Have You Ever Promoted Religious Life?

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

“Why do you enter religious life? Why don’t you want to get married?”

Many young women have encountered these questions from their loved ones or friends when they mention feeling called to religious life as a Sister. More than 50 years ago, the trend for young women to enter religious life seemed more acceptable and was supported by parents, family, and friends. Parents were willing to be involved in promoting and nourishing their children to live the religious life. Young people felt comfortable then sharing their dreams to be a Sister. Sometimes, they even invited their friends or siblings to consider religious life too.

Many religious sisters have blood sisters, cousins, and friends who joined the same community with them. Even now, our congregation still has some examples like this. One example is our dear Sister Marie Antoinette Klein, OP, who died last week. She was the daughter of Anthony and Mary Hoffman Klein, who had three children, and all of them were girls. Anthony and Mary supported all three girls in their call to religious life and all three became Dominican Sisters.

Both parents were involved in supporting their daughters’ religious communities. As a carpenter, Anthony made many tables for our sisters to use while Mary continued to volunteer as an organist at church. When her parents got older, especially when their mom died and the father had a stroke, Sister Marie’s middle sister was allowed to take care of him. What a wonderful, inspiring story to hear and to share with young women.

These days, the call to live in religious life seems neglected and families and friends are less supportive of a woman’s desire to follow this call. Today, when a woman shares her dream of becoming a sister, her parents and friends often oppose her decision. Knowing this likely opposition, a discerner may wait to share this call with parents and friends until she begins to fill out the application or is accepted. Sometimes, because of the lack of support, these young women are scared to think about their call or do not know where to begin pursuing this call. A young woman may have never thought about becoming a religious sister until someone suggests that they consider religious life.

The good news is that God still calls women to religious life. They are happy to discern, join, and live authentically with this call. In fact, they are walking this journey together with others who, too, are praying about God’s call. They enthusiastically share their talents, gifts, and vision with our mission. To address the needs of our discerners, we created a discernment program where these discerners can come to discern and get support from sisters and their cohort group. Many discerners around the country benefit from this program.

Many young women are waiting to be encouraged to consider life as a religious sister. They may be your friends, daughters, nieces, and granddaughters—who may need a simple nudge or acknowledgment from you. They may be a woman in your parish, a co-worker’s daughter, a youth minister, a church volunteer, a co-worker, a student—the possibilities are everywhere. They need your words of encouragement, support, and affirmation to think about and reflect on this call.

All of us (associates, friends, family, and discerners) can reach out to these young women and ask them “Have you ever thought of being a Sister?” You just might open the door for a young woman to explore what God is calling her to be.

Here are some ways you can promote vocations to religious life:

If you are a woman who wants to discern your call, contact us. We are happy to journey with you. We are going to have a hybrid Come and See event this September 10-12. Click here for information and to register.

Posted in News, Vocations Blog

Meeting God in All That Life is

Pause to reflect on what experiences have shaped your spiritual life?

What practices do you follow to nurture your spirituality?

Recently, I was reading one of my favorite books: Traits of a Healthy Spirituality by Melanie Svoboda, SND. The book describes several attributes that can help us reflect on and deepen our spirituality. In the first chapter, two quotes caught my eyes: “Spirituality is how I cope with life” (Gerard Broccolo), and my personal favorite: “Spirituality is meeting God in all that life is.” (Patricia Livingston)

Broccolo views spirituality from the aspect of the way we cope with life. In what area of your life do you long for clarity? Where is God leading you?

Livingston views spirituality as meeting God in all that life is. We can meet God in the Scriptures through Lectio Divina, through quiet places, in music, in our quest for Truth, in times of need, in our joys, in our struggles, and in our everyday adventures and daily life. There is intention in encountering God and in allowing God to work in us and through us in everyday circumstances. Prayerful discernment also includes meeting God in the everyday moments of our lives. What helps you meet God in all that life is?

Let this be our prayer: “God, when you ask, ‘where are you?’ May my answer always be: ‘with you, my God. With you.” (Melanie Svoboda SND, Traits of a Healthy Spirituality, p8)

If you are a single, Catholic woman, age 18-45, and would like to pray together with religious Sisters and other women who are discerning God’s call to religious life, we invite you to our upcoming “Come and See Retreat.” The theme is: “Show me the way.” For more information and to register, click here.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Haiku as a Spiritual Practice

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

Simple heart prayers
Haikus capture souls essence
Compassion unfolds

Ever struggle with praying?  Looking for a way to expand your journal writing to a simple, structured way of capturing your noticings of God’s presence in your life?  Ever hear the phrases “less is more” or “keep it simple”?

While there are so many ways to pray, I would like to share with you my experience with haiku writing as a form of prayer. Remember learning about haikus in grade school?  Haikus are a traditional form of Japanese poetry, consisting of three lines, following a 5-7-5 syllable structure.  The first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the last line has five syllables.  Or, a modern version is to follow a 3-5-3 or 7-9-7 syllable structure.

I’ve started using haiku writing as a spiritual practice in my prayer journal because I find this writing practice a meaningful way to get to the heart of the matter.  I can focus on what is essential and strip away what is not essential. I like to think of haiku writing as being similar to sculpting, where you keep chiseling away until what emerges is a thing of beauty, a unique masterpiece.

