New Year, New Commitment, New Attitude

Blog by Sr. Maidung Nguyen, OP

During the Christmas break, I was busy with preparations for two events—vocation outreach at the FOCUS #SEEK23 conference in St. Louis and our mid-January Mission for Peace event. Instead of a time of rest, I quickly found myself feeling like a working bee running from one place to another place. Then, on New Year’s Day, I traveled to St. Louis for the #SEEK23 conference that focuses on inspiring college students “to dive deeper into the Gospel and discover how to answer Jesus’ call to leadership, relationship and discipleship.”

Driving from Great Bend to Wichita, Kansas to catch my flight to St. Louis on the first day of the New Year, I felt a little resistance inside me about attending this conference. I wanted to stay at home, to rest and to enjoy this New Year.

Luckily, driving alone, I had a chance to settle myself interiorly. I was suddenly aware that I was not ready to welcome the year 2023. Because of my busyness at the end of the year, I felt that 2022 left me before I was ready, like lightning that happens so quickly and is over. I felt an emptiness and shock at the arrival of the new year 2023. I wished I had more time to reflect and close out the year of 2022.

As I was driving, a Bible quote spoke to me, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky?” (Act 1:11) A scripture passage we usually hear on the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord in the Easter season. This question invites us to ponder how we intend to live our faith in the moment. This question brought me back to the reality of life.

As I was staring into the sky while driving, I knew I had to let go of what I wished happened at the end of 2022 and focus on embracing this coming of the year 2023. So, I found myself asking “How should I live and what can I do better in my life for this coming year?” Listening to my deepest desire, the word “mindfulness” came to me, something I wanted to practice more. So, I refocused my energies and decided that during this two-hour drive, I would pay more attention to what I was seeing in the moment.

I became immersed in the beauty of the natural world around me, giving me moments of awe! I marveled at the many distinct shades of blue in the sky, and the subtle shades of brown – from the deep brown of the recently turned earth to the soft mocha of the fur on the cows.  I marveled at the flying formations of different groups of birds as they flew in harmony. There were two times when I wanted to stop off the highway to observe these formations, making me say “WOW!” and praise God for the magnificence that my dancing heart was feeling.

I praised God, blessed God, and gave thanks to God for giving these beautiful gifts to me for this New Year Day. As I travelled through the flat plains in Kansas, I was grateful for the wide-open scenery that cleared a path for me to see the beauty of God’s creation around me. The different major landforms–mountains, hills, valleys, desert, plains—of Mother Earth can reveal the beauty of the creation. The grace of God is everywhere and can be seen when we change our attitude and are more attentive to what is around us.

Now that the new year is here, how are you welcoming this new year? Are you ready to look beyond the sky and explore what God’s call is for your life?  How might you respond to your call with a new perspective and new attitude for the year 2023?

One way you can explore the call to religious life in 2023 is to join us for our January Mission for Peace program or our March Come and See retreat. Or, visit our vocation website to learn more about religious life, more about the Dominican Sisters of Peace, and about entering a process of discernment …  of determining God’s desire for your life. Contact us to walk this journey with you.

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

Are you the One, or Should I look for Another?

Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Twice during this third week of Advent, we have heard in the scriptures the haunting question asked by a jailed John the Baptist, to Jesus, “Are you the One who is to come, or should we look for another?”  Both Matthew and Luke share the story. This exchange between Jesus and John the Baptist is one of my favorite scriptures.  One reason this story is striking to me is because of who is asking the question. John the Baptist, after all, had lived his whole life fulfilling his call to prepare others for the promised Messiah. He eventually recognized Jesus as the fulfilment of this promise. What changed so drastically for John, that he now questioned if Jesus is the Messiah?

John the Baptist understood his call was to prepare the way for the coming of God’s promised Messiah. But as John’s ministry and life is ending, he realizes that Jesus’ ministry does not reflect what he had envisioned.  John preached about repentance and the wrath that would follow at the coming of the Messiah, but he came to realize that Jesus’ ministry did not reflect this reality.  Jesus spoke of forgiveness, compassion, and mercy. John’s vision of the Messiah did not match the reality revealed in the ministry of Jesus.  His vision of the Messiah was different from God’s plan.  Hence the question, “Are you the One who is to come, or should I look for another?”

It is interesting that Jesus did not give John a yes or no answer but pointed to the fruits of his ministry as his response — “the blind see, the deaf hear, lepers are cleansed, the lame walk, the dead are raised…and the poor have the good news preached to them.”  Jesus allowed the fruits of his ministry to identify him as the One who was promised by God.

Like John, we may also fall into darkness and doubt.  We may not be able to see God’s presence in situations or understand God’s plan in our circumstances. Like John, we too, hold opinions and perspectives that we may have to let go of, to accept a new reality. What resonates with me about this scenario between John the Baptist and Jesus is that I can identify with John in his time of uncertainty, as well as in his time of darkness and doubt. And like John, I can identify with the reassurance and renewal that comes when I seek my answers from God. Jesus’ response to John in this gospel is a joyful reminder, that when we ask, we too, are given what we need to restore and renew our hope.

Lastly, I was intrigued by how Jesus allowed the fruits of his ministry to identify him as the Messiah in his response to John’s question— “Are you the One…?” For us who are called to be disciples of Jesus, could we be identified by the fruits of our ministry of discipleship?  Disciples of Jesus are called to help make a difference in the lives of others. Disciples are called to share the light and truth of the gospel. Disciples are called to share the love, compassion, and mercy of Christ. Would the fruits of our ministry of discipleship reveal who we are? Perhaps an even better question might be, “Are we the ones who will make a difference in someone’s life, or should He look for another?”

If your reflection on discipleship is leading you to consider religious life, give us a call for help and resources.  You may also want to consider our Mission for Peace event to be held January 13-15, 2023, in three locations.  Click here for the flyer.

Wishing you peace, hope and joy this Advent season!

Sr. Pat Dual, OP




Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

How Do You Read the Signs of the Times?

Blog by Sr. Maidung Nguyen, OP

Throughout the church’s history, since religious life emerged as a viable life option for the faithful, there have been questions about whether it will survive or if it has a future. These questions have been raised by many, sometimes with curiosity and wonder, other times with concern and worry about where the next harvest of laborers will come from. Before I stepped into religious life 23 years ago, I wondered about the state of religious life then and what it might look like in the future.

Those who have been living in religious life know in their heart and by their faith that there is a mystical component to saying “Yes” to this life.  God calls and we respond affirmatively, not knowing what the future holds.  We live this life based on faith, trust, and prayer that God will lead us and show us the way through even the darkest times. Our history as religious gives us strength and examples for the journey because of the pioneering spirit and passion of those who came before us.

For those discerning a call to live in religious life today, these two questions about the present and future status of religious life may be stumbling blocks to considering this life.  Most sisters are older; fewer new or younger members are entering. Young women may or may not find a sister their age in the community that they are interested in joining. These factors may contribute to a young woman postponing or pursuing another path in life.

Faced with such uncertainty, we are confronted with asking again if religious life is ending, or is it evolving into something new? I believe that religious life has a future, even though it will be lived differently from what we know today. This is based on my lived experience of religious life and looking back on our 200-year history as Dominican Sisters in the United States. It is a history of pioneering women of the past who forged a future for religious life. And today, there are religious women who are shaping the future of religious life. To learn more about our past and hopes for the future as religious sisters, listen to a presentation by Sr. Joan Scanlon, OP on Pioneering Women of the Past, Innovators Shaping the Future.

What I admire about religious sisters from the past is the way they lived out the four pillars of Dominican life, prayer, community, study, and ministry. One by one, these sisters carried out God’s mission with faith, wisdom and consistency. These pioneering women met the challenges of their time and embraced the beauty of religious life and praised God for their call. They responded to the needs of their time with trust, faith, confidence, and passion. They moved beyond their comfort zone and the status quo for God’s mission. They shaped and paved the way for a future to unfold for years to come. They truly lived and preached the Gospel of peace.

Looking at the pioneering spirit of women religious from the past helps today’s women religious to focus on responding to today’s needs, to be grounded in the Gospel’s teachings, to trust in God and the call within. Today, women who are joining religious life are deeply aware of the challenges facing religious communities, and at the same time, feel impelled by the love of God to live a consecrated life.

With a great passion for the mission, today’s women religious are opening new doors of collaboration and connection, both within their own congregations and across other congregations. There are more opportunities to use our individual and group gifts, talents, and wisdom.  Also, more connections are possible with peers across the country and globally, inviting more opportunities to embark on missions together.

We may be living in transitional times, but religious life is not coming to an end. Instead, religious life has gradually shifted to a new way of prophetic living in mission.  In my community of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, our prophetic mission is noted in our prologue and direction statements and guides our mission work, which I invite you to read and reflect on here.

What are the signs of the times that God may be calling you to respond to? Do you desire to connect with God profoundly and live a life fulfilling God’s mission?  If you want to explore these and other questions further, contact us and together, we can discern your prophetic calling.  Visit our website also to learn more about our community.  You may also want to join us for a Winter Mission for Peace event, January 13-15, 2023, which we are offering via Zoom and in person at three different locations.  Click here for more event information and to register.

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog


Blog by Sr. Pat Connick, OP

So, yesterday after supper, I thought about what I planned to do tomorrow…more study for my sabbatical, maybe a few house chores, some exercise, even a nap and then attend a couple necessary meetings at night, over Zoom, of course.  Then, came the interruptions to my plans . . .

  • Before I went to bed, the first “interruption” was a request to speak at the first evening meeting for just three minutes, but I knew it would require careful planning and even a session of revision with someone else to get the message just right. By the time I wrote the script, edited it with my friend, practiced it, and then delivered the “three-minute wonder,” four hours slipped by!
  • Then at prayer this morning, came the second “interruption,” which was a request to go to the grocery store to get some items for baking. If I were to do anything I really wanted to do or planned to do for myself today, I could have responded by saying “No Way!” or, at least, “Sorry, I can’t.” But, I paused and realized that these responses would have been because I was putting myself first and missing an opportunity to be charitable.  So, I went and about two more hours in, my day was completely different then I imagined it would be and my time for the day was now completely transformed.
  • I discovered the third “interruption” when I checked my email late this morning, and realized I was to write this blog for today. WHOOPS!  Somehow, that slipped my mind, and I worried a bit about that and then said to myself “Keep calm and carry on!”

I still struggle with these opportunities to be more spontaneous in my day.  Yet, I’ve discovered that when I am open to changing my plans and going with the flow, I am surprised, even amused, by what I learn and how much better my day is.

  • At the first meeting, my community will get to hear about the great love and time commitment some of my sisters and I put into preparing our congregational study for this year. INSPIRING!
  • Our visiting sister was able to bake three lovely mango pies for my sisters at home and in another convent not far away. YUMMY!
  • in the end, I discovered that I spent the day in an experience of unexpected calling and was able to write this blog, which brought me great JOY.

The main difficulty I experienced with these “interruptions” was overcoming my expectation of how I wanted the day to unfold.  I wanted the day to be predictable and for my planned activities to happen on my timeline.  What I learned is that I need to remind myself throughout the day to be available to others. It wasn’t easy, but I knew it was a good decision to “change the plan.” Because life is unpredictable and we are often faced with daily opportunities that invite us to make changes, we need to ask ourselves what God is asking of us. We can dialogue with God about how “our plans” can be more loving and more generous, perhaps even more meaningful.

So…whatever expectations you have for your life, I encourage you to hold onto them more lightly!  You might be surprised by what happens, and you will most likely be delighted by what transpires in the end. As good as your expectations and plans for the day might be, God can show you how to make your life even better!

Maybe God is inviting you to consider changes to whatever plans you have for your life. Perhaps God is nudging you to explore the call to become a religious sister. You may find that religious life exceeds your expectations!  Begin the journey.  Contact us to learn more about how we can be of help with your discernment.

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog