End Gerrymandering

Blog by Sr. Mary Ellen Bennett, OP

If this past election has taught us anything, it’s that every vote truly matters and must be counted.

To make sure that a fair elections process happens every time, we need to produce fair election district maps, and end the process of Gerrymandering.  This is a bi-partisan issue.

In 2011 there were no rules against partisan Gerrymandering, and no Federal regulations about it.

During the upcoming redistricting process, we all could play an active role in how our political maps are drawn.

With the current districting in Ohio, for example, 55% of voters get 75% of seats. That’s a 20% difference. Vote shares and seat shares should be close.  Democrats are packed into 4 districts because of distorted boundary lines.  Therefore there’s a disconnect between how constituents feel, and how legislation is acted on.

The 2020 Census Data probably won’t be available until March, but it’s not too early to begin advocating for fair Election District maps.

Posted in Just Reflecting

The Beloved Community

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

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. often wrote and spoke about the Beloved Community. It referred to the notion that we live in a global community in which all people can share in the human and natural resources of the earth. It is a community of inclusion on all levels of society. He said that poverty, hunger and homelessness would never be tolerated, and all would share equally in the earth’s bounty.

I think I have heard words like these before and found them again in the Acts of the Apostles Chapter 2:

“… all who shared the faith owned everything in common; they sold their goods and possessions and distributed the proceeds among themselves according to what each one needed…. They praised God and were looked up to by everyone. Day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved.”

The Beloved Community in the year 2020 has had unprecedented experiences so far. We have lived through a presidential election that rivals all the chads that were ever stuck on a ballot; are living through a global pandemic, and have stood together to demonstrate the need for racial justice. Yet not all the members of the Beloved Community have achieved the desired results as members of the community. Does this mean the Beloved Community does not exist? Is it just “pie in the sky”?

The inauguration, though a much more subdued experience than we have known in the past, gives us glimpses of what could be. The poetry of Amanda Gorman is a wonderful example of preaching for hope, and phrases like “we are striving to form a union with purpose” or “ … even as we grieved , we grew; even as we hurt, we hoped; even as we tired, we tried” give us the possibility of possibilities unexplored.

Now as we begin the year 2021, look around you; check out your neighborhood; listen to your local news. There are so many possibilities to create that community every day.

Signs of the possibility of a Beloved Community exist; we can perfect them; we can continue to build the Beloved Community as best we can. The times may be insane; the needs may be great, but we are the people of Peace in the Beloved Community.

Posted in Weekly Word

Coming Home to Her Call

Maria Tram Bui Enters the Dominican Sisters of Peace as a Candidate

Columbus, OH – On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Catholics celebrate the sinless birth and life of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus. This holiday was another sort of celebration for the Dominican Sisters of Peace, as the Congregation welcomed Maria Tram Bui, 41, as a candidate on December 7, 2020, the vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Born in 1979 in Binh Gia, Vietnam, Tram and her family, including her eight siblings, immigrated to America in 1999. The family moved to Houston, TX, in 2005, where she attended Christ the Redeemer and Our Lady of Lourdes churches in that diocese.

Candidate Tram Bui is welcomed as a candidate to the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

Tram earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Texas Tech University Health Science Center, Lubbock, TX, in 2010. She served as a full-time physical therapist at a short-term stay skilled nursing facility, North Houston Transitional Care.

Tram was initially introduced to the Dominican Sisters of Peace through our Kentucky Sisters, where she also heard the call of God to become a healer through her career in physical therapy. After she returned to Texas to continue her education, Sr. Mary Vuong, another Dominican Sister of Peace who ministers as a physical therapist in Texas, invited Tram to look again at her calling to religious life.

“Meeting the Dominican Sisters of Peace has made me feel very much at home – welcomed to the Community,” Tram says. “I am blessed to experience the joy and caring that they have shared with me.”

Tram was welcomed to the Congregation in a virtual ceremony held at the House of Welcome. Prioress Patricia Twohill and Vocations Director June Fitzgerald joined by Zoom call. Sr. June delivered the preaching during her welcome ceremony. Vocations Minister Mai-Dung Nguyen, OP, attended via Zoom Wichita, KS. She gave the Responsive reading and offered a prayer for Tram’s family in their native Vietnamese.

Candidate Tram Bui, center, receives the traditional Dominican Blessing from Sisters in her community: from left, Sr. Robin Richard, Sr. Pat Dual, Sr. Bea Tiboldi, Sr. Ellen Coates, and Sr. Margie Davis.

Tram is the daughter of Nghiem and Hanh Bui, and has four sisters, Teresa, Kieu Anh, Phuong, Lyly, and four brothers, Hoang, Tai, Trung, and Thanh.  She also has two nieces and eight nephews.

During her candidacy, Tram will live at the Dominican Sisters of Peace House of Welcome in Columbus, OH. She will continue her career in physical therapy as she continues to discern her call to religious life.

The Dominican Sisters of Peace have seven women in various stages of formation and ministry. Cathy Buchanan and Tram Bui were welcomed into the congregation with their local convent communities in New Haven, CT, and Columbus, OH, respectively. Canonical Novice, Sr. Annie Killian entered our Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) in Chicago, IL.  Second-year novice Sr. Ellen Coates returned to Columbus, OH from the CDN in August 2020.  Sr. Phuong Vu professed her First Vows in December 2020.  Both Sr. Ana Gonzalez and Sr. Margaret Uche professed First Vows in 2019, and are currently in ministry as they continue formation.

To view a video of Tram Bui’s welcome ceremony, click here. 

Your donation to the Dominican Sisters of Peace helps us continue to help women hear the call of God and follow their vocation to vowed religious life. 


Posted in News

“To see it and to be it”

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi

We have had such an emotional week. Can I get an Amen? We honored and remembered the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We observed National Day of Racial Healing. We remembered the 400,000 people who lost their lives during this pandemic and prayed for their loved ones. We expressed our gratitude for first responders. We celebrated the beginning of a new chapter in our American democracy as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took office. We are in a time when we need to acknowledge the need for unity and healing. As President Joe Biden encouraged us in his inaugural speech: “Let’s begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another.”

There is just so much emotion going on inside me. If I could paint my feelings, the fireworks that we saw at the end of the concert on Wednesday evening is the perfect visual image I would express in a painting. Fireworks represent the release of repressed feelings, and they also symbolize happiness and joy.

Are these the feelings the first disciples felt at the very first Easter? I wonder. They, too, must have felt an immense joy and renewed hope. Amanda Gorman, in her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” encourages us to “step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it. (…) For there is always light, if only we were brave enough to see it, if only we were brave enough to be it.”

“To see it and to be it” are powerful words to believe and follow. In today’s Gospel reading, we recall Jesus calling the disciples, and we, too, per our baptism, are called to share the Good News, to share God’s love and peace. The prayer of St. Teresa of Avila reminds us that Christ has no hands but ours. Click here for the song that is accompanied by a slideshow. How is God calling you to be, build and preach God’s peace today?

If you would like to talk about living out your call as a vowed religious sister, contact us at vocations@oppeace.org.

Posted in God Calling?

Transgender persons are the body of Christ too

By Sr. Luisa Derouen, OP, for the Global Sisters Report


Sr. Luisa Derouen, OP.

It was time for shift change, so the nurse going off was briefing her replacement. One of her patients was transgender, and she said to the nurse coming on duty, eyes rolling with a sarcastic tone, “It’s one of those.” Basically, that translates as “it says it’s female, but we know it’s really male. You’re stuck with one of those freaks on your shift.”

Have you ever been called an it? Can you imagine what it would feel like for someone to be so rudely dismissive of your very humanity?

Some transgender people know exactly what that feels like. My friend David is a registered nurse as well as transgender. He has been on the patient side and the staff side of how the humanity of transgender people is denigrated, denied and disrespected by medical providers. Increasingly, this issue is making its way to mainstream media and exposing the many challenges transgender people face seeking health care.

Why should the medical experiences of transgender people and their families concern me? That is not my expertise at all. I’m a spiritual director. Well, here’s why: we are each a unique body-soul creation of God.

A favorite psalm verse for many people declares “You created my inmost self, and I am wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13). This verse begs for affirmation as my heart breaks, hearing so many stories of transgender people whose precious body-selves are not reverenced when they seek medical care. For 21 years I have borne the weight of the cross with them when they are told by words and actions that their humanity is not wonderfully made; that who they are does not reflect the beauty of God’s creation.

Transgender people make incredibly difficult decisions and take life-changing risks in order to honor their body-soul personhood. When they are not treated with respect when seeking medical care, their whole person is wounded and traumatized.

Sometimes medical staff lack proper training. Vincent shared with me his experience trying to make an appointment at a Catholic hospital for an OB-GYN checkupThe nurse at the other end of the phone questioned, “I have to ask if you have had the surgeries? Do you still have your female parts down there?” In horror he responded, “I’ll discuss that with the doctor. I’m not comfortable discussing that with you over the phone.” She insisted on an answer right then, which made him extremely uncomfortable, so he now shies away from any OB-GYN care entirely.

A doctor shared a common experience. The doctor was called to the emergency department for a badly injured trans woman whose only option for care was this Catholic hospital. The name listed was the patient’s legal male name, but the patient was presenting as female. She was clearly traumatized and crying. The young doctor reassured her and stated, “I’d like to take the best care of you I can. How do you prefer I address you?”

The patient smiled, exhaled in relief, and stated her preferred name. A bit more at ease now, she disclosed that she avoids medical care because she is treated so badly. The doctor was careful to include her preferred name on the chart alongside her male legal name. But the doctor learned later that the information included to respect the trans patient was removed by a more senior doctor because it was “unnecessary and just cluttering up the list.” Now this woman was traumatized for her injuries, and again for being deliberately made invisible.

Bishops who have spoken publicly have rightly insisted that transgender people must be treated with respect and compassion when they seek care at our medical facilities. But most make it very clear that people who identify as transgender are to be acknowledged by only their legal name and sex assigned at birth. Let me be clear: It is impossible to extend compassion and respect to people while at the same time insisting they do not exist. For this reason, transgender people avoid contact with medical personnel as much as possible, even to the extent of seriously compromising their health.

Families, as well as the transgender person, are profoundly affected. Peggy is the mother of a transgender adult child. She is a university professor and has long been an ally of LGBTQ+ people, but hadn’t personally known a transgender person before her own child shared that she was transgender. She struggled to understand but believed what her child was saying and wanted to be supportive.

In this fragile state, Peggy met with their Catholic family doctor, whose medical competence they had relied on for years. She was eager to learn from him what to expect by way of possible medical interventions so she could be knowledgeable and supportive of what was in the best interest of her child. She was totally taken aback when “he flew into a rant against what he sneeringly referred to as ‘transgender medicine’, expressing outrage that such a field had been developed in recent years. He insisted the science hadn’t changed, though it clearly had. He declared that I should deny my child’s experience because they could not possibly be real. He said it’s ‘like a cult’.”

A very long list of reputable medical entities confirms that being transgender is an acknowledged reality and that transgender people have a right to appropriate medical care. It is not a cult or anything like a cult. Transgender people are not subscribing to any sort of “gender ideology,” which is a claim that a number of bishops have made.

Sometimes, though rarely, a trans person has a positive experience with medical providers. As a high school junior in 2012, Michael attempted suicide and was brought to the psychiatric ward of a Catholic hospital. The doctors, nurses and staff called him Michael and validated his experience with support and acceptance. At his request a priest came to see him who, like the staff, listened nonjudgmentally and sensitively. Michael pointed out to me, “This experience was at a pivotal moment for me, and I am so grateful for everyone there. I’ve had harmful experiences, but this one stands out because it is so rare.”

Tragically, almost all transgender people have stories of traumatizing experiences with medical providers who refuse to believe that they are who they say they are, and whose health is significantly compromised as a result. This is especially tragic when it occurs in Catholic medical facilities.

They are the precious body of Christ as truly as anyone. “The temple of God is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:17). It has often been pointed out that we Catholics would never dream of disrespecting the body of Christ we receive in Communion, but we don’t hesitate to disrespect the body of Christ in the person before us, especially those whose Christ-like humanity makes us uncomfortable. What a balm for many transgender people are the words of Cardinal Wilton Gregory. At a Theology on Tap session in August 2019, he responded to a transgender man by saying: “You belong to the heart of this church. There is nothing that you may do, may say, that will rip you from the heart of this church.”

Transgender people are the body of Christ too.

Posted in News