Parties in the Convent?

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

Our “House of Welcome” community likes to have parties.  We look forward to gathering our sisters, friends, co-workers, and families to celebrate life whenever we can.  For example, each year we have a Kentucky Derby party.  This year it was a “Cinco de Derby” party, as the Derby just so happened to coincide with “Cinco de Mayo.” We created and wore festive “Derby” hats, sang “Our Old Kentucky Home,” had a festive meal and cheered for our horses as we watched the Kentucky Derby.  Later in the spring, we had a farewell party for Sr. Bea – where we enjoyed party games on the lawn, ate picnic food and laughed well into the evening.  Some would call us a “Party House.”  One way we build and celebrate community (which is one of the pillars of our Dominican Life) is through our celebrations.

Just last week, we had an “Ethnic Advent party,” where each person brought a dish that represented their ethnic/cultural origins and highlighted old family recipes.  We had tamales, shepherd’s pie, Irish soda bread, Italian cookies and pastries, Mexican hot chocolate with chili, German mac’n cheese and a smorgasbord of other tasty offerings.  It mirrored the diversity of our community, anchored by our common bond of religious life and faith.  It began and ended with prayer and was sprinkled with laughter, song, and stories of life’s joys and challenges.

These parties remind me of the many parties Jesus and the disciples attended over the years of their ministry and lives.  Each of those gatherings mirrored the diversity of community and celebrated their common bonds of faith and hope.  Jesus ministered to and with the people around him in simple everyday kind of ways.  He gathered at tables, beside wells, and in places of worship.  This is what we do in our lives as disciples of Jesus. We do not have a party every day, but each day holds the potential for transformational encounters in the presence of our God who knew how to gather others at table and celebrate life.

When I first heard and began considering God’s call to religious life, I wondered if I would be lonely or if I would have to disappear into the “melting pot” of community.  My life as a Dominican Sister has been anything but lonely or melted into “sameness.”  In fact, I have been encouraged to become my best self as I grow into the unique person God created me to be.  I am amazed at the opportunities and challenges I have received in this life.  Thank you God for giving me the courage to say, “Yes” to your invitation.

In this season of Advent, take time to encounter the other – to be transformed – and to consider what God might be calling you to with your “One wild and precious life.”

Posted in God Calling?, News

Nuestra señora de Guadalupe

Blog by Lisset Mendoza, Director of the Dominican Learning Center.

She is more than just the mother of Jesus – she is the mother of all Mexicans and part of our Mexican national identity.

I can recall my early childhood years: our family and church community praying the rosary for 12 days before her feast day, going on pilgrimages, dressing up in traditional Mexican indigenous attire, waking up in the early morning hours to visit her and serenade her with songs. All of these memories are near and dear to my heart. My entire family has a strong devotion to our Lady – both Catholic and non-Catholic believers.

Thanks to God and the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I became a mother. Two doctors told me that chances of becoming pregnant were 10%. I prayed to our Lady for months and asked her if it was in God’s will to make me a mother, to allow for it to happen. If it were not God’s will, I would learn to live with His plan for me.

After only two months of prayer, I started to have odd symptoms and took a pregnancy test. Then I took another and another!

I called my doctor right away and again she said there was no way, the test must be wrong. She sent me to a lab where they ran a blood test. Sure enough, a day and a half later, she called and officially told me I was pregnant.

My son is truly our miracle child. As my husband and I considered names for our coming child, the name MATEO, which means Gift of God, was our first choice. Our Mateo was born on December 11th,  just hours before the Feast of our Lady. I know this is no coincidence.

Lisset Mendoza and her husband with a statue of our Lady.

I urge you to believe in her magical being and to enjoy one of my favorite songs to her.

¡Feliz día de la Virgen de Guadalupe!

Posted in Just Reflecting, News

Advent: Seeing Promise in the Meanwhile

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

An amazingly long time ago, in high school, I began learning guitar. For us starry-eyed “boomers”  there were a number of folk songs that were relatively simple chord-wise so could be learned quickly—and had social messages: “ Where have all the flowers gone,” “Blowing in the wind.” One I loved playing (three easy chords) was ”I can see a new day, a new day soon to be/where the storm clouds are all past/ and the sun shines on a world that is free…”

It was, like our Advent scriptures, a presentation of a vision. And the Hebrew scriptures, especially the prophets and the psalms, are replete with hopes rendered in concrete images. The wolf shall be the guest of the lamb—or as the painter Rousseau rendered the Peaceable Kingdom—a host of God’s creatures, predator and prey,  lying serenely together, surrounded by verdant jungle. More images: valleys made high and mountains made low, the crooked ways straight. The people streaming from East and West to God’s holy mountain, the shining city and the bountiful feast of rich foods and choice wines.

“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see….many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” (Luke 10:24)

Sometimes, in the increasing toxicity of the world we inhabit today, we’re tempted to close our eyes to all but the small safe havens we’ve built for ourselves, or to surrender to the endless battering from a world of troubles, and view the future as threatening darkness and use the present for simmering in resentment;  abandon our capacity for envisioning  peace and reconciliation, or the coming together of enemies—sheep and wolves, Palestinians and Israelis, Saudis and Yemenis, Republicans and Democrats….

But the truth is, we can and must see.  Our widening, deepening vision is a gift and task of our Baptism and our Dominican profession.  We see the weapons, the rubble, the starvation, the pollution and ruination of earth. But our Christian vision allows us the perspective of hope, that capacity to see beyond, to see more deeply, and recognize that even now, as we wait, Christ comes to us, among us, through us, in simple shimmerings of Incarnation and Redemption—small graces in words and actions of love and mercy, everyday kindnesses, contrition and forgiveness, a bandaid, a kleenex.  We view life with “gospel-tinted lenses.”  And we announce the Good News.

Advent is longing and yearning, hunger and thirst, darkness expecting sunrise, the mystery of “already and not yet.”  A Holy Interim between the First Pentecost and Last Advent, the dawning of creation and the dawning of New Creation. Advent bids us to preach God’s promised future, and to bring hope and joy to voice, even as we contemplate our own weak faith and eroding patience. Advent bids us not to turn away from the world but to trust that light can be found there, and to stand firm in our common human struggle for truth, take it to heart, and preach it from the housetops.

 Come Lord Jesus, come Compassionate Lover, come, Spirit who makes all things new. Come, be incarnate in us, among us and through us, stir up our hearts, prepare the feast, sing the song of salvation, and  shine through our expectant faces as we wait the day when “kindness and truth shall meet, justice and peace will kiss.”  When sorrow’s chains are broken, and the sun shines on a world that is free.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Peace & Justice Blog

Blog by Associate Mary Beth Auletto

This morning I reluctantly watched the video on child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo on last week’s OP Peace News. Tears came to my eyes as a watched the interview of an 11-year-old boy who just wants to go to school, but he has to make money for his family.  He works in cobalt mines; this part of the child trafficking that is rampant in the county.

As Sr.Barb pointed out, the DRC’s situation is dire.

And yet…

There is some light, both there and in our country. (watch the video to see the Sisters who with their school are making a difference! )

Today I write about the light of Freedom House Detroit.  Freedom House states their mission as follows:

“… a temporary home for indigent survivors of persecution from around the world who are seeking asylum in the United States and Canada. Our mission is to uphold a fundamental American principle, one inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, providing safety for those “yearning to breathe free.” In 2012 we became a formal partner in the Northern Tier Anti-Trafficking Consortium servicing victims of human trafficking. “ (retrieved 12/9/18)

Freedom House offers comprehensive free services to survivors, including legal counsel and English learning.  They have an extremely high success rate in helping their residents gain asylum in the United States.  Columbus has a nonprofit organization called Community Refugee and Immigrant Services that provides similar services.

At the Mid-West Fall Mission Group, four residents and the executive director of Freedom House came to present to us.  We were witness to the story of a young Congolese Woman refugee who was sexually assaulted before fleeing from the DRC.  Her pain, fear, and trauma were apparent as she haltingly shared with us her story.  Deb the executive director and other Freedom House Community Members lovingly placed a hand on her shoulder; many of us who listened breathed out compassion and support in the patient silence and rapt attention accentuated with subdued sniffles indictive of tears.  Today, I pray for this young woman and all women and children of the DRC.  I am glad that in addition to praying, our community is supporting places like Freedom House financially.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Your Pinch of Salt can Help Season the World

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Last week, as I listened to a eulogist pay tribute to a longtime religious woman during a Memorial Mass, I was moved to explore my own value and effectiveness as a Christian.

Arleen Kisiel, O.P. (a Dominican Sister of Peace), described the late Sr. Rosemarie Robinson as “the salt of the earth” — what a legacy!

Salt of the earth is something that we, as Christians, aspire to be (based on the phrase derived from the Bible, where Jesus tells his followers, during The Sermon on the Mount, that “Ye are the salt of the earth”).

In ancient times, salt was not only used as a seasoning for food, but as a preservative, a disinfectant, a component of ceremonial offerings, and as a commodity for exchange (or payment). Salt was valuable (and still is today).

While salt can have negative connotations, salt of the earth is coined in reference to the value of salt. Valued workers are said to be “worth their salt” and the word salary has the root sal, or salt.

To be salt of the earth is to be of high value and importance. As salt of the earth, we are called (or challenged, if you prefer) to be a positive, purifying influence in the world. That begs us to ask ourselves: Are we influencing the world or is the world influencing us?

Then, there is the question that follows the declaration that “Ye are the salt of the earth” in the biblical scripture: “but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot…”.

Salt can become tasteless when contaminated by other minerals. As salt, our challenge is to not become contaminated – to not allow our basic, fundamental goodness to be corrupted; to not sit in silence when we should be speaking out; to not idly stand by when we should be taking action or advocating; to not be disqualified from service because we have lost our zest.

If we lose our saltiness, we lose our value and usefulness. We lose our effectiveness as a positive influence in the world.

Salt is a necessity of life and I think most of us would agree that food tastes better with a little salt. It doesn’t take much. In fact, recipes often call for a pinch of salt.

A pinch of salt can make a big difference in taste, just like a pinch of our salt can do much to reduce bitterness, chaos, and darkness and bring peace to the world.

The way we live, the things we say, the attitudes we entertain, the lifestyle we adopt produce positive or negative results. Our goal is to be a positive influence – valuable salt – in our own little corner of the world.

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.” (Matthew 5:13, The Message)

Posted in Associate Blog, News