A little more than 5 years ago I moved from Louisville, KY, to the Chicago-area to assume a new ministry. I lived in Chicago for almost 10 years before going to Louisville and I was excited about engaging the life of the city once again. Shortly after my return, I came face to face with the reality that everyone experiences in due time – nothing stays the same; change is constant. Memories from the past encouraged me to receive, accept and welcome this new opportunity to see with new eyes and awaken to a deeper understanding of life patiently waiting to unfold before me.
We all know that the gift of transformation most often comes when we least expect it. Most often we do not know the what, when or where. It comes in a Spirit driven moment when we simply show up willing to receive.
I had the blessed fortune to be introduced to a group of women religious (coming from diverse and assorted congregations) that committed themselves to gather on the last Saturday of each month to remember and pray for persons who died from gun violence that month. The monthly Chicago Homicide Vigil takes place at the location of one of the shootings. Family and neighbors are invited to be present.
I was not prepared for what I received from being present at my first vigil and the many following: to look into the eyes of the mother of her young son who was killed; to silently stand in the presence of the heartbroken grandmother who grieves the violent death of a third grandchild; to cry with the young man saying goodbye to his brother. In the midst of deep tragedy and suffering, I found and experienced a depth of compassion, mercy, respect, love, honor, kindness, goodness, communion, and community I had never touched before. The Kingdom of God is made manifest in the love that flows abundantly in troubled times.
I leave each vigil overwhelmed with gratitude and hope that one day the news reports will boldly speak and name the acts of goodness that permeate the fabric of our lives bringing healing and hope. May we never forget, “with God, all things are possible.”
As Dominican Sisters of Peace: Sisters and Associates, we reflect upon and adopt “Direction Statements” that guide us as we live into right relationship with others, and all of creation. One of our statements reads, “Love impels us to Prophetic Preaching of the Gospel message by: Partnering with others to confront injustice wherever it exists.” Sr. Connie embraces this direction statement as she joins with others to pray in vigil for those who died from gun violence. She and others confront injustice and stand in solidarity with those affected by the epidemic of gun violence.
If you’ve ever felt a call to make a difference in the world by standing with other like-minded women in striving for justice, we encourage you to explore religious life as a Dominican Sister of Peace. You can contact one of our vocation ministers for a conversation, or attend our next Come and See Discernment Retreat, September 23 – 25, 2022 in Akron, Ohio or via Zoom.