Do You Let the Star Lead You?

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

Have you ever had any conversation with God through the Star that led the Magi to the Baby Jesus? How did that conversation turn out for you?

The Christmas season always brings me back to a special moment of my discernment for religious life. Nineteen years ago, around this time, I was discerning a vocational call to religious life with Dominican Sisters. I lived in Boston with a friend of my family, and after work, I usually walked home from a train station. The city was crowded with people and full of Christmas decorations; but one night in that Advent, I felt so lonely in the middle of this busy city and the night seemed especially very dark. Suddenly, the image of the star leading the Magi to the Baby Jesus came to me. At that moment, I said to God; “I don’t know where I will live. If your Star could lead the Magi to the Baby Jesus, be with me at this moment to guide my steps into the future. You are my Star.” I hold the image of this Star so vividly that I gained courage to move forward with trust and inspiration to join the Dominican Sisters.

The Star is still alive within me and has never faded since then—one year, two years, three years, and even 19 years later. Indeed, it is the Star that has given me courage and enthusiasm to move forward, not only for my discernment year of religious life, but also for my whole life. As an itinerant Dominican, every moment of life is the moment of discernment to live God’s call based on the signs of our time. This Star has taken me to many places without fear and full of joy, hope, love, and peace.

Again, this new year, this Star will take me to another place to meet Jesus. I am leaving Louisville, Kentucky, where I have been living for 14 years, and moving to Wichita, Kansas. I am moving to live closer to my family to help my elderly parents and continue my vocation ministry from that area. Again, I strongly believe that this Star continues to direct me, and I am happy to follow its unfailing guidance.  With this Star and the Dominican charism, I step into this New Year full of enthusiasm, hope, peace, and insight. I hope that I can be God’s star to all those whom I meet. How about you?  Are you willing to let this Star lead you to the place where God is calling you to live without fear? In the year 2019, how much joy, peace, hope, and insight will you have when you let this Star lead you into this New Year?

Have you ever had a trust that the Star of God will lead you into a future full of hope, peace, and insight? Do you want to explore more on how to be itinerant for God’s mission—to be Peace, live Peace, and build Peace? If you do, please contact one of our Vocation Ministers. We also have a “Come and See” discernment retreat weekend March 15-17, 2019 in Akron, Ohio. We, Dominican Sisters of Peace, always welcome you.

Posted in God Calling??, News

Wait

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi

Has anyone said to you? “Wait!”

Ironically, in the business world, holidays are rushed. We see holiday items in the stores two months before the actual holiday. Two weeks before the holiday, the items start to go on sale, and the day after the holiday, they need to be marked down because they are considered outdated.

In my daily life, at times, I catch myself rushing internally. Wait, what does that mean? I would catch myself rushing internally when I wished for a traffic light to change to green, or when I am in the doctors office, I like to be called in on time instead of waiting. Both are out of my control, and I just have to go with the flow.

As a discerner, I think waiting was one of the hardest tasks because my heart was on fire and my heart kept asking: “Are we there yet?” During this “waiting time,” I had the opportunity to explore and take the necessary “steps” of growing through prayer and reflection, processing what I was experiencing, becoming part of the community, and gaining a deeper sense of mission and ministry.

Waiting has its value of having time to evolve and to process.  While “advent” means “coming,” many people think of Advent as a season of waiting – waiting for Jesus’ second coming. We don’t just wait. We await Jesus’ second coming by preparing the way of the Lord.

How do you await in hope?

While you await, we invite you to pray Jan Richardson’s blessings with us for those in need.

Blessing for Waiting
Who wait for the night to end
bless them.

Who wait for the night to begin
bless them.

Who wait in the hospital room who wait in the cell
who wait, in prayer,
bless them.

Who wait for news
who wait for the phone call
who wait for a word
who wait for a job, a house, a child
bless them.

Who wait for one who will come home
who wait for one who will not come home
bless them.

Who wait with fear
who wait with joy
who wait with peace
who wait with rage
who wait for the end
who wait for the beginning
who wait alone
who wait together
bless them.

Who wait without knowing
what they wait for or why
bless them.

Who wait when they should not wait
who wait when they should be in motion
who wait when they need to rise
who wait when they need to set out
bless them.

Who wait for the end
of waiting who wait for the fullness of time
who wait emptied and open and ready
who wait for you,
o bless.

Posted in God Calling??, News

Parties in the Convent?

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

Our “House of Welcome” community likes to have parties.  We look forward to gathering our sisters, friends, co-workers, and families to celebrate life whenever we can.  For example, each year we have a Kentucky Derby party.  This year it was a “Cinco de Derby” party, as the Derby just so happened to coincide with “Cinco de Mayo.” We created and wore festive “Derby” hats, sang “Our Old Kentucky Home,” had a festive meal and cheered for our horses as we watched the Kentucky Derby.  Later in the spring, we had a farewell party for Sr. Bea – where we enjoyed party games on the lawn, ate picnic food and laughed well into the evening.  Some would call us a “Party House.”  One way we build and celebrate community (which is one of the pillars of our Dominican Life) is through our celebrations.

Just last week, we had an “Ethnic Advent party,” where each person brought a dish that represented their ethnic/cultural origins and highlighted old family recipes.  We had tamales, shepherd’s pie, Irish soda bread, Italian cookies and pastries, Mexican hot chocolate with chili, German mac’n cheese and a smorgasbord of other tasty offerings.  It mirrored the diversity of our community, anchored by our common bond of religious life and faith.  It began and ended with prayer and was sprinkled with laughter, song, and stories of life’s joys and challenges.

