Dominicans Survive and Minister During Hurricanes on the Island of Puerto Rico

Blog by Sr. Narcisa Barreto, OP

Puerto Rico’s streets are lined with hurricane evacuation signs – the sign of a people on watch for danger. But the hurricanes have made us more dependent on God’s merciful love, knowing that God will keep us safe whatever life brings. Hopeful are we who live in the land of Puerto Rico, we who love land, nature, and people at every stage of life!

As a native Puerto Rican, I have lived through so many hurricanes and so many crisis moments of chaos and destruction. Sadly, I have seen that the poor always seem to pay a higher price in these tragedies. in 1 Johm, 3:17, 1 John 3:17, the apostle tells us, “Whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” As followers of Christ, we are called to share our abundance and to offer God’s charity.

As a native Puerto Rican, I have also been blessed to also see the recuperation from many hurricanes and natural disasters – the reconstruction of homes and the reclamation of land. I have been witness to a marathon of love – men and women cooking for their neighbors, distributing food and clothing, and offering financial assistance.

We Puerto Ricans know how to respond to a hurricane. We board up the places of refuge, like homeless shelters nursing homes, and schools. In response to the loss of shelter, schools serve as a sanctuary for children, and universities open their doors to house the needy and those made homeless by the storm.

We are grateful to FEMA, who has helped us recover so many times. We are also grateful to the Dominican Sisters, who have always contributed time, treasure, and prayer.

Prosper the work of our hands, O Lord.  Prosper the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:17.


Posted in News, Weekly Word

Sr. Esther Calderon Honored for a Quarter-Century of Service

On April 22, Sr. Esther Calderon was honored by Prison Chaplains in Tucson, AZ. At an appreciation dinner for Prison Volunteers, Sr. Esther was awarded a 25-Year Volunteer Appreciation Pin and other special gifts. Sister serves as a volunteer at Casa Alitas, a diocesan shelter for migrants released by ICE, and at the Eloy ICS Detention Center in Eloy, AZ.

The celebration was belated since this is actually Sr. Esther’s 27th year of service, but the 2021 luncheon was canceled due to COVID.

In the photos below, Sr. Esther is shown with the Senior Chaplain, the Volunteer Coordinator for Catholic Volunteers, and other members of the Ministry team, as well as Sr. Rachel Sena.

Posted in News

Archival Intern Shares Congregational Work

An exhibit from the new DSoP Archives page on the Private Pages.

Notice anything new about the Dominican Sisters of Peace, private pages website?  Log in and you will see the new web page featuring the Archives!  We listened and now we have a dedicated area for the Dominican Sister of Peace Archives. You can find all the information that you need and want to know about the archives in one place … just click here. This page is based on feedback from the survey that the archive’s staff conducted in March.

The survey was included in the newsletter and was open for responses from March 10, 2023, to March 18, 2023. The nine-question survey collected demographic information, names, and emails. The survey was voluntary. Thirty-five respondents provided information and feedback on how they are currently using the archive and what improvements they would like to see to increase use.


The findings indicated that 31.4% of the respondents were located in Columbus, Ohio. 42.9 % did not know that they could visit the archive to look at house annals, photos, or information about specific missions. 68.6 % did not know that they can use archival materials for writing reflections, homilies, and presentations. 42 % would like to see historical presentations virtually and/or live-streamed.

An oral history project has been under consideration by archival staff and based on the survey results we will need to provide additional information about the project. Only 25.7 % of the respondents stated that they would be willing to share their oral history with volunteers to record. 54.3 % of respondents stated that they may be willing to share their stories. Some of the additional feedback suggested that efforts should be made to interview older sisters of former communities who are aged 87 and older. Many wanted to know more about the project before committing to participate. Others wanted to know if they could review the recordings after the interview to make sure it focused on what they wanted to share. This feedback has provided archival staff with some of the concerns about the proposed project.

Some of the other suggestions included making the archive culture more user-friendly for “ordinary” people versus being reserved for scholars doing research. It was also suggested that there be a committee of sisters who would give the archive staff ideas and insight from their perspective. Others wanted to be able to send in requests for information for their current research while others wanted to know how the archives can be accessed by those who don’t live near an archive. One of the sisters requested information on the connection between Georgia O’Keefe and the sisters who ministered in New Mexico.

Outreach was another area where the sisters offered more suggestions. Additional suggestions included: “Visit the Archives Day” with small group visits at designated time slots, “Did You Know” stories,  sharing monthly events and presentations with advance notice, and a tour of the archives with an explanation of what items are in the archives. Some wanted published lists of what can and cannot be used for research and restored access to the files of the deceased. Another suggestion was to increase outreach to local areas and media and the development of displays would provide information to the community about the sisters.

Based on the survey feedback, some of the new features on the webpage include an “Ask an Archivist” section, the oral history project, virtual exhibits, the Archive’s hours, and a calendar of events.

Archival Intern Shawnee McMillian-Jackson


Posted in News

The Work of the Holy Spirit

Blog by Associate Merrylou Windhorst

The work of the Holy Spirit is sometimes compared to the wind. Jesus, himself, made this comparison in today’s gospel speaking to Nicodemus. He says, “ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sounds it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes… so it is with everyone who is born of the spirit.”

What do the Spirit of God and the wind have in common? Why the comparison? Both are invisible. The wind and the breath of life can’t be seen, yet bring about and sustain life.

As a health and PE teacher, I taught CPR to my students in the hope that someday, if needed, they could administer the “ breath of life”. That actually happened. On Christmas Eve, one of my student’s fathers collapsed while putting up the Christmas tree. He was not breathing and had no pulse. His daughter began CPR and was able to bring back life to her father. A medical procedure or an act of the Spirit? Or both?

Have we or a loved one, or a friend ever “ run out of breath”? In need of life-giving wind? Has the Holy Spirit entered us with spiritual life? Has it ever saved us, physically or spiritually? Or both.

Like the wind, the invisible Holy Spirit worked in ways that are unseen to the human eye but possibly felt by the human soul, if, we but recognize it?

Where does the wind take us? We may have planned our life journey but the wind, the Holy  Spirit made us go in another direction, perhaps several times.

We experienced the power of the wind last week when the strength of it tore down trees here at the Elms and in our neighborhood, resulting in electricity outages for hours.

Just as the wind moves ships, empowers engines, drives windmills, and deposes pollution from and around the earth,  its power is immense.

The Holy Spirit appeared on Pentecost and released power strong enough to transform the disciples into mighty forces with the courage to go and preach in many tongues.

Wind is an adequate word to describe the Power of the Holy Spirit, change happens when the wind blows, and where this spirit moves in this manner, it supplies supernatural energy. It empowers us to do what we could NOT do on our own.

Pope Francis is quoted as saying, “ the Holy Spirit alone, gives us strength to change the history of our attitude, to change the history of our lives, to change our belonging”.

Oh, how we need the supernatural wind of the Holy Spirit right now!!


Posted in Associate Blog, News

Seeing and Believing (Revisited)

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

A few years ago I reflected on the Sunday Gospel that told the post-resurrection story of Thomas, who did not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Of course, he gets his reputation as a Doubting Thomas because of that incident.

And as we all know, a week later, Thomas is there when Jesus appears and he invites Thomas to touch his wounds as proof he is alive. Thomas proclaims his belief saying, “My Lord and my God.”

I have a new insight about Thomas because of the television series The Chosen. I highly recommend you catch it if you can— just download the Angel Studio app and watch it for free. There are three seasons so far. This is the telling of the story of Jesus more through the lens of his relationships with other people than directly through Jesus himself. Many episodes are about the growing cohort of people who come to believe him to be the Messiah. It’s more often their stories of coming to belief.

It turns out that in one episode Thomas is a caterer and he and his partner Rema prepare all of the food and drink and such for the wedding feast at Cana. He is fastidious, methodical, and is a bit of a challenge to Rema who is anxious to get to Cana to set everything up. Most of all he’s a bit of a worry wart, obsessing that he has plenty of food to supply this wedding. I think of him as a nervous accountant. He is a witness to Jesus’s miracle of the wine at Cana, and he is mystified by how this actually happened because, of course, he was in charge of the wine steward, a subcontractor for the wedding. Thomas just couldn’t figure out how Jesus was able to supply all this extra wine that was so wonderful. So he is left happy for the outcome, but mostly puzzled.

I can understand why Thomas is baffled by this miracle of the wine.  It stands to reason, by virtue of his personality, that he would have a hard time believing that Jesus multiplied the wine, let alone that he rose from the dead. It’s this bent of personality that strikes me because Thomas didn’t so much doubt— in our contemporary way of doubting —as he was being skeptical. I think for Thomas it just didn’t add up and he was someone who calculated all the time. How many of this and how much of that do we need for the wedding?

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” This is what condemns Thomas to his undeserved reputation — that he needed to see in order to believe.  Thus, for 2000 years his fate is sealed by a moment when he actually asked a legitimate question. How many times have you said, “I’ll believe it when I see it”?

Sometimes we are like Thomas I would wager. There is so much of the world that is unbelievable, things just baffle us. It’s not really disbelief— it’s more like being mystified by things we cannot understand. Think of the latest pictures from the James Webb telescope. It’s hard to believe that what we see is what scientists say it is. And if by bent of personality, science remains a mystery to you then is it really that you doubt the scientists?  Or are you just awestruck?

Maybe that’s it. Thomas was awestruck. It wasn’t doubt,  it was his God-given personality that made him a skeptic, a  bean counter. He probably would be a CPA today, but I think he would come to believe and say, “My Lord and my God,”  just the same.

So let’s be a little kinder and not so quick to judge people who are skeptical because by bent of their personality they’re practical. Let’s give some slack to those who seem a little pie-in-the-sky, because by  bent of personality they are dreamers. We all can come to belief in our own way.

Posted in News, Weekly Word