In 2008, Franklin County, Ohio, Municipal Court Judge Paul Herbert had a startling epiphany. After spending days watching females victims of domestic abuse in his courtroom, observing their injuries, their demeanor, and their fear, he observed that the women coming into his court on prostitution charges often looked very similar. The same injuries, the same fearful attitude, the same threatening men staring at them from the gallery.
That was the beginning of C.A.T.C.H. (Changing Actions to Change Habits) Court, a first-of-its-kind therapeutic justice program for women who appear in court as victims of human trafficking. More than 50 women have graduated from the program since its inception in 2009, going to further their educations, get jobs, have the opportunity to raise their children, and essentially, start their lives again.
Herbert and his Court Coordinator, Hannah Estabrook, were part of a lunch and learn focused on trauma-informed justice at the Martin de Porres Center. to view the program in its entirety, please click here.
I have experienced waves of gratitude during the past few weeks – much of it as the result of the prayers, thoughts, cards, love, and support offered to me and my family as we mourn the loss of one of my nephews.
I cannot find adequate words to thank my friends and family (including my Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates community) for their acts of kindness and presence during a very difficult time in my life.
I have been reminded that gratitude is more than an emotional response. It is an affirmation of goodness – we affirm that there are good things in the world that are freely given to us. Gratitude helps us recognize the sources of goodness that are outside of ourselves – we acknowledge positive things that come our way that we did not actively work toward or ask for.
It reminds us to never take our gifts and blessings for granted.
Gratitude is an attitude. It is about more than saying “thank you.”
Gratitude completely transforms our vision because it is about being able to notice and appreciate the gifts that are given to us – from the smallest things of beauty to the grandest of our blessings (including the gift of life itself).
While having an attitude of gratitude does not mean we will never experience negative emotions, I believe that shifting our focus to consciously notice the positive can help us avoid being overwhelmed by day-to-day stressors and negative emotions.
Even during the most challenging times, gratitude makes us available to opportunities to learn and grow and to extend ourselves with care and compassion to others. Showing deep appreciation for acts of kindness can uplift us and make a difference for us and others.
What if gratitude became a perpetual, daily experience — for not just the big things but for the smallest gifts we receive?
Dominican Sister of Peace Helen (Kevin Marie) McCarthy, (84), died on August 31, 2019, at the Sansbury Care Center in St. Catharine, KY. The only girl of Helen McGarr and John’s six children, Sister Helen was born in 1935 in Woburn, MA. She worked in the business world for four years before she entered religious life in 1957.
She made First Profession in 1959 and celebrated her 60-year Jubilee in 2019. She often said that she didn’t know how she ever was called to religious life. But, as she said, “God called me and I said take me wherever you want.”
Sr. Helen received her Bachelor of Science degree in Social Studies, Education and English from Siena College in 1970. She spent the early years of her ministry in education, passing her love of learning to children in Illinois, West Virginia and Kentucky for 20 years. She worked as an Administrative Assistant while she studied to earn her Master of Arts in Religious Studies from Spaulding College, and moved to a new ministry as a Pastoral Assistant.
She served at both Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Brigid Parish in Louisville before leaving pastoral work to serve her community as the Southern Regional Coordinator for Louisville and Memphis. Sr. Helen returned to St. Brigid Parish in 1996 and served as Parish minister for seven years before moving to Watertown, MA, as House Coordinator for Rosary Manor.
Sr. Helen’s final ministry of prayer and presence was at Sansbury Care Center in St. Catharine, KY. All who visited her in her final days were touched by the peace that she felt and shared with them.
In her preaching at the funeral. Sr. Joye Gros spoke of the great love that she held for her community, her friends, and her family. “Being the youngest and only girl, she admitted that she was spoiled.” Sr. Joye said. “Perhaps, all the love she experienced in her family spilled over in her various ministries and her community life. We became the beneficiaries.”
Sister Helen is survived by her sister-in-law, Helen McCarthy, and several nieces and nephews.
A Vigil of remembrance was held at the Sansbury Care Center Chapel on September 5. The Mass of Christian Burial was held the following day, September 6, also at the Sansbury Care Center Chapel. Sister Helen was interred at St. Catharine Cemetery
Memorial gifts in Sr. Helen McCarthy’s name may be sent to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Dr, Columbus, OH 43219, or you may give online at oppeace.org.
Last weekend, some of us participated in a “Come and See” Retreat – where discerners come to one of our motherhouses and visit for a weekend along with others interested in exploring religious life. The weekend is structured around the four pillars of Dominican Spirituality: prayer, study, community and (learning about) ministry, and each retreat has a different theme.
Just as St. Dominic prayed nine different ways, so, we too, prayed with a variety of prayers. We chanted the liturgy of the hours, we prayed in the Taize style, and we let God’s words sink in and inspire us through Lectio Divina. We also had the opportunity to pray communally and to pray individually, with words or by reflecting in silence.
