A Holy Week Reflection

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George

As I reflect on what Jesus went through on Palm Sunday through Good Friday, I have a number of questions. What must it have been like for Jesus to go from being met with adoration on Palm Sunday to dying on the cross by Good Friday? How could he utter the words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” after he was nailed to the cross and in agony?

I wonder if Jesus recognized that the cross he was carrying on Good Friday was ultimately a gift he was giving to the world.  How often do we see that the cross we carry can also be a gift?  Life is full of paradoxes and parables.  By carrying his cross, Jesus shows us that suffering can be transformative and does not have a forever hold on us.  Jesus put his trust in God and his death teaches us to TRUST that God will be with us in our darkest hour. His resurrection teaches us to have FAITH that our lives have meaning and a purpose.

Jesus’ death and resurrection also encourages us to trust that there is always HOPE and newness after difficult times. Think about your life. What moments have you experienced where you rose from the ashes of desolation? How have your experiences moved you to a deeper sense of compassion for others?

May our questions lead us to seek a deeper understanding of Jesus’ life and bring us to a closer relationship with our loving God.

What cross do you bear?  What gift is embedded in the cross you carry?  Are you willing to take up your cross and share your gifts with others by serving God as a religious sister?  Are you ready to answer God’s call?  If so, contact one of our Vocation Ministers to begin the journey of becoming a Sister.

Posted in God Calling??, News

What do you gain from Lent?

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

“Sister, what do you give up for Lent?” This is a common question that Catholic students asked me during Lent.

“Tell me what you gain/receive during Lent?” I responded with a gentle smile

“What do you mean ‘gaining during Lent?’ We are expected to fast or give alms and I have never heard about gaining something during Lent.”

You can tell, most of the time, they were surprised and became curious when hearing “gaining something during Lent”. It made them stop and really ponder what Lent means to them.

This Lent, since I became more involved in vocation ministry, I have had more chances to be with many people through vocation events. I journeyed with and pondered the question “what do I gain from Lent” with me, which kept my eyes, mind and heart open.

Saturday before Ash Wednesday, Sr. Terry Wasinger and I staffed at vocation table at the Louisville Catholic Youth Conference. The attendees were middle and high school students in the Louisville Archdiocese, Kentucky. Sunday, four Dominican sisters (Sr. Luisa Derouen, Sr. Elaine DesRosiers, Sr. Tuyet Tran, and Sr. Terry Wasinger) and I shared our ministry and life at St. John Vianney parish in Louisville for the National Catholic Sister Awareness week. About 70 students and leaders of the Eucharistic Youth group from 12 up to 40 years old participated to this event. When they listened to the presentations, they enthusiastically pondered about the topics and stories sisters shared, which gave me a great hope for the future of the church.

On the first weekend of Lent, associate Rosie Blackburn and I again staffed a vocation table at the Greater Cincinnati Women’s Conference in Ohio. More than one hundred women visited our table. The second weekend of Lent, I participated in a Come and See weekend retreat in Akron, Ohio with discerners and sisters. This retreat was for vocation discernment with the living witness from sisters of how to live out our Dominican mottos “TO PRAISE, TO BLESS, and TO PREACH” in their life and ministry. The burning call to search for a deeper relationship with God and for clarification of God’s call in life and the compassionate call to do God’s will was obvious.

Last weekend, Sr. Kathy Goetz and I were with students at the Benedictine College Vocation Fair. More than 30 religious orders were present. We met students during their school activities including dining, praying, and doing service projects. When being asked whether they were inclined to be sisters or not, most of the students I asked said: “Yes, I am” or “I am open to God either way.”  What a beautiful response! How often do you really say such words to yourself and to God?

My Lent has been an itinerant journey, I have been enriched by the faith sharing of many people at these events.  Now, I am back in my local community. Every time I go to my community chapel, I see the purple cloth covering the altar which reminds my local community to pray for vocation, especially for those whom we have met and those involved in the vocation ministry. This cloth comes from our “Come and See” retreat. During that retreat, sisters and discerners painted their hands on this cloth, symbolizing their commitment to be God’s hands to the world.  The cloth also has names of those who are suffering or have died from the effects of climate change. Now, if you asked me what I gained during Lent, I won’t hesitate to say “I became more deeply appreciative on the beauty of vocational calls and the community of faith. I have received so much support from my local community and at-large community every time I go out for a vocation mission.”

How about you? Have you received or gained anything from Lent? Do you feel you are being to have a deeper level relationship with God and serve God?  If so, I invite you to participate into our on-line discernment group or attend our Mission Immersion week (June 1-5 in Columbus, Ohio). Contact us for more information.

The Altar is covered with the purple cloth from the Come and See weekend retreat, reminding us to pray for vocations and those involved in the ministry.
Posted in God Calling??, News

What does the future look like?

Blog by Sr. Bea Tiboldi

I just read an article recently, entitled: “Would life on this planet be any different without religious life?” by Sr. Annemarie Sanders, IHM. It caught my attention. I have thought about the future, I have been continuously praying while seeking God’s plan, and I feel called to living out God’s love as a Dominican Sister of Peace. However, having read articles about ‘Nuns and Nones’ and becoming aware of the ‘somes’ and ‘dones’, the question hit home for many reasons. Let me quote it again: “Would life on this planet be any different without religious life?”

In the past, the planet very much needed vowed religious. Just think about who would have opened the hospitals or schools? Where would the world be without those courageous responses to the needs of the past? Looking at our present days, Sr. Teresa Maya, CCVI stated in her Presidential Address to the LCWR: “We are no longer the ones that will open a new hospital, college or social services agency. We have empowered the next generation of lay ministry leaders to do this. However, we are not exempt from apostolic responses, that are closer to home, simpler, one on one, welcoming rather than solving, listening, and wiser! (…) We are giving shape to the future apostolic identity of our communities. Our recent ‘apostolic response’ to the migrant and refugee crisis should kindle our hope.”

“Would life on this planet be any different without religious life?” I believe, yes. Life would be very different. Why? As Sr. Annemarie writes in her article, “religious life is one that taps into the inward uneasiness of the world and explores its possibilities, …it fosters greater exploration of the work of the Divine in the lives of all people, … [it] helps the world listen more carefully to the faint whispers of God’s desires for it.”

I believe that the point is made. God needs us and society needs our way of life. Religious life is a conscious choice to respond to God’s apostolic call. We are driven by mission. Our life is rooted in God and nurtured by God in community, and we tap into the uneasiness of this world and respond with God’s love. That is why I’m choosing to respond to God’s call by signing over my life to God, in thanksgiving to God, as a Dominican Sister of Peace.

I have been asked several times: “Does religious life have a future?” I wonder, what is future anyway? I used to say that I came from the future, because Hungary is 6 hours ahead than Eastern Time in the USA where I live currently. In a sense, the future is here already while we also anticipate it. We stand on the shoulders of the past, and we allow God’s Spirit and our charism to guide us today and in the future.

Br. Casey Cole, OFM shared his insights on YouTube: “What exactly does it [the future of religious life] look like? I don’t know. But that’s kind of the point, right? Rather than having a concrete image; very rigid lines of what we are and aren’t; it’s a mindset of remaining open to the ways that the Gospel could reveal itself in this world in new generations. (…) From this place of our charism that we find our ministry, that we are adaptable what the world needs. We don’t get stuck into what we did before, but we look to the future: what the world needs and how God is giving the ability to provide for it.”

When talking about the future, Sr. Teresa Maya, CCVI stated in her Presidential Address to the LCWR, “Comunión ‘En Salida:’” “we will become lighter and itinerant (…) However, we will be enough; we are enough; we will be what God needs today. We will bring with us our call to community and our conviction that Christ suffering in God’s people requires our response. We will serve in small, meaningful ways, hosting the human family one person at a time.”

Our congregational motto is: “Be peace. Build peace. Preach peace.” I wish to be part of that future with a joyful hope for a more peaceful and compassionate world where God’s love prevails. Is God calling you to this life, too? If you think God is calling you for this future, contact us at vocations@oppeace.org.

 

Posted in God Calling??

Walking On The Water Is A Lot Like Discerning A Vocation To Religious Life…

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

Preface:  Dominican Sisters of Peace are members of the Order of Preachers.  We are called to preach the Word of God with our lives, our actions and our words.  When called forth to preach, we pray with the scripture, read commentaries on it, and look for its relevancy to people’s lives and our world. Then, we step forth in faith and share the fruits of our contemplation.  Often, this takes place in the context of the Liturgy of the Hours, a retreat day or from the pulpit when appropriate.  Recently, I spent some time reflecting on the account of Jesus Walking on the Water.  I would like to share that reflection with you today. 

A reflection on John 6:16 – 21

Jesus seems to make a habit of scaring his disciples.

To be honest, if I was in the boat crossing the sea to Capernaum, I would die of fright at the sight of Jesus taking a stroll on the open sea.  At least, I’d be in good company with the disciples, as we read in this passage, “they began to be afraid.” Jesus reassured them by saying, “It is I.  Do not be afraid.”  His saying this to me would have sealed my fate and I definitely would have fainted.  However, his disciples, being people of much greater faith than I and having walked with him and seen or heard about him doing miraculous things like this before, believed him because of their experience.

One of my favorite Dominican Saints, Catherine of Siena, trusted Jesus with all of her heart, mind and spirit.  Jesus was her constant companion as she spent time in her tiny room under the stairs of her family home.  In the Dialogue, she shares the intimate conversations she has with God as she grows in her own faith and in her relationship with him.

This deep faith and trust she had in Jesus helped her to find the courage to step out from her inner room to serve her family and the people of Siena.  Her confidence in God’s will also aided her as she spoke out to the political and ecclesiastical leaders of her time.  She was not afraid because she knew she was being called and led by her beloved.  Her prophetic leadership helped to bring about unity in her country and church.

Whose prophetic voice is being drawn forth today?  Are we, am I, and are you willing to speak truth to power?  We live in a time of great upheaval, destruction of our planet, turmoil in the lives of our people, and the passing of entire species.  At the same time, we believe that God is guiding us, giving us the courage and the words to speak – to shout from the rooftops.

What is the message God is calling us to preach today?  Will you?  Will I?

Is God calling you to preach that message with your life as a Dominican Sister of Peace?  If so, contact us to begin the conversation.  As Jesus encouraged his disciples, “Do not be afraid.”

 

 

 

Posted in God Calling??, News

What does a Come and See weekend retreat mean to you?

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

Have you seen a flyer or advertisement for a “Come and See” weekend retreat posted on a campus, church bulletin, Facebook Page, or other social media platform, what is your first reaction?  Do you know what “Come and See” means and what it’s like if you attend one?

Our Dominican Sisters of Peace community offers “Come and See” retreat weekends two times per year, usually in the Spring and in September in various locations. Each retreat has a slightly different theme related to discernment or some aspect of living religious life. Last weekend, the sisters and staff at our Motherhouse in Akron, OH, joyfully welcomed six retreatants for the “Come and See” weekend retreat.  The theme was, “To Praise, To Bless, and To Preach” which is one of our Dominican mottos. During the retreat, each retreatant was accompanied by a sister for deep spiritual sharing which she might not have felt comfortable to share in a large setting.

Sr. Amy McFrederick helped us to understand that “To Praise” is to be aware and to be engaged with God’s presence within us and around us. “Praise” goes beyond traditional prayer and can be expressed in music, poetry, and physical prayer postures like “The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic.”

Sr. Barbara Catalano and Sr. Barbara Kane spoke about the motto, “To Bless” and shared with us their ministries (human trafficking, peace and social justice issues, etc.) and how they are blessed by their ministries and how they seek to bless others to whom they minister. “To bless” includes how we are blessed and how we become a blessing to each other and to all God’s creation.

Finally, when focusing on the motto “To Preach,” Sr. Mary Ann Wiesemann-Mills led us beyond the image of preaching at a pulpit to how we are to become daily witnesses of the Living Word by being fully who we are. She said we should be an event of the self-communication of God and allow God to communicate to and through us freely.

Besides these talks, reflections, and sharing, retreatants had time to observe and interact with sisters and staff during the breaks, meals, prayers, and social times. Besides praying the Liturgy of the Hours with our sisters, we participated in a Taize Prayer and a version of the Stations of the Cross that focused on “All of Creation”.

Addition to that, Sr. Diana Culbertson took us on a tour to learn about the history of the Dominican Sisters in Akron and Sr. Maura Bartel guided us through Our Lady of the Elms High School, which is one of our Founded Ministries. Our retreat also included activities such as making care packages for the homeless. We were all invited to a pizza party at one of the local convents with Sr. Amy McFrederick and Sr. Barbara Catalano on Saturday evening.

At our closing session on Sunday, each retreatant was blessed by her sister-companion and received a candle as a symbol of the light of Christ we are to carry out to the world. The retreatants also had the opportunity to express how they were blessed by the retreat. One woman shared that she has attended three “Come and See” retreats and has received different blessings each time. Another stated in her evaluation that “…you all showed me much caring, love and joy while I was visiting in Akron. God is very evident in your lives and in your ministries. I left with much to pray about and much to discern.”  A third retreatant said that even in the kitchen staff she could see the joy and peace in the way they served and interacted with each person. Several women shared that they came for clarity and that they were leaving the retreat affirmed and ‘things clarified.’

At the closing session, retreatants received candles and were blessed by sisters

I, myself, was deeply touched by the Living Word shared in each sister’s presentation and the retreatants. One of the presenters shared that during this weekend, she felt reaffirmed and blessed by her decision to become a Dominican Sister of Peace. How wonderful to hear such feelings and feedback?

Thank you to all (sisters, staff and retreatants) who helped to make this “Come and See” retreat such a success.

Please consider joining us for our next “Come and See” retreat so you can experience a taste of how sisters live out their lives in community, prayer, ministry and study. Each time you attend, you will receive greater clarification of how God is calling you.

We have other opportunities for you to discern with us, such as our monthly on-line discernment group, our mission immersion week (June 1-5 in Columbus OH), and one-on-one conversations with our Vocation Ministers.  To begin the journey, contact us here.

To view more photos from this weekend’s Come & See retreat, click here.

Posted in God Calling??, News