Becoming a Compassionate Presence Through Change and Acceptance

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

I’ve been thinking lately about change and acceptance, how hard it is to change my habits, my way of thinking and to accept that I need to change not only for the sake of my relationships with others but also for my own well-being.

Accepting that change takes time and requires patience with self and others is like waiting for a flower to blossom.  As we all know, a flower can only grow when planted in fertile soil and is nourished with water and sunshine to reach its full fruition. A flower, of course, starts out as a seed and as it grows roots, it begins to take shape and develops into a beautiful creation.

If I carry this flower analogy to myself, I see that my roots need to be grounded in God, and that prayer becomes the seed to nourishing my being.  Prayer becomes the bedrock and sustenance for changing and accepting whatever life presents.

What started me thinking about change and acceptance is an encounter I had with someone that I was afraid to enter into dialogue with for fear of making matters worse.  I was filled with much anxiety and was avoiding this crucial conversation because I did not want to be vulnerable.  Fear was becoming my enemy and I was starting to regress into silence and recoiling in anger.  It was time for me to embrace a more loving attitude towards myself and the other person. In the end, we both received the blessing of understanding and a better awareness of building rapport between us.  What made this understanding possible for me was changing my attitude from being hurt to being receptive to new possibilities for compassion to grow.

In Joyce Rupp’s book, Boundless Compassion, she writes that “Compassion is a way of life-an inner posture of how to be with suffering, both our own and others, and a desire to move that attitude into action.”  She explores three essential components to becoming compassionate—awareness, attitude, and action.  The first step in changing ourselves and adopting a compassionate response is to be aware of such attitudes as judgment, intolerance, or impatience.  In so doing, Rupp notes that “With our awareness of suffering, and an attitude of wanting to alleviate it, we [can] then choose to act in a positive way for the benefit of all beings.”

Cultivating compassion, of course, is not easy.  Instead, as Nouwen states “Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish.”  Compassion can be learned though and Joyce Rupp seeks to provide her readers with the tools for being “a compassionate presence” and “to nudge, encourage, and inspire each reader to be a beloved, Christlike presence.”

Practicing compassion with ourselves and with others, as a way of life, has the potential to change us and how we respond to others.  When we can come to an awareness that, as Nouwen asserts, “nobody escapes being wounded,” then we can accept that we can be “wounded healers,” extending compassion both to ourselves and others.

So, let us pray for the gift of compassion, to be rooted in God’s love that we may be “a compassionate presence for all who struggle with life’s pain” and hurts.

If you want to be a compassionate presence with God’s people, responding to each person’s joys and sorrows, we invite you to contact us about exploring religious life.  We are holding a Come and See retreat at our Columbus Motherhouse, March 13-15, 2020.  You can learn more about this retreat here.


Posted in God Calling?, News

Where is the Hope?

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

Everyone seems to be looking for signs of hope in this crazy world we call home. Some find it in the face a cat that sits outside the front door every morning in the hope of some food. Some find it during a Mardi Gras parade even when it is raining. Some find it in hearing that Drew Brees will stay with the Saints! Some find  it in the last two minutes of NBC Nightly News broadcasts. Some find it in “cake”. Some find it in the rising of the sun each day so that there might be more possibilities of finding something to hope in.

The believing community knows hope is within each and every one of us, and it is our gift from God to share with others. We are the hope every time we volunteer our time and talents in soup kitchens, donate money to charitable organizations, write letters and make phone calls to encourage our elected men and women to do more so that hope can be a part of everyone’s life. We find hope in prayer because that gives us the energy to go on and be the face of hope for those who believe they have none and there is none.

Wear the ashes, OK. Eat less, OK. But more importantly be a sign of the hope that comes from being believers who cannot despair because we believe God is good and passes that goodness through us to all we meet.

Posted in News, Weekly Word


Blog by Sister Judy Morris, OP

You know it is election season when bumper stickers adorn cars everywhere.  One that appears every election season is, “I’m pro-life and I vote.”  It is always encouraging to observe a person committed to voting, but the first part of the bumper sticker raises the question:  What does it mean to be pro-life?  For many, being pro-life means opposing abortion.  Is that where it ends?

The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin created the concept of a “seamless garment.”  He articulated a long list of pro-life issues, widening the perspective to focus on the need to protect all life.  This does not diminish the importance of the abortion issue but emphasizes the urgency of all life issues that threaten human life and all creation.  While I am concerned about protecting the unborn, I also have concerns about the other 90% of life issues.  I am not a one-issue voter.

Can one be pro-life and:

  • Support the execution of prisoners on death row?
  • Support the manufacture and use of nuclear weapons that can kill millions of people?
  • Support policies that cut food stamps, subsidized housing, daycare that support the women who have chosen to have their babies?  How do they care for their babies without that support?
  • Support putting children in cages?
  • Support the manufacture and use of landmines that kill thousands of children and farmers long after a war is over?  (This is once again legal.)

The list of pro-life issues is endless.  An election year is an important time for dialogue, not debate, on life issues with persons with whom we disagree.  Unfortunately, dialogue does not happen often, following the advice to avoid talking about politics.  I believe political issues are moral issues and need shared wisdom from informed and committed citizens.  Together can we look at the entire landscape of life issues?  Neither silence nor heated rhetoric can bridge the deep divisions we face as a country.  The gift we can bring is a commitment to pursue truth, working to deepen understanding of issues of concern, always building mutual respect.  Now is an important time to “be peace, build peace and preach peace.”

