Winter’s Mystery

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

There’s something mystical and magical about watching snow fall.  I love the way the soft, gentle flakes descend onto the earth, offering a light, bright presence. Of course, I write this as I’m snuggled up warm inside, looking out the window in my makeshift office. The snowfall offers a moment for quiet reflection, for contemplating the mystery and beauty that winter offers, if we can stop to revel in it.  The snow also reminds me of a scripture quote from the Book of Daniel, “ice and snow bless the Lord.” (Daniel 3:70)

As snow blows hither and thither, is this a metaphor for our lives, of feeling scattered here and there?  Or, could it be that the snow holds meaning as it rests on sacred ground, reminding us to take time to rest and just to BE (more than doing), enjoying the still quiet beauty that unfolds within us and around us.

Winter is such a good time for being with “a few of my best friends”:  books and music.  It’s a time for letting words and lyrics inspire and engage me, for being touched in a deeper way—in a way that connects me to my center and to the Divine.  How do you connect with God?

God is in the mystery of winter’s metaphorical messages, as we walk icy paths or take delight in creating snow angels, leaving footprints of where we have journeyed. Are we able to see or feel God’s presence, God’s footprints in both the treacherous paths we cross and in the creative endeavors we enjoy?

God is in the musings and ponderings, where we search for life’s meaning and question life’s purpose, lifting our hearts and minds to understand where and how we are being called, at this time, in this moment.

God is in the suffering and the despair we see around us, inviting us to be ambassadors of peace and comfort to a hurting, broken world.  Sometimes we are the recipient of God’s care and love for us in a difficult time when someone aids us in our distress.

So, let us pray to see and feel God’s presence in the winters of our lives.  May we trust that the mysteries we encounter are moments that connect us to the Divine.  As the snow falls and it’s hard to see the path before us, let us step forward with faith that God will guide our steps and lead us to a place where God calls us to be our fullest self.

If you are searching for where God is calling you and feel God may be calling you to live as a religious sister, we invite you to contact us, and consider attending one of our upcoming discernment events.

Posted in God Calling?

Catholic Sister Helps Native American Families Struggling With Food Insecurity



Living in the heat of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona are the indigenous people of Tohono O’odham Nation. Families on the reservation reside in near-isolation. Long, winding dirt roads lead to homes with no street address. Travelers often have to create their own roads in order to find their destination.

In such a vast and remote location, food insecurity is a major issue. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the problem, resulting in many deaths, including elders.

More than 11,000 members, about 85 percent of the reservation’s population, are Catholic. About 40 villages have a church or chapel and the majority have Mass only once per month.

Through their strong faith, the Tohono O’odham rise to confront challenging situations. Prayers to address hunger were answered by Sr. Rachel Sena, a Dominican Sister of Peace serving San Xavier del Bac Mission in the Diocese of Tucson. Her ministry reaches the Tohono O’odham Nation in the Sonoran Desert.

A shining sister in the desert

Looking to help amidst the pandemic, Sr. Sena applied to Sisters on the Frontlines, an initiative which aims to give $1,000 to 1,000 women religious to help those most adversely affected by the pandemic. After receiving a grant from the program, Sr. Sena worked to help those who are struggling to put food on the table. She purchased 20 $50 gift cards for reservation families to use from two local grocery stores.

Life in this faith community on the border has many challenges. Residents face serious problems including high rates of suicide, gang activity, rising unemployment and drug trafficking.

Sr. Sena wanted to help as many people as she could. Now, she has made a difference in the lives of 20 families in need:

They never asked for assistance, because they trust in God’s Providence. I am grateful that your gift brought smiles of gratitude.”

The Tohono O’odham Nation’s land base is nearly 5,000 square miles and straddles the United States-Mexico border west of Tucson. The size of Connecticut, it is the third largest Indian reservation in the country. It has one small town, Sells, which is the capital, and about 70 villages.

Navigating the long reservation roads, Sr. Sena delivered food gift cards. Each family is grateful and sends blessings of thanks to those that made this possible.

Sr. Sena is thankful she could help put meals on the table for Tohono O’odham families during the pandemic:

The Catholic Extension grant was an act of mercy and a refreshing drink from the wells of hope.”

Thank you to our donors for providing food to struggling Native Americans in the Diocese of Tucson. As the pandemic continues, so does the Sisters on the Frontlines initiative. Contributions bring relief, joy and renewed faith to those so adversely affected.

Posted in News

Real Talk

First published July 27, 2020

I’m trying to be civil, but it is becoming increasingly difficult.

I’m trying to accept that some people simply don’t know what they don’t know, but sometimes I think they don’t want to know?

Colette Parker, OPA

I’m sorry – not sorry – that if one more (white) person tells me that navigating this issue of systemic racism is exhausting and uncomfortable, I may “lose my religion” (you can ask one of your southern friends to translate if you don’t know what this means).

Please be assured that your discomfort does not mean that you are in danger. And it can’t begin to compare to the “discomfort” (which could be related to actual danger) that Black and brown folks experience each and every day. And don’t even get me started about the exhaustion.

Anyway, while I pause to restore a little decorum, I have given some inquirers a few things to ponder/research:

The Civil Rights Movement never ended.

Racism is systemic (but that doesn’t exempt individuals from being racist).

America was founded on genocide, slavery, and oppression.

We are still dealing with the lasting effects of slavery and America’s (fictional) view on race.

Forty-one slave owners signed the document declaring “all men are created equal.”

Abraham Lincoln declared that “there is a physical difference between the white and black races” which “will forever forbid the two races from living together on terms of social and political equality.”

White supremacy is not confined to cross-burnings, lynchings, and using the n-word.

Black folks and white folks have been taught the same revisionist history.

Black and brown lives have been minimized in a number of ways, including redlining, the war on drugs, gerrymandering, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, accessing quality healthcare, and securing equitable educational opportunities.

Black and brown people are still fighting for their full humanity.

And if that isn’t enough, help me answer this question: Why do white folks want to jump over the hard personal work of mitigating the impact of white supremacy to get to (half-baked) “solutions”?

Posted in Thought of the Day

LENT? Huh! What Is It Good For?

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

I hate driving behind someone who is lost. You know the one: the driver that goes so slowly you don’t know if you can pass or not; the driver that swerves into your lane so suddenly you almost don’t hit the brake and then they slow down to look at the street names; the driver that doesn’t use the turn signal but turns anyway because the street they are looking for (you have no  idea which one) suddenly looms on the left or the right but not from the lane they are in at the moment.

You probably have other descriptions of their actions, but you get the picture, clearly the driver is lost.

What do we do—HONK,of course, ‘cause that always works, right? Makes us feel better. Or we yell at them, from the safety of our own car. Or we pray that this won’t become a road rage situation; oh not through you but through those other drivers also being inconvenienced by this lost traveler. It sort of seems like a no win situation for anyone until that driver finds what they are looking for on the same road you are traveling.

There are lots of ways of feel lost. Today, people are lost because their routines have been turned upside down. People seem lost because their friends are dying or are sick, and they can’t help them. They are lost because the places that usually held answers for them seem just as confused as they are.

When we are with people who say they are lost what happens? Do we “honk” at them, say we know how they feel, give them a hug and say it will get better? Do we ask if they want to pray or if you can pray for them? Do we just sit and listen, because we are just as lost as they are.

The only guide we have to help us try to stay in the best direction is something called faith. Most of us have faith in God; some call it a higher power; some call it the universe. Whatever it might be, it is something that takes us out of ourselves and shows us possibilities we might never have considered.

Why do we need Lent? What is it good for? We are all lost in some ways. Lent is a time to look at the roads we travel and ask how ready we are to change course if necessary. Are we just going to swerve and inconvenience others, or will we be able to find the guides we need to make hope filled decisions? That’s why we need Lent.

Posted in Weekly Word

Peace and Justice Updates – 2.24.2021

“In Celebration of a Faithful Democracy as Black History”

Join the Faithful Democracy coalition and partners to celebrate the impact of Black History on our democracy. with a Town Hall on Thursday (2/25) at 4:30pm ET. The program, “In Celebration of a Faithful Democracy as Black History” looks at the courageous struggle and perseverance of African Americans to be civic participants. Learn how the For the People Act would honor that legacy with transformational federal democracy reforms. This faith-based Town Hall will look at the racial equity benefits of the bill, how it complements the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the urgency of passage to safeguard our democracy.


The February issue of STOP TRAFFICKING examines the issue of human trafficking within the United States prison system. Click here to read the English version, and click here to read the Spanish version.


Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates