In the past, when a pandemic or epidemic such as a cholera outbreak or yellow fever epidemic occurred, religious sisters were found on the front lines. Sisters walked or rode on horses, day after day, night after night, from one house to another, from one village to another, to care for patients, children and orphanages, and provided food for the many who were hungry or needed help in any way.
Now, we are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, but the people on the front lines now are mostly nurses, doctors, EMTs, and police officers. This is a tremendous shift from pandemics in the past. Even though most of us are not trained as nurses, doctors, EMT or police officers for this urgent need, our sisters are involved in many ways, helping others, as this video shows.
At the beginning, I felt unsettled, helpless, and powerless. I wanted to do something—but did not know how and what to do. Later, when I read the article, “To Praise, to Bless and to Preach: The Mission of the Dominican Family” from Fr. Timothy Radcliffe OP, I was touched by the sentence, “We are the wounded preachers.” Yes, we are wounded preachers!
During this pandemic, we are all wounded by being isolated, having to homeschool, dealing with traveling limitations, having plans cancelled, and experiencing financial crisis. We fear and we may mourn the death of someone we know. These realities impact our life significantly. What should we do as preachers of hope?
People need someone who can listen to their stories of suffering without being judged. They need someone with whom they can feel uplifted and gain the courage to move forward. They need someone with whom they can question God and find God again. These trusted people may be what God is asking us to be. Can we be this kind of preacher for them?
Pondering these questions, I see that our Sisters and Associates are willing and able to provide the caring, listening, and supportive gifts many need right now. Throughout history, Sisters have comforted and accompanied people during times of great distress from the Civil War to the yellow fever epidemic. People tend to trust Sisters and our experience in cultivating a spiritual life, in breaking bread with others, has prepared us to reach out and respond to the emotional and spiritual needs of those both on the front lines and sidelines of this pandemic.
Our role has shifted. We may not be on the front lines as in the past, but we can serve wherever we are during this pandemic recovery and help people where they are. To do this mission, we need to recognize first that we are “wounded preachers” and that by understanding our wounds, we can provide compassion to the wounded who come to us. We can be women who are ready to listen actively, who can be empathetic as people recover from their wounds during and after this pandemic.
God is calling us all the time to respond to the needs of our times. Discerning God’s call and God’s mission are often based on the signs of the time. Are you ready to explore how God is calling you to respond to the many needs of our times? Contact us to learn more about becoming a sister.