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Justice Updates – 2.25.2020

Mobilize in March for Dreamers

Senators will be in their home districts March 16-20. This is an important opportunity for you to visit with your Senator and talk to him or her about protecting DACA recipients.

On November 12, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments on the legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and is expected to issue a ruling on the legality of the DACA program in late April-June.

The Catholic Bishops continue to express their support for Dreamers and sent letters to the House and Senate supporting legislation to protect these young people from deportation and family separation.

  • Please use these talking points to plan what you say to your Senator. You can also print and leave behind this  DACA backgrounder in your own meetings.
  • Need help on how to set up a meeting? Click on this link for “How to Set Up an In-District Meeting with your Lawmaker.

Support a “National Bureau for Gun Safety”

The Justice Conference of Women Religious is calling for a National Bureau for Gun Safety that would lead a campaign to reduce gun deaths based on proven public health practice.  Please consider signing the petition provided calling on Congress to create this important bureau.

There is a successful precedent for this action. In 1966, faced with rapidly rising motor vehicle-related injuries and deaths on our roads, the National Highway Safety Bureau (NHSB) was created to promote and implement safety technology and practices, such as seat belt use, as well as to support research into causes and contributing factors. This approach has been credited with reducing motor vehicle mortality by two-thirds over the subsequent thirty years.

Now, we must direct this strategy towards one of the deadliest threats we face today, preventing deaths at the hands of gun violence. Gun violence kills 40,000+ people a year. In the wake of shooting after shooting, we’ve got to figure out the root causes and how to prevent the next tragedy before it happens.

The National Bureau for Gun Safety (NBGS)’s mission would be to lead and coordinate a multidisciplinary, multifaceted campaign to reduce gun deaths based on proven public-health practice. NBGS would be run by experts in public health, medicine, engineering, communications and law enforcement, and:

  • Be transparent and nonpartisan;
  • Take the lead in setting the nation’s research agenda and developing, testing and implementing safety technologies;
  • Set out legislative priorities for saving lives;
  • Oversee campaigns to encourage behaviors likely to reduce gun injuries and;
  • Direct priorities for enforcing gun laws, in concert with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Sign the petition: Congress must establish the NBGS to reduce gun deaths. Click HERE to sign.


Posted in News, Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Dominican Sisters of Peace Hold Founded Ministries Meeting



Ministry Leaders Share Past Successes, Plans for Future

The Dominican Sisters of Peace welcomed ministry leaders from 13 sponsored ministries in 7 states for their annual Ministry Leader Gathering, held at the Martin de Porres Center in Columbus, OH, on February 19-20.

Ministries represented at this gathering included ecology centers, retreat centers, and learning centers. The theme of the meeting was “Carrying the Charism into Tomorrow” and explored issues such as sustainability/capacity, mission advancement, and resources for sharing the Dominican Charism to advisory council/board members.

“It is amazing to see how our Dominican Charism is celebrated in so many ways,” said Mark Butler, Director of Founded Ministries. “This gathering feels much more like a family reunion than a meeting.”

The Dominican Sisters of Peace have 27 ministries in ecology, retreat ministry, and adult and ESL education, primary and secondary school, colleges, health care and housing.

Row 1, from left: Sr. Pat Twohill, Prioress, Dominican Sisters of Peace; Andrea Pannell, OPA, Martin de Porres Center; Jeanne Mangino, Springs Learning Center; Sr. Jane Belanger, OP, Heartland Farm; Ann Axeman, OPA, Heartland Farm; Carole Hoffman, Dominican Retreat and Conference Center; Nancy Rodriguez, Siena Learning Center; Sr. Virginia Bruen, OP, Siena Learning Center; Sr. Margaret Mary Kennedy, OP, Springs Learning Center; Sr. Rosie Van Buren, OP, Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center; Elizabeth Reno, Rosaryville Spirit Life Center; Sr. Anne Lythgoe, Dominican Sisters of Peace Leadership.

Row 2, from left: Yahaira Rose, OPA, Martin de Porres Center; Carolyn Keene, Crown Point Ecology Center; Therese Leckert, Dominican Sisters of Peace Leadership; Suzette Callais, OPA, Rosaryville Spirit Life Center; Mark Butler, Dominican Sisters of Peace Director of Founded Ministries; Gene Poore, Dominican Sisters of Peace Leadership; Susan Milne, Dominican Sisters of Peace Assistant Director of Founded Ministries; Michael Pennison, OPA, Peace Center.

Row 3, from left: David Simpson, Crown Pointe; Alice Black, Dominican Sisters of Peace Director of Communications/Director of Mission Advancement; Jennifer Dixon, Dominican Sisters of Peace Director of Human Resources; Pattie McGurk, Heartland Center for Spirituality; Kristine Gehring, Dominican Learning Center; Sr. Sue Zemgulis, OP, Dominican Retreat and Conference Center; Denise Hilliard, Dominican Learning Center; Gemma Doll, Dominican Sisters of Peace Leadership; Sr. Pat Thomas, OP, Peace Center; Sr. Susan Leslie, OP, St. Catharine Farm; Sr. Chris Loughlin, OP, Crystal Springs Center for Earth Learning; Sr. Charlene Vogel, OP, St. Catharine Farm; Natalie Fullerton, Heartland Farm, Donna Vroom, OPA, Dominican Sisters of Peace Grant Writer; Danny Ray Spaulding, St. Catharine Farm; Mark Hanes, Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center.


Posted in News