For the last few days, I’ve been at the Mission Immersion experience with the Vocation team and with a few other women. We chose to come to New Orleans for several reasons. First, because even though it has been 15 years since Hurricane Katrina hit the city, it still hasn’t recovered fully yet, and secondly, we have a rich congregational history in the city, as our sisters have been in the Crescent City since 1860.
We planned the five-day mission immersion specifically to respond to the most direct needs of the city: caring for the homeless and providing much needed affordable housing. We cooked and served a meal for families at Hotel Hope, which is a short-term residence for homeless women and their children. On weekday mornings, we helped to rebuild New Orleans through the St. Bernard Project, which is an organization whose goal is to shrink the time between disaster and recovery. Each day, we started and closed the day with prayer, asking God’s blessings upon those we served and praying for a more peaceful world.
In the afternoons, we met Dominican Sisters of Peace at their ministry sites, and when opportunity allowed, we immersed ourselves into the experience. We went to the Spirituality Center, where we met Sr. Dot Trosclair, OP, who guided us in a prayerful reflection. We visited St. Mary’s Dominican High School, where we met a few of our Sisters, and learned from Dr. Cynthia Thomas and Mrs. Jill Cabes about how St. Mary’s continues to educate women in the Dominican tradition and challenge young women to excel, i.e. robotics program. The students were very articulate and
excited to share what they were learning. That evening, we listened to Sr. Kathy Broussard, OP, as she shared about her ministry. As a Death Penalty Mitigation Specialist, she advocates for those who are facing the death penalty and works to save their lives. The importance of her ministry, her compassion, and her passion for this ministry left us speechless. We also visited the Peace Center, where we learned about our Sisters’ ministry to the Gert Town neighborhood community of New Orleans and interacted with the students who attend the after-school program there. The Sisters also treated us with a delicious jambalaya meal. We also talked to one of the Dominican friars, Fr. John G. Resrepo, O.P at St. Dominic’s parish, where we learned how Katrina effected the parish.
We are very grateful to Sisters Kathy Broussard, OP and Sr. Binh Nguyen, OP, whose hospitality, witness of what community-life is about, and witness of faith were transformative.
The women who participated in this immersion experience left everything behind, traveled hundreds of miles to experience the ‘unknown’ when our mission asks us to be open to bring God’s presence where ever God is calling us to do that. This reminded me of the song from Frozen 2: Into the unknown, or click on this link: https://youtu.be/gIOyB9ZXn8s.
In the movie, there is a voice that only Elsa, the main character, can hear. She is trying to ignore it at first, but then she investigates what that voice is and where the voice is calling her to find truth. When you feel nudged by God, what helps you staying open and attentive to God’s nudging?
Here are a few lines from the song to ponder, and click on the link for the entire song. I can imagine that those who came to this week’s mission immersion may have pondered these lines before they came.
“There’s a thousand reasons I should go about my day, and ignore your whispers which I wish would go away.”
“I’ve had my adventure; I don’t need something new. I’m afraid of what I’m risking if I follow you.”
“What do you want? ‘Cause you’ve been keeping me awake. (…)
“Are you someone out there who’s a little bit like me? Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be?”
“Where are you going? Don’t leave me alone. How do I follow you into the unknown?”
Elsa left everything behind to find truth. There is so much going on in the world. What are we willing to do to keep searching for truth, and speak truth to power?
We experience in the movie the importance of processing things, and that there is a place for transformation as long as we keep asking our questions. If you feel nudged by God, I encourage you with a line from Olaf’s song, When I am older: “someday I will see that this makes sense.” Will it make sense? Pray with the question where God is calling you, and see where it takes you. If you would like to talk to a Sister, contact us at email@example.com
To view photos from our week, please go to our Facebook page, and view posting between January 4-8, 2020.