Do Everything in Love

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Did you know that today is National Love People Day?
If you didn’t, now you do.
So what, exactly, does it mean?
It means that this is the day that has been set aside to show love to everyone – no exceptions!
This is the day when we are encouraged to share love with everyone we come into contact with by performing random acts of kindness.
This day should help us to see that it is important to truly invest in people, especially in a world where selfishness seems to reign.
It should also help us to remember that love is primarily an action word and that by sharing love (unconditionally) with others, we make the world a better place.
Mother Teresa put it this way: “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
What do you think would happen if we showed love to each person we come into contact with every day?

Posted in News

My Discernment Journey

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

The discernment process about a vocation call is unique for every individual because each person is called differently. Individual preferences influence how a person hears this call. Discerners often evaluate a religious community by their prayer life, mission, wearing a habit or ordinary contemporary clothes, vowed living, community living, and more. I know this was the case for me.

I grew up in a traditional Catholic environment that included personal or communal adoration, Mass, rosary, Gospel reading, and rituals. When I was first discerning God’s call, I was only interested in the beautiful habit, growing a deeper relationship with God, and helping the poor. I visited some traditional religious communities where the members wore the habit–and I liked all these visits. I listened to them and followed what they suggested to do when I was there. However, I was not asked to do any personal reflection on what I liked or did not like about this visit, what inspired me (their community life, prayer style, for instance) or what I might be resisting about a call to religious life, etc. They did not ask me whether I had had any spiritual director. One community, after I visited, gave me the application file to apply.

Later, I encountered the Dominican Sisters of Peace. When I first met these sisters, I was shocked by their contemporary clothes because I had never thought a Sister would wear such clothes. However, having a conversation with them at their vocation booth and reading their materials inspired me. The way they addressed my current situation and my questions was so open, making me feel they were listening to me. I came to realize that the habit was not the main factor for deciding whether to join or not join a community. I contacted them to explore their community. Two months later, I decided to move to Boston to be closer to these Sisters for my discernment.

The first weekend in Boston, I was invited to attend a reflection day at one of their ecological centers. The sisters showed me how to connect with God and God’s creation through the process of making, baking, and breaking bread. I have never thought of finding God deeply in these simple daily experiences, I was so inspired with this finding.  Then, the confusion came to me when I listened to the Sister’s presentation about the universe. Even though science and engineering are part of my background, I had considered science and engineering as worldly things, not as “God’s thing.” I thought I would have had to give up science and engineering when I joined religious life.  Thus, listening to this talk, many questions showed up in me: “Are they really Sisters? Why do they talk about such earthly things? How do they get such ideas? Are they not spending time helping the poor or working in the church, instead of learning such “non” Godly things?  Are they following or opposing the Gospel teachings?” It reminded me of the Pharisees and the people around ASKING Jesus when he was showing them something different from what they had been practicing their faith daily.

I felt torn between embracing what I just heard and this new way of practicing our Catholic faith that I was not familiar with at that time.

Instead of making a hasty conclusion that this kind of religious life did not fit me, I reflected and prayed. I appreciated God for “God knows who I am more than I know myself.” I gradually felt a sense of the affirmation between me and what the Sisters said. Then, I wanted to explore more. Whenever I had a chance to be with a sister, I asked her about her stories and how she lived. I took it to heart, reflected and prayed with the insights. I started to recognize God in a deeper sense as I looked around: in the mission and in daily life with a wider view. I decided to join; and my life has flourished since then.  I love every moment of living out my call with the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

We just had a “Come and See” weekend retreat in Kentucky. Looking at the discerners, I can see in the discerners the images of myself in the past and in the present. Believe me, discernment to seek God and to respond to the needs is never ended.  No matter how you practice your faith, I encourage you to keep your mind and heart open, to be reflective and courageous, and to trust that God is working within you and through those who are journeying with you. Contact us if you have any questions.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Are There Better Ways?

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

A week ago at Mass in the Cathedral, Archbishop Hughes began his homily with “The world is a mess”. As he proceeded, he brought it into the historical context of that day’s Gospel passage, but I had drifted off with this opening statement. Why is the world a mess, I reflected. I know you all just laughed and answered that question a thousand different ways. But, here’s where I went.

There was once a comic strip called POGO, and one of the most well remembered lines from it is “We have met the enemy, and they is us”. And that just may be why the world is a mess. We may scoff and call it our human condition or human nature at its worst, but we just can’t stop getting in our own way. The world is a mess, and so it goes; it is what it is.

An awful lot of us just complain, but to those who act with a peaceful response, in a just manner, in a way that shouts the Gospel, I salute you and ask that we all try harder to learn the better ways to handle our messy world.

Posted in News, Weekly Word

What’s the big deal about methane?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

In the spirit of the Season of Creation, I’d like to reflect on the complexity of the climate crisis today by looking at the story of Methane.  Methane is a naturally occurring gas that comes from everywhere –  us, cows, marshes, rice patties, rotting rubbish in landfills, and permafrost, as well as wells and pipelines.  It’s considered a greenhouse gas with a “high global warming potential.” It’s also the primary ingredient of natural gas.

As scientists learned about the environmental problems associated with carbon, like coal, they found that natural gas (composed primarily of methane) was a good alternative. Methane does burn cleaner than any other fossil fuel producing fewer greenhouse gases when burned than oil or coal.  That’s good and why it’s become so popular. It’s a large reason why the coal industry is declining.  In fact, the Department of Energy reported that for every 10,000 U.S. homes powered with natural gas instead of coal reduces annual emissions of 1900 tons NOx, 3,900 tons of SO2, and 5,200 tons of particulates which translates into reductions in problems like asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, and heart disease. Great!

But there’s a problem.  When methane leaks into the environment its heat-trapping effects are very strong – 100 times more potent at trapping energy than carbon dioxide, the principal contributor to man-made climate change.  This is called the “global warming potential” and indicates the amount of global warming that is caused by that substance.

So where does all this leaking come from?  The gas infrastructure is the biggest culprit – leaky pipes, spillage at the well site, improper installation or maintenance of infrastructure. Methane is leaked during extraction, storing, and burning.  Unfortunately, a lot more is leaking than originally forecasted.  (As an aside, most natural gas today is gained from fracking and that process causes many more environmental problems.)

A study published in the journal Science in 2018 concluded that the amount of methane leaking from the nation’s oil and gas fields may be 60% higher than official estimates.  This means that 2.3% of all natural gas produced in the nation is leaking during production, processing, and transportation of oil and gas each year.  That’s a lot of heat holding gas.

To make matters worse, the administration has just proposed eliminating federal requirements (from the Clean Air Act) that oil and gas companies control these leaks. Any of the benefits from using natural gas to protect the environment from the effects of greenhouse gasses will now be destroyed. The EPA acknowledged that this proposal, if adopted, would result in the release of an additional 370,000 tons of methane annually, the equivalent of the emissions of 1.8 million additional cars per year.   In fact, scientists are worried because as the planet warms, even more methane will be released from soils or other places adding to the global warming problem.

If we are going to make a difference in this global climate crisis, state and federal regulation protecting us – all of us – must remain in place and be enforced.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates – September 24, 2019

Need help with how to talk to people who have a different view than you do?  Watch/attend the Blessed are the Peacemakers workshop/webinar.  Here’s the flyer.

Call your Senator to support S. 1743 now.   During this Season of Creation (September 1 – October 4), the U.S. Catholic community is calling for national and international climate action. Failure to act on the climate crisis will mean increased flooding, droughts, heatwave, loss of biodiversity, and sea-level rise.  The most vulnerable – the poor, the elderly, children – will be the first and most impacted. Call your Senators and urge them to support S. 1743, the International Climate Accountability Act, a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by 46 Senators.

The International Climate Accountability Act calls upon the U.S. to remain a leader in the global efforts to address climate change.  It asks the administration to develop and submit a plan that enables our nation to meet our commitments under the Paris Agreement, which our nation and 193 other nations signed.  The agreement’s central aim is to keep global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit to it to 1 1/2 degrees Celsius.  The agreement is a major step by the world’s nations to address the climate crisis and ensure a livable future for all peoples and our common home.  On June 1, 2017, the president withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.  Call your senators and ask them to support Senate Bill 1743.

Sometimes it feels like we are talking to the wind when we stress the importance of stopping the climate crisis. NCR’s article “Americans are waking up: Two-thirds say climate crisis must be addressed” shows that we are not alone.

Two years ago, the administration attempted to dismantle the DACA program. Today no additional DACA applications are allowed.  The Supreme Court will take up this issue on November 12th. Oral arguments for and against DACA will be made on that day. Please keep the DACA recipients in your prayers especially on that day.  For more information, click here.

The Census Data for 2018 was released on September 10.  Danilo Trisi from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains that many programs that the administration wants to cut actually “help improve children’s chances of growing up healthier, doing better in school, and having higher expected future earnings.” Read more here.

The Justice Blog talks about the impact of methane on the environment. For more information, read this article in the New York Times.  Curbs on Methane, Potent Greenhouse Gas, to Be Relaxed in U.S.

David Dark suggests in American Magazine that we stop reacting to Mr. Trump and start responding.  Given the fatigue associated with what’s happening every day, this is a tall order. Read his blog here.

Cutting aid will not stop immigration.  Stemming the tide of immigrants at the southern border requires work to eliminate or at least alleviate the root causes of the immigration – climate change, corruption, poverty.  The administration froze aid to the triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvatore, effectively eliminating help and increasing a motivation to come to the U.S. Geoff Thale, vice president for programs at the Washington Office on Latin America a think tank stated “Nobody thinks these programs are going to magically stabilize Central America or reduce migration figures overnight. But cutting them off just increases people’ vulnerability and can make a real difference in people’ calculations to leave.” This article from NPR describes what’s happening in Guatemala as a result of cutting funding.





Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates