Protesting On Our Knees

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Many in American society have expressed opinions verbally or in writing about NFL players “taking a knee” during the National Anthem.  Depending on who you talk with, this posture of protest is either seen as a posture of protest against inequality in this country, or it is seen as showing disrespect for the American flag.   The protest stance of “taking a knee with a hand over the heart” during the National Anthem has been explained again and again by those participating as a respectful way of protesting injustice in the treatment of African Americans in our nation which proclaims the promise of “liberty and justice for all.”  It non-violently and respectfully calls attention to the fact that the goal of equality is not yet realized in American society and that we must continue to work together toward achieving that goal.

There are also many Americans who feel that not standing for the National Anthem disrespects the flag, our country and those who have given their lives to defend it. Some who take this position say they agree with people’s right to protest, but not this particular way of protesting.   Then there are those that ignore or are simply not aware of the real purpose for “taking a knee.” They only see it as gesture of disrespect and showing “ungratefulness” to a country that has “allowed” these players to have so much success.

I wonder about this view of showing “disrespect” by kneeling on one knee during the National Anthem in protest.  Is it also disrespectful to fly a Confederate flag which symbolizes division and an historic act of treason?  Is it disrespectful when an African American person has a higher chance of losing their life in encounters with police?  It is disrespectful when a person has a higher chance of being treated unjustly and being affected by generational poverty because of ethnicity or the color of their skin?  What seems more “disrespectful” to me is the racialized injustice that continues to be tolerated today. It also seems that there is still the need for protests.

The protest movements of the Civil Rights era are now viewed by the majority of Americans as essential to the pursuit of racial equality in the United States.  However, this positive perspective of the Civil Rights protest movement has not always been the case. To quote an informative article on this topic from the Washington Post, “America has a long history of resisting civil rights protesters” before acknowledging that these protests are effective in advancing the cause of racial equality.  You can find the full article here and it would be worth taking the time to read.

Non-violent protesting is a time-tested method to affect change and, at its core, is honoring and respecting every human being.

“Do you feel called to help bring positive change to the world as a religious sister? Why not contact one of our Vocation Ministers.”

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Community and Belonging

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

What does it mean to be part of a community?  Why is community important?  How do we foster community?  These questions have been swirling around in my mind lately.

Being part of a community helps me to feel connected to others and satisfies the need to belong to a group that cares about and supports each other.  We can be affiliated with many groups—family, friends, neighborhoods, work, church, clubs, and other groups.  In my own life, there are groups or communities where I feel valued and respected and happy to be with the group.  Then, there are other groups where I have felt alone or disconnected from others. Perhaps you have had similar experiences.

Think about some of the communities that you are associated with.  What do you enjoy about belonging to a community?  What characteristics make you want to continue to be part of the community?  Or, what characteristics do you feel hinder community?

As a Dominican Associate, I belong to a faith-sharing group that meets monthly to pray, to discuss a range of topics, depending on the facilitator’s interests, and that checks in with each other to offer support and compassion with whatever issues may be of concern.  Our group is called Companions on the Journey and we’ve been together for about five years.  Our community of men and women has shared moments of joy and sorrow as we’ve companioned each other through good and difficult times. We’ve wrestled, at times too, with how to sustain community amongst ourselves, periodically evaluating where we are as a group, sharing and listening to each other’s viewpoints, which I think keeps us together.  I hope you have had positive experiences with a community where you feel welcomed and accepted and where you feel you can share and are listened to.

Community is important to our self-worth and the self-worth of others and to our sense of belonging.  There are many simple ways we can build community—a friendly hello, a smile, or asking questions about how another person is doing and really listening to them.  Other ways we can foster or deepen community are by celebrating achievements, joys, or sorrows of others.  We can convey caring and compassion in our communities also simply by being present to another, offering a welcoming space for sharing life’s concerns.

A quote that I like about community is from Dorothy Day, a social activist who co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement to address social justice issues, in which she states “We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community.”  Let us go forth in love and peace to build healthy communities where everyone feels they belong.

If you feel God is calling you to our community as a vowed religious, please contact one of our Vocation Ministers to begin the conversation.

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I have no words O God . . . Praying when words are not enough.

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been having a hard time finding the words to pray.

This has happened before.  It’s usually when the issues and circumstances before me are too overwhelming and confusing.

What to pray for when it seems as if all is lost – like in the case of the recent hurricanes or the indiscriminant shooting of innocent people attending a concert.

Why O God?

I turned to the Psalms and found many that expressed my concern, anguish, anger and faith in the love of God.

Here’s one:
Psalm 77

I cry aloud to You, O God,
to the Eternal Listener,
I might be heard.
In the day of trouble I seek the Beloved;
in the night my hand is stretched out in prayer;
my soul yearns to be comforted.* 

The phrase “my hand is stretched out in prayer;” reminds me of a prayer I wrote as a novice and hold in my heart at times like this . . .“with fingers of faith, I hold onto God’s hand in the dark.”  It comforts me know that I can hold God’s hand and be steadied…to be comforted.

Yes, I know God’s hands are only tangible in the person of a friend, a sister, a stranger – like the woman who held the dying man’s hand in Las Vegas or the rescuer who held the hand of the girl until they were able to free her from the rubble of the school in Mexico.