We learned about discernment, about the difference between discernment and decision-making, about ways to listen actively while we examine and deepen our relationship with God, about being aware of our feelings, and about seeking confirmation. We also learned from women in formation about the joys and challenges of discernment and the stages of formation – what formation looks like and feels like nowadays. Fun fact: Would you ever have thought that there was a Sister who was working for the FBI prior to entering religious life?
Then, we learned how Sisters live the vows as a daily commitment to God, to others and to self, and how Sisters discern communally for obedience/ministry in the light of what the world needs at this time, pointing to and witnessing to God’s reign to come and for compassion. We learned also about how one answers the call for various ministries. Pope Francis encourages us: “The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. (…) Do not be afraid to go and bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away and most indifferent. (…) Wherever we are, we always have an opportunity to share the joy of the Gospel. That is how the Lord goes out to meet everyone.” (Christus Vivit, #177.) In what ways do you feel called to share the Good News?
Being in St. Catharine, KY, where nine women answered the call to religious life and became the first Dominican Sisters in the USA, we visited the site of the original motherhouse as part of a hayride, and we toured other sites, like St. Rose Church and the place where the pioneer Dominican Sisters’ cabin home stood.
The Sisters at our motherhouse in Kentucky couldn’t have been more welcoming. Each participant of the retreat had a ‘sister-companion,’ who journeyed together in faith during the weekend. Other Sisters either shared during presentations or during panel conversation. We also reconnected with Sisters during prayer times and Mass, during meals, and there were also the Sisters who made our weekend go smooth as they gave us a tour, accompanied us in music, or made sure we had refreshments. As some discerners arrived a few days early or stayed a few days late, our Sisters helped us out very generously. Some made sure we all had a room, some accompanied us, some prayed with us, some shared about their ministries on-site, etc. They rock! We are very grateful.
Living out one’s vocation is a response to God’s call. Twelve women came to our Come and See Retreat who responded to the call to ‘come and see.’ Some got clarification, some became more energized, and some found peace in being able to share with a companion about their discernment. Responding to the call as a vowed religious Sister is a life-long journey that always requires openness to God, others and to self, compassion, passion for the mission, and at times, even courage.
Do you feel God calling you or nudging you? If you would like to talk to someone about it, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two major events happened in recent days. One seems like a resurrection and another seems like a death, but they are both aspects of the Pascal Mystery we live throughout our lives.
On August 26, 2019, 13 years after the last retreat at the Dominican Retreat House in Elkins Park, PA, the 42-acre property was finally sold to a new owner who will bring it back to life. Plans include a boutique hotel, restaurant, gardens, micro-distillery, spa and other features. It will be a new economic engine for Cheltenham Township, provide jobs, and a new sense of life in the area. Here is a link to a news story that might help you appreciate the beauty and historic significance of its architecture. It cannot begin to describe the people whose lives were changed by their experience of retreat there.
Over its lifetime, beginning in 1932, over 875,000 people came through its doors. Some came every year to the same weekend retreat: mothers, daughters, and granddaughters. Our sisters, associates, promoters, and staff provided a place of welcome, of spiritual nourishment, a door to God’s forgiveness and compassion. God’s Word was spoken and heard there in a powerful way. Truly, a long-awaited resurrection is at hand. Countless prayers, and a tenacious belief that someday new life would emerge, have borne fruit.
Over the weekend of September 7, 2019, members of the Leadership Team visited the sisters at the Oxford Motherhouse to share with them the decision to close the motherhouse and St. Mary’s Retreat House. Truly, this feels like a death. For most, it is an ending that is sad, painful, and requires great courage and trust. Many of our sisters and associates have recognized there are fewer sisters, an increasing need for care, and higher costs at the Motherhouse. The retreat house is dependent on the Motherhouse for some of its internal operations. For many, the decision to close was not unexpected — rather it has been known and sadly anticipated. Plans will begin to unfold and sisters there are in the process of considering where God might be calling them along the journey. Retreatants will plan for their last retreat.
This is not an unfamiliar experience for some of us, but for those who are experiencing it as new, it is most acute. Death hurts. And promises of future new life sometimes ring hollow, when in the midst of grasping the present reality.
The important word in all of this is mystery. Pascal Mystery. We only see God’s hand in a veiled way, like trying to see through frosted glass. We know God is there on the other side of our understanding, and we naturally wish to know and see more clearly what the future holds. I can imagine Jesus felt the same way from time to time as His journey unfolded. Our journey mirrors his death and resurrection.
Sometimes resurrection doesn’t happen right away. But it will. It has. New life is emerging where once we could only see as if through frosted glass. The prayers of those who surround us give us the hope we need to wait for the next resurrection. We can bear witness to it today.