Dominican Sisters of Peace Celebrate Ten Years of Memories and Mission

 

Sister Simone Campbell creates a “Living Bar Graph” to illustrate income inequity as a part of her presentation to the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

Milestone anniversaries call us to look both ways – backward at what we have experienced, and forward at what is still to come. This is exactly what happened at the Tenth Anniversary Celebration of the Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates, held July 26-28 in St. Louis, MO.

The Anniversary Event opened with a ceremony celebrating the coming together of eight congregations to form the congregation that is the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Eight leaves displayed on a tree were symbolic of the seed planted, growing together and of the growing works of the Congregation.  The flowing water used by the Congregation at its founding in 2009 was featured in a procession of movement and joy.  The opening address by Prioress Pat Twohill spoke of gratitude for all that has been accomplished in our ministries and our eagerness for the work to come.

Friday’s program featured Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK – Lobby for Catholic Social Justice and an original founder of Nuns on the Bus. Sr. Simone addressed the social and economic inequities that have become commonplace in our nation today and facilitated a discussion of how the Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates could reexamine and re-focus their commitment to social justice.

The Congregation’s Leadership team addressed the Assembly participants on Saturday, using a metaphor shared by Pope Francis at the end of his reflection on the Synod with Youth: the image of a canoe, in which the elders help to keep on course by judging the position of the stars, while the young keep rowing, imagining what waits for them ahead. This metaphor of traveling across the water was the theme for the afternoon’s activities of visioning for the future.

Sisters Kathy Broussard (25 years), (left), and Christine Connolly (50 years), (right), lead the procession of Jubilarians, including Sisters June Fitzgerald (25 years), Judy Morris (50 years), Janet Schlichting (50 years), Harriet Agnew (50 years), and Arleen Kisiel, (50 years). Not shown is Sr. Roberta Miller (50 years).

The Congregation’s future was further emphasized as the sisters formally accepted Ellen Coates into the Novitiate.

Since becoming Dominican is a life-long, communal venture, the 25 and 50-year Jubilarians were honored in a Mass celebrated with a friend and brother, Father Ed Ruane, OP, and followed by an evening of shared memories by friends of the Jubilarians. The Congregation’s 2019 Jubilarians include: 25 years: Sisters Kathy Broussard and June Fitzgerald; 50 years: Sisters Harriet Agnew, Christine Connolly, Arleen Kisiel, Roberta Miller, Judy Morris, and Janet Schlichting.

In honor of the Dominican Sisters of Peace’s commitment to peace, the Congregation closed the assembly by presenting a Promoter of Peace award to the Northern Cheyenne Ministerial Association. The Promoter of Peace award was created to honor organizations that demonstrate a commitment to peacemaking and reflect the values of the Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates, especially their commitment to women and children.

The Northern Cheyenne Ministerial Association, located in Lame Deer, MT, is a coalition of 12 churches from seven faith groups: Baptist, Mennonite, Assembly of God, Lutheran, Pentecostal, whose aim is to build unity among the Christian churches serving the Cheyenne people.

The Northern Cheyenne Ministerial Association received a $5,000 donation from the Congregation, as well as a custom-designed tile and plaque designed by Sr. Anne Lythgoe and staff member Ashley Apollonio.

 

Also honored were:

  • Freedom a la Carte: A non-profit organization in Central Ohio whose business, a catering firm, employs and supports survivors of sex trafficking.
  • Hotel Hope: A New Orleans ministry that moves people from homelessness to self-sufficiency.
  • The Lord’s Diner: A ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, the Lord’s Diner has served a hot, nutritious evening meal every day for the past 17 years, feeding more than 5 million people.

The Our Lady of Guadalupe Mexican dancers, a ministry of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in St. Louis, provided entertainment for the event. The ministry’s mission is to promote acceptance and hope through Mexican cultural dances and education.

: Sr. Pat Twohill, right, and Vocations Minister Sr. Pat Dual, left, welcome Candidate Ellen Coates, center, to the Novitiate of the Dominican Sisters of Peace.
: (Left to right) Staff member Ashley Apollonio, Sr. LeAnn Probst, Reverend Willis Busenitz, of the Cheyenne Ministerial Association, and Sr. Anne Lythgoe. Apollonio and Lythgoe designed and crafted the Promoter of Peace Award.
The Our Lady of Guadalupe Dancers were a colorful end to the weekend’s festivities.
Posted in News

Young People and the Future of the Church

Blog by Associate Frank Bevvino

In the Baptism Rite, one of the Gospel options the celebrant can choose from is Matthew 19:14 “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

What a beautiful passage. It is Jesus showing a sensitivity to and a unique understanding of the mind of young people which is unparalleled.

