A Journey That Was Meant To Be

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

It was a horrendous trip – delayed by a winter storm far worse than expected with states and citizens not prepared or used to the amount of snow and ice.  We sat three hours on a closed highway in Oklahoma. Then once we got into New Mexico, we were trying to beat another storm so we kept going.  Unfortunately, it caught up to us about half way through the state and late into the night.  I won’t go into the details but we were traveling much slower than the speed limit and had a few harrowing moments.

Part way through this journey we realized that our experience might have some similarities to those of the refugees that we would be interacting with. We were all desperate to get to El Paso… we wanted to escape the danger of the snow and begin our service, they wanted to escape the violence of gangs and poverty and begin a new, more promising life. We were both at the mercy of the government… we needed them to plow and salt the roads, they needed to be processed and sent to a hospitality center.  We all needed rest and refreshment after difficult journeys.

But there were some big differences.  We could afford to stop at a nice hotel to wait out the storm.  We had a safe, warm vehicle to travel in, plenty of warm clothing, and nutritious food.  We knew where we were going and how to communicate with others if we were stuck.  The asylum seekers were not so fortunate sleeping rough, bringing little more than the clothes on their backs, and with little money for food or shelter. Most had never travelled by plane and where afraid of this final leg of their journey to their sponsors.

We arrived safely in El Paso after 18 hours or so and completed our ministry in the Pastoral Center of the Diocese of El Paso.  Each of us shared the gifts we had for language, cooking, organizing, and cleaning.  We met some courageous mothers and fathers from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, Cuba, and Russia whose only desire was to live in peace and provide for their families.  We were blessed over and over again during our two weeks.  It was a journey that was meant to be.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Stand Firm Amid Hatred and Incivility

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I had just finished reading an article about the death of John Salter Jr. (aka John Hunter Gray), when I was confronted with the video of white Catholic high school boys taunting an elder Native American Vietnam Veteran at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial in our nation’s capital.

I was outraged by the despicable display of white privilege looking down its nose at a man who put his life on the line in Vietnam and seeing him as less than human. The Omaha elder was in Washington D.C. for the Indigenous Peoples March when he encountered the group of Kentucky high school boys, wearing “Make America Great Again” caps, who had just participated in the March for Life.

The incident illustrates how white privilege empowers people to behave in the most inhumane, disgraceful, reprehensible, and hateful ways. It enabled white kids to mock the Little Rock Nine at Little Rock Central High School in 1957 in Arkansas. It empowered young white people to douse Salter, Anne Moody, and Joan Trumpauer with sugar, mustard, and ketchup at a segregated lunch counter at a Woolworth’s store in 1963 in Jackson, Mississippi and to burn Salter with cigarettes, throw pepper in his eyes and attack him with brass knuckles and broken glass.

(Sidebar: I am compelled to ask if those were the days when America was great?  Is that what the “Make America Great Again” message means?)

Maybe it wasn’t commonly called white privilege in 1963 and 1957, but the phenomenon was alive and well – the privilege to move through the world without your race defining your interactions, the power to remain silent in the face of racial inequity, the privilege to choose when and where you want to take a stand, the power of knowing that you and your humanity are safe.

Even in the face of the ugliness that was shown in the video (including the image of a high school boy with an arrogant smirk on his face, staring down the Omaha elder), there are some trying to discount or justify the actions of these boys and explain away the inhumane treatment of the Vietnam Veteran – at least two parents reportedly blamed a group of “Black Muslims” and the Omaha elder himself; others blamed his chaperones and parents. (Note: the “Black Muslims” referred to by the parent were actually identified as Black Hebrew Israelites).

But today – the day that we commemorate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. – I would like to highlight those voices that condemned the actions of the boys who mocked the elder: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, Covington Catholic High School and Covington Mayor Joe Meyer (who technically isn’t the mayor of the municipality, Park Hills, where the boys’ high school is located). The people behind these voices chose to stand for what is right, when they could have chosen to be silent.

