Thanksgiving… or not

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

As I entered the church, I noticed a huge white altar with these yellow bottles around the top. Looking more closely, I realized they were bottles and bottles of yellow vegetable oil.  My first though was what an interesting way to decorate an altar. Then… “Wow. Using money that would be used for flowers to buy food for people in need. That’s really justice!” Later I learned that the parishioners were decorating the altar by bringing different food items each week.  By Christmas, the altar would be filled with food and boxes prepared for the families who use the soup kitchen that the parish also runs.  It was a beautiful witness to the mission and charism of the Vincentians and a sad commentary that in the U.S. there are people without enough to eat.

We have a love/hate relationship with food in our country.  We eat too much and yet are malnourished.  We are so busy that we have to depend on processed food or fast food restaurants rather that eat fresh meals made from scratch. While we produce enough food to feed the world, there are millions of children who go to bed hungry every night.   We throw out about 1/3 of the food produced for human consumption or about 38 million tons each year.

Does the United States have a responsibility to make sure people in the U.S. and the world, aren’t hungry?  I don’t know …. but as the richest nation, one blessed with prosperity, we certainly could.  When our government threatens to defund programs like WIC, SNAP, Food for Peace, USAID that feed people, and we don’t try to stop this, are we forgetting the bounty that we are blessed with or do we see only scarcity and want to protect our portion?

I love thanksgiving. It’s my all-time favorite meal…filled with memories of my parents and family gatherings. But there are others who because of poverty, famine, or war will have nothing to eat.  Let us take a minute to recognize our blessings and resolve to work to eliminate hunger in our world. 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Inspired and Empowered by God’s Spirit

More than 3,000 delegates, including lay women and men, religious sisters and brothers, deacons, priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals of the United States gathered in Grapevine, Texas, September 20-23, 2018 for the National V Encuentro. Together they examined the evolving role of the Hispanic/Latino Catholics in the U.S. In his closing Mass homily the USCCB vice president, Archbishop Jose Gomes of Los Angeles, said: “The Lord calls each of us to hear his voice. Take your place in the history of salvation and do your part.”   (info from the Northeast Ohio Catholic, Nov.Dec.2018)

Blog by Sister Amy McFrederick

These words, though addressed to those at the September gathering in Texas, equally apply to all persons of faith. Recently people across the USA awakened to their role in guiding our democracy, came out and voiced their concerns through the power of a single vote.  As each of us listens and follows the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in our life, no matter how big/small the action, we help build the Kindom of Christ.

Carol Lemelin, OPA, recently wrote:

How did it happen that Paul of Tarsus, a relentless persecutor of the followers of Christ, became His greatest advocate? We know about his being knocked off his horse and blinded. We know he went at Christ’s command to the city. We knowthat Ananias was directed by God to go to Paul. He went even though Paul waspractically a murderer in the eyes of the New People.  From there it makesa great story. Can you imagine the reaction when the disciples inJerusalem heard that the notorious Saul of Tarsus wanted to be aChristian?  After the initial shock woreoff, the efforts of Paul to enlighten his people to the coming of the Messiahhad a powerful effect on the Apostles. It undoubtedly took quite a whilebut eventually they came to see that his grasp of the true meaning of the lifeof Jesus was nothing short of extraordinary. There is only one answer tohow this was even possible and that is the Holy Spirit was at work. 

From that time on it has been the Holy Spirit who speaks to us. The trick is to learn to understand and listen carefully. That is not impossible. Despite the enormity of God, God is as close as your next heartbeat. The prophets all learned to hear and understand that the voice of God comes from within. There is a knowing that comes with the voice of God.  It is not limited to prophets or evangelists. It is for you and me as well. This is not spooky or weird, but as real as you are. Again, however, you and I must get in touch with that Spirit before we can hope to understand what God wants from us.  

Thomas Moore, Catherine of Sienna, Dominic, Martin de Porres, Isaac Jogues and Oscar Romero, are just a few of the millions who have heard and acted on the voice of the Spirit because they learned to listen and to follow. Pope Francis says we have to leave room for the Spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision. 

Most of us may never be required to do deeds of magnitude, but it is not for us to determine what is or is not important to God.  

