center in Columbus, OH, on October 12, 2018.

Sr. Mary Carmel was born in 1922 in Guayma, Puerto Rico, one of the seven children born to Elisa Desrrivieres and Pablo Lectora. She entered the congregation in 1951, made first profession in 1954, and final profession in 1957.

Sr. Mary Carmel held a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work from the Catholic University of Puerto Rico – a degree she earned when she was in her 70’s.

Sr. Mary Carmel was a dedicated member of our retreat staff, serving at facilities in New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. She did everything that she could to make the retreat experience prayerful and fulfilling for all who attended. She wanted to make every encounter, with every person, one of love and joy, just as her own encounter with Christ was so joyful.

Sr. Carmel was much loved by many of the younger Sisters in our Congregation, and by those who remember her from their younger days. At Sr. Carmel’s service, one Sister remembered that when she was a temporary professed sister, they were given a limited amount of time to socialize or play games with their Perpetually Professed Sisters –time was measured by a clock on the wall. Sr. Carmel would turn back the hands of the clock so that the younger Sisters could stay longer, wanting to spend more time with them and make them feel welcome.

Sr. Mary Carmel was preceded in death by her parents; Pablo Lectora Fantozzi and Elisa Desrrivieres Lebron, her brothers, Pablo Lectora, Jr. Harry Pablo Lectora, Pablo A. Lectora and her sisters, Marie Teresa Lectora Asch and Anna Carmen Lectora Tiburcio. She is survived by her sister, Esther J. Soffio and nephews.

A Vigil of Remembrance Service was held at the Dominican Sisters of Peace Motherhouse Chapel in Columbus, OH, on Tuesday, October 16, 2018. The funeral liturgy was also held at the Dominican Sisters of Peace Motherhouse Chapel on Wednesday, October 17, 2018.

A memorial mass was held on Thursday, November 1, at the Dominican Retreat and Conference Center in Niskayuna, NY, and Sr. Mary Carmel was interred at St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands, NY.

Memorial gifts in Sr. Mary Carmel Lectora’s memory may be sent to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Dr., Columbus, OH, 43219.

To view and print a copy of this memorial, please click here.

To donate in Sr. Mary Carmel’s memory, please click here.

Posted in News, Obituaries

A Special Bible

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Who planted the legacy of the Catholic faith in your life?  For me, it was my mother. Mom came from a long line of family members with Protestant roots, mostly Baptist or Pentecostal.  While the family religious background was basically Protestant, Black parents knew the value of education. When they were able, many enrolled their kids in the neighborhood Catholic parish schools that many religious orders established in Black neighborhoods.  My mom attended St. Joseph Catholic School and eventually, as a teenager, she was baptized into the Catholic faith and later insisted on raising her family in the Catholic tradition. So my roots in the legacy of the Catholic faith were planted with my baptism as an infant in 1951 and my relationship with the bible was planted during my early childhood.

For as long as I can remember, there had always been a bible in the living room. The one that I most remember growing up with was a large print, huge bible that included a section in the back with stories of the lives of the saints.  As a child, I liked to read the stories about the saints but often wondered why these friends of God seemed to be disliked or often killed.  I outgrew this childish thinking about God during my youth.  However, as a young adult, I distanced myself from the institutional Church for about 10 years.  When I returned to practicing my faith, I wanted to buy a nice bible to, perhaps, symbolize this renewed relationship with God.

The bible I found was beautiful.  The cover was a rose color with silver lettering on the cover and pages with silver gilding around the edges.  However, after I had meticulously put on bible book tabs, I decided to give the bible to my mother as a gift and to buy a different bible with study notes for me. Over the years, I did not necessarily see this bible again when I would visit mom, but there was always a bible in her living room.

Over 20 plus years had passed before I saw this rose covered bible again. I was packing up my mother’s belonging when she was no longer able to live alone because of dementia.  The bible was in a clear plastic bag and literally coming apart.  The cover was worn.  The pages were marked and dog eared.  There were notes in the margins and in empty spaces on various pages. Some of the books in the bible near the end were separating from the binding. This was clearly a bible that had been used for studying, praying—and in general—living.

Recently, I sat reflecting with this bible some five years after rediscovering it.  I thought about all that has transpired in my mom’s life since I gave it to her many years ago. I thought about the comfort and wisdom it must have provided to her over the years. I thought about the deep relationship with her God which she had developed throughout her life that spilled out over these worn pages of God’s Word and promises to us. These thoughts led me to clearly see the deep faithfulness that God has shown in her life.

Mom has been faithful in her relationship with God over the years and God has been faithful to her. Even as she has lost much of her mental capacity and memories to dementia, God has continued to be faithful to her. Being in a place where she is being well cared for and close by where I can visit is, to me, a tangible sign of God’s continued faithfulness to mom—even  though she does not know where she is or even how God has been a consistent part of her life. 

This worn bible has helped me to reflect on the truth of God’s faithfulness to both my mom and to me. God is faithful to all of us.  This is a deep truth of our faith and is revealed over and over again in the Word.  While my own bible is important to me, this worn, marked bible is, indeed, very special to me.  You see, in looking at some of the marked passages, I learned that Psalm 27 was a favorite psalm for both of us.  We even marked some of the same lines within it.

Do you have a special bible? What story does it tell about you and your relationship with God?   More importantly, is your relationship with God, perhaps, calling you to consider the possibility of a vocation to religious life? 

Posted in God Calling?, News