Celebrate the Feast of St. Dominic, August 8, 2021

What a difference a year has made! I hope that this feast of our founder, St. Dominic, finds you well, and that your life, like ours, is beginning to return to normal. After a year like 2020, this quote from St. Dominic as we celebrate his feast on August 8 seems especially apt.

Like Dominic, we have seen the value of prayer and humility in the past months. In a year when our ministries were curtailed, we learned the power of prayer. In a year of civil unrest, we practiced humility in the face of aggression and untruths. And through the power of our prayer and the testimony of our humility, we have come to a new year and new hope – and new ways to minister to the people of God’s church.

But the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop our ministries entirely. Thanks to support from friends like you, we were able to continue to reach out to those in need, touching with our hearts and our prayers at a time when we could not touch with our hands.

  • At our Learning Centers in New Haven and New Britain, Connecticut, we could not gather for classes, and much of our learning was done online. And through your support and their hard work to get grants, both centers were able to help provide food and rental assistance to families suffering from the economic effects of the pandemic.
  • At the Collaborative Dominican Initiate in Chicago, IL, Novice Sister Annie Killian ministered at the Kolbe House Jail Ministry, a ministry of the Archdiocese of Chicago to people impacted by imprisonment. She corresponded with incarcerated and isolated women and men who had recently lost a family member, sharing Christ’s message of peace and hope.
  • In the Gert Town neighborhood of New Orleans, Sisters Pat Thomas and Suzanne Brauer walk with humility among their neighbors, many of whom are elderly, or financially disadvantaged. The Peace Center in New Orleans continues to adapt to the needs of their neighbors with assistance that answers the needs of the day, like education, meals, counseling, and job assistance.

It’s also been a year of work that seems humble. A bag of groceries may seem like a small gift, but to a family with no support during COVID, it was a true blessing. Coloring pages and activity books may have seemed insignificant, but to a child who is stuck inside with her school closed, it was a lifeline of fun and normalcy. A prayer, a phone call, or a letter was not a herculean effort, but we received many return notes saying, “Just knowing that you are praying for us means so much.” Again, in the words of Dominic, we want to do everything, even the smallest things, for the greater glory of God.”

As our ministries across the nation begin to re-open more fully and offer more services to those in need, we ask for YOUR prayers… for safety for our staff, our volunteers, and for those we serve, and for the strength to continue our works of charity and peacebuilding.

We also ask for your continued partnership in our missions of healthcare, education, ecology, housing, spirituality, and social justice. We are happy to share this special St. Dominic’s Day prayer card with you.

There is so much to do to bring Christ’s peace to this world, but as Dominic told his friend Francis If we hold together no earthly power can withstand us.

We hold together in prayer, and we bring your intentions to God in our prayers daily.

We also hold together in service, and your generous donations make that possible.

Together, we will bring the peace of Christ to the world.

Please click here to download our St. Dominic’s Prayer Card   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please click here to view a video about the early days of the Dominican Order. 

 

 

Posted in News

The Spirit of Community

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

This past Sunday’s liturgical celebration of Sister Ellen Coates’ temporary profession of vows on August 1st was an inspiring moment of faith, trust, and community.  Being able to attend this occasion in person was such a beautiful example of community, of so many coming together to witness one woman’s deep desire to serve God and God’s people through a life of prayer, study, and ministry as part of a community of religious sisters.  It is this concept of community that stays with me from this celebration that I want to focus on and invite you to reflect on also.

During Ellen’s ceremony, the singing that filled the motherhouse chapel was such a soul-enriching experience, made richer by a community lifting their voices in song together.  Two songs, Here I Am Lord and We Are Companions on the Journey, chosen by Ellen for her ceremony, carried for me a message of the importance of community, not to be underestimated.

In the song, Here I Am, Lord, the refrain invites us to move from our solitary listening to embracing and holding God’s people; it is a call to be in community with others, to be there for each other.

Here I am Lord,
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord,
If you lead me,
I will hold your people in my heart

We again hear this acclamation and affirmation to be in community with others in the refrain to the song, We Are Companions on the Journey:

We are companions on the journey,
breaking bread and sharing life;
and in the love we bear is the hope we share
for we believe in the love of our God,
we believe in the love of our God.

In faith and trust in God’s love for us, we mingle among God’s people, recognizing that we are called to feed, serve, and respond to each other on this life’s journey, to bring hope to others.  We are meant to be companions for each other, to be WITH each other in community, in both the joyful and tearful moments in life.  Community can either sustain us or drain us, can be life-giving or life-threatening.

So, take a moment to ponder these questions about community:  What does community mean to you?  What draws you to a particular community?  How have you experienced community in your life?  Has it been a positive experience?  An uplifting experience?  A tension-filled experience? Who are the groups (family, friends, organizations) that foster for you a feeling of fellowship with others?  What helps a community thrive?  What attitudes, interests, and values do you share with others that produces an in-dwelling community spirit?  What sustains you in staying with a community?  What gifts do you bring and share with a community?

We all belong to a community of some sort, whether it be family, friends, or organizations.  We all have a need to belong and to be part of something beyond ourselves.  Community is such an important part of our human experience and these experiences of community shape how we feel about ourselves and others. Spending time in building community is essential to our well-being, to our feelings of belonging, acceptance, and understanding.

With the isolation so many have felt with the pandemic, we’ve come to realize the importance of community, of being together, of sharing together.  We are not meant to be alone and this we learn early on from the biblical story of Adam and Eve, where God communicates his desire for us to have companions on the journey.

As we go forth being companions to each other, let us always be mindful of God’s love for us and hold each other in reverence, listening for God’s voice and presence in each other.  Let us aspire to build strong communities, wherever we are, and to inspire each other to be the hands and feet of Christ, lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down.

This powerful message of being community, of being bread for each other was conveyed so beautifully during Sister Ellen’s profession of vows when Sister Sue Zemgulis offered these words to her:

“So Ellen, as we celebrate this step along your faith journey today, know that we walk with you as community.  Whether we are in the same location or not, we go out together to seek and find and gather our daily bread. Together. When you are hungry, we will be Eucharist for you.  And when we are hungry, we will look to you to be Eucharist for us.”

Are we ready to profess our vows to be Christ for one another, in community, in solidarity with each other?

For many, the call to community is a central part of the call to religious life.  Many are yearning for others with whom to share their journey.  Are you seeking to be part of a religious community of sisters, to serve God’s people?  If you have been hearing God calling you in the night, we invite you to contact us to explore where God may be leading you.

Experience community by attending our upcoming Come & See Retreat, September 10-12, in Akron, OH or via Zoom.  For more information or to register, click here.

Posted in Vocations Blog

Thank you to our “Essential Workers”

When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned.

Romans 4:4

What lessons did you learn from the last 18 months of pandemic quarantine and caution? Personally, I learned that I miss hugs more than I ever would have thought, that there is virtually no way to avoid fogging glasses when wearing a mask, and that hand sanitizer dries my skin out!

Blog by Sr. Gemma Doll, OP

But perhaps the most important lesson learned by me, and all the other Dominican Sisters of Peace, is the true value of our Congregation’s “essential” workers – the maintenance teams that keep our motherhouses and convents clean and safe, the cooks and servers who create and offer us delicious meals, the nurses in our care centers, the IT staff that has kept us connected virtually when we could not meet in person. As many of our Sisters were in tight quarantine, our essential staff became not just friends, but family – our links to the outside world and to everything that we needed to remain healthy and as happy as possible.

At the time of the COVID outbreak, our Sisters were already discerning a new compensation structure for our essential associates. While we have always paid what we believe to be a fair wage and offered good benefits, #Fightfor15 and other social justice movements had brought the plight of the working poor into sharper focus. As we served the working poor in our ministries around the nation, we knew that we had to ensure that we were not perpetuating the problem ourselves.

Then the COVID 19 shutdowns began. Our office workers could work from home and connected virtually. But the teams that maintain our motherhouses, keep the furnaces running, care for our ill and aged sisters and prepare our food – their work was in the house, and that is where they stayed.

From day one, our essential workers made our Sisters their top priority. Masks went on immediately. Personal activities that could have brought sickness into our facilities were voluntarily curtailed. When Sisters were confined to their rooms to prevent any possible community spread, our kitchen staff, always wonderful, went above and beyond to create delicious meals to lift our spirits – and then to deliver them to our doors. Our activity directors went into overdrive, not just creating ways to keep Sisters from going stir crazy, but also running personal errands so that every Sister had what they might need, from yarn for a project to ice cream for a birthday.

We were not just cared for. We were loved.

We are honored to announce a new minimum wage for our essential workers. At a time when many non-profit workers (as well as many who work for public companies) struggle to make ends meet, we have increased our minimum wage to $15 an hour.

We also offer our sincere and heartfelt thanks to our entire staff in Ohio, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan, Louisiana, and Connecticut for their dedication to our mission of peace, and to our friends and supporters for your prayers and gifts.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Immigration Injustice and Racial Injustice Focus on Difference

Dr. James Tinnin, OPA

Jim Tinnin is a member of the DSOP Immigration Reform Committee.  The program “Being Allies in the Work for Racial Justice” was a panel discussion in Akron OH with a panel that included Sr. Joanne Caniglia, OP and Marybeth Irvine, OPA.

I recently attended a program sponsored by the Catholic Commission of Summit County:

“Being Allies in the Work for Racial Justice”.  What struck me was the huge overlap between our focus on immigration reform and the work of racial solidarity and justice.  The focus of the discussion was a concern for and working against conditions impacting the marginalized and those facing racism and oppression.

 I love the following quotation from “A Faith Formation Guide” by Alison M. Benders:

“Our nation has focused harmfully on difference rather than on the unity of humanity that reflects God’s infinite love in the varieties of our gifts and perspectives.”

Here I am thinking of the immigrants and their gifts who suffer from low wages as well as terrible housing and working conditions.  And even worse, there seems to be very little way to improve the situation.  An important part of these conditions is racial injustice.  It is one of exploitation and marginalization.  Alison Benders has it right:

If racism can be uprooted, our tools must be the Spirit’s gifts of humility, love, and courage.  We must desire justice in our hearts and take steps to create a more just society.”

 

(Source: Alison M. Benders, READING, PRAYING, LIVING The US Bishops’ OPEN WIDE OUR HEARTS, A Faith Formation Guide, 2020 Liturgical Press)

Posted in Associate Blog