Let our aim each day be to listen for God’s guidance and do God’s will.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Religious Life: A Journey to Self-Transformation

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

Some people are called to live in married life and others choose single life or consecrated life. Compared with religious life, married life is easier to understand because many of us were raised in a two-parent home. We observed the joys and challenges of married couples. Religious life, on the other hand, is often surrounded by myths. Many people think that religious life is without fun, focusing on sacrifice and prayer. When I first began discerning, I thought religious life that way because I didn’t truly know what this life offered. How about you? What myths do you believe about religious life?  Can you name opportunities that religious life has offered to those who live that call?

For me, self-transformation is one of the many gifts that religious life has brought to me. I would like to talk about this gift in this blog; the other gifts from religious life will be discussed in my future blogs.

As a human being, I tend to think I know myself well, but in reality, I don’t really know who I am from a faith perspective. St. Catherine of Siena said; “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” How can I know and accept what God intended me to be?

I know some of my gifts and dreams, but the hidden potentials are not easy to recognize. Even when I recognize them, I may not know how to develop them fully for the sake of a fulfilling life and God’s desired mission for me. Have you ever had such an experience?

In religious life, I have been gifted with time for daily reflection, more time to pray, more chances to attend inspiring and challenging workshops, and more time to be focused on self-development and mission.  I have had chances to share life and dreams with sisters and associates in my community, and more time to reflect on realities of ministry and what has been happening around me. These valuable experiences create great opportunities for me to see more clearly and to be deeply touched by what is going on around me.  I begin to see and act differently.  With all the support from the community and with God’s grace, I have more courage to open myself for potential gifts as well as understanding my weaknesses.

The journey of self-awareness, acceptance, and development brings so much growth in me.  The more I accept and value myself and allow God to work in me through others, the more respect and gratitude I have toward life, people, and all creations. All are gifts from God. I become more peaceful, joyful, compassionate, and active. I begin to touch and accept the vision that God has planted in me that at first, I did not understand. Now, I feel more confident and strive to share these fruits with the world.  

I am humbly convinced that with religious life, I can be who I am today. Even though the journey of self-transformation is an on-going process, I am willing to stay on this journey and I feel blessed to be on the journey that God has paved for me. If you truly want to enter this on-going transformative journey to find out what God is calling you to be, contact us at vocations@oppeace.org or check out our webpage here. We also have a “Come and See” retreat weekend coming up in Akron, Ohio on March 15-17, 2019.

Posted in God Calling?, News

U.S. Dominican Women Travel to Iraq in Solidarity with Nineveh Plain Returnees

Three delegates to join Iraqi Dominican Sisters in Kurdistan and Nineveh Plain, November 14-25
“We have family in Iraq.” Dominicans throughout the United Sates have echoed this sentiment for many years, through much suffering of Iraqi civilians.

It has been four years since the Sisters of St. Catherine in Iraq, along with Christians and other religious minorities, had to flee for their lives from the Nineveh Plain as ISIS advanced. The Sisters returned to their hometown about a year ago to find it demolished. They have been facing the challenges of rebuilding.

This month three American Dominican women are visiting their counterparts in Iraq to learn firsthand about the rebuilding efforts. The delegation, organized by the Iraq Coordinating Committee of the North American Dominican Justice Promoters, in partnership with the Dominican Sisters Conference, is scheduled to leave November 14 and return November 25.

Those representing U.S. Dominicans on the trip are Adrian Dominican Sisters Rose Ann Schlitt, OP, and Nancy Jurecki, OP, and Gloria Escalona, a member of St. Albert the Great Chapter of Dominican Laity in Oakland, CA.

While in Iraq, the women will visit with Iraqi Dominican Sisters to learn about the status of their schools and other ministries, and plans for supporting thousands of families displaced by ISIS in 2014.
visit www.op.org.

Adrian Dominican Sister Rose Ann Schlitt, OP

“My hopes center upon our Sisters who have undergone immense trials and humiliations as they were violently uprooted from their homes, towns, and ministries by ISIS,” Sister Rose Ann said. “They lived as internally displaced persons in the Kurdistan region of the north for four years. Now, some have been able to return and literally try to pick up the pieces of their lives, convents, and ministries. They currently struggle at many different levels in their daily lives. … Although I am unable to fully understand the depth of their suffering and loss, I will try to be fully and lovingly present to them and to express our solidarity with them in their present and future challenges.” she said.

