FINDING VISION AND PURPOSE AMID DISRUPTION

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I have been trying to remain optimistic during this pandemic.

But this past week, I have struggled to maintain a positive outlook.

Many things have contributed to my strife – the politicization of the health crisis; the delayed delivery of the $8 billion in direct emergency relief from the CARES Act to Native nations, which are among the hardest hit by COVID-19; families unable to keep food on their tables and a roof over their heads; and the armed militia that stormed the statehouse in Michigan to “protest” against the governor’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order (even though nearly 80 percent of Michiganders support continuing the stay-at-home order) .

These militia people, once again, highlighted the fact that different Americans have different First Amendment rights – I will not state the obvious about the outcome of this scenario, if the people in the armed mob had more melanin in their skin.

From my vantage point, it is clear that no stay-at-home order was keeping any of these people at home. These are the same people who claim “Blue Lives Matter”, yet yell (unmasked) directly into the faces of masked law enforcement officers. There actions and rhetoric indicate that “No Lives Matter.”

Downplaying the lethal impact of the virus with messages like “Freedom isn’t free” and “I want my job back” these people apparently had the freedom to show up at the statehouse and ignore the CDC’s recommendations to cover your face and maintain physical distancing. They also had the freedom to defy logic (at last count, there were nearly 70,000 deaths in the United States and nearly a quarter million worldwide and the United States had nearly 1.2 million of the 3.5 million confirmed cases worldwide).

This “protest” was clearly about power, plain and simple. This was not a peaceful demonstration. It was about intimidation – for what other reason would “protesters” need to wear body armor and carry assault rifles?

I want to know if Americans of good will – particularly, my brothers and sisters with less melanin — are going to allow this small group of (gun-toting, “the government is not going to tell me what to do”) people to have the last say?

My hope is that the majority will not be silent and will operate out of an understanding that “law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose, they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress” (the words of Martin Luther King Jr.).

And to those who are dividing us into two pandemic camps – one that sees COVID-19 as a health crisis and one that sees it as an economic crisis – I say it is BOTH … AND (lest we forget that many Americans were in economic crisis before the coronavirus, most because of economic injustices).

Any plan to move forward MUST protect us from health risks and provide Americans with the economic means to survive without hardship.

These are trying times, but we are stronger together.

(Oh, don’t worry about my struggle to remain positive, I’m a resilient optimist– I bend but don’t break and use adversity/strife as a compass. I believe adversity can guide us to our vision, our voice, our calling, if we learn to suffer well).

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Facing the Challenge of a Pandemic

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

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.

Posted in God Calling?, News