Walking On The Water Is A Lot Like Discerning A Vocation To Religious Life…

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

Preface:  Dominican Sisters of Peace are members of the Order of Preachers.  We are called to preach the Word of God with our lives, our actions and our words.  When called forth to preach, we pray with the scripture, read commentaries on it, and look for its relevancy to people’s lives and our world. Then, we step forth in faith and share the fruits of our contemplation.  Often, this takes place in the context of the Liturgy of the Hours, a retreat day or from the pulpit when appropriate.  Recently, I spent some time reflecting on the account of Jesus Walking on the Water.  I would like to share that reflection with you today. 

A reflection on John 6:16 – 21

Jesus seems to make a habit of scaring his disciples.

To be honest, if I was in the boat crossing the sea to Capernaum, I would die of fright at the sight of Jesus taking a stroll on the open sea.  At least, I’d be in good company with the disciples, as we read in this passage, “they began to be afraid.” Jesus reassured them by saying, “It is I.  Do not be afraid.”  His saying this to me would have sealed my fate and I definitely would have fainted.  However, his disciples, being people of much greater faith than I and having walked with him and seen or heard about him doing miraculous things like this before, believed him because of their experience.

One of my favorite Dominican Saints, Catherine of Siena, trusted Jesus with all of her heart, mind and spirit.  Jesus was her constant companion as she spent time in her tiny room under the stairs of her family home.  In the Dialogue, she shares the intimate conversations she has with God as she grows in her own faith and in her relationship with him.

This deep faith and trust she had in Jesus helped her to find the courage to step out from her inner room to serve her family and the people of Siena.  Her confidence in God’s will also aided her as she spoke out to the political and ecclesiastical leaders of her time.  She was not afraid because she knew she was being called and led by her beloved.  Her prophetic leadership helped to bring about unity in her country and church.

Whose prophetic voice is being drawn forth today?  Are we, am I, and are you willing to speak truth to power?  We live in a time of great upheaval, destruction of our planet, turmoil in the lives of our people, and the passing of entire species.  At the same time, we believe that God is guiding us, giving us the courage and the words to speak – to shout from the rooftops.

What is the message God is calling us to preach today?  Will you?  Will I?

Is God calling you to preach that message with your life as a Dominican Sister of Peace?  If so, contact us to begin the conversation.  As Jesus encouraged his disciples, “Do not be afraid.”




Posted in God Calling?, News

Hate Groups

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

The Southern Poverty Law Center did its homework once again and found that there are 1,020 active hate groups operating in the United States.

1,020 organized groups exist because their members hate something or someone. Seriously? That is 1,020 organized groups with who knows how many members whose purpose for existing is to show their hate for something or someone. That is a whole lot of hate. What do they hate? Avocados? Spinach? Dogs or cats? I think not. Most of the time it is human beings: people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, Muslims, Native Americans; anyone who is not white, not Christian and  not born here in America. Not sure why Native Americans have a hate group against them. Oh well, life is a mystery.

Most recently, we have seen the hate shown to the Muslim community in New Zealand, and here in America there have been videos from college campuses (not from the 1970s or 80s but today) where students are in blackface, have nooses hanging from doorways, show swastikas on walls. Hate is alive and well.

As a Dominican Sister of Peace, it would be a little ironic for me to belong to a hate group but wouldn’t it be OK to hate the haters? Probably not, and you all know why. People of the Gospels live under the mantle of Love thy neighbor as you would love your self. So I guess that if you hate your self, then a hate group would be the perfect fit.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

Sr. Esther Calderon, OP, Receives Award from Salvatorian’s Jordan Ministry

Dominican Sister of Peace Sister Esther Calderon, left, receives the Jordan Ministries “Alive in the Savior” Award on March 3, 2019. She is shown here with her co-awardee, Sr. Gladys Echenique, Dominican Sisters of Oakford, right.

Tucson, AZ – Dominican Sister of Peace Sr. Esther Calderon has devoted her entire religious life to the pillars of Dominican Life – prayer, study, service and community. Her dedication was recognized earlier this month when she was honored with the Alive in the Savior Award at a dinner and ceremony by the Jordan Ministry in Tucson, AZ on Sunday, March 3, 2019.

Originally from Arizona, Sr. Esther spent much of her professional life in the healthcare service in Louisiana, Idaho, and Colorado before her ministry drew her to Tucson. She was a home health nurse, a Tucson Parish Nurse, a hospice home care nurse, at Carondelet Hospital in Tucson, and also enjoyed life and ministry with Tohono O’odham Nation, working at Sells Indian Hospital west of Tucson. More than offering care for the body, Sr. Esther ministered to weary souls and broken spirits, offering peace and comfort with every visit.