In October 2016, Pope Francis said “Children, who have no problem in understanding God, have much to teach us: they tell us that He accomplishes great things in those who put up no resistance to Him, who are simple and sincere, without duplicity. The Gospel shows us how great wonders are accomplished with small things.”

Adults have squandered the greatest of all resources in the Church: our youth! We have a problem when we subordinate the young to obedience because we feel that the young have little or nothing to teach us and their only role is to follow our lead.

The fancy word used to describe this is “adultism”. Adultism is a bias that adults and institutions have against young people. As parents, we assume the role of teacher and person of authority. It is ingrained in us from our own upbringing. This attitude carries over to our institutions. It is evident in homes, schools and churches.

Conversely, young people assume the role of a person always being tested and evaluated by the adult(s) present.  Remember what we were told as a young person: “children are to be seen and not heard?”

At a recent parish meeting, to discuss the closing of one of our churches, questions arose about low church attendance and the lack of young people coming to church. Many parishioners in attendance (primarily gray-haired) agreed that even in their own families their now adult children were not regular churchgoers and in some cases, their grandchildren were unbaptized and  unchurched.

There have been 16 world youth conferences since 1984. Host cities around the world have welcomed youth from all nations for prayer and festive activities. A look at the agenda of these conferences shows that there are plenty of opportunities for prayer, Eucharistic Celebrations, parties and dances. Each host city establishes the details of the activities and arranges for the venues and the appearance of speakers and celebrities. What I see missing on the agenda is any opportunity for the youth to speak and the Church to listen.

Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre, Malawi, said at a recent press briefing: “If we ignore the call of our young people today and continue with business as usual without recognizing them, without empowering them, it means that the [church] of tomorrow will not be very powerful.”

This year, following the Youth Synod, Pope Francis wrote in Christus Vivit: “Those of us who are no longer young need to find ways to stay close to the voices and concerns of young people. Drawing together creates the conditions for the Church to become a place of dialogue and a witness to life-giving fraternity. We need to make more room for the voices of young people to be heard: listening makes possible an exchange of gifts in a context of empathy… At the same time, it sets the conditions for a preaching of the Gospel that can touch the heart truly, decisively and fruitfully.”

Many dioceses around the country annually hold youth celebrations which bring together their youth for prayer, the Sacred Liturgy and fellowship. How many of these celebrations set time aside to listen to what the young people have to say; to listen to their thoughts and to their concerns?

Perhaps one suggestion might be that every parish in a diocese organize parish youth conferences to discuss with the youth their concerns and select from the group some of the young to gather at a diocesan youth conference.

We need to start a regular dialogue with our youth. We cannot continue to let the clergy and adults guess at what the problems are. We need to talk to the young people to engage them in meaningful and ongoing dialogue. These should not be a once a year event but an ongoing, interactive conversation, where thoughts and ideas can be voiced, developed and exchanged so that we can arrive at solutions where young people see a reason to become engaged in shaping the Church of the future.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Feast of Dominic Jubilee Homily

Blog by Sr. Luisa Derouen, OP

Most of us would agree that the late ‘60’s were challenging years as our country was  turned upside down by the Vietnam war, and our church was turned upside down by Vatican II.  We were in the throes of radical change, and in 1969 when sisters were leaving in droves, Jeanne, Dot and I made final vows. The day before our vow ceremony our novitiate was abuzz with people sprucing up the grounds, busy in the kitchen preparing food, others placing lovely décor around the house and getting the chapel ready.  In conversation with one of the sisters I commented, “ Wow.  I feel overwhelmed and humbled by all that’s being done for us.”  Without batting an eye she said, “Oh we’re not doing this just for you.  The community needs this, and the whole church needs this.”  I felt properly put in my place.  But she was absolutely right, of course.

