Blessed Are the Risk Takers

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

In an era of conspiracy theorists, the unmasked, and other versions of the “flat Earth Society,” it is refreshing to encounter people who risk jobs, security, and misunderstanding in speaking truth. I find this happening more often in a time of multiple national crises.

Dr. Fauci has been “the True North” in speaking truth to power throughout the COVID -19 pandemic.  His life and the lives of his three daughters have been threatened, yet he takes risks on our behalf because of his commitment to truth and the common good.

Bishop John Stowe of the Diocese of Lexington, KY, is a man I hold in high esteem.  He has rattled cages more than once in this conservative diocese.  I met him in Washington in 2018 when I joined 40 sisters, priests, and lay leaders to do civil disobedience on behalf of dreamers facing deportation.  He was there to preside at our liturgy, preach a stellar homily and bless us before we were arrested.  His message then and now was to preach the gospel wherever it may lead you.

He is not a “careerist” and will never climb a ladder.  Instead, he will join a circle.  His circle includes “the least of these” – immigrants, poor and marginalized, those working for nonviolent solutions to problems.  This gentle follower of St. Francis is not afraid to take on anyone.

He participated in a recent webinar in which he clearly defined “pro-life” as a to z, not stopping at a.  His criticism of the president and his administration leaves no one doubting his concern about an anti-life administration.  He maintains that one “cannot be pro-life if you support separating children from their parents and put them in cages …cannot be pro-life if you deny them affordable health care, even with pre-existing illnesses.”  Pro-life also means supporting basic, responsible, common-sense gun laws that include universal background checks, banning of assault weapons, and saving many thousands of lives by simple actions.  Pro-life is a “seamless garment” being shredded by an anti-life president.

To read the entire text of Bishop Stowe’s address, click here.

I am confident Bishop Stowe is getting hate mail and calls for his removal, as well as unfriendly twitter comments.

Sr. Suzanne Brauer standing with Black Lives Matter demonstrators in New Orleans.

While it is important to engage in peaceful protests and criticize those in power who are destructive in their words and decisions, it is also important to affirm those who take risks on our behalf in the pursuit of truth.  Bishop John Stowe deserves our thanks.

You may write to him at: Diocese of Lexington, 1310 West Main St., Lexington, KY 40508 or go to the Diocese of Lexington website.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Reflection on 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12

I have pondered the meaning of the gospel reading for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Times. It is the beautiful story of God appearing to Solomon in a dream.

Prior to this passage, there was deception afoot. King David is close to dying and Adonijah, son of Haggith, declared himself king. The prophet Nathan aligned himself with Bathsheba, mother of Solomon and wife of King David. He directed her to speak with King David and claim the throne as was promised by her spouse. King David remembers his promise and declares Solomon king.

Solomon is a young man and has just had kingship thrust upon him.  One can only imagine the thoughts that ran through his mind.  God does not abandon Solomon to his fear, but appears to Solomon in a dream. God poses the question to Solomon, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”

Solomon explains to God that he is not prepared; he’s too young and does not know how to run a kingdom of such vast size. Amazingly, Solomon asks God not for wealth or personal gain. Instead, Solomon asks for an “understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.”

Putting myself in Solomon’s place, I think: what would I ask from God?

My list is so long, that it shames me in the face of the simplicity of Solomon’s request.

This is a powerful message. It reminds me that God is already providing for me. Instead of focusing on what I could possibly want, Solomon reminds me to ask God not for material possessions, wealth or success, but to live my life in such a way that honors him and his kingdom on earth.

Associate Patricia Herrick

Posted in Associate Blog

Taking the Next Step

Thirty Years of Parish Ministry Lead to Dominican Sisters of Peace

New Haven, CT – The Dominican Order celebrates its founder, St. Dominic, on August 8. And in 2020, despite a pandemic and quarantine orders, the Dominican Sisters of Peace celebrated the birth of St. Dominic by welcoming a new candidate to the order, when Cathy Buchanan, 55, entered the Congregation as a Candidate at the House of Welcome in New Haven, CT.

New Jersey native Cathy Buchanan, left, waits at the door of the Dominican Sisters of Peace House of Welcome in New Haven, CT, with Vocations Minister Sister June Fitzgerald, OP, right.

Buchanan comes to the Congregation from Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament parish in Roseland, NJ, where she served as a Pastoral Associate. In that position, Cathy was the Coordinator of Liturgy & Adult Formation.

Prior to her ministry at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament parish, Cathy served in the New Jersey State Department of Corrections for more than 25 years.

Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Caldwell University in Caldwell, NJ. She earned a Master of Arts in Education at Seton Hall University, and later, her Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry at the Immaculate Conception Seminary & School of Theology at Seton Hall University.

Cathy served as a volunteer at her home parish, St. Stephens in Kearny, NJ, for more than 30 years, even during her law enforcement career. After retirement, she earned her Master of Theology and began working at the Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament parish. She had been discerning the call of God in her life for a very long time, but Cathy did not rush into her decision to join the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

“I have spent more than two years in what I call “active” discernment,” Cathy said. “I spent the first year in prayer to help know God’s will for my life and to better understand where God might be leading me. BI was also acting on the promptings of God from my prayer, by contacting religious communities and spending time in conversation with their vocation directors.”

COVID protocols made for an untraditional candidate portrait with Cathy Buchanan, right, and Prioress Pat Twohill, OP, onscreen, left.

“I spent another year visiting different religious communities and looking for opportunities to attend discernment events,” she continued. “I studied each community’s charisms and missions to see if I felt my gifts might fit with these communities, and I prayed for God’s guidance to help me choose the best community for me.”

“After visiting so many communities, I realized that I love the cultural and generational diversity of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, and their outreach to the poor and marginalized. I was also attracted to the joy of the Sisters in the community,” Cathy concluded.

Cathy Buchanan is the daughter of the late Mary & Andrew Buchanan. Her brother Peter is also deceased. She has six nieces and nephews and two great-nieces.

Having moved to New Haven to begin her candidacy, Cathy is currently ministering at Dominican Sisters of Peace-founded college, Albertus Magnus. She expects to enter a long-term ministry soon.

To view a video of Cathy’s entry ceremony, please click here.

Posted in News

Religious Communities as Constellations

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi

When you gaze upon the stars, what do you see? Are you someone who is looking for a constellation, or someone who is wishing upon a star, or someone who is simply trying to ‘connect the dots?’

In the middle of July, during our monthly discernment gathering, as Sr. Pat Twohill OP was sharing about discernment, she suggested a few thoughts that might help discerning women to take a leap of faith in their journey. I decided to share a few of her thoughts with you, along with adding my thoughts as well. If you are a Sister or an Associate, or should I say, part of our “constellation,” I hope you find assurance and encouragement for the future as you reflect with these insights. If you are someone who is trying to decide between religious congregations, I hope you find this blog empowering to take the next step in your journey.

Photo Credit: László Tiboldi
“Hook your star to a constellation”

One of Sr. Pat’s suggestions was, “Hook your star to a constellation.” She shared this on July 10th. Little did I know that in just two weeks, we would see the Comet Neowise. As I gazed upon the sky, I remembered her voice, “Hook your star to a constellation.” How wise is that! Comet Neowise was cool, but it gave a temporary joy only. Constellations, that we might often recognize, shine brightly all the time – and when the clouds don’t hide them, we can see them.

Aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry writes in his book, The Little Prince, “For some who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others, they are no more than little things in the sky. For others who are scholars, they are problems. (…) You alone will have stars as no one else sees them.” In the Scriptures, we read: “[God] appoints every star and calls each one by name.” (Psalm 147:4) God calls us – each one of us by name. So, why not hook your star to a “constellation” or a community?

Finding the pattern that forms a recognizable image

A constellation is a group of stars when they form a pattern, like the Big Dipper or Gemini, etc. When looking at the various religious congregations, there are certain characteristics one might look for. You might want to look at how often Sisters pray together, how they live and preach the Gospel, what their congregation’s charism is, how they respond to societal needs, what their community life looks like, or whether this group has a future. These characteristics might form a pattern, which one might call a “constellation”, and that might help you find the “constellation” that fits you the best.

The joy we find in constellations

The Comet Neowise was cool to see, but we can no longer see it. However, we can still see other constellations – constellations that last. When you look at congregations, look at them in the present moment, but also whether they have a sense of future.

Putting energy into the sacrifice

Stars create and release energy. During our recent assembly, we were encouraged to continue to put energy into the sacrifice as we engage in our mission and respond to the emerging needs of the times. Whether you are a Sister, an Associate, or someone who is discerning religious life, I invite you to pray with these thoughts: what energizes you about our community and/or mission? How can you share that energy in a way that brings God’s light to others? In which community can you create and release energy in a way that it brings out your God-given best self? Some people look upon the stars on their birthday and make a wish. What is your wish for the future?

Sr. Pat Twohill reminded us that God guides us along the way. When she quoted Psalm 95, “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart,” she then encouraged our discerning women, “Try it!” She reminded them to pay attention to their feelings, wherever their heart feels most at home might be the right place to live out God’s call.

In the Scriptures, we hear, “Stars of heaven, bless the Lord,” (Daniel 3:63) and “[God] appoints every star and calls each one by name.” (Psalm 147:4) To what is God calling you? What is one thing you will do to bless God today?

If you think you are called to be a vowed religious Sister or an Associate, contact us at vocations@oppeace.org. If you are a single, Catholic woman aged 18-45, and you if would like to participate in our 3-day virtual Discernment Retreat, click here for more information on our Facebook page, or see the flyer here.

Posted in God Calling?

Reflection for the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6, 2020)

Blog by Associate Theresa Kempker, OPA

Why do I love the Feast of the Transfiguration?  On this day, we celebrate that Peter, John, and Jesus got to experience the real Jesus briefly.  Haven’t we had those treasured moments, when we experience God, whether through seeing something, hearing something, or feeling His presence?

Do those moments inspire something in you – your truest self – to rise up and meet that Divine Essence?  Don’t we need to express ourselves better so that our true self is ready to meet Jesus at all times?

On this day, then, let us celebrate our transgender brothers and sisters who have spent a great deal of time and energy discerning the expression of their truest self.  In the face of difficulty and sometimes hostility, they claim their truth.

When I think of being in the presence of Jesus as Peter and John were at the Transfiguration, I see my family as our true selves, singing our praises to God.  Our foster daughter is happy and carefree, the scars from her biological family’s abuse gone.  And my trans daughter is relaxed, not on guard.  My spouse and I no longer need to worry about them.  We can all be God’s beloved children, with whom He is well pleased.

Posted in Just Reflecting