During her nursing career, Sr. Esther was also active in prison ministry and served as an educator for Spanish-speaking deacons and catechists in the Tucson diocese.

Although she retired in 2017, Sr. Esther continues to serve the people of God and her diocese. Her ministry of prayer now includes house calls to the sick of the parish, bringing communion to those who are homebound, and remains active in her prison ministry. She also offers comfort to families suffering medical trauma in local hospitals, praying with the families and assisting how she can.

Sr. Esther Calderon at Casa Alitas ,a diocesan shelter for migrants released by ICE.

“One thing that brings me great joy,” Sister Esther says, “is bringing the Eucharist to those who are sick or in prison. Sharing the body of Christ is very important to me, and this ministry lifts my spirits and gives me the energy to keep going.”

Tucson’s proximity to the border has also opened a new ministry for Sr. Esther. She serves as a volunteer at Casa Alitas, a diocesan shelter for migrants released by ICE, and at the Eloy ICS Detention Center in Eloy, AZ.

Sr. Esther is also involved in No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization dedicated to increasing effort to stop the deaths of migrants in the desert and to achieving the enactment of a set of Faith-Based Principles for Immigration Reform.


Posted in News

They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot

Blog by Karen Martens, OPA

As a child, I didn’t think about soil except using it to make a perfect mud cake. All these years later, as a gardener and promotor of landscaping with native plants, I’ve come to realize that soil is a sacred commodity and we must continually make peace with it.  Soil is a living ecosystem, far more complex than once thought. It has been written that we owe our lives to healthy soil. Yet, it is often overlooked by the average person and, in fact, is threatened through our actions. Soil is lost 13-40 times faster than the rate of renewal and sustainability. Soil conservation on a larger scale is land conservation and it is all essential to the health of the planet.

Healthy soil has billions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes which provide nutrients for plant growth. Healthy soil filters and buffers pollutants and absorbs and holds water. Healthy soil is important for human health through its essential role in food production. Farmers must especially be mindful of keeping soil healthy through actions that prevent soil erosion, reduce tillage and prevent overgrazing. Organic matter is the most important aspect of healthy soil. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that for every 1 percent increase in organic matter in soil, U.S. farms could store the amount of water that goes over Niagara Falls in 150 days! That is amazing.

Unfortunately, soil and land are undervalued. There has been much land pollution as a result of human activities. You can probably recall examples. I mourned the loss of a field around a university that used to be home to pheasants. Now it is a large parking lot just like Joni Mitchell wrote about. Forests and wetlands have been lost through construction and agriculture. Overcrowded landfills are a result of over consumption and excessive garbage that cannot be recycled.

So how can we make peace with the soil?  Where do we fit in? Can we advocate for land conservation? Can we financially contribute to land conservation efforts? Can we conserve and wisely manage land that we own? Can we eat locally and support small farmers? Can we diversify the plants on our properties which, in turn, supports healthy soil? Can we compost and use it to enrich the soil around our homes and properties? Can we live simply by reducing our own consumption and reduce what we contribute to landfills? None of us can do all these things, but we all can do some of them.  Just doing one can help make peace with the soil provided so lovingly by our God.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog


Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Thirty-five red dresses give voice to thousands of our Indigenous sisters – women and girls – who have been murdered or who have gone missing.

The collection of dresses, called the REDress Project, is currently on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in our nation’s capital. Jaime Black, the artist who created the project, describes it as an expression of her grief for thousands of murdered and missing Native victims.

A recent report by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights states that Native American women are 10 times more likely to be murdered and four times more likely to be sexually assaulted than the national average.

And a study released last year by the Urban Indian Health Institute, a division of the Seattle Indian Health Board, showed that while the U.S. Department of Justice’s missing persons’ database officially recorded only 116 missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, there were actually 5,712 reported missing.

Well, that’s a discrepancy, if I ever saw one. But it is no surprise to me. And it is no surprise to me that my Indigenous sisters haven’t gotten the attention they deserve.

(I don’t even want to talk about the research that shows the racial disparity in dedicating resources and conversation to missing women of color, revealing the unacceptable fact that white female bodies are viewed as more valuable than the bodies of women of color by the mainstream media in America – and dare I say, law enforcement).

It is shameful that a group of women who have been the target of violence since the colonization of America are treated with indifference and that our government doesn’t seem to be able to coordinate law enforcement agencies to account for the numbers of missing and murdered Indigenous women (let alone solve their cases).

Unfortunately, the REDress Project’s month-long installation at the Smithsonian ends on March 31, as it is displayed to commemorate Women’s History Month.  If you can’t get to Washington D.C. by then, you can continue to raise your awareness about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls movement. And you can break the silence around the issue by raising your voice.

Posted in Associate Blog, News