I could certainly say the same to you, Alverda, Pauline, Helen, Barbara, Terry, Harriet and Judy.  What we are doing is for you, of course, but in these times our community and the whole church needs the witness of your life’s fidelity to God and God’s people.    You and we are giving witness to the power of God’s Spirit at work now at a time when the American public image of the Catholic Church has been profoundly damaged like nothing before in the history of this country.  But God’s Spirit is alive and well in women religious.  For example, from CA to NY God’s Spirit is bringing us elder women religious together with young women and men hungry for meaning and purpose and eager to serve God’s people.  Who could have imagined such a powerful alliance between the Nuns & the Nones, or as we are also called, the Sisters and the Seekers!  And then there are our own women in formation!  Another example is that for the past several years Simone Campbell and we white haired Nuns on the Bus have been proclaiming truth to power on behalf of vulnerable people from so many arenas of life.

And what a model we have in our father Dominic whose feast we celebrate today.

The Dominican order was born out of Dominic’s passion to set people free from the tyranny of untruth.  Don’t we have our own versions of rampant untruth that Paul’s letter to Timothy warns us about? Fake narratives are tickling lots of ears! There was for Paul and for Dominic and now in our time a profound lack of trust in the truth of people’s words and the truth of their lives.

Simon Tugwell says Dominic did not deliberately set out to create something new in the church.  Rather he yielded himself faithfully to the mysterious dictates of providence.  The Church of the late 12th century needed men and women who spoke truth with their words and their lives.  We know well the stories of Dominic’s persistence, in season and out, to be personally present to those hungering for truth.  Dominic shared Pope Francis’s passion for a Culture of Encounter.  Simone Campbell spoke eloquently to us two weeks ago about the characteristics of religious life that nurture our prophetic call.  She said one of those characteristics is that we must touch the pain of our world and allow our hearts to be broken so that we may be present to it all and allow it to shape our lives.

That’s what each of our Jubiliarians has done with her life.  She has allowed her heart to be broken by the pain and need she encountered.  She has been and is the Holy Preaching. For each of them the proclamation of Isaiah from the first reading is so true.  “How beautiful on the mountain are the feet of those announcing peace.”  Each has been led by the dictates of Providence to her own unique mountain and has been the presence of God by her life and her words nurturing peace.  I asked each of them to name a specific way that her life has been the presence of God and the Holy Preaching.

Alverda’s life has been a listening presence particularly in her ministry as a hospital chaplain.  She journeyed with the sick and dying in their sacred crisis moments.

Pauline’s life has been a respectful welcoming presence particularly during her years of ministry among the homeless.

Helen’s life has been a loving faithful presence to those among whom she lived and served as a parish pastoral minister.

Barbara’s life has been an empowering presence particularly as a voice for low-income women in domestic violence cases, helping them obtain protective orders and custody of their children, and the assets rightfully theirs.

Terry’s life has been a healing and life-giving presence particularly in her many years as a nurse and midwife.

Harriet’s life has been a compassionate gentle presence particularly in her years with medically fragile children at The Home of the Innocents in Louisville.

Judy’s life has been an advocating presence particularly as Justice Promoter for the congregation speaking and writing to shine a light on many justice issues.

The young seekers out there could well be sitting at the table with any of you wise women we celebrate today because you all continue to be the presence of God’s powerful Holy Preaching.

You our sister Jubiliarians, and all of us, signed a blank check with God decades ago not knowing what the cost would be.  All of us know that it not ourselves we are sure of, but the fidelity of God who lured us with the invitation to religious life. The very end of Matthew’s Gospel we heard today is a fitting reminder to us that in our struggles and doubts along the way, Jesus promises to be with us always.  THAT we can count on.

I want to close with a reflection by Cardinal Leger to the priests of Montreal that I’ve loved for decades and have shared with many over the years.

The demand for fidelity should always be before our eyes as one of the most important aspects of our moral life of which we should be constantly aware.  The act by which we committed ourselves to God and the service of our sisters and brothers was of incomparable daring.  Fidelity is not the hardness of habit or the dead hand of unenthusiastic perseverance.  It is consent reborn and renewed in spite of the changes in life.  It is a return and an approach to the first generosity, to the first giving.  Fidelity is not a blind attachment to a single decision, much less to a principle.  It is the unchanging gift of oneself to the person loved. 

Thank you, sisters, for the unchanging gift of yourself to God, to God’s people, and to us your Dominican family.

Posted in Jubilees

Falling into Grace

Blog by Sr. Jeanne Moore

“Grateful-Grateful—Gratefulness—is flowing from my heart.”  The refrain the gospel choir frequently sings in my nearby African-American parish underscores my remembrances and narratives about a fall that necessitated a recent trip to the ER.  My feet somehow entangled themselves in a neighborhood grocery cart.  I fell backward, my head bouncing once with a sickening, terrifying thud on the parking lot, my left elbow absorbing part of the impact.

Immediately folks of all ages, genders and ethnicities rushed to my assistance, retrieving my purse and two small bags; offering help in getting me upright, a chair inside the store, a glass of water, a bag of ice for the knot on the back of my head.  Their empathy palpably cushioned my distress.

Dismissing their repeated offers to call for an ambulance, I phoned Sr. `Mary Ann Culotta.  She immediately changed her plans and drove me to the ER.  The medical team kindly tended my bruises and, within an hour, tendered the good news: a scalp contusion (bruise), not a brain concussion.  Sr. Ceal Warner retrieved my car.  What an unexpected but gratefully received conclusion to a day that began with our leisurely morning in St. Bernard civil parish. While driving to swamp-surrounded Shell Beach I shared my original EMD congregation’s 60+ year history of ministry in three parishes, my current monthly faith formation sessions with a small group there, and the availability of a lovely home for private retreats.

Mary Ann told of falling outside a bank in San Francisco when she was a graduate student several decades back.  She said, “I felt like I was invisible.  Not one person offered to help me.”  How vastly different my experience!  My white hair was surely not the crucial factor in our disparate experiences.  I’m inclined to credit southern hospitality, New Orleanians’ innate religiosity, and my nearby Dominican sisters, for the redemption I was granted.  What a gift to be able to name and sing about the falls into grace that uphold each of us through our daily ups and downs.

Posted in Just Reflecting

Moving Forward into Mystery

 

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Recently, we celebrated the Tenth Anniversary of the birth of Dominican Sisters of Peace!  Seven Dominican congregations with long and rich histories, dating as far back as 1822, united in 2009 for the sake of continuing the mission with the eighth congregation merging two years later.  Our Tenth Anniversary gathering was not only a time to rejoice with each other, we also reflected on the signs of the times and how we are called to preach the Gospel in the 21st century.   Religious life will not look as it did in the past in terms of the number of women who will enter. However, I believe the women who are in religious life, the women who are choosing to enter now and the women who will enter in the future will be enough for God’s vision.  We are all on the path of walking into that new vision, especially our women in formation and newer members.

Kentucky Visit with Annie Killian and Ellen Coates

It was really a joy to see the enthusiasm of our women in initial formation and newly professed sisters as we dialogued and worked toward envisioning our future together. They are fully aware that their numbers will be smaller than the abnormally large numbers of the past, yet their eagerness to be part of the future of religious life is not diminished.  Recently, I also had the opportunity to take some of the women in initial formation to visit St. Catharine, Kentucky, where the first American foundation of Dominican Sisters was founded in 1822.  Two of our Sisters shared with them the vibrant history of the first group of pioneering Dominican Sisters in the rolling hills of Kentucky. We visited St. Rose Catholic Church where those first nine women answered the call to form the first group of American Dominican Sisters.  As one of the women pointed out, “They entered into mystery then as we move forward into mystery today.”

 

Today, August 8, 2019 we celebrate the Feast Day of the founder of the Dominican Order, St. Dominic de Guzman.  Founded in 1216, the Dominican Family celebrates 803 years of preaching the Gospel in word and deed.  Our congregation is part of the rich heritage that forges ahead like our founder, Holy Father Dominic, following the call and vision of the Spirit.  Dominic could never have imagined the legacy he would leave simply by living into his call.  The same is true as the Dominican Sisters of Peace move toward “something new” in the future.  Together, along with our women in formation, we are not afraid of moving forward into mystery.  We have as guides and examples, the strong foundation of courageous women on whose shoulders we stand.

Want to learn more about the Dominican Sisters of Peace and help shape the future?  Why not give one of our Vocation Ministers a call.

Happy Feast Day to our Dominican Family!

Posted in God Calling?, News