“… because of the actions of people who live in Northern Kentucky, our region is being challenged again to examine our core identities, values, and beliefs. Regardless of what exact town we live in, we need to ask ourselves whether behavior like this DOES represent who we are and strive to be. Is this what our schools teach? Are these the beliefs that we as parents model and condone?” Meyer wrote in an op-ed.

For me, the voices of those who had the courage to speak out against injustice, remind me of the wise words of Rev. King: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

The question today is: Where do you stand in this climate of hatred and incivility?

“However young you are, you have a responsibility to seek to make your nation a better nation in which to live. You have a responsibility to seek to make life better for everybody. And so you must be involved in the struggle of freedom and justice.” – Martin Luther King Jr. (“What is Your Life’s Blueprint?”, October 26, 1967, Philadelphia)

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Sr. Lois Laronde, OP

Sr. Lois Laronde, OP

Dominican Sister of Peace Lois (Therese Albert) Laronde, OP, 83, died on December 19, 2018, at the Mohun Health Care Center of the Dominican Sisters of Peace in Columbus, OH.

Born on August 4, 1935, Sister Lois was one of the two children of Lillian McAdoo and Albert Laronde of Arlington, MA. She entered religious life in 1953 after graduating from high school, saying that she wanted to serve God “as best as I know how in return for all of the graces and blessings which He has so graciously given to me.”

Sr. Lois earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Siena College in Memphis, TN, in 1969. Her first ministry was in education; she taught elementary school children in Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and West Virginia. She took her responsibility to her students very seriously, attending summer classes and continuing education to keep herself current with changing educational practices.

In the early 1980s, Sr. Lois served as Chaplain at Cushing and Bon Secour Hospitals in Cambridge, MA. Typical of her desire to offer the best to those she served, Sr. Lois returned to study at Emmanuel College in Boston and earned a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling. She continued teaching in Cambridge before becoming Activities Director at the Windsor House in Cambridge, then worked as an Instructional Aide at the Cunniff School.

Even after her retirement, Sr. Lois continued to use her talents to aid her Congregation, volunteering at Rosary Manor.

In her remembrance of Sr. Lois at the Memorial Mass in St. Catharine, Sr. Ann Bernardine Shaw recalled Sr. Lois ‘sweet and gentle smile, saying it was an outward sign of her inner self, a woman grateful for the graces and blessings of God.

Sr Lois was preceded in death by her parents, Albert and Lillian McAdoo Laronde, and her brother, Albert Jr. She is survived by her sister-in-law, Jeanne Laronde.

Sr. Lois was celebrated by her Sisters in Columbus, OH, at a December 28 Memorial Mass at the Mohun Health Care Center Chapel. A Memorial Mass was held on January 11, 2019, at the Sansbury Care Center Chapel in St. Catharine, KY, and Sr. was interred at the St Catharine Motherhouse Cemetery

Memorial gifts in Sr. Lois’s memory may be sent to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Dr., Columbus, OH 43219 or submitted securely at oppeace.org.

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

 

Posted in Obituaries

An Influential Moment in My Vocation Journey

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Recently, I read an article by Global Sister’s report where several religious sisters offered reflections about Sisters who had influenced their vocation.  Most of us have memories of people who have inspired us or have been influential in our lives.  When I think of my own life, there are several people who have been significant in my journey into religious life.  There is one Sister in particular though who helped me fully realize the desire and possibility of such a call in my own life.

Some years before I decided seriously to discern a call to religious life, I met my first Dominican Sister. I had met many other religious women, a couple of them I knew fairly well, but I had never met a Dominican.  During the time I met this Sister, I had been secretly pondering the unlikely idea of religious life.   I will never forget the event, the room and the conversation where this Sister, unwittingly, brought this idea about religious life out of the shadows and into the forefront of my thinking.

I met this Sister for the first time during a meeting of a group where I was one of the newest members. The Sister was a returning member, but this was our first time being present together in the group.  As people were milling around, greeting each other before the start of our gathering, I remember noticing the new member as she greeted people, moving around talking, smiling and laughing.  I remember thinking there was something different about her.  Then, when I heard someone call her “Sister”—that really got my attention!  I remember thinking, “She’s a Sister?” I made a mental note to talk to her to find out what religious order she belonged to.  However, as it turned out, she found her way to me first!

The conversation started out as quite ordinary.  We exchanged pleasantries and she complimented me on the prayer service that I had just led with the group. I, in turn, thanked her and asked about where she lived and about her ministry.  I also asked about her community and specifically, if there were any African-Americans in her community.  Now, I was asking that question, simply, as a way to continue the conversation.   But, I will never forget the smile and cheery tone when she responded, “No, but you could be the first!”  Caught off guard, I started laughing, and said, “Oh no, Sister, not me!”  I suddenly found myself asking quite seriously, “Do you think I might have a vocation?”  She looked me in the eye and responded without hesitation, “Yes, I do.”

I never forgot that conversation.  While I was not ready to think about discernment at that time, future conversations, interactions and invitations to visit the community, helped me to eventually discern to say “yes” to the possibility of religious life.   I view that conversation as watering the seed that had already been planted.  It helped inspire the journey that eventually led me to become a Dominican Sister.  There were other Sisters (some from different congregations) and other moments that were inspiring or influential in my journey.  But it was the first Dominican Sister whom I met and our inspired conversation that became an influential moment in my vocation journey.

How about you?  Are there any Sisters who have influenced your life in some way?

In fact, maybe a Sister has even inspired you to think about the possibility of a call to religious life? Yes?  Call us, we can help.J

Peace.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Starting Over

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Have you ever baked cookies or a pie and realized that after all your preparations and work — that the delectably sweet thing you created burned to a crisp in an overly hot oven? Cookies are susceptible to overbaking, so I suspect that most of you have eaten an extra crispy cookie or they came out of your own oven, making you ready to pitch them in the trash.

Then you start over. Sooner or later, you find yourself back in the kitchen, ready to start again and pay attention in a different way.

I love cookies and I never met a pie I did not like. But I do not bake – I throw clay. Recently, over the Christmas break, my kiln load of four months’ work overfired. By a lot. So my beautiful large serving bowl — my favorite of the whole group – looked like a cake whose icing had melted and the flowers and swirls of color dripped down like rain on sidewalk chalk art, into an unredeemable mess. Other pieces that were supposed to be a bright and cheerful aqua celadon were dull greyish green. I was devastated and felt like I wasted a precious week in the studio, a time for renewal of spirit, mind and body. Like I said, it took me four months to create enough work to fill the kiln and most of it was a disappointment. To say I was grumpy is to put it mildly. I was baffled and obsessed and found myself talking about it way too much.

The problem was I did not know why the kiln fired so extremely hot since there was no evidence of anything wrong until after it had cooled. It takes about ten hours for the kiln to get to the desired 2228 degrees and then another 12 hours to cool, so we are not talking about an afternoon. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to get a kiln technician to examine my equipment and help me find a way out of this enormous funk.

Enter Chris Powell, a former production potter, teacher and genius kiln fixer. He saw the problem right away and with a few adjustments to the digital readout on the control box, all was well. This avoided my worst nightmare — that I would need to replace essential parts to the kiln.

After an hour of stimulating conversation about the technical aspect of our common craft, Chris left and I had a new leaser on my potter’s life, as well as a plan to make some corrections in my studio practice.  A new start, another chapter was about to begin.

Starting over can happen any time under any circumstances: baking cookies, making pots, in our spiritual life, in our relationships. Starting over is the beautiful thing about being a human being. Mistakes do not have to define us, they help us become more of who we are meant to be. Starting over is a gift we give ourselves, and a gift we can give each other. Starting over says that what I made is not really all that bad, it’s not the end of the world. Just do it again, better the next time and don’t torture yourself over small things. Encourage each other.

Starting over gives everyone another chance to get it right, whether it be in cookies, clay or people. So the next time you bite into an overly crispy cookie, tell the baker, “It’s delicious.”

Posted in News, Weekly Word