What is community? A quick search on Google says community is a group of people having a particular characteristic in common. What does community look like in religious life? And why would anyone want to join a group of women Religious anyways? First of all, communities take different forms and no one form is better than another. It is just what works for the members of that particular group to support one another in his or her developmental and spiritual growth.
What does community look like in religious life? Local communities take different forms. A sister may live in a small house with two or three others. Or she may be part of a larger community, such as at our Houses of Welcome in New Haven, CT, and Columbus, OH, where five or six sisters dwell together. A motherhouse community includes anywhere from twenty to eighty sisters! The logistics of daily living differ depending on the community’s size. Each community has to find what works for the members of that particular group to support one another’s developmental and spiritual growth.
My community consist of three members: Annie, who is an apostolic novice; Amy, who has been professed for 62 years; and myself, who has been professed for 18 years. This community was formed to support Annie in her discernment to the Dominican Sisters of Peace and her ministry in South Bend, Indiana. Our typical day consists of morning prayer, then everyone goes to their ministry. Annie works at the Medieval Institute at Notre Dame; Amy is involved in several projects for the congregation, and I am an occupational therapist. When we come home, we have evening prayer, dinner and just spend time together sharing our struggles, hopes, current events or what we are involved in. We also enjoy exploring this new city, enjoying the diverse foods around the area, hiking the Dunes or dipping our feet in the cold Michigan Lake and enjoying spending time with the sisters and associates in this area.
So, what is that common thread that brings us together to be a community? The first answer is GOD. God is the reason women join religious life; they heard a calling and said “Yes” to that calling. The calling can come in many forms, but I won’t go into that here. The second answer, and a vital part of religious life, is Community. God brought me into this congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Peace, and community helps me stay and say “yes” to my calling daily, especially at times when the “yes” is harder to say.
What makes living in community worth the effort? Sr. Amy says, “Join the convent and see the world!” This saying holds true for many sisters. Being a Dominican Sister of Peace has opened my eyes to many perspectives by helping me to encounter people of all races, classes, and beliefs. It has taken me places I have never imagined going to like Jamaica, Vietnam, and many missions all over the U.S. Now I am getting the opportunity to explore the Midwest. One of the mottoes in this house is “Bloom where you are planted.” Everyone in this house has taken this saying to heart. We are taking advantage of the programs offered at Notre Dame and deepening our knowledge on topics like climate change, racism, the global Catholic Church, etc. so that we can respond to the crises that are happening in our world with more compassion and unity with the marginalized. This world is crying for a change and no one person can do it alone.
If you’re interested in learning more about community life with us as you discern your vocation, contact us.