Community Supported Agriculture: A New Normal for the Post-COVID Food System?

Blog by Julie Laudick Dougherty, owner/operator of Oxbow Farm in Maryland, and member of the Eco-Justice Committee for the Dominican Sisters of Peace

When grocery stores had shortages at the start of the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders took effect, people had more time and reason than ever to start asking questions about where their food is coming from and how to get it locally. Many expanded their gardens or started one for the first time.

Next to shopping at farmers’ markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares are one of the most popular ways to get fresh produce directly from local farms. While there are many different variations on the concept, the most basic CSA model involves the customer paying upfront at the beginning of the year for a weekly subscription to a box of in-season vegetables. Some CSA farms will allow you to personalize your CSA box by opting in and out of certain items, and some memberships involve volunteer opportunities at the farm.

The term “Community Supported Agriculture” was first popularized among farmers in the Northeast US in the late 1980s, but the same concept was used by black farmers in the south many years earlier. Dr. Booker T. Washington, a black farmer and professor from Tuskegee University in Alabama promoted “Clientele Membership Clubs” where members would pay an annual fee to pick their own fruits and vegetables at a discounted price throughout the season. This model was particularly helpful for farmers who lacked access to capital in the spring to cover seed, input, and labor costs. The annual upfront membership fee solves this cash flow problem and provides a steady sales outlet.

Despite the benefits of the CSA model and its importance in the local food movement, CSA membership numbers for many farms had been dwindling across the country in recent years before the pandemic. Fewer people had the knowledge or time to cook the variety of fresh produce that comes in a CSA box, and there are more convenient meal kit and grocery delivery options to choose from now than ever before. When the pandemic started revealing weaknesses in our industrial food system, the membership numbers for many CSA farms doubled or even tripled, which provided much needed hope for sustainable and organic farmers who had been finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.

Growing your own food or buying from your local farmer isn’t just about your personal health or food security, it is an act of participation in a more just food system, and a way of re-connecting to our original vocation from God: to till the earth and to keep it. Hopefully this trend of people growing more of their own food, buying it locally, and spending more time at home making quality meals will continue as our society returns to a “new normal.” As the pace of life picks up and schedules start getting busy again, take time to consider what you really want to invite back into your life and which things or activities you can do without. If you are interested in supporting a local farm, visit your neighborhood farmer’s market, or look online at Local Harvest to find small organic farms near you:

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Make Me An Instrument Of Your Peace

Dominican Sisters of Peace Formations and Vocations team, from back left, Sr. Pat Dual, OP, Mary Ellen George, OPA. Front from left: Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen, OP, Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP, Sr. Bea Tiboldi, OP.

Blog by Mary Ellen George, OPA

When you reflect on this phrase, “mission for peace,” what image(s) come to mind?  Do you picture a far-away mission in a foreign land where others have been dispatched to bring peace and conflict resolution to a warring community or society?  Is the necessity of making peace an “out there” or “away from me” imagining that is everyone else’s responsibility?  Do you insulate yourself from seeing or hearing the call to “be peace, preach peace, and build peace”? Do you refrain from becoming involved when the lack of peace happens around you in your relationships, in your workplace, and in your living community?

Or, are you looking, instead, for an opportunity to be an “instrument of peace,” as expressed here in The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi?




Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Are you ready to be the hands and feet of Christ, bringing peace and hope to others?  Then, why not join our Sisters and other women who are considering religious life, June 2-6, 2023, in Akron, Ohio for a “Mission for Peace” experience.  This five-day, service-based, hands-on learning experience offers you a real-life experience of prayer and community living.  You will have time also to talk to our Sisters to get answers to the questions you have about religious life and about serving others as a Dominican Sister of Peace.  Check out these testimonials from participants who experienced this program

Click here for more information about this free opportunity or click here to register now.

Peace be with you


Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

Novena Against Gun Violence

“Loving God, You created for us a world of beauty, order, and endless possibilities. But today ours is a world often in chaos: war, famine, drought, so many “isms”, lack of respect for life and for one another. In this our very own beloved country we face these issues day after day. One of these is uppermost in our minds these days—the horror of gun violence which continues to ravage our nation, our society, our people, even the youngest of our children. 

“Spirit God, we give you all names: Holy, Sanctifier, Paraclete, Advocate. Yet you are so much more: Challenger, Nudger, whirling Wind and engulfing Fire, Mover, Enabler, Lover, Breath of Life. Be that for us, we pray. Instill in us your gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, reverence, and awe. Pentecost us. Enable us to be as daring as the newly inspired Apostles—to be bold in our defense of the right of all persons to feel safe wherever we are, unafraid of being forever silenced by those who are armed with weapons and anger and sometimes even hatred.

“Give us the courage to speak the Word. Give us the audacity to take the actions needed to end this needless violence against innocent victims.

In the name of our Creator God, in the name of the Word of Life and in the name of the Fire of Love. Amen.”                                                                                                                   

— Prayer by Sister Michele Bisaillon, DHS  

Click here to download a copy of the novena.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

Dominican Students Post Wins at New Orleans and National Academic Games

St. Mary’s Dominican High School students Isabelle Anderson (left) and Camille Truxillo with their Academic Games wins from nationals and New Orleans competitions.

St. Mary‘s Dominican High School students Isabelle Anderson, Tess Baker, Mia Bavido, Truc Nguyen, and Camille Truxillo competed at the Academic Games League of America nationals held in Orlando, Florida. Truxillo placed Fourth out of 87 competitors, with a perfect score in Equations. In the playoffs she competed against the top six students. Truxillo and  Anderson, along with William Xi and Jack McAvoy from Willow School and Erin Powell from St. Charles Catholic, competed against 17 teams and placed second in Presidents and against 24 teams placing third in Propaganda.

Winning levels at the New Orleans Academic Games League: Presidents – Individual: Truxillo placed second out of 28 competitors; On-Sets – Individual: Anderson and Truxillo placed third out of 26 competitors. Dominican’s Academic Games club moderators are Spencer Schnell and Monica Haag.

Academic Games is a competition in the U.S. in which players win by out-thinking each other in mathematics, language arts, and social studies. Formal tournaments are organized by local leagues, and on a national level by the Academic Games Leagues of America. Started in 1966, the New Orleans Academic Games League inspires students to become critical thinkers through friendly competition, open to all schools and individuals,  in challenging mathematics, language arts, and social studies games. Students in Grades 4 through 12 from over 20 schools in the Greater New Orleans metro area compete in the New Orleans Academic Games League each school year.


Posted in News

Blessing of Memorial to Enslaved Persons, A Reflection on John 16:12-13

Reflection by Elaine Riley, OPA

When the Spirit of Truth comes, the Spirit will guide you to all truth. John 16:13

As I reflect upon this memorial dedication to the enslaved, I’m reminded how this dedication’s origin was really formed at the reconciliation service held in Bardstown, KY, in 2000.

Little could have anyone ever imagined that this reconciliation service would be the key element used in calling forth the Spirit of Truth, as Sr. Joan Scanlon, then piesident of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catharine, formally acknowledgd and
ask forgiveness for the owning slaves.

As the Sisters took this first crucial step, it would require profound courage in acknowledging the truth, to apologize and ask forgiveness for the truth, and to take ownership of the truth. Once this acknowledgement was spoken, the SPIRIT OF TRUTH emerged. This was our first encounter of witnessing the SPIRIT OF TRUTH challenging the Order who preached the Truth, to tell the Truth. Because for many years this “Unspoken Truth” was allowed to lie dormant within the Dominican Family’s historical archives.

But just as there’s an appointed time for everything, the Spirit of Truth would have to wait patiently before guiding
the Sisters to the “I WAS HERE” presentation on October 2, 2022. At this remembrance and blessing ceremony, the Sisters recognized and honored the contributions of the Enslaved. We also learned, through the research of Catholic Historian Walker Gollar, the first names of the very first women and men enslaved at St. Catharine.

And just when we felt that the Spirit Of Truth had nothing more to say, the “spirit” would once again emerge, taking the
spotlight, as Sr. Rosemary Rule summarized that St. Catharine’s Motherhouse was a place of injustice and pain for the enslaved persons who helped build it in 1822. Painfully, this was another “Unspoken Truth” now spoken.

Clearly, it was the pursuit of telling the Truth which has brought us to assemble here for this memorial dedication
honoring the Enslaved who once walked these sacred grounds. This monument is a true testament to how the lives of the Dominican Sisters and the lives of the Enslaved are inseparable.

So, it is only fitting that the Enslaved spirits of Grace, Lucy, Milla, George, Leanard, Robert, and the names unknown, take their rightful place here in this cemetery alongside their Dominican Family.

For this monument will always be a constant reminder that the Enslaved were here, when they journeyed to St. Catharine’s with the Founding Women who joined the order.

YOU were here working the fields, tending the livestock, and performing other domestic duties to Sisters, who may or may not have known your names.

YOU were here, at times broken and wounded in spirit, as a result of the oppressive injustices thrust upon you.

And yes, YOU were here, sometimes seen or unseen working among and alongside  of the First Dominican· Sisters of the United States.

To the Enslaved persons who once walked these sacred grounds of St. Cathaiine’s, may your eternal spirits rest peacefully with the Dominican Siste of Peace. And hopefully in time your “SPIRITS” will no longer feel like a MOTHERLESS CHILD, because the SPIRIT OF TRUTH HAS SPOKEN.

Posted in Associate Blog, News