Those are God’s hands.

Those are our hands.

Reach out.

Be the hands, heart and voice of our God who is ever beside us.

With fingers of faith, hold onto God’s hand in the dark.


*from Psalms for Praying by Nan Merrill, (2005, Continuum, New York, NY)

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An Open Letter to the President

Blog by Sr. Cathy Arnold, OP

Catherine Arnold, OP
Dominican Sisters of Peace: Sisters and Associates in Mission
1314 W Market St
Akron, OH  44313

September 20, 2017

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Trump,

Would you like to be known as the US President who accomplishes for our country and for the world what has never been accomplished?  As the President who helps facilitate peace with  the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) after more than a half century of hostility?

If so, do what you can to peacefully resolve the current situation with North Korea without the use of violence.  The current Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary on the Vietnam War gives us all the evidence we need to do all we can to prevent further loss of life and destruction of Earth in every part of the world.  No Republican, no Democrat, or Independent, no one from South Korea, Japan, Guam, North Korea, China, or the United States wants to see their sons or daughters, wives or husbands, brothers or sisters killed in a battle with North Korea.  Think of the gift you would give the world.

1)   Please consider inviting to Washington all the best thinkers on active nonviolent social change, along with our military leaders, plus experts and persons from North Korea and Asian cultures, and ask them to create a variety of strategies that lead to peaceful resolutions in which no one loses face.  Often non-violent social change is accomplished by the oppressed standing firmly against the oppressor.  In this case, the leaders and people of North Korea might think of themselves as the oppressed.  Whether they or we are the oppressed, we would all benefit greatly from a nonviolent resolution.  Nonviolence has been shown to bring about the longest lasting resolutions to conflict and in establishing working democracies.  Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan.

2)   Consider inviting every university or college that has majors in the study of peace and nonviolent social change to engage this dilemma in their classes and in think tanks. Have them submit their ideas to the task force.  Have a contest!

3)   In addition, what contributions could the business world bring to this discussion?  Not the business world of creating more weapons, likely leading to more violence, but the business world of creating opportunities for meaningful employment and an improved quality of life for people in North Korea and around the world.

As a country, we developed nuclear weapons and put a man on the moon. If our best minds can accomplish such tasks, let us put our best minds together to resolve peacefully a win-win for the US, North Korea, the Earth, and all peoples of the world.  Let us create viable and long lasting strategies without using weapons of any kind, especially nuclear weapons.  I encourage you to see what creative possible ideas will arise, and put them into action.

With successful use of non-violent strategies, you could be remembered in history as an innovative President in whom people could be grateful and proud.


Sister Catherine Arnold, OP

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God Calling?? Blog

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

“All will be well. And all manner of things shall be exceedingly well.”

                                                                                                                   ( Julian of Norwich, Mystic)

There is a popular daily devotional book that I often use in my morning prayer that contains wonderful reflections around the theme of the Scripture readings for the day. This week I was struck by a reflection from 14th century Mystic, Julian of Norwich. The overall focus of this excerpt, which was written in 1393, dealt with the certainty that despite the “trials, tribulations or stress, you (we) will not be overcome.  All will be well.  All manner of things shall be exceedingly well.”  I found that this message of the Spirit to a 14th century mystic truly resonated with me as I reflected on the devastating and challenging events taking place in our world in September 2017.

“All will be well”—and not just “well,” we are told, but “exceedingly well.”  I sat in silence for a while and let the words wash over me. Then I recalled other words—words from Scripture that encourage us to trust, even in times of turmoil. “In this world there will be trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  I am not ashamed to say that faith has been my saving grace in dealing with the realities of 2017.  In the face of current national realities, remembering messages of faith and the good news of the Gospel has been essential to maintaining an open and hopeful perspective of the future.

What is the landscape of the future that I see unfolding? Globally, the landscape includes natural disasters, terrorism and exploitation of the poor. Nationally, we are standing on the threshold of nuclear war and the U.S. is witnessing wide scale resurgence of deep divisions involving poverty, immigration, racism and nationalism all being propelled by power, money and fear. The “wild card” in this mix is a U.S. President who is “at war with the truth” and seeks to shape the nation, and indeed the world, in his own “fearful and nationalistic” image. Consequently, the landscape of the global and national future that I see unfolding is a landscape I must travel as one “walking by faith and not by sight.”  Such reminders like the one revealed to Julian of Norwich serve as seeds of encouragement and as divine Light for the path.

What keeps you centered in times of stress or confusion?  How do you navigate your way through turmoil and anxiety to clarity and peace?  The answers to these questions are probably different for each of us.  My answer generally comes down to trying to find God in the midst of what my grandmother used to call, “going through.” My word would simply be “faith” and perhaps the answer would be the same for you.  It is faith that helps me to find comfort in the words, “All will be well” when the landscape of the future might seem to reflect chaos and division.  If we peer closer into the turmoil, we will also see signs of divine Light—people helping people in the hour of their deepest need.  Because of our hope in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can be assured that eventually, all will, indeed, be well.

Perhaps you feel called to be a source of light and inspiration, giving hope to others as a religious sister.  We would love to hear from you. Click here to contact one of our Vocation Ministers.

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