Your life is a sacred journey. It is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path… exactly where you are meant to be right now… And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing, of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love.
Recently, I came across this wonderful quote. I thought it would be an excellent addition to our prayer for the recent gathering of all the women in formation for our congregation. During the year, as the Formation Coordinator, I often meet or have conversations with the women in formation individually, or with their sister mentors and their local communities. However, because of their full-time ministries, studies, and other factors, coming together as a group, occurs less frequently. The January gathering seemed the perfect time to share with each other the blessings, hopes and challenges of their sacred journey during the previous year—while also looking forward to the new year. The quote by Caroline Miller, provided a prayerful gateway for sharing around the joys, learnings and questions encountered during their formation journey.
Sharing in the process of helping another person deepen their relationship with God, or seeking to understand God’s movement in their life, is really a privilege. Whether their discernment leads them to confirm their vocation call as a religious sister or leads them to their discovery of a different call, neither the time nor the journey is wasted. It is still, “a sacred journey…about change, growth, discovery, movement…and expanding the vision of what is possible.”
Discerning a call about religious life or discerning any significant decision about our path in life, requires some basic skills. It requires understanding important things about yourself. Additionally, since “discernment” involves making God an intentional part of the process—it requires understanding of your own relationship with God. It is also helpful to have someone you can talk honestly with, like a mentor. Understanding these basic principles and learning other discernment skills can be helpful in navigating the sacred journey of your life. Click here for some helpful ways to begin discerning.
I find it to be a wonderful experience to journey with those in the formation process, as Candidates, Novices and Temporary Professed sisters. I am, indeed, grateful to continue this new year of discerning and companioning them on their journey into religious life. The current formation group of eight women—diverse in age, culture, race, and background—shared their hopes, dreams, and, yes, challenges experienced during this past year of their journey. However, gratitude and deep faith was also expressed and was evident in their sharing. They expressed openness and hope for this new year of mystery and possibilities. I feel compelled to also acknowledge my own gratitude for being part of their sacred journey. In fact, who among us would not be grateful to witness the Spirit’s transformation at work in both their own lives and in the lives of others?
In this new year, I pray that each of us may know the truth of Miller’s words, “You are on the path, exactly where you are meant to be right now…From here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of healing…of courage…of beauty…of wisdom…of power…of dignity…and of love.”
If you feel you are being invited to explore the journey of becoming a Sister, contact us or give us a call. We have a number of ongoing virtual discernment groups and we you invite to consider attending our next Come and See Discernment Retreat, March 17-19, in Columbus, Ohio. Click here to register.
Sr. Pat Dual, OP
Have you seen the cover of the January issue of AMERICA magazine? The Pope is there with the headline “POLARIZATION IS NOT CATHOLIC”. Notice that all the letters are in upper case which takes the easy way out for the magazine at least at face value.
Polarization is not catholic for sure because catholic (small c) means universal; therefore, everyone is welcome and cannot be separated for any reason. Polarization is not Catholic is hardly correct, and right now the institutional Church has been fine with our divisions and polarities. Our church leaders have polarized the priests and the people in the pew with their very public rebuttals of Pope Francis and his pronouncements. Regional seminaries bring men together from various dioceses and some have Bishops who follow the Pope and some have Bishops who are publicly critical of the Pope, so they must have lively debates, or not.
Wherein lies the truth, and finding it is something every Dominican must be committed to for everyone’s sake. Disagreements might be healthy until they tear at the fabric of our universal truths. Some may say, how can they be universal if they are tearing us apart? Good question, how do we answer it? Study, listening to all sides, being well informed, searching for motivations and intentions and the best of all Prayer! Jesus warned us that we would be divided within our families and in our faith. As women and men of the Gospel, we must look and pray deeply to find the ways that Jesus has given us to really be catholic.
Dominican Sister of Peace Vincent de Paul Hutton, OP, (111) died on December 16, 2022, at Sansbury Care Center, St. Catharine, Kentucky. At 111 years of age and nearly 90 years of religious life, she was the oldest living woman religious in the United States.
Sr. Vincent de Paul was born Mary Magdalen in 1911. Her parents, Flora Yelton and Henry Hutton, raised eight children in Cuba, IL. After working for several years following high school graduation, she entered the Congregation in 1932, made her first profession in 1933, and took her final vows in 1936. Next year she would have celebrated her 90th jubilee of faithful service!
Sr. Vincent held a Bachelor of Arts degree in Math and Spanish from Nazareth College. She studied Physics and Radiobiology as well, and put that study to good use in her long ministry of education.
Sr. Vincent was a model of Dominican itinerancy. She began teaching in 1933 in Indiana, and in her more than five decades as an educator and administrator moved to Kentucky, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, and West Virginia. She was strict and had high expectations but was respected as well. One of her male students of physics noted that she was the best teacher he ever had.
After retiring from education in 1985, Sr. Vincent joined the Congregation’s Finance team, where she built a reputation for being organized, conscientious, and absolutely dogged about the accuracy of the reports that she prepared. Her reputation for seriousness, however, did not squash her sense of humor – she showed up at a community “talent show” in knickers and a hat, and played the harmonica.
As the century turned in 1999, so did Sr. Vincent, retiring from active ministry to volunteer in the Recycling Center at St. Catharine’s Dominican Earth Center. It was important to her to do meaningful work, and that was work she was able to do. She moved to the Sansbury Care Center in 2001, where she continued her recycling ministry for some time.
Sr. Vincent was preceded in death by her parents and siblings and survived by several nieces and nephews.
A sharing of memories and visitation was held on Thursday, December 22, at the Sansbury Care Center Chapel. The funeral was on Friday, December 23, at Sansbury Care Center Chapel. Sr. Vincent was interred at the St. Catharine Motherhouse Cemetery among her Sisters and friends.
To download a printable copy of this memorial, click here.
Memorial gifts in Sr. Vincent de Paul Hutton’s memory may be sent to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Dr. Columbus, OH 43219 or oppeace.org.
Happy New Year! We Associates of the Dominican Sisters of Peace have just completed 2022 – a year of beginnings and endings for each of us.
While I spent most of the last year working at my office in Akron, Ohio, I have also had the opportunity to travel across the country, and to meet many Associates in person or via Zoom. One of my goals for 2023 is to connect with even more of our Associates.
One of the experiences that have enjoyed this past year was walking through the Loggia, in the Akron Motherhouse. This space enjoys beautiful views of Akron Motherhouse grounds, and there are chairs to allow you to rest and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. Sr. Mary Jakubiak, OP, helps to bring the outside in by caring for the many lush plants in the Loggia space.
Also in this space is a table with two chairs on each side. This is the puzzle table – where a “community” jigsaw puzzle is being completed by the Sisters, sometimes a staff member, and sometimes myself. These puzzles are continually in process – as one is finished, the next one is begun. And this is where my story begins.
There is a process to starting each puzzle. The picture of the completed puzzle is in plain view so all can see what it will look like when finished. A few dedicated Sisters sort each piece of the puzzle by color and shape and place them into plastic containers shaped like puzzle pieces. During this process, other Sisters stop by to assemble the straight-edged pieces of the puzzle, creating the frame that will hold the puzzle together.
I found myself stopping by each time I walked through this area – sometimes to place a piece of the puzzle into its proper place and sometimes just to watch the process as it was happening. I was not always successful when I tried to place a piece in the puzzle, but I began to think about these jigsaw puzzles and the people whose hands are assembling them.
I began to see my role as the new Director of the Associates as the person who had the box with the pieces of the puzzle. The picture of who we are – or who we want to be – is on the front of the box. This picture is a little vague as we are still exploring who we are – how many, where, and what each group is doing. We are not a finished picture; we are evolving.
The difference with this puzzle is that all of the pieces were not included in the box. The pieces to this puzzle are each one of you, living across the United States, Puerto Rico, and New Zealand.
At the beginning of 2022, our Associate database said there were 750 pieces to this puzzle – and we needed to “touch” each of those pieces – each of you – to put it together. Our picture would be determined as the pieces were put into place.
I began to pray for guidance as to how we could complete this puzzle… and God began to answer.
The first answer was the realization that the Associate Jigsaw Puzzle would not be completed in the typical “hands-on” way because the hands were not all in one place.
The hands that were going to put this puzzle together would be from many different parts of the United States. Different categories would make up different pieces of the puzzle.
The most eye-opening message was that instead of assembling the straight-edged pieces to create a border, our puzzle would be assembled from the inside out. We would start from the center of the jigsaw puzzle – identifying each Associate’s time, talents, and treasures -and work our way out to the edges. All our gifts would be part of this puzzle.
So how would we accomplish this task? Last January, the Associate Council and I started to discuss how would we accomplish this task. The first was to confirm the status of those who were in the Associate database.
Because of COVID, many of us were not meeting on a regular basis. Many of us were aging and no longer able to be active associates. We had to determine who among us were active Associates, who wanted to remain an Associate but in a capacity of prayer, and who were no longer wanted to be an Associate.
The Associate Council started work on a survey in cooperation with Congregational Leadership. We all believed that it was to know how many Associates of the Dominican Sisters of Peace there really are. “Who are you? How are you? Where are you?” were some of the questions that we posed. We also asked for thoughts on how our Associates thought the program should move forward in the future,
We worked with Alice Black, OPA, and the Communications Department to write and launch our survey in June of 2022. We sent it to all 750 Associates in the database and gave them 30 days to respond to the Associate office. We received 350 responses to the survey and were able to determine who considered themselves to be active associates, who considered themselves prayer associates or who wanted to be a prayer associate, and who no longer wanted to be part of the program.
But this was just the beginning.
We sent a second survey to the 400 members of the database that had not responded and heard from 140 more people. By December 2022, we had heard from a total of 490 Associates, and we are still looking for those of you who have not responded.
The Associate Council and I would like to hear from all of the members of our Associate database by March 2023. We’re asking for your help too – if you are an associate, and you know someone who seems to have fallen away, encourage them to respond to the survey. Only by hearing from everyone will we be able to know who is active, who is a prayer associate, and who is inactive. Only then will we know exactly how many puzzle pieces we have, and what the final picture might look like.
Here is what is clear.
We are Christian women and men committed to Dominican Pillars of Prayer, Study, Community, and Ministry, living across the United States and around the world. Our ages vary, our cultures vary, our ethnicities vary, and our commitments vary.
Many of us have been Associates longer than the Congregation of Peace has existed, and the creation of Peace has helped attract new Associates to our ranks.
We are the Associates of The Dominican Congregation of Peace.
We are Sisters and Associates in Mission.
We are committed:
- To foster and create cultures of inclusion
- To treasure and reverence Earth
- To foster lives of prayer and contemplation
- To Prophetic Preaching of the Gospel message
- Toward the future of Dominican Life
I can hardly wait till this puzzle is completed. One by one the pieces are being assembled When all is said and done, we will have all the borders in place – the borders that remind us that we are all ONE.
I am grateful for each of you, and I thank you for helping to complete our puzzle.
Cecelia Amendolia OPA
Director of Associates. Dominican Sisters of Peace