Each masterpiece good
Holding essence and beauty
Formed in God’s image

Prayer is such an important part of any discernment process and writing haikus can help you explore what is important to you, to get in touch with your deepest self. You can write down some keywords that describe how you feel God is calling you, how you feel about God’s call at this moment in your life, and what you need from God, such as:

You are calling me,
I’m not sure how to pursue,
Come and lead me, Lord!

Sometimes listening to music can also help you find words to express what you are feeling and that touch your heart.  Or, the music may spark an image or memory that you want to put into words. As you listen to a song, jot down whatever words, emotions, or images are evoked in you.  Then, look at the words you’ve written down and pray with the words as you put them together into a haiku.

Sometimes this crafting process of counting syllables and finding the right word requires letting go of ideas and letting in new ideas, being open to new possibilities—a spiritual metaphor for the birthing of new life.  Allow yourself to be surprised by what emerges and unfolds for you. You just might experience the hand of God guiding you in your discernment.

God calls even today.
Are you ready to respond?
If so, contact us.

A great way to discern a call to religious life is to:

Attend “Come and See”
Click here for information
It’s Sept 10 to 12

We also invite you to join us virtually for our three-part summer Mission for Peace program, which you can still register for.  Click here to read more about the experience we had in June and to learn about what to look forward to in July and August.

Posted in Vocations Blog

Embracing the Transitions of Life

Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

May the God of Transition be with you, inviting you to the new and the unknown where God waits to spring to life in you.”  Maxine Shonk, OP

Before entering religious life, I rarely thought about the word “transition” or the action of “being in transition.”  Yet, I certainly was aware of going through and adjusting to different changes in my life. I was also aware that these times of change were times of great personal growth.  We have all heard the famous quote by the ancient philosopher, Heraclitus, “The only thing constant in life is change.”  Religious life is such a wonderful example and teacher of that principle.  Our Loving “God of Transition” is always inviting us to the “new and the unknown.”

Indeed, God goes before us on our paths of change. The gift of approaching our transitions with open hearts and minds, is the blessing of allowing God to transform us into our best selves. I am grateful for the openness of several of the women in formation with our congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Peace, who are transitioning to the next stage of their initial formation journey.  I am inspired by their openness to continue the new and changing path of their journey, opening themselves up to new experiences, such as new locations, new local communities, and new ministries.  Each of the women in formation, who are anticipating a transition in the next few weeks and months, have allowed themselves to be open to God and the unknown path of their future.

Candidates Cathy Buchanan and Tram Bui will become Canonical Novices in July and will begin the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) in Chicago, on August 14, 2021. They are looking forward to deepening their knowledge and experience of Dominican life.  Sr. Ann Killian has recently returned from the CDN and did a short preaching for her Welcome Back ceremony at Evening Vespers, which I invite you to read.  Sr. Annie will be part of a new local community that is forming in South Bend, Indiana on July 1, 2021.  She will begin her Apostolic novitiate year in ministry doing a Fellowship at Notre Dame University.  Sr. Margaret Uche will renew her vows of Temporary Profession and recently began a summer unit of CPE.  Sr. Ellen Coates will make her First Profession of Vows in the congregation on August 1, 2021.  Additionally, Sr. Ana Gonzalez will make her Perpetual Profession of Vows on August 8, 2021.  These women in formation, along with Sr. Phuong Vu, who made First Profession of Vows on December 8, 2020, have whole heartily embraced the transition and unknown elements of their future as they continue the path of their journey into religious life.

Transition is a part of all our lives.  Even religious life, itself, is in transition, but moving toward a hopeful future. The good news about transition is that if we allow our hearts and minds to be open, God will enable us to grow through the transformative process of change.  I want to invite you to please keep all our women in formation in your prayers as they continue the many transitions in their journey.  And may “The God of Transition” be with all of us!

Call us if you feel that God may be inviting you to become a Sister!

Peace.

Pat Dual, OP

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Which Way?

Sr. Mai-dung Nguyen, OP

One day, as I was taking a walk around a nearby university campus, I watched a two or three-year-old girl walking with her Mom. There are many walking paths around the campus. As the little girl and her Mom came closer to an intersection on the path they were walking, the girl said to her Mom:

“This way, Mom,” she said as she pointed to the right side of the path.
“No, this way,” Mom said to her, directing her to another path in front of them.
“No, this way,” said the girl as she began to walk in the direction she wanted to go.
“Come on, this way ….” the Mom asserted and kept walking.
“This way,” the girl insisted, sounding a little stubborn, wanting to go her way.
“No, come on this way, we need to go. Come on,” urged Mom, as she slowed down to wait for the girl and tried to influence her little daughter.

At the intersection, the girl stopped walking and looked over the path she wanted to take for a few short seconds. Then, she turned and ran towards her Mom. Both began to walk together and I heard them chatting along the way.

Seeing what just happened, I smiled and thought about that moment as a profound discernment in this young girl’s life.

Does this experience of uncertainty and not knowing which direction to take sound familiar to you?

It is not easy to know the path to follow sometimes, whether it is listening to God’s call to live in religious life, to change a ministry and residency, or to respond to the signs of our time. When we hear the invitation to “Come, and follow me,” we may resist this path and may instead want to keep going “our way.” However, God’s invitation continuously shows up inside us, showing us another direction that we may not want to follow and requires changes that we may resist.  However, the more we resist God’s calling, the more restless we may become.

In the Bible, we learn about the callings of Moses, Jeremiah, and Jonah. None of them accepted God’s call right away without being hesitant or questioning, