Blog by Associate Theresa Kempker, OPA

I spend a lot of time pruning fruit trees and bushes.  While I was tending my small orchard, I started to see God’s hand in my life reflected in the act of pruning.

When a gardener prunes, first she must look the plant over, inspecting the overall form and the growth of every branch.  Sun and air must be able to reach every branch and thus every fruit.  The inspection goes quickly for a well-tended plant, but longer if more work is to be done.  How, the gardener wonders, can I make this tree bear as much as possible for as long as possible?  The gardener must study the plant carefully before and after every cut.

Then, the actual pruning starts.  Shoots growing straight up out of a limb are all removed.  They suck the strength out of a tree, block sun and air, and rarely bear.  Doesn’t that sound like sinful habits?  It’s great if God can somehow lop them off and get them out of our life.

Then crossing branches must go.  There can be two lovely, strong, healthy branches, but if they cross, the gardener must choose one to remove.  To choose, the gardener has to predict the way the branches will grow in years to come.  Will one go on to shade another branch, to cross another, to droop too far when loaded with fruit?  Then that branch must go, and it often must be cut at its base.  But the branch doesn’t know why it is removed, and truly, it did nothing wrong.  The gardener, however, can see that removal will improve the plant.  While removing such a branch, I can see many times in my life when God removed something, and I thought it was so unfair and unnecessary.  Now, I can look at my life and be thankful that God let the better branch live for me.

Tree branches want to grow up, but they need to be spread out, again to get that sun and air.  So, a gardener can attach weights to branches to get them to spread.  These burdens have to be placed carefully so as not to break the branch with too much weight.  The weight is moved as the branch goes from 20 to 45 to nearly 90 degrees.  The weights stay through storms and through winter, sometimes for six months and sometimes for two years.  Have you ever carried a burden and later realized that the carrying opened you up to be a better person?

Throughout the pruning, a gardener must step back, over and over, to look at the whole plant, because each change effects the rest of the plant.  I think that if I can observe the needs of a plant, surely God sees what we need.  Know that God the gardener is studying you, deciding what to remove from your life and what to add so that you bear good fruit, fruit that will last.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Enter the Convent and See the World

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Enter the convent and see the world! I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say this about my past 20 years as a Dominican Sister. When I entered, I expected to stay in Columbus and teach. This was before we became Dominican Sisters of Peace which greatly expanded ministry locations.  The first ministry I was sent to was to our school in New York City – Dominican Academy. I loved living in the city and because our school had trips to Europe, I was able to visit Greece, Italy, Spain, France, and England. I was so proud when our girls showed their knowledge and curiosity. I also went to China on a recruiting trip to introduce girls to our school.

When I moved back to Columbus, I ministered in our GED/ESL Center – the Dominican Learning Center. While there I traveled through the stories of our learners about their home countries. A similar experience happened when, as justice promotor, I learned about the plight of immigrants in other counties who came to the US-Mexican border seeking asylum. We all love our homes even if we have to leave due to poverty, violence, war, or climate change.

I was invited to join a mission trip to Kingston, Jamaica which was eye-opening and wonderful. I’m convinced that I held God in my arms when a beautiful, little girl with Down’s Syndrome snuggled into my arms and allowed me to keep her close as we toured her home.

Ministry has now taken me to New Haven, Connecticut where I’m serving as a chaplain in the Yale New Haven Hospital Emergency Department. It’s a new part of the country for me filled with student doctors, nurses and patients from all over the country and world.

I’ve had the opportunity to visit our sisters in Kansas, Michigan, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Louisiana and taken retreats in Maine and New Jersey. During my Apostolic Novitiate, the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate was in St. Louis and my sister novices were from all over the country.

One of the most exciting and challenging trips I took was to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain with two other sisters.  We saved our retreat allowance to hike up the western coast of Spain from Portugal to Santiago. It was an incredible experience.  So… I have been extremely blessed to visit in person and via others many parts of the world. It has given me a greater perspective on God’s beautiful earth and the many amazing people who inhabit it.

Itinerancy is an important part of our lifestyle as Dominicans, as Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP writes about in her blog, A Roamin’ Catholic Reflects on Itinerancy.  We are on the move one way or another and invite you to explore our way of life.  Contact us to learn more about what it means to be a Dominican Sister in today’s world.

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog