Waiting in Hope during Advent with Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 12, 2021
2 – 5 pm EST
For Catholic Women, 18 – 45 years old

Spend a few hours with Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Dominican Sisters of Peace, as we prayerfully reflect on the spiritual practice of hopeful waiting.  Inspired by the powerful image and message of Guadalupe, we will explore the appearance of Our Lady to Juan Diego, what it signified to the people of 1531, and also what it means for us today, especially as women discerning a call to religious life.

Our afternoon will include time for prayer, interactive presentations, personal reflection, group faith sharing, and will end with a festive closing prayer as we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Posted in News

Sr. Mary Catherine Hilkert Honored by Aquinas Institute of Theology

Dominican Sister of Peace and Notre Dame Professor Named Great Preacher

Aquinas Board Chair, Dr. Daniel O’Brien, GPA recipient Sr. Mary Catherine Hilkert, OP, and Aquinas President Fr. Mark Wedig, OP, at the Aquinas Institute of Theology Great Preachers Awards ceremony in St. Louis, MO.

St. Louis, MO – Dominican Sister of Peace Mary Catherine Hilkert, OP, a Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and a former member of the faculty at Aquinas Institute of Theology, was awarded the Great Preacher Award by the Aquinas Institute of Theology in a November 11 ceremony held at the Institute and virtually.

A noted theologian and author, Sr. Catherine’s books include Naming Grace: Preaching and the Sacramental Imagination, Speaking with Authority: Catherine of Siena and the Voices of Women Today, and co-editor with Robert J. Schreiter of The Praxis of the Reign of God: An Introduction to the Theology of Edward Schillebeeckx.

Currently, Sr. Catherine is working on a book titled Words of Spirit and Life: Theology, Preaching and Spirituality. She has also published numerous articles on contemporary theology, spirituality, and preaching.

A former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America (2005-2006), Sr. Catherine is the recipient of four honorary degrees (Providence College, Aquinas Institute of Theology, Oblate School of Theology, and Catholic Theological Union) as well as the Washington Theological Union’s Sophia Award for Theological Excellence in service of ministry, Barry University’s Yves Congar Award for Theological Excellence, the Veritas Award from the Dominican Colloquium on Higher Education, and the Ann O’Hara Graff Award from the Women’s Constructive Theology seminar of the Catholic Theological Society of America. Sr. Catherine has preached and offered lectures, workshops, and retreats in Catholic and ecumenical contexts in the United States, Canada, Ireland, The Netherlands, Australia, and South Africa.

Sr. Catherine has also served on two international preaching commissions of the Order of Preachers.

Congregational Leadership team members Sisters Pat Twohill, Anne Lythgoe, and Gemma Doll, as well as Akron Sister Janet Schlichting joined Sr. Catherine as she received this prestigious award.

Sr. Catherine Hilkert preaches at the Aquinas Institute of Theology Great Preachers Awards ceremony on November 11, 2021, in St. Louis, MO.

Offering one of three tributes to Sr. Catherine and her ministry at the ceremony, Sr. Pat Twohill, Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, remarked, “Like our founder, St. Dominic, Sr. Cathy is a preacher of grace. Her witness, and her reception of this award, inspire us to recommit ourselves to the ministry of preaching the good news of Jesus Christ.”

In her words of gratitude for the award, Sr. Catherine expressed the hope that the church would recognize and celebrate the gifts of the many baptized women and lay men who share a call to preach the word of God as part of the church’s mission to spread the good news throughout all of creation.

Also honored at the awards ceremony was the late Father Ralph Siefert, SM.

Posted in News

Religious Life – Then and Now

Blog by Sr. Maidung Nguyen

Once in a while, I receive comments such as:

“Entering religious life, my daughter cannot pursue her dream for a higher education.”

“What time is the curfew in the convent?”

“You are surrounded by elderly people. Is it boring to live that way?”

What is your experience of religious life at this time?

People have lots of questions and oftentimes hold many misconceptions about what it is like to live the religious life as a sister.

Religious life is a real blessing, sanctified by God. Of course, religious life has seen many changes through the years.

In the past, women had to stay in the convent or monastery, living a more closed life and were bound to an institution. They entered religious life at very young ages, still maturing and growing in their faith and life. They had to adapt to a rigid schedule and rules, which at that time was thought to help them grow spiritually.

Now, those who enter religious life are older, from diverse backgrounds, and better educated with extensive life experiences. They go through a more thorough discernment process that provides them with greater clarity in believing that their call is from God. They want to share their love and passion for mission beyond their families. What inspires so many women to join religious life today is the charism of the congregation, the variety of ministries the congregations offer and the meaningful ways the sisters live.

Elder sisters bring a lifetime of experience, having pursued a faith journey, already marked by hope for the future. Living in community with elder sisters, our younger sisters benefit from the wisdom that comes with age, and receive encouragement, and inspiration to follow God’s will and to engage in varied ministries. They find elder sisters to be models of humility and faith-centered living. Thus, the experience of intergenerational living in a religious community today brings with it an exchange of joy, love, and mutual respect between sisters of all ages.

Now, women today work with sisters from other congregations and laypeople of faith to meet the needs of our time and to build a future of hope through trust and collaboration. Sisters in a younger cohort group have many opportunities to connect with their peer groups across congregational boundaries. Encouraged by congregational leadership, they have many chances to articulate their visions, blessings, and challenges to support and share mission together. With the support from elder sisters, younger members are encouraged to reimagine and envision religious life, with the possibility of giving birth to many vibrant movements. One elder sister remarked, “I wish I could live longer than 100 years of age to see such things happen.”

As a sister in the younger cohort group, I often feel joy, peace, and gratitude for this grace-filled journey and for my vocational call, which provides me much energy and enthusiasm. I often feel like Elizabeth when she greets Mary, “Why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:43-4) I often leap for joy as I live this life as a religious sister.


If you want to know more about this way of life, sharing mission together in a collaborative and interconnected spirit with other sisters, or if you want to know more about sisterhood in general, contact us, visit our vocation webpage, or join us for a three-hour Advent Mini-Retreat on December 12 from 2-5pm EST.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Kentucky Catholic Sisters join Vatican ecology effort

As the world’s leaders are gathering in Scotland for the U.N. Climate Change Conference, the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Loretto Community, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and Ursuline Sisters of Louisville are among several groups of women religious in Kentucky committing to a community and personal effort to address today’s pressing environmental problems by participating in the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.

The Laudato Si’ Action Platform brings together the Vatican, Catholic organizations around the world, and people of goodwill seeking climate justice. It was inspired by Pope Francis’s 2015 ecological encyclical “Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home.”

According to the platform’s website, the Laudato Si’ Action Platform is “a space for institutions, communities and families to learn and grow together as we journey toward full sustainability in the holistic spirit of integral ecology.” The seven-year program was launched by the Vatican Office for Integral Ecology. Its purpose is “to make communities around the world totally sustainable in the spirit of the integral ecology of Laudato Si’.”

The action platform outlines seven categories of sustainability goals, including responding to societal and climate issues, rethinking ecological education, recovering ecological spirituality and adopting a sustainable lifestyle. Officially to be unveiled Nov. 14, LSAP already is serving as a guiding force for many worldwide – including women and men religious — as all of us seek to address issues of sustainability and climate justice.

The Dominican Sisters of Peace, Loretto Community, Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and Ursuline Sisters of Louisville have long cared for Earth in their personal and communal practices and commitments. Their care for Earth also touches upon their commitments to serve people who suffer from the effects of the destruction of our natural resources and changing climate.

These commitments include but are not exclusive to the economically poor, immigrants and refugees. They each recognize, though, that systemic change is  just as crucial as personal change. These communities pledge to move beyond their commitments to sustained action, developing programs, policies and actions that reflect their commitments to LSAP.

Sister Gemma Doll, OP, a member of the Leadership team for the Dominican Sisters of Peace, said that it is love of God and God’s precious creation that impels us to treasure and reverence the Earth. “We show our reverence by living the truth as proclaimed in Laudato Si’, by advocating in solidarity with others in caring for God’s creation, and by taking concrete action to walk more softly on Earth,” Doll said.

