All You Who Are Thirsty

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald

All you who are thirsty, come to the water.  Is 55:1

These words of God spoken through the Prophet Isaiah are both an invitation and a command.  Ever obedient (sic) I have accepted the invitation and O’ so willingly embraced the command.  Thus, I have come away on retreat this week to St. Mary’s by-the-Sea Retreat House in Cape May Point, NJ.  Before I totally unplug, I wanted to share some thoughts with you . . .

“Each sister makes an annual retreat.” Constitutions of the Dominican Sisters of Peace

My room is simple, ‘by design’ (so says the brochure on the small desk); with a bed, bureau, old clothes tree and a Morris chair facing an open window.  Through the window, I can see the Atlantic Ocean.  A strip of sand, protected by a sturdy sea wall, is all that lies between the house and the sea.  Ahh…to rest here in God’s love is a great privilege and joy.  Retreat is a time for me to renew my relationship with God, to recharge my spiritual batteries and to give thanks for all that has been and that will be.

Retreats by the sea hold a special place in my heart and in my vocation story.  One of the places I discerned my call to religious life was at the Jersey shore.  The year was 1988.  It was January and I was on retreat with some friends in Sea Isle City, NJ.  The other women, along with my friend Jean’s dog Trinity, and I had prayed Morning Office together and the scripture had been Isaiah 55:1, “All you who are thirsty, come to the water.”   Coincidental?  I do not think so.

So, later that morning, there I was walking along the beach asking, “Ok God, here I am, I’ve come to the water, now what?”

I listened.  The sea air buffeted me and the waves continued to move in and move out . . . nothing, no answer . . . then, it began.  I felt a warmth in the center of my chest growing and radiating out.  With it, a certainty that this light/warmth in my heart was God calling me to something more.  To embrace the call to religious life that I had been feeling for some time now.

“Yes!” I screamed into the wind.  “Yes!” I said to the women when I entered the house.  “Yes!” I said when I returned home and called my vocation director.

That was a few years ago.  This year, I am celebrating my 25th Jubilee as a Dominican Sister.  I continue to journey deeper into the heart of God – which is my center.  I continue to say, “Yes!”

Are you being called?  If you feel that God is calling you to religious life, contact us to begin the conversation.

You are in my prayers in a special way this week as I make my retreat and “come to the water.”

Posted in God Calling?, News

Summer. Savor. Stop. Slow. See. Some Stories.

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

Story One. I was  second in the line in the express (12 items or less) checkout at the grocery store. Ahead of me for a much longer time than I thought possible, was an elderly, thin, obviously confused person who kept fumbling with the money required for payment. I will never be venerated as the most patient of saints, and well, an express line is an express line, so I leaned forward to see if I could help, kindly saying “Ma’am, could….” And stopped right there. I realized first, that she had a beard so I got that one wrong. But I also saw more clearly what was happening in the transaction, and noticed the kindness and patience shown to him by the young grocery clerk, gently, not exasperated, going step by step with him to help him figure it all out. I stopped, and saw clearly, and was touched. And taught.

Story Two. Some years ago, in a motherhouse community that shall remain unnamed, there was a disagreement about the pace at which the Office should be recited. There were two camps. One group wanted the psalms to be  prayed at a contemplative pace, and the other felt that Dominic’s encouragement of his brethren to sing the office “breviter et fortiter” meant to keep up a brisk pace. And there were days when there was both pulling and pushing, speeding up and slowing down, the louder faction seeking to make its will known , sure evidence of the lack of accord. One day, the “fast” faction was definitely pushing the pace. And when the last notes of the “O Lumen” were sung, a member of the community who was known for her clear assessment of situations and her lack of hesitancy in naming them, approached one of the leaders of the “breviter” group and said to her, “And what exactly were you going to do with the two minutes you just saved?”

I imagine that question as a part of our life’s end dialogue with God at the Pearly Gates.                       What exactly did you gain from all your impatience and the efficiency you required of yourself and others? How exactly was the Reign of God served, the people of God better loved, the face of Christ manifest to the world by your rushing about, always in the passing lane, getting things done? And we could have, perhaps, another billion or so years—or there being no time in God, a very long “now”—to come up with an answer.

Summer flowers among us. The light of Christ, the breezes and streams of the Spirit call us to attention and contemplation of the flowering of all that is so precious to God. We want to be there, don’t we, present to that endless moment, to share and to celebrate the sight of “all creation groaning in one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8).

Posted in News, Weekly Word

A Summer Stroll

Blog by Associate Frank Martens, OPA

We recently returned from a trip. Flying into Columbus, we passed over Shepherd’s Corner. It was an amazing sight. The forest, fields and pond surrounded by houses with brown roofs that looked like they were part of a monopoly game. An oasis surrounded by subdivisions.

Later, I thought about how lucky we are to live on the edge of a park. I decided to take a stroll and see what was going on in our little patch since we had been gone. I noticed our lawn was full of clover and the worker bees were busy gathering pollen per their job description. The goldfinch were eating leftover thistle seed from our winter feeding station and showing off their bright yellow and black finery. Some were demonstrating their perfect balance by standing on the top of our blooming coneflowers picking out the small seeds as they swayed in the wind. Monarch butterflies were laying eggs on our many milkweed plants. Soon their leaves will be full of munching caterpillars and those who survive will become monarchs ready for their migration to Mexico. Swallowtail butterflies will be laying their eggs on fennel and parsley. They will emerge as caterpillars and then ultimately become butterflies.

Two pair of nesting wrens were apparently successful fledging their broods. Perhaps their young were nearby since I was greeted by a chorus of chattering wrens. The blue jay family is occupying the spruce trees and squawking loudly, concerned about something. Another birdhouse, previously occupied by evicted house sparrows, is now occupied by eastern bluebirds and mother bluebird is sitting on four eggs. The deer, raccoons, and rabbits who regularly visit us have left their calling cards. A chipmunk runs across my path. Its puffy cheeks full of seeds or berries. Dragonflies from the nearby pond are whizzing around feasting on insects.

Our prairie plants are about to burst forth. They have funny names like rattlesnake master, queen of the prairie, nodding onion, butterfly weed and iron weed. Our raspberries are beginning to ripen and we hope we can pick them before the lady who regularly passes by our patch eats them. Berries on the many native bushes like spice bush, red-twig dogwood and pagoda dogwood, are ripening for the birds who will feast on them. The serviceberry trees have been picked clean by robins, catbirds, cedar waxwings and chipmunks. When evening comes, hundreds of lightning bug visitors will be visible.

My stroll is over. Take your own stroll in a park or garden, or just sit outside and renew your relationship with nature. “Sit and be still until in the time of no rain you hear beneath the dry wind’s commotion in the trees the sound of flowing water among the rocks, a stream unheard before, and you are where breathing is prayer.” Wendell Berry.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates – July 9, 2019

The Green New Deal’s Vision for the world provides a path to protect the world and all its inhabitants. Faith-based environmentalists see hope in its goals in this article from National Catholic Register.

The U.S. Bishop’s President and Migration Committee Chair say the death of the young father and his daughter at the border and the appalling conditions for children are cries that reach heaven itself.  Please see their statement here.

Sr. Donna Markham, OP, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA also released a statement and Catholic Charities USA has created a donation website where 100% of monies raised will support Catholic Charities agencies along the border to meet basic needs and ensure that children are being treated with care and kindness.

Catholic Relief Services published this Prayer to End Human Trafficking. You can download it as a PDF.

Righteous God,

Oh God, we didn’t see them.

But you did—

The hundreds and thousands of human beings

Trafficked each year to join the millions who are trapped

in modern-day slavery.

Under terrible conditions, they work in factories, plow fields,

harvest crops, work quarries, fill brothels, clean homes, and haul water.

 

Many are children with tiny fingers for weaving rugs

and small shoulders for bearing rifles.

Their labor is forced, their bodies beaten, their faces hidden

from those who don’t really want to see them.

 

But you see them all, God of the poor.

You hear their cry and you answer

by opening our eyes, and breaking our hearts

and loosening our tongues to insist:

 

No more.  No more.

 

Amen

Global Sisters Report has prepared a booklet about the immigration crisis around the world as seen through the eyes of sisters ministering with immigrants.  You can download the booklet here. Sisters Janice Thome (Garden City, KS) and Rene Weeks (Salem, OH) are featured.

Countering Online Hate Speech. This 6 minute video from Teaching Tolerance, offers specific suggestions and strategies to interrupt and redirect online harassment. You might share this with your nieces and nephews also.  Watch now.

Posted in News

Why I Became an Associate of the Dominican Sisters of Peace

Blog by Associate Frank Bevvino

As a new Associate of the Dominican Sisters of Peace I am proud to be a part of the Dominican family.  What drew me to become an Associate was a desire to become part of a community dedicated to prayer, study and building church and community. Simply stated, I wanted to proclaim the Gospel in many different formats.

As a deacon I have the privilege of preaching regularly at the Sacred Liturgy. However, St. Dominic saw the message of the gospel needed to be proclaimed not just to churchgoers but to all people: Christian and non-Christian.

At a time when social justice issues and the need to ensure all people are treated as God’s children, I felt a need to become part of a community that transcends the boundaries of the parish.

For many years, I have been interested in the life of St Francis and thought that someday I would become affiliated with the Franciscans. I expressed this one day to Sr. Bea Tiboldi, OP. She asked me: “Why not a Dominican? and gave me a few books on St Dominic. As I read the books, I began to see similarities with St Francis. Dominic, however, focused on spreading the WORD to all people through preaching and outreach.

St Dominic’s approach was, for me, “catholic” (universal).  This appealed to me in light of where the Catholic church is today in the early decades of the 21st Century. The church is desperately in need of reform. It needs a new “aggiornamento” to revive the openness that Vatican II sought to achieve; a church that is inclusive and welcoming. Dominic’s emphasis on prayer, study, preaching and community brought together the things in my life that have brought me along my faith journey.

As I began to attend associate meetings and meet with my mentors, I was asked to read the Associates guidebook and reflect on what I read. I was also asked to seek out Dominicans who best represented the Dominican charism. This was not an easy task. In fact, during my search I came across a book written by Sr. Mary Jane Dorcy, OP entitled, St Dominic’s Family. The book tells the story of the lives of more than 300 famous Dominicans. The Dominican family has a wealth of contributors to Church history. Following St Dominic’s example are many women and men who have proclaimed Christ in a manner indicative of building church. However, what I was looking for was a contemporary example. I found one in Yves Congar, OP.

Yves Congar, a French Dominican priest, was one of the pioneers in the Church’s theology on ecumenism and the place of the laity in the Church. Pope John XXIII appointed him as a counselor at the Second Vatican Council. Congar’s personal influence on the Second Vatican Council was far reaching. It included lecturing international groups of bishops and helping to draft conciliar documents. Congar’s hand can be discerned in almost every major document produced by the Council Fathers. Congar was made a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1994, shortly before his death.

Reading about Congar led me to discover the brilliant minds of many Dominicans of the 19th and 20th Centuries: Chenu, Schillebeeckx, Gutiérrez, and many more. These names are just a continuation of the long history of Dominicans that have contributed greatly in spreading the Good News, including Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, Rose of Lima and  Catherine of Siena.

Today, the Dominican Sisters of Peace are preaching the Gospel worldwide in outreach programs, calling for an end of gun violence and the death penalty and advocating for equal rights for minorities and the safe treatment of migrant families entering the United States and other countries.

As Associates, we are fortunate to be part of a community dedicated to preaching the Gospel and praying together as a family united under St Dominic. The rich history of the Dominican Order demonstrates the success and divinely inspired efforts of St Dominic.

Posted in Associate Blog, News