Creation Bears the Imprint of the Synergy in the Trinity – Introduction

Blog by Sr. Pat Connick, OP

Scientists study various parts of creation, but since our knowledge of creation by this 21st century is so vast, at least compared to what it once was, it has become convenient to split our study of it into disciplines.  As convenient as these divisions are in taming the enormous amount of knowledge, scientia, we have about the universe, the splitting of creation into bits makes its beautiful integrity less obvious.  In this writing, I hope to reclaim a sense of this most wondrous fabric of the universe by examining how the various parts relate to one another and in that relationship how creation reflects its Trinitarian Creator we call God.

Each specialty in science studies a slice of creation, and in each one, we see how the whole made from its parts is more than their simple sum, because of the relationship that exists among them!  What is less obvious is that this pattern occurs in every other science and just like a nested Russian doll, one layer can fit inside the other.  Unlike the nested Russian doll, however, the synergy of coming together produces something new: what is made from the union of the parts has different and more complex properties as well as a potential for providing the building blocks for the next level. Some people call the coming together of the parts holons, to emphasize that the whole is not equal to, but greater than the sum of its parts.

In the coming months, I would like to take you on a “guided tour” through various levels of our universe.  Some of these will be familiar to you, depending on where you have spent your life looking at creation; others will be unfamiliar, even at first perhaps uncomfortable.  Don’t stress…be curious about the unity and the relationships.  Don’t get distracted by the plurality of dialects within the various subdisciplines used to describe this integrative process.  It is all the same process of community reflecting the Trinity as it produces more than a simple addition of the original parts.

What are these various levels?  How many are there?  Today’s blog begins with a simple catalogue, not necessarily complete, of various types of scientists and what they study:

  • Particle physicists study particles of the smallest types, like quarks, and how they combine to form the nuclei of atoms.
  • Chemists study atoms and how they form smaller molecules by their interactions.
  • Biochemists study larger biomolecules and chemical cycles that occur in organelles and cells.
  • Histologists study how whole cells operate and how they come together to make tissues.
  • Anatomists and physiologists study how tissues make up the organs which make up the systems in the body, and how they operate.
  • Microbiologists study how the smallest living creatures live, move and are alive.
  • Zoologists and botanists study not only organisms in their entirety, but collectives of organisms, like herds, as well.
  • Ecologists study relationships within local ecosystems and regional biomes.
  • Meteorologists study short-term weather patterns; oceanographers, the composition, life in and currents of the oceans; geologists, how rock emerges from the mantle, is transformed by weather and pressure, and then subtends back into the mantle. Each studies the Earth as a whole.
  • Climate scientists study the rhythms of long-term weather patterns on Earth, and how these rhythms are affected by the rhythms of the solar system.
  • Astronomers study the solar system itself and galaxies, even clusters of galaxies.
  • Cosmologists study the universe: its beginning and how it has evolved and is evolving.

In the coming monthly installments of the blog, I propose a guided tour of what synergies and interactions a scientist might see within his/her specific discipline, but not necessarily in the above order.  My hope is that we will all begin to see more clearly just how close God is to us, at every level of the universe, no matter where we are!   We may even understand more deeply how where we are informs us about Whose we are, and how what we do in our own communities reflects God’s own Self too.  All aboard!


Posted in Weekly Word

Dominican Sister of Peace Columba Casey

Sr. Columba Casey, OP

Dominican Sister of Peace Columba (Ellen Leora) Casey (100) died at the Sansbury Care Center, St. Catharine, KY, on March 23, 2019.

Sr. Columba was born in 1918 in Greeley, NE, one of three children of Loretta Dugan and John Casey. She entered the Congregation in 1935, made first profession in 1937 and took her final vows in 1940.

Sr. Columba earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, Education and Philosophy from Siena College in Memphis, TN. In her eagerness to be the best teacher possible, she also earned certification as a Reading Specialist, and as an Education Media Specialist.

Sr. Columba’s first ministry was in education, where she shaped the young hearts and minds of primary students in New York, Kentucky, Illinois and Nebraska. She also served as a principal and teacher in several schools across Nebraska. Sr. Columba loved learning and study and shared that love with her students for more than 50 years.

At a time when most people would consider retirement, Sr. Columba entered a completely new ministry at the age of 70. She acted as a Pastoral Minister at the veterans’ home in Grand Island, NE, while also serving the parish of St. Libory in Grand Island.  Her ministry expanded into visiting the sick and elderly in Grand Island hospitals and offering a loving and compassionate presence to grieving families at the Kleine and Curran funeral homes in Grand Island. Sr. Columba’s ministry to the sick and bereaved continued well into her 80’s.

Sr. Columba retired to the St. Catharine Motherhouse in 2002. She continued to serve her community by volunteering and doing needlework for sale in the Motherhouse gift shop. After her move to the Sansbury Care Center, Sr. Columba entered a ministry of prayer and service.

Throughout her life, Sr. Columba loved her friends and family, keeping up with them via calls and letters. Among the members of her community, she was known as gracious and grateful, even in the last days of her life. In her preaching at Sr. Columba’s service, Sr. Rosemary Rule remembered that the words “Thank you, dear,” were her mantra, even in her final days.

Sr. Columba is survived by several nieces and nephews.

Sr. Columba was remembered at her wake on March 27, and her funeral on March 28, both at Sansbury Care Center Chapel.  Sr. Columba was interred at the St. Catharine Motherhouse cemetery.

Memorial gifts in Sr. Columba Casey’s memory may be submitted securely online or sent to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Drive, Columbus, OH 43219.

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

Posted in Obituaries

Racism – Continued

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

Last week, I attended the JCWR (Justice Conference of Women Religious) Convocation called Racism Through the Prism of Social Justice. Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Patricia Chappell and Anne-Louise Nadeau led the group in a better understanding of how racism plays out in our religious communities.  Racism can touch all facets of a congregation including governance and leadership, decision making, vocations, ministries, living choices, financial resources, and formation. They encouraged us to ask how our sisters of color and young women of color discerning religious life experience us.

We learned that sisters of color often have a higher incidence of illness and die younger. Is this because of the stress they feel… the exclusion?  Do sisters of color leave because they feel forced to give up their cultures or traditions and replace them with Eurocentric ones?  Patty and Anne-Louise challenged the justice promoters present to consider how their congregations were addressing white privilege and racial oppression….to ask ourselves what gets in the way of accepting each sister as she is and to be in right relationship with women of color.

We are often hesitant to have conversations about white privilege because of the feelings of blame and guilt that they raise up in us. We want to scream “I’m not racist!” and that may be true but those of us who are white are gifted with privilege that pervades our lives. We must become aware of how privilege influences our thinking and acting.  Sr. Marcelline Koch, a Springfield Dominican and part of their Anti-racism team, shared that we must educate ourselves and others about the presence of white privilege, and learn when we need to listen more carefully to persons of color. We must have the courage to speak against racist or ignorant comments when they occur.  She stressed that we must promote inclusion and think from a position of abundance not scarcity.

We have been faithful to our study of racism over the past two years and that puts us light years ahead of many congregations. But we are only at the beginning of our journey towards truly being anti-racist. We need to explore how racism undergirds our other justice areas such as immigration, trafficking, violence, and care for creation. We need to intentionally and consistently recognize our privilege and how it has impacted our sisters and associates of color. We need to take risks to have honest dialog about this issue. It’s hard. But…

Do we really love our congregation enough to be honest, vulnerable and transparent together?

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates – Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Making peace with the earth.   Savor the food that you eat today and make sure to eat everything on your plate. A thirteen minute TED talk featuring Elena Matsui discusses ways to reduce the waste of one-third of the world’s food that either spoils or gets thrown away before it ever reaches a plate. Watch now.

Fast and Pray.  This week we pray for the unaccompanied children and youth now in detention that they may soon be released to their sponsors.  We pray as well for their worried parents and relatives.

Call your representative today. The house will vote on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, a 1994 law that assists victims of domestic and sexual violence and expired in February. Roughly half of all female homicide victims are killed by “intimate partners” – current or former spouses or dating partners. The bill includes:

  • Provisions to prevent domestic abusers from accessing firearms
  • Enhanced health care provider training in identification and response
  • Enhanced services for safety and behavioral care
  • Prevention investments that will support children who witness domestic violence, encourage youth to build healthy relationships and engage men and boys in the prevention of domestic and sexual violence
  • Expanded protections for victims of violence on tribal lands
  • Supportive services and protections for victims, focusing on economic independence, employment opportunity, and safe housing

For more information, read this article from the NY Times. Tell your representative that women deserve this protection.

A Season of New Life and Hope.  Sr. Kathleen Coll, SSJ shares the story of a survivor of sex trafficking in Catholic Sisters Against Trafficking.  Spring 2019, a season of new life and hope, is not disappointing us. Everywhere we look, Earth broke through the winter-hardened soil with crocus and daffodil’s tender shoots. Glorious colors and sweet-smelling flowers greet our senses and lift our hearts for a welcome break after gloomy, cold days of winter. Stories of survivors of commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking also, abound with new life. This is one woman’s reflection on her journey through the darkness to a hope-filled new season of life.

Most people would think being released from jail a year early was a good thing, but for me it was a disaster.  I had nowhere to live and would be plunged right back into my old life of prostitution and drugs.

I had been working furiously to find a program that would take me.  I wrote dozens of letters, but resources are very limited in prison.  I kept plugging away and thought I had a year to find placement, when I got notice of early release.

My family wanted no part of me after all I had put them through.  An old boyfriend would take me back, and I knew what that meant.  All the work I had done while in jail would be for nothing. If I went back to him, I would have been dead by now.

On the street, depression would set in, and I’d settle for anything, because of him and I felt I didn’t deserve better.  It wasn’t until after my 22nd arrest that I realized that I really needed help, and started looking for a program to take me. There were no beds in any programs but then, I found Dawn’s Place.

Now, I’m so appreciative. My whole family is in my life. No one talks about the past or judges me. I’m more grateful than I’ve ever been. I had no life, no soul before. I wake up thanking God that I’m alive. I wouldn’t change my life because it made me appreciate even the littlest things that I used to take for granted.

The time in my life when I felt that I didn’t deserve Dawn’s Place, that I just deserved all the bad things that happened to me, seems so long ago. Dawn’s Place gave me back my self-esteem, helped me on the road to good health, empowered me to find housing and a job, made me independent, strengthened me to stay clean and sober and lead me to find my voice.

Stories like this are evidence of the strength and resiliency of the human spirit and offer the possibility of a brighter future to other women in critical need.

NETWORK challenges us to recommit to racial justice this Lent. This week they focus on the systemic destruction of the Native peoples of North America in  A Nation Built on Stolen Land.  From the first interactions with Native Americans to the modern day, white colonizers in North America have worked toward one thing: theft. Theft of land, theft of natural resources, theft of culture and identity. Racial justice demands that we recognize and remedy these thefts. This resource cannot comprehensively recount the entire history of Native Americans, but we hope that this will be a starting point for you to begin learning about the peoples our nation has attempted to make invisible. Click here a PDF of this resource.

Here are some highlights in this week’s resource:

White Supremacy Continues Harming Native Americans Today:  Recently, NETWORK staff traveled to New Mexico and hosted a round table in Albuquerque to listen to Native leaders and leaders in women’s health, childcare, dental care, food security, and immigration sectors share their experience working to mend the gaps. In this resource, we share testimonials from Myrriah Gómez from Tularosa Basin Downriders Consortium Steering Committee and Yvette Pino, Mescalero Apache. Read their full testimonies on our website.

A Story of Resistance and Hope: The Native American experience is one of rich tradition, faith, and resistance. From the American Indian Movement of the 1970s, to the Standing Rock protests around the Dakota Access Pipeline, Native American resistance to the legal expression of white supremacy continues to this day.

This week’s resource also includes a testimonial from Representative Deb Haaland (NM-01). She says, “As one of two Native American women ever elected to Congress, I know it is a historic time to be engaged in politics regardless of background. We have been elected to lead during a time of divisiveness; a time where white supremacy has been proliferated by the current administration… My colleagues and I took an oath on January 3rd and I did so solemnly with the understanding of what it means to stand up, speak out, and lead when others in elected office are abusing their power.”

Partisan Gerrymandering at the Supreme Court.  Gerrymandering involves drawing political boundaries to give one party a numeric advantage over an opposing party. Last week the Supreme Court heard a set of three redistricting cases that could result in ending partisan gerrymandering across the nation. The cases involve the most egregious examples of gerrymandering in which elected officials made ‘no bones about’ an intent to discriminate against disfavored voters and create unfair maps. These cases present extremes in gerrymandering, and the litigants (disfavored voters) seek to rein in the worst gerrymanders to restore voters’ faith in the voting process.

Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina and its companion cases assert that partisan gerrymandering by both major parties violated voters’ rights. Banning partisan gerrymandering would make huge strides in restoring voters’ faith in the electoral process. The Supreme Court now has a huge opportunity to declare that, once and for all, politicians cannot choose their voters—voters must be free to choose who they want to represent them. You can learn more about these cases on the League of Women Voters blog.

For more information about gerrymandering, check out this article by Christopher Ingraham in the Washington Post. This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see. How to steal an election: a visual guide.

Racism can affect even the most positive nonprofits. Helen Kim Ho describes 8 Ways People of Color are Tokenized in Nonprofits. She explains that Tokenism is covert racism and is used by those in power to maintain their privilege by exercising social, economic, and/or political muscle against people of color. Tokenism achieves the same while giving those in power the appearance of being non-racist and even champions of diversity because they recruit and use POC as racialized props.



Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Brighten the lives of others with hope …

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I was looking at the list of “notable month-long observances” and on the April calendar is National Month of Hope.

Hope – the power to believe that anything can happen; the thing that keeps us going when we want to give up; the very thing that Ralph Waldo Emerson said we get by giving.

Hmmm … Can we really get hope by giving hope?

Some scientists, religious leaders and advocates of various causes say that we can. And my life experience tells me that we can. Whenever I have lifted the spirits of someone, I have found that it fuels my own resilience – imparting hope to others actually gives me hope.

Every day, each of us is presented with hope-giving opportunities (whether we recognize them or not). Today, I am encouraging you to take advantage of those opportunities to bring a ray of hope to the world by contributing your wisdom, time, kindness, and resources.

Here are a few ways to brighten the days of others:

  • Volunteer at a shelter, mission, or food kitchen.
  • Have a meaningful and healthy conversation with family, friends, or co-workers.
  • Donate to a charity.
  • Post words of hope on social media.
  • Take the time to share your story of overcoming with someone who is going through hard times.
  • Volunteer to read to children.
  • Help clean up and beautify neighborhoods and parks.
  • Encourage someone to keep going or working toward a goal.
  • Spend time with someone who is lonely.
  • Praise someone for the good you see in them.

April is typically a time when buds come into full bloom and brighten our days.  It can also be a time when we commit to lending a hand in lifting the spirits of others – giving hope that will sustain us throughout the year.

Posted in Associate Blog