These parties remind me of the many parties Jesus and the disciples attended over the years of their ministry and lives.  Each of those gatherings mirrored the diversity of community and celebrated their common bonds of faith and hope.  Jesus ministered to and with the people around him in simple everyday kind of ways.  He gathered at tables, beside wells, and in places of worship.  This is what we do in our lives as disciples of Jesus. We do not have a party every day, but each day holds the potential for transformational encounters in the presence of our God who knew how to gather others at table and celebrate life.

When I first heard and began considering God’s call to religious life, I wondered if I would be lonely or if I would have to disappear into the “melting pot” of community.  My life as a Dominican Sister has been anything but lonely or melted into “sameness.”  In fact, I have been encouraged to become my best self as I grow into the unique person God created me to be.  I am amazed at the opportunities and challenges I have received in this life.  Thank you God for giving me the courage to say, “Yes” to your invitation.

In this season of Advent, take time to encounter the other – to be transformed – and to consider what God might be calling you to with your “One wild and precious life.”

Posted in God Calling??, News

As We Await in Joyful Hope…

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

The season of Advent begins a new year for the Church.  During Advent, the world accelerates into the busyness and commercialism that attempts to define Christmas. In contrast, for the next few weeks, Christians are called to wait in hopeful anticipation for the coming of Emmanuel—“God with us.”  During Advent, the themes of hope, peace and rejoicing ring throughout the Scripture readings for this special season.

Each year, the coming of a new season of Advent helps give me a better perspective on the current times, which are usually in need of a renewed sense of hope, peace and joy. Advent offers us the chance to once more focus on the promises of God with the coming of Emmanuel.

Last week, on the First Sunday of Advent, I experienced a wonderful sign of hope and joy as Sr. Elizabeth Jackson, OP, professed perpetual vows in the Dominican Sisters of Peace.  Monsignor Frank P. Lane celebrated the Mass, reminding the Sisters and all who were present that consecrated religious life, in all its forms, is, indeed, a joyful sign of hope for the world. Through their service to God and the people of God, they can help witness to the world the transformation that is possible because of the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Dominican Sisters of Peace rejoice and celebrate this Advent sign of hope in Sister Elizabeth Jackson’s profession of perpetual vows and service to God for her whole life. I invite you to enjoy a few of the pictures from the Mass and the Rite of Profession.

As we prepare to enter this second week of Advent, I also invite you to consider the question: in what do you rejoice and find hope in this season of hopeful anticipation?

Posted in God Calling??

Searching for Answers in Jesus’ Life and Teachings

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

I remember in my senior year of undergraduate college
browsing through the library shelves searching for an author or a title that
resonated with me for writing my Senior Thesis.  As a serious student, majoring in Religion and
Philosophy, with burning questions about God and Jesus, I was determined to
find the
book that would satisfy my thirst for knowledge and give me answers to my
searching questions.

After many agonizing weeks of combing through books in the
religion and philosophy section of the library stacks, I discovered a trilogy
of works combined into one book by John Knox. 
This trilogy was entitled Jesus
Lord and Christ
and included these three titles:  The Man Christ Jesus, Christ the
Lord
and On the Meaning of Christ. What delighted me about this book was that it easy to read and
understand, with language that spoke to my intellectual interests at the
time. 

What I explored ultimately
in my thesis was the question of how the historical Jesus relates to the Christ
of faith based on John Knox’s writings. 
I still have this thesis as the writing of it was significant in my
faith journey.  The question of Who
was this man Jesus?
intrigued me and was at the core of my searching.  This question still offers moments of
reflection, but my ponderings now take me from an intellectual search to a contemplative
quest for understanding the life and teachings of Jesus.

So, who was this man Jesus?  What in his life and teachings is the most powerful message to us?  Of his life, I find that Jesus’ work with the marginalized (the poor, the hungry, the disenfranchised, the sick, the imprisoned) is both an example and challenge for how we are to live individually and communally.  It is in helping the marginalized where we can find Jesus and experience a transformation of heart and mind. Being with the marginalized teaches us not just humility but also about having faith and hope,despite our circumstances.

We are told in Matthew 25:35-36 that Jesus can be found in the marginalized:  “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” And then later, in verse 40 of this same chapter, we hear Jesus’ words “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”  So,when we are looking for Jesus, it is to the marginalized where we will find him.

Of Jesus’ teachings, two Scripture passages communicate to me Jesus’ message for how we are to live our life:

“Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Love never comes to an end.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

“You shall love the Lord your God with all
your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
 The second is this: ‘You shall love
your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
” Mark 12: 30-31

Love is clearly the
central message in Jesus’ teachings. 
Story after story in Scripture, we hear and see how Jesus’ actions
spring from a place of love.  From the
story of the women caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) to the story of the
‘sinful’ woman who bathes Jesus’ feet with her tears
(Luke 7:36-50), Jesus conveys a
message of forgiveness, compassion, and love for the person.  By his example, Jesus teaches us to live a
life free of condemnation and judgement. 
We do not see Jesus burdened with guilt or tormented with
second-guessing his actions because he is grounded in God’s love.  It is this trust and belief in God’s love
that empowers him to minister to so many and to advocate for justice for all
people.  And when  Jesus needed to be refueled with this love or
to understand the path he was called to follow, he went away to a quiet place
to pray.

And so we pray that
in our search for answers to life’s struggles that we turn to Jesus’ life and
teachings for answers and take time to pray and listen to God’s unfolding
message of love to us.

Are you searching
for answers to what to do with your life? Why not consider exploring the
religious life as a Dominican Sister of Peace? 
Come and be the feet and hands of Jesus. 
Our Vocation Ministers are
happy to walk with you as you seek to answer God’s call in your life.

Posted in God Calling??, News