The dictionary defines a vocation as “a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.” This “feeling of suitability” also extends to our life as Christians. Some of us feel called to family life, or to serve the church as educators or Extraordinary ministers. Some of us feel that “feeling of suitability” or calling towards life as a religious Sister.
If you believe that your calling is to serve God as a Dominican Sister of Peace, then this is the place for you.
Your next step? Learning more about religious life, more about the Dominican Sisters of Peace, and entering a process of discernment … of determining God’s desire for your life.
One of my favorite Gospel quotes is: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-3) This message spoke to me during the retreat in preparation for my first vows and recently in the prayer before our Ministry of Welcome – Vocations team meeting.
Pruning can be a painful process – but the fruits are well worth it. Looking back at the time before I entered the community, I thought religious life was a life of prayer and helping the poor. The concept of helping the poor has evolved in me over the years. I have come to see the poor not just as those who are materially poor but those in need of love, a spiritual life, and equal justice. The need to work on justice and dignity is present not only at the human level but also in the life of other species and the earth. This understanding broadens my view of ministry and daily prayer. Today, I realize that the call to live religious life is a call to live prophetically. This prophetic life is a dynamic one that must be built on faith and in the reality of life where I am living. So, it calls me to be open to on-going transformation and to accept the pruning necessary for new branches to form.
Another example of needing to be pruned happened when I was first called to religious life. At that time, I was worried that I would need to leave behind my love of engineering, life experiences, friends, and even my personal freedom when entering religious life. Later, I realized God did not ask me to cut them off completely but pruned me to see how to view them to bear more fruit and so that God’s work in me could be accomplished a hundredfold. Thus, I am reminded of what Jesus said, “I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” (Mt 5:17).
Now, we are dealing with COVID, job layoffs, violence, and division in our country. The questions that have been raised within our community echo inside me: “What does the world or our society ask from us?” “What does the earth ask of us?” These are all big questions. To respond prophetically, you and I must be pruned so a new way of thinking, living life, and doing ministry can bring forth and bear more fruit. How willing are we to be pruned for this process? And God will make the way for us to live such prophetic life.
The call to live in religious life is the call to live prophetically in our time, with one another in God’s grace. This is an authentic call from God. Are you willing to be pruned by God and to accept this call to be prophetic? If so, contact us or visit our vocation webpages to learn more about the discernment process. We also have a virtual Discernment retreat this March 12-14, 2021 at no cost. An online register link is coming soon.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected different groups of people in myriad ways during the past 10
months. Perhaps the most drastic impact has been felt by those caring for the sick on the front lines and those who have been forced to stay separate and isolated from others.
For religious sisters, the pandemic has kept them from much of their in-person ministry because of
safe distance requirements. Because many sisters are in the age group most susceptible to the virus, a number of sisters have stayed in their convents since mid-March 2020.
For health care workers, the 10-month period has been a time of unprecedented stress as hospitals have been stretched to their limits to handle the increase in admissions resulting from the pandemic.
Students in two diocesan schools have recognized the needs of these groups and have been reaching out to let them know they are appreciated and to give them encouragement as they continue to deal with the effects of the disease.
Columbus Our Lady of Peace School is taking part in an “adopt-a-sister” program for members of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, whose motherhouse is in Columbus and is home to 76 sisters.
Grove City Our Lady of Perpetual Help School has developed “Operation Gratitude,” a program recognizing people who are working on the front lines of health care at Mount Carmel Grove City Hospital.
Laura Baird, the parent of an Our Lady of Peace student, and Gaye Reissland, a member of Our Lady of Peace Church, began the initiative to help the sisters.
“Gaye was helping the sisters dec- orate for Christmas and doing other projects at the motherhouse,” Baird said. “She told the school’s Home and School Association (HSA) that some sisters had not been out of the building since March and could use something for Christmas to brighten their spirits.
“I got in touch with the sisters at the motherhouse and learned what they would like. The HSA then put together gift boxes with things like Christmas candy, hot chocolate and wine, along with notes telling the sisters we were thinking of them. More than 20 Our Lady of Peace families took part, along with two families from Columbus Holy Spirit School.”
“Laura suggested that families adopt a sister for Christmas, and I thought my fourth-grade class could act as a family,” said Our Lady of Peace teacher Sheri Magee. “We adopted Sister Anne Keenan, OP, and sent her a letter and some artwork. She sent a letter back and we responded by sending her a gift card, a blanket and some chocolate.
“We’re creating some more art for her and the other sisters and planning some Zoom time so we can talk to each other. Now that sisters aren’t as familiar a sight in schools as they once were, it’s great to have students talk with them and see the important role the sisters and their vocation play in the life of the Church.”
Recipients of the boxes included Sister Carol Ann May, OP, and Sister Shawn Fitzpatrick, OP.
“I was not aware of what the ‘adopt-a-sister’ program would be when it began,” Sister Carol Ann said. “I was so touched by the graciousness, the generosity and the kindness of the families that took part. Having these people praying for us and remembering us during this time of isolation was just what I needed during the Christmas season. It was just perfect.”
“Much to my surprise, the personwho adopted me was one of my former first-grade students at Our Lady of Peace,” Sister Shawn said. “It was so surprising and such a blessing to reconnect with this person that I remembered as a little child, now grown up and still in the Church.”
In Grove City, the staff and students at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School have cultivated a relationship with the Mount Carmel Health organization that opened a medical center there in 2014. The relationship expanded when the city’s first full-service hospital was opened by Mount Carmel in 2018.
As part of their Operation Gratitude initiative, “families at the school filled packages of snacks and
drinks for caregivers at the hospital who often don’t have time to enjoy a meal break,” said Brad Allen, the school’s enrollment coordinator.
Students made cards with special messages to be included with the packages, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help parishioners have been sharing virtual messages of thanks and motivation to hospital workers.
Volunteers from the school and church have committed to standing outside the hospital to clap nurses, doctors, and staff in and out during four separate shift changes. Parishioners also have been encouraged to support Mount Carmel’s street medicine program with monetary donations.
“With Operation Gratitude, Our Lady of Perpetual Help families have found a way to say ‘thank you’
and give back to those health care workers who have labored and sacrificed so much,” Allen said.
Diocesan Superintendent of schools Adam Dufault praised the two schools’ service efforts, saying,
“Service to others is a foundational part of our Catholic faith. The work being done at OLP and OLPH and so many other Catholic schools is putting our faith into action for the betterment of our community.”
I hate shots. No, I mean I really hate shots….so much so that I can barely watch someone getting a shot on television. So I was pretty surprised when, after getting the first dose of the Moderna vaccine that I felt so darn good. It was a feeling of relief and of hope. Maybe there was a light at the end of the Covid tunnel.
I think everyone who can, should get the vaccine too. Why? During the past year, I’ve worked at St. Raphael Hospital in New Haven as a chaplain intern. I’ve been present at the bedside of a dying patient because his son could not come into the hospital. I’ve prayed with a daughter and her father who had Covid using a telephone and video conferencing. I’ve comforted nurses on a Covid unit as the second wave ramped up in our hospital. They were already exhausted, nervous and afraid. I’ve tried to connect over telemedicine with a Covid patient who had recently lost her father to Covid. (It wasn’t very successful or satisfying for either of us.) I’ve felt the fear of being with a patient who later was diagnosed with Covid and watched the disruption of our convent when someone had unknowingly spent time with a Covid-infected person.
I want Covid to go away. Don’t you? That’s why I pray and ask that you pray that everyone who can, will get the vaccine. Science says that it can help us overcome this pandemic and allow us to get back our lives. I’m not a huggy-type person, but I miss hugs. I want to be able to hold the hand of a patient who is lonely and afraid and I want to sing again at Mass. What do you miss?
If you are confused or still have some doubts about the vaccine, check out this YouTube video. It’s a good explanation. Please encourage your friends and family to get the shot. In the meantime, please keep wearing your mask, stay six feet apart, wash your hands and stay safe.
Stop Dangerous Pipelines
Last week we celebrated President Biden’s actions to stop Keystone XL, the pipeline to bring Canadian tar sands to the U.S. There’s a Keystone clone currently being built with similar impacts to climate and water – Line 3 in Minnesota.
Line 3 is one of the last major tar sands expansion projects in North America. It would damage the climate as much as 50 new coal plants and cut across the 1854 and 1855 treaty territory of the Anishinaabe people.
Over the last six years, a powerful Indigenous-led movement of water protectors, land defenders, and ordinary citizens has grown to resist this dangerous pipeline.
Reunite Families Unjustly Separated
In this moment of peaceful transition toward a recommitted democracy, we must make sure the Biden administration keeps its promise of bringing families together. Edith Espinal and Miriam Vargas are two mothers that deserve this promise to ring true. They have both been denied the opportunity to be reunited with their families until now.
Edith has been in sanctuary at Columbus Mennonite Church since October 2017 and Miriam at First English Lutheran Church since June 2018. As we began the process of reconciliation, our Congress must act now and do more than pause the current deportation laws. Let’s start by getting Edith and Miriam home with their families.
Protect Essential Workers
Throughout the pandemic, essential workers have borne the brunt of Covid-19’s devastating health and financial impacts, exposing themselves and family members to the deadly virus to maintain the flow of critical food, other goods and services to communities in every corner of our nation. Many undocumented workers have done all of this while being excluded from previous COVID-19 stimulus bills, health insurance, and access to affordable healthcare.
Please sign here to urge Members of Congress to include an amendment to the latest pandemic relief legislation bill which will provide a path to citizenship and protections for undocumented essential workers and their family members.
Tell the New Biden Administration to Dismantle the Federal Death Penalty
For the first time in U.S. history, we have a president who openly opposes the death penalty. President Biden was inaugurated just five days after the 13th and final execution in the Trump administration’s killing spree. While we welcome this return to federal execution dormancy, now is not the time to slow down our advocacy.
Sign Up To View the United Nations Social Development Commission
The Commission for Social Development Forum will be held February 8-17, 2021. The forum addresses social protection floors. The priority theme for this year is: ‘Socially-just transition towards sustainable development: the role of digital technologies on social development and well-being of all.’ Registration closes today, January 27. To be part of the virtual program, click here.
March 14-26, 2021, begins the Commission on the Status of Women: Beijing 25+1. You can follow the planning of the conference here.
The Priority theme is: ‘Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.’