I became a U.S. citizen at the end of October, and the memories are still so vivid. There is no good way I can describe the joy and the emotions we all felt, because it would limit the experience. It left me very inspired, grateful and with deep joy.
Just a day after the ceremony, a line caught my eyes during morning prayer: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God…” (1 John 3:1) By God’s grace, we received God’s parental love for us, a parental love that always loves and has our backs. What does that mean for us? Can we claim being children of God or being “citizens” of God’s kingdom with (at least) the same enthusiasm, excitement, and overflowing joy as when immigrants become U.S. citizens?
The oath ceremony was all about what we were about to become and how we would use this new gift of citizenship. A feeling that is very similar to when we hear a Gospel passage – we might have a bumpy journey some days, but when we hear God’s Word, let us pay attention to how we receive it, how we claim it, and then how we share the love that God has for everyone.
I entered the congregation of Dominican Sisters of Peace in 2011. The call to religious life came from God, and I chose to respond God’s call by entering this congregation – the Sisters were always so welcoming and their witness of faith was very visible; like the Sisters, I had a deep passion for the mission, I loved the way we prayed, and I felt a great sense of community. However, the more I learned about our mission, the more we worked for a more peaceful world, the more I felt limited by not having a voting voice. I built and preached peace in various ways, but it has been difficult to listen to the news – whether it is a mass shooting, human trafficking, death penalty, or the situation at the USA border, the list goes on. I wanted to respond compassionately, speaking on behalf of those in need, but I didn’t have a voting voice to use.
Twelve days after becoming a citizen, I went to a B.R.E.A.D. Annual Assembly meeting with some of our Sisters. At the entrance, some of the organizers were collecting signatures for advocating for background checks to create safer gun laws. I was so happy that, finally, I could give my signature. Being a new citizen empowers me to speak on behalf of the less fortunate – like the children effected by school shootings. I invite you to ponder what it means to you that God’s love has been bestowed on us, and how we can radiate this love in a heartfelt way.
If you would like to learn more about Dominican Sisters of Peace, go to http://oppeace.org. If you would like to learn more about becoming one of us, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. May God continue to bless you and peace to you!