“In managing Loretto Community land, our priorities are to sequester carbon, to protect undisturbed spaces and to regenerate degraded spaces by improving the soil and protecting our waterways,” Loretto Coordinator for Earth Education and Advocacy Jessie Rathburn said. “Individual efforts in reducing energy consumption and recycling have broadened at the communal level to include initiatives like installing an electric car charging station, organizing significant reductions in single-use items and expanding campus-wide recycling. Divesting from fossil fuels shaped our financial resources to more closely align with our relationship with Earth. The LSAP will provide a pathway to deepen these individual and communal actions and connect them to the broader systemic changes that are so urgent.”

Director of Ecological Sustainability for the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Carolyn Cromer, said that Integral Ecology is the belief that “all of God’s creation is connected, and examines how the condition of the environment impacts the lives and habitats of all life on Earth.”

“In the next seven years, we will intensify our current efforts to look at how our actions and choices impact the environment, including how we eat sustainably, choose renewable energy, support sustainable transportation, regenerate the land and seek sustainable products,” she added. “In turn, we will discern how this affects the lives of those who are most impacted by our changing climate: the economically poor, immigrants, refugees and our common home.”

“Some of our tangible efforts on behalf of Laudato Si’ include socially responsible investing, increasing our social energy investment to offset our carbon footprint, supporting the FOREST Act to reduce deforestation, especially of the Amazon, where we have had a presence in Peru for over 50 years, and volunteering with local ecological ministries in Louisville such as Olmsted Parks Conservancy, TreesLouisville and Beargrass Creek Alliance,” said Carol Curtis, Ursuline Sister of Louisville social concerns liaison. “Additionally, we have reduced our own physical footprint with our campus property transfer to the Sacred Heart Schools. In transferring property to SHS, we preserved an urban greenspace, advocated for building salvage during renovation and for environmentally sustainable design in new construction.”

The Sisters said we now face an existential threat to our common home as never before, caused by the consumption of more of the earth’s resources than it can sustain.

“Together, with Pope Francis, we call on all persons, whatever their belief or worldview, to listen to these cries, and to pledge meaningful sacrifices for the sake of our common home.”

Posted in News

A Joyful Mind 

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, shown in her pottery studio

A few months ago, someone shared with me a daily email published by author Richard Rohr entitled, “A Joyful Mind”.  The title alone attracted me. And as we look toward celebrating Thanksgiving Day soon, I come back to it now, I guess because this feast of giving thanks remains the one national holiday that maintains its singular purpose. We give one day to knowing that all that we have and all that we are to one another, is essentially God’s gift to us. And joy is the fruit of that realization.  

In Rohr’s book, the Naked Now, (and how’s that for a title?) he suggests ways to practice the way of a joyful mind. So I want to share some of those ways here in the hope that they might be a spiritual preparation for celebrating Thanksgiving in a way that increases the joy of our families and friends in whatever way we gather. 

A joyful mind is: 

  • When your mind does not need to be right. 
  • When you no longer need to compare yourself with others. 
  • When your mind can be creative, but without needing anyone to know. 
  • When you can live in contentment with whatever the moment offers. 
  • When your mind does not need to be in charge but can serve the moment with gracious and affirming information. 
  • When your mind follows the intelligent lead of your heart. 
  • When your mind is curious and interested, not suspicious and interrogating.  
  • When your mind does not brood over injuries.” 
  • When your mind does not need the future to be better than today. 
  • When your mind can accept yourself as you are, warts and all. 
  • When your mind does not divide and always condemn one side or group. 
  • When your mind can critique and also detach from critique. 
  • When your mind can wait, listen, and learn. 
  • When your mind can live satisfied without resolution or closure. 
  • When your mind can forgive and actually forget.” 
  • When your mind does not need to complain or worry to get motivated. 
  • When your mind can find God in all things. 

Dear God, 

Help us to begin this season of Thanksgiving as a season of joy. Help us to observe this season as a respite from tension, from worry, from excessive control. Help us to be satisfied with the light we have and learn to trust that you guide our footsteps. Help us embrace the ways of a joyful mind and enjoy each other’s company. 


Posted in Weekly Word