Adrian Dominican Sister Nancy Jurecki, OP

Sister Nancy, Chief Mission Officer for Providence St. Joseph Health in Southern California, volunteered to be part of the delegation because of her deep, personal connections to the people of Iraq. She was influenced by a parishioner’s faithful intercessions for the well-being of the Iraqi people during the 1991 Gulf War, by her nephew’s service during the US incursion that began in 2003, and by her personal relationship with a sister from the congregation of St. Catherine of Siena, Iraq, with whom she lived.

Sister Nancy suspects she can’t fully comprehend the depths of the suffering of the Iraqi people, but she hopes to listen to their stories and be present to them. “Now, as much as ever, I desire to hear the stories and share the pain of remnant Christian families who are replanting their lives in the land where the Bible began,” she said. “In a sense, I will be fulfilling a desire and bearing witness to a unity that guns cannot destroy.”

Gloria Escalona, DNP, St. Albert the Great Chapter of Dominican Laity

Gloria Escalona, DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice), is semi-retired and volunteers as a health care provider in homeless shelters, hospitals, and nursing homes around the San Francisco Bay area. She looks forward to returning to Iraq after her first trip with Voices for Veritas III in 2001. That Dominican delegation traveled in opposition to the UN economic sanctions that were decimating Iraq’s infrastructure, eroding civil society, and taking the lives of Iraqi children. “That trip was life-changing,” she shared. “While traveling around the country was relatively safe, I could sense an impending conflict and more suffering for the people and wondered what I could do.” On that trip, she connected with the Dominican laity, a large and active group who taught catechism to Christian children and led Bible study groups in the neighborhoods. She is anxious to see who is still around and what they are doing. Gloria has several speaking engagements planned when she returns, at which she will share her photos and reflections.

The Dominican Sisters of Peace support this important trip in which Dominicans from the United States show solidarity with their Iraqi Dominicans sisters and brothers’ mission and ministry.

Sisters from many of the 19 U.S. Dominican congregations have also written letters of support that were translated into Arabic and will be carried to Iraq by the delegates.

Follow the delegation’s trip on Facebook (WeHaveFamilyInIraq2018) and on the Dominican Sisters Conference website, dominicansistersconference.org.
The Dominican Sisters of Peace invite you to learn more about our mission by visiting our website at oppeace.org. The Dominican Sisters of Peace are part of a worldwide Dominican family, the Order of Preachers. For more than 800 years, Dominicans have continued to preach the Gospel in word and deed. Today, thousands of sisters, nuns, priests, brothers, associates, and laity minister in more than 100 countries around the world. To learn more about our global family, visit www.op.org.

Posted in News

What you Wear may Contribute to the World’s Warming

Blog by Sr. Roberta Miller, OP

Don’t like wrinkled clothes? Don’t like to iron? Then buy materials with polyester? Perhaps we want to think again about what is convenient, practical, or time saving.  All choices have consequences, right?

Sisters and Associates in the Congregation participate in a campaign against the wide use of plastics—straws, containers, bags. Clothing/materials have escaped our attention, yet 60% of our clothing made out of plastic.  Polyester comes from oil—a polymer which is a long chain of repeating molecular units; the synthetic polyester of clothing results from a chemical reaction involving coal, petroleum, air, and water (one type: purified terephthalic acid or PTS). (For the non-chemical engineer the names are tongue-twisters.) Polyester has become ubiquitous in clothing because the threads in the spinning process can be spun short or long which enables blending the threads with the natural fabric threads of cotton, wool or silk. And so we can have our warm fleece or non-wrinkle pants or fast-drying shirts. Did you know that China is a leader in producing all plastic clothing?

A major problem exists, however: producing polyester requires great amounts of fuel—oil and coal—which releases significant CO2 into our atmosphere—adding to the CO2 and methane trapping the sun’s heat on our earth and into our oceans. We in the US and peoples around the world in the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia experience its consequences of extremes in heat, fires, droughts, and home losses. Do we include all the animals, fish, and birds lost in these events?

Another related consequence is adding to the amount of plastic in our earth’s water. In laundering fleece and other materials-often of 50-50 polyester fabric composition-microfibers are released by heat into the waste water, ending up in our oceans, lakes, rivers for ingestion by aquatic creatures and us.

All of us can and must speak up and resist continued dependence upon fossil fuels.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog