To Praise – To Bless – To Preach

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

To Praise, to Bless, and to Preach is the Mission of the Dominican Order.  It is our mission as Dominicans of Peace to do so always and in all ways.

This mission resonated with my heart as I prayed to discern God’s call to religious life as a Dominican Sister.  I had no idea how I would live it out.  To be honest, I did not think I had the gifts to do it very well.  To my surprise, over the years God has drawn gifts out of me I did not know that I had which have been used to praise, bless, and preach.  As I reflect on each part of our mission, I invite you to consider how God may be calling you to embody this mission in some way – especially during Lent.

To Praise:  I discover God’s love through daily prayer and contemplation in Word and Sacrament.  This invites me to praise God through liturgical music, and the twice-daily singing of the Psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours.  Gathered with my Sisters, singing or praying the Psalms, I am united with all around the world who are praying these same psalms, canticles & readings.  Together, our praise rises like incense to God.  How will you praise today?

To Bless:  In recognizing our relationship with all peoples and all of creation – we affirm ALL as Holy and celebrate its blessedness through our prayer and reverent stewardship.  Recently, a discerner asked me, “Can anyone offer blessings for others?”  I replied, “Yes!  Every baptized person is called to be a blessing and to bless.”  Catechism #1669.  You can read more about that here.  In fact, I often close e-mails, texts, and letters with “Blessings,” which for me is a real prayer for blessings upon the person.  In your life, how do you bless?

To Preach:  To listen and to respond to God’s Spirit with zeal, compassion, and joy through preaching the liberating truth of the Gospel of Jesus.  This is my goal each day.  How do I live it?  I preach when speaking with a discerner who is struggling to hear God’s voice and I remind her to listen to the still small voice already in her heart.  I preach the good news of hope to one who has kissed a loved one goodbye for the last time and I sit by her as she cries.  To preach is to break open the redeeming Word of God and to spill out its blessing upon the world.  How is God calling you to preach through your life today?  Listen and respond.

If God is calling you to join in our mission, to praise, to bless, and to preach, reach out and begin a conversation or attend one of our upcoming programs, or our Mini-Retreat this Sunday, March 27 from 2-5 pm.

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

It’s in the Simple Things

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

I woke up in the middle of the night and felt the warmth of our cat resting on my side.  In that moment, I felt God’s comfort, whispering to me “it’s in the simple things where I can be found and am present with you.”  This one simple awareness caught my attention, enough for me to roll out of bed in the wee hours to write down this significant moment of God speaking to me.

So now I’m thinking about how often I miss seeing God at work in my life. I suspect I am not alone—that we are all often blind to God’s presence, of God with us, around us, and in us.  God is in the very breath of our life, in our relationships, in our doings.  God is in our struggles and the longings of our heart. Yet, do we believe God is active in our lives and actively knocking on the door of our heart to let God in?

It’s in the simple things where I can smile at the presence of God.  I’m learning to pause and notice with gratitude how God is in the simple things.  I just have to look and listen.  God’s presence is indeed everywhere–in the receiving of help during difficult times, a pleasant encounter with a stranger in the grocery store, in the helping hands of volunteers giving out food and clothing to victims of disasters.

Are you able to look around and see that God is present in the simple things in your life?  Are you missing out on how God is working through you, and using you to be God’s instruments of peace and love to others?  Yes, God “uses” us, through our gifts and even our weaknesses to reach out to others, to transform us and others. We only need to say “yes” to God and to begin to see as God sees us, and when we see ourselves as God sees us, love and beauty will enfold us. It is in the “yes” moments that we will also have our “aha” moments of knowing and believing that God is where we are.

So, join me in claiming this mantra that “it’s in the simple things where God can be found.”  We don’t have to search high and low for our Creator.  We just have to open our eyes to seeing God before us and attune our ears to hearing God around us.

What is God’s desire for you? It may be the same as your desire to follow God in community, prayer, ministry, and study with others as a religious sister.  Are you missing how God is calling you to follow a certain path? Remember, God is in the simple things and the journey to responding to God can be a profound, but simple “yes.”  If you are ready to explore how God may be calling you to become a religious sister, we invite you to contact us.  It really is that simple.

 

 

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Wrestling with your Restlessness

Blog by Sr. Maidung Nguyen, OP

One of the challenges in vocation ministry is finding a topic to write about each month. This week is my turn, but I was stuck. I could not find an inspirational topic that I wanted to write about.  I wrestled with being so restless.

My anxiety began to go up as the deadline approached. I looked around, seeking an appealing topic but nothing struck me as interesting. As I continued to wrestle with this anxiety, I was mindful of the fact, from a preaching class, that if a topic does not touch you, it is unlikely to touch others. My dilemma kept me asking, “Where can I find an issue that touches me?

My prayer continued, “God, there must be something that you want me to write about. Help me to recognize what you want me to write this time?” As I focused on this prayer, I began to feel a sense of surrender to God, paying more attention to my spiritual life’s journey for inspiration.

After reflecting on this journey, I realized that I have been inspired by the way I have been praying lately. My prayers have taken me on a journey of questioning what a topic, such as a church teaching or immigrant issue, means to me and why it lingers in me. I ponder what is wrestling in me around that topic and what I need to pay attention to. In prayer, I question how I see and integrate the topic in light of the Gospel’s message, the realities of my life, our church, society, and the world at this time.

Like drinking hot tea, I take time to sip little by little, taking time with what is wrestling inside me and what the causes are of this restlessness to gain some insights. With this method of prayer, I am able to collect and put my reflections into a fuller picture of what I believe and what I am called to stand for. My prayer helps me to become more connected with God, myself, and the world. I feel that God and I discuss together topics about the Gospel and life’s realities more authentically. This discussion is usually not finished within one prayer but continues during the day, always drawing me closer to God for further discussion. This journey of questioning helps me examine and clarify my beliefs and actions with passion.

If you are questioning how God is calling you and are wrestling with this topic, I invite you to take time in prayer with God to discuss what is on your mind and heart. No matter how much you ignore or suppress how God is calling you, your restlessness will continue until you pay attention to what is stirring in you.

As you embark on your Lenten journey, I encourage you to take more time to reflect on your feelings and concerns about your call and surrender these concerns to God. We are here to help you discern this call and offer many discernment programs to help you listen to how God is calling you.  Contact us. Why not start your journey by joining us for an online three-hour Lenten Discernment retreat, March 27, 2:00 PM- 5:00 PM EST with the theme “Pray with Clay”. Click here to register.

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

When God calls…

Show up for God

Today, we share a blog written by Sr. Tram, our novice. She writes: “Every year, “Tết reminds me of the many blessings I have received from God. It’s also a time to remind me to be more aware of living in the present, the importance to be at peace, and learning again to recognized God all around me. It’s a time to call me back to the table, the church, the community, the family. In addition, Tết reminds me of the welcoming and unlimited invitation to the Lord’s Supper to each of us and especially for me.  If Tết season is gone and as the days go by, I know for sure that I am always welcome at the Lord’s Table and I can always receive many blessings there. The only thing the Lord requests for me is to show up.” Click here to read Sr. Tram’s blog as she recalls how they celebrated Tết, explains the Lunar New Year, and shares how we are called to ‘show up’ for God.

Listen to God

Want to know what religious life looks like? What is involved in becoming a religious sister? How do I know what God is calling me to do with my life? If you have ever prayed with these and other “life” questions, then, come join other women who are discerning God’s call to religious life at this March retreat. To learn more about what to expect at a Come and See retreat click here. To register for this retreat, click here. If you have any questions about this retreat, feel free to call or text Sr. Bea Tiboldi, OP at 614.400-1255 or via email at Bea.Tiboldi@oppeace.org.

 

Ponder God in your heart

Lent is coming soon at the beginning of March. It is a good time to reflect on your vocational call. We invite you to pause some of your daily activities for a few hours to join our online Lenten mini retreat, 2:00-5:00 PM EST, Sunday, March 27. The retreat will include prayer, guided meditation with clay, personal prayer and reflection, and an opportunity to share faith with Sisters and other women discerning their call to religious life. Click here for more information or to register. Or, if you have any questions about this program, please call or text Sr. Maidung Nguyen, OP at 405.248.7027 or via email at Mai-dung.Nguyen@oppeace.org.

 

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

Reflections on Black History Month 2022

Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

I grew up celebrating Black History week first, before it was officially designated Black History Month in February.  Through the years, I developed a deeper appreciation of Black history, remembering our contributions in many areas of society.  In the last two years, I have seen what can only be described as the reversal of some of the racial progress and equity gained after the Civil Rights Movement.  At the same time, I have also witnessed a kind of waking-up of white consciousness.  This awakening was spurred, in large part, by the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.  The challenge to dismantling racism has been very compelling these last few years.  I find it especially significant at this time, that the mantle has been taken up by both black and white Americans, from all walks of life and culture, especially the culture of religious life.

As a Black religious sister, I have been deeply heartened by the way many religious communities and religious organizations are in the forefront of addressing and educating themselves and others about racism. My own congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Peace, has studied, provided resources, offered presentations, and engaged in dialogue opportunities among our members.  Our Leadership team and our congregation have been open to engaging in difficult conversations about race, bias, intercultural living, and systemic inequity.  Why?  I believe it is because grappling with these issues is part of the future that is unfolding in religious life.  While the number of women entering religious life are fewer than in the past, those entering are very diverse culturally.  I think this diversity is an important part of the unfolding future of religious life.  Preparation and openness are key to this future success.

Black History Month in 2022, found me reflecting on the Black religious women on whose shoulders I stand, some still alive, but many more in the presence of God.  Historian Dr. Shannen Dee Williams, Ph.D. in her upcoming book, “Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle” wrote about the hidden histories of many women of color, who either entered or attempted to enter white religious orders in the past.  She has given some fascinating presentations from her research.  I invite you to view this short video clip with Dr. Williams here.  My reflection led me to think about two Black religious women who played an important role in my discernment and journey into religious life–Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, OSP and Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA.

Mother Elizabeth Lange was a Haitian refugee and one of the foundresses for the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first order of religious sisters founded in 1829 for women of color in Baltimore, MD.  The Oblate Sisters of Providence continue their mission today of the education of African American children.  I was an Associate with the Oblate Sisters of Providence for three years.  I still remember the experience of entering their motherhouse for the first time and seeing Black sisters walking the halls of the convent. It was here that I discerned my call to “something more” was not to Associate membership, but to vowed religious life.  I also felt called to a broader expression of religious life than being in an all-Black congregation.

Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA was also an important role model for me.  The reason why is summed up in this quote from her, “I bring myself; my Black self, all that I am, all that I have, all that I hope to become. I bring my whole history, my traditions, my experience, my culture, my African-American song and dance, and gesture and movement, and teaching and preaching, and healing and responsibility – as gifts to the Church,” and I would add–to religious congregations.  Sr. Thea Bowman modeled the concept of “unity in diversity.”  Thea modeled that I could be true to who I am as a Black woman and a religious sister. She is not the only Black religious to model this, but she was important to my religious discernment.  I honor both Sr. Thea’s contribution and Mother Lange’s contribution to America during Black History Month 2022.  I invite you to read here about Mother Lange and Sr. Thea Bowman along with four other Black Candidates for Sainthood in 2020.

I end with these thoughts.  This quote is often attributed to actor, Morgan Freeman, “Black history is American History.”  It is a truth this country continues to struggle to recognize.  I believe that only in our efforts to reconcile and learn from the past, will we emerge into a more loving and radiant future.  I also think that vowed religious and all people of goodwill have a part to play in bringing about such a future.

Perhaps you are being called to help bring about a brighter future of love for all people– as a Sister?   Call us, we would be happy to help.

Peace.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog