A Glimpse of Community

Blog by Sr. Ana Gonzalez

The fragrance of fresh pizza wafted through the house on a cold Saturday evening. Cathy, our Candidate and newest member to our community in New Haven, treated us with two large pizza pies from Modern Apizza. We usually designate Saturdays as a day for pickup for dinner or “review for religious” (a.k.a. “leftovers”).  Cathy’s contribution to our weekend dinner was a welcome surprise. The smell of freshly baked pies, kept warm in the oven, announced to all that dinner was ready.  The community gathered in the kitchen before preparing to bless the meal.

“Have you seen Sister An Hoa,” asked Cathy, as she placed the pies on the kitchen table.

“No, I am not sure if she has completed her test.” I responded, noticing the community’s concern for Sister An Hoa.

“It is getting dark and cold and I wonder if she is ok?” said Sister Julia.

“I am not sure if she is home, but some random table is on the back porch,” said Sister June. “Last time a random table showed up on the back porch Sister An Hoa brought it home. Perhaps she is home and resting after her test.”

In the next moment, the cozy kitchen burst into a roar of cheer as Sister An Hoa walked into the kitchen. “There she is,” I exclaimed.  The community was eager to hear about how her English competency exam had gone because this was an exam she had to take in order to apply for her PhD program.  Her reply, however, had to wait as Cathy started, “Let us pray…”

My little community is a diverse intergenerational, intercultural and inter-congregational mix.  An outsider might imagine that this diversity might create conflicts among the members living under the same roof; it does not. I am learning that, unlike housemates, life in a religious community encourages us to COME together in UNITY, forged by being grounded in our relationship with God and in living out our call to consecrated life.  As we share our common life, we live with the awareness that we are dependent on each other.  We experience God in our relationships and interactions with one another.  Our community life both broadens our vision of God and deepens our understanding of the Divine. Ultimately, community helps us grow closer because of our common unity with God.

“This pizza is amazing,” I exclaim as I bite into my first slice of bacon and sausage pizza. While Modern Apizza is delicious, my real joy comes from sharing a meal with these women gathered around the dinner table. God brought me to this place through my call to religious life.  As I continue my journey of formation as a sister, I am gifted by the opportunity to share my experience, life and faith with women, who like me, are following God’s call. The gift of their lives and their sharing makes my life so much better.  I appreciate greatly the opportunities to grow in my personal and spiritual awareness as part of my interaction with my sisters.  I count my blessings in being able to live in a community. We COME, sharing our diversity and gifts with each other in UNITY with God. Our intentional, diverse community gives me hope for a future filled with promise.

If God is calling you to consider religious life, why not take the leap and call one of our vocation ministers to start a conversation?

Posted in God Calling?, News

The National Day of Racial Healing

“What do I see around me in today’s world?”
I see infection and turbulence—the pandemic of the coronavirus, the pandemic of racism and of climate degradation, and more…
What response do infection and turbulence invite?–healing and peace.”

These words from Dominican Sisters of Peace Prioress Pat Twohill set the theme for our Congregation on this National Day of Racial Healing … how do we, as vowed religious, and as preachers of peace… instigate racial healing in our nation?

Three of our five Congregational Commitments speak to the importance of welcoming the stranger and the marginalized. The Dominican Sisters of Peace have been studying and contemplating systemic racism and how we might come together to end this social epidemic. Today, we are featuring a series of videos from our Sister Suzanne Brauer, who ministers at the New Orleans Peace Center, discussing her own path to personal racial healing.

Click here to view the entire series.

We are also sharing videos from several of our Sisters discussing their own thoughts on the need for and the path to racial healing. Please feel free to share any of these videos on your own social media using the hashtag #HowWeHeal.

Sr. Cathy Arnold, Co-Director, The Collaborative Dominican Initiative
Sr. Annie Killian, Novice, The Collaborative Dominican Initiative
Sr. Bea Tiboldi, Vocation Outreach Minister
Sr. Ellen Coates, Second Year Novice, Contact Tracer at Ohio State University
Sr. Robin Richard, ESL Program Coordinator, Dominican Learning Center
Sr. Margie Davis, Mission Group Coordinator, Dominican Sisters of Peace

If you would like to share ideas about racial healing in your own community, click here for a discussion guide.


Posted in News

The Hopes and Fears of All the Years

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

This phrase from “O Little town of Bethlehem” has stayed with me through the Advent-Christmas season, and was “writ large” you might say, in the violence at the Capitol on January 6.   The phrase “are met in thee tonight” in the context of the Christmas carol doesn’t suggest violence, a crashing together of hopes and fears from all sides, but has always had a sort of poignance, a tribute to human suffering and human dreams, and God’s answer to our disparate, desperate, dissonant ways of life, hopes and dreams for peace and happiness.

“How still we see thee lie….”A classic Christmas card: dark blue velvet sky, the twinkling of stars, and a ray of light shining down on the silhouette of a rough structure with a father and mother and baby under its roof.

Perhaps you and I are beyond the “sweet baby Jesus” approach to Christmas. We aren’t so much taken with the birth as such, we’re not visitors at the stable, we are farther along in the story, watching and  listening for  the Christ in history, the meaning of our nearer past and present.

Tragedy is too much with us, and with the vast unfiltered instancy of the internet we know more than our hearts can take, and fear is not so much of the unknown as the partially known. We have  seen unprecedented joblessness and hunger, fires and floods. We have argued over true and and alternative facts and who and what can really be trusted. The pillars of democracy are shaking, our proud view of our nation as defender of freedom in the world has taken a pounding. Assumptions of patriotic unity and Christian values, the guarantee of success as the product of hard work, the potential for good through more sophisticated technology cannot be counted on. The hopes and fears of all the years have taken on considerably more weight  and peril.

The Christmas season is spent, and we’re taking down ornaments and lights, wreaths and creches, and have begun Ordinary Time.  But these times are far from ordinary. This new year has already brought rates of pandemic that are exhausting our resources and our health providers.    A mob assault on the Capitol shakes our national stability, stokes fears of democracy coming apart at the seams.  We don’t see an end to these perils, only more contagion.

In our liturgical year, there is always a return to the beginnings, and the assurance of God’s dynamic presence as we remember and are made present again to the mystery of salvation.

So we begin again. The birth, the epiphany, the flight, the return, the baptism and revelation of God’s naming: Beloved.  This man, this curiously ordinary Beloved comes and bids us follow.,  a step at a time, day at a time, a short parable, a quiet cure, a believer here and a resister there, a fear quenched, a boundary crossed, a sin forgiven, a meal with followers. None of it shouts “Miracle! Spotlight!”   And then comes betrayal and death.  The hopes and fears of all the years swallowed in darkness. But Jesus is the Christ, and more than a promise—a Presence in the breath of the Spirit,  Word made flesh and with us always.

The Mystery of Incarnation  is manifest yet hidden, present and absent, moments of heightened appearance followed by a fading into everydayness.  Emmanuel is the name of divine creativity woven into our flesh; loving accompaniment through it all, despite our fears, failures and inattention, our casual cruelties to each other and the earth our home.

T.S. Eliot wrote of hints and guesses. “The hint half guessed, the gift half-understood, is Incarnation.”* The rocks and stones are singing and the Spirit groaning with us in one great act of giving birth that encompasses Bethlehem and Galilee and Jerusalem and Calvary and the Garden, that crosses every border, speaks every language and holds all the hopes and fears of all the years and our constant plea: O come to us, abide with us, our God, Emmanuel.

*The Dry Salvages

Posted in News, Weekly Word

National Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January 11 – February 8 is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This annual observance is designed to bring attention and action to modern-day slavery in all its forms – sexual and labor-related.

Human trafficking is a crime that involves compelling or coercing a person to provide labor or services, or to engage in commercial sex acts. The coercion can be subtle or overt, physical or psychological, according to the federal definition provided by the US Dept. of Justice.

According to the International Rescue Committee, traffickers prey on individuals who are poor, vulnerable, living in an unsafe or unstable situation, or are in search of a better life. In the United States, victims include some of the most vulnerable populations: American Indian/Alaska Native communities, lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-questioning individuals, individuals with disabilities, undocumented migrants, runaway and homeless youth, temporary guest-workers and low-income individuals.

This graphic from the 2019 Data Report by the Polaris Project illustrates the state of human trafficking in the United States.

The COVID-19 pandemic has offered traffickers the opportunity to create new ways to take advantage of the pandemic to target vulnerable victims. In particular, the pandemic has surfaced systemic and deeply rooted economic inequalities – a root cause of human trafficking.

An icon of St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron of victims of human trafficking.

One of the Congregational Commitments of the Dominican Sisters of Peace is to:

Promote justice through solidarity with those who are marginalized, especially women and children, and work with others to identify and transform oppressive systems.

More than 70% of those who are trafficked around the world are women. Our Sisters work to create new systems that offer those women the opportunity to avoid or escape trafficking, to lobby officials to create ways to end trafficking, and to offer mercy and relief to victims of what the Holy Father calls “a wound in the humanity of those who endure it and those who commit it.”

For a calendar of prayers for National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, click here.


The Economy of Human Trafficking 

U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking

United Nations

Polaris Project

US Department of State

Department of Homeland Security


Posted in News

Following God During a Time of Pandemic

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

For sure, the year 2020 was a year like no other. I need not list here, the suffering and chaos of the year to anyone old enough to read this blog.  But I am reminded of the message of hope expressed during the Christmas season and reiterated at the Epiphany—God’s Light (Christ) has come to dispel the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome the Light.  I have found over the last few months, that I need to hold this message firmly in my spirit. One thing that has helped sustain my hope during this time has been seeing God’s spirit continuing to inspire and call women to consider a life in service to God and the people of God.  Perhaps, it is in times of greater suffering and confusion that God’s call is clearer to us. However, I am certain that God continues to call women to consider religious life even amid a pandemic.

The fact that God is still calling women to religious life and to our congregation is great news!  But for relational ministries like Formation and Vocation, the isolation and protocol for preventing the spread of the virus, presented somewhat of a problem. The 2020 year of pandemic caused disruptions in everyone’s life, redefining how we lived, worked, and related to each other. Making use of virtual technology became the safest way to work and to relate to each other.  For better or worse, virtual technology became the “new normal.”

The vocation team seemed to quickly adapt to this new way of connecting with discerning women by sponsoring virtual Come and See Weekends; virtual dinner or prayer events with Sisters; and virtual Mission for Peace events, like the one happening this weekend.  The vocation team has designed a complete online program that continues the important ministry of helping women discern God’s call. They have been quite successful in their efforts, adapting to the fact that God continues to call people to consecrated life, even during COVID-19.

Sr. Phuong Vu Professing her First Vows with Sr. Dot Trosclair on Dec. 8, 2020

The Formation ministry also had to adapt to pandemic conditions. We had to rethink how we would welcome women who discerned and were accepted as Candidates in the congregation. In addition, there were several women already in the initial formation process as novices and temporary professed Sisters. Most of them were ready to take the next steps in their journey of becoming a Sister.

The ritual ceremonies for each step in the formation process are very meaningful and culminate after several years with final vows.  The rituals and ceremonies usually take place during congregational gatherings and requires traveling for almost everyone involved. As weeks stretched into months during the pandemic, using technology was the only way forward to hold these ceremonies.  The women in formation were open and ready for participating in modified virtual ceremonies, witnessed in person with their local community, with the congregation, and with family and friends joining virtually. Though not ideal, these virtual ceremonies were wonderful events seen by our Sisters and guests in several states.  Holding such ceremonies virtually, these women in formation have demonstrated two necessary characteristics of women in religious life—openness and adaptability.

Candidate Tram Bui’s Virtual Welcome Ceremony with Prioress Sr. Pat Twohill and Formation Coordinator Pat Dual.

I am very happy that the Dominican Sisters of Peace have been able to adapt to the continuing call of women to religious life.  Currently, we have seven women in formation. Two became Candidates during the pandemic this year.  Cathy Buchanan and Tram Bui were welcomed into the congregation with their local convent communities in New Haven, CT, and Columbus, OH, respectively. Canonical Novice, Sr. Annie Killian entered our Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) in Chicago, IL. All aspects of the novitiate have been adapted with online classes, retreats and even ministry in some cases. It has been a very different experience at the novitiate this year, but the novices are grateful they were able to continue their discernment process.  Our second-year novice, Sr. Ellen Coates returned to Columbus, OH from the CDN in August 2020. She can do her ministry from home as part of the Ohio State University Contact tracing team. Sr. Phuong Vu professed her First Vows in a beautiful Mass in New Orleans, LA since it was unsafe to travel to the Motherhouse in Columbus, OH.  While masks, face shields and social distancing were required, Sr. Phuong was grateful to take her first vows. The Prioress and I, along with her family, watched her special moment virtually and with much gratitude.

Posted in God Calling?, News