A Discerner’s FAQs

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

Dear Sister,

Why is Study so important to Dominicans?

Dear Discerner,

You are right, study is very important to Dominicans.  In fact, on any given evening, you can find individual sisters or several members of our local community gathered in a circle discussing a book or article, attending a webinar, listening to a speaker or attending a spiritual retreat.  We Dominicans like to study.  We have bunches of books – both physically present on bookshelves and digitally filling up the memory on our e-readers and cloud accounts. Actually, study is so important to Dominicans that it is one of our “Four Pillars,” that is one of the foundations of our spirituality and life.  When I entered the Order, I knew that both formal and informal study would be part of my life.  It helps us to prepare for preaching, ministry, for educating ourselves on issues of justice and learning ways to create a more peaceful world.  Even more than that, study has changed me and challenged me to be, think, and act differently.

In our Constitutions for the Dominican Sisters of Peace, which are the guidelines for living our religious life, it states, The search for truth through study and contemplation is intrinsic to our mission as members of the Order of Preachers. Our prayer and preaching are informed by our diligent and loving attention to scripture and theology, as well as to all that expands our appreciation for the wisdom and beauty of God and God’s creation.”

So, what are you studying?    

I am reading and studying a variety of things, both in groups and independently.  On Tuesday, my Peace & Non-Violence group gathered to study, Hungry for Hope, a book by Simone Campbell.  She offers a personal reflection on her contemplative practice and how it has informed and shapes her life and ministry.  Reading this book calls me to examine how faithful I am to my prayer practice and how it informs my life and ministry.

On Wednesday, I gathering with the FIAT – Women’s Discernment Group of the Archdiocese of Boston to discuss Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis’ encyclical.  As I have read and reflected on it, I was drawn to pray with the story of the Good Samaritan.  Usually, I think of myself as the Samaritan, but lately I have been challenged to imagine myself as the person beside the road.  What is it like to be injured and to watch another walk by?  How is God with me as I wait for help?  What does this vulnerability open up in me?

In our Vocation Ministry, we invite discerning women to study with us various aspects of religious life, prayer, and discernment.  This month, our Emmaus Discernment Group will study and reflect on the stages of formation in religious life and hear from sisters in formation what it is really like after one enters the congregation.

What are other Sisters studying? 

Great question.  Thanks for asking.

I reached out to my sisters, and as expected, their study reflects the wide diversity of our members.

Here is a sampling of what they are reading and studying:

  • Reading poetry and prayers by David Whyte, Rainer Maria Rilke and Julian of Norwich
  • Studying Anti-Racism by:
    • attending webinars on Racism in the Sisterhood by Dr. Shannen Dee Williams
    • reading & discussing such books as:
    • Reading and studying Papal Encyclicals such as Fratelli Tutti and Laudato Si.
    • Studying topics related to their ministries:
      • Vocation ministers attending workshops on Virtual Retreats
      • Pastoral Ministers studying grieving and ministering to people with dementia
      • A Spiritual Director studying gender issues, contemplative prayer and retreats for young people.
    • Studying the signs of the times such as the pandemic, politics, economics, and mental health.
    • Learning how to play the guitar
    • Attending an on-line pottery workshop on creating porcelain ware
    • And the list goes on…

What are you studying?

If you want to learn more about religious life, and our community, please contact one of our vocation ministers to discuss or attend an upcoming program.

Posted in God Calling?

3 responses to “A Discerner’s FAQs

  1. Thank you, June for sharing your thirst for study as a Dominican. I appreciate the many resources you offered.
    Here at the Motherhouse, we are not participating in our usual study groups due to the Pandemic. I do keep up with articles from the America magazine and with a friend on the phone discussing the world issues of justice here in America as well as praying for peace and reconciliation in our families and at home. Gratefully, Brigid

  2. June,
    Great blog–clear and one of the best, practical descriptions of what Dominican Study is about. Thanks for sharing this with not only discerners but all of us.

  3. Thank you, June! Ongoing study and the search for truth go hand in hand. Thanks for reminding me of this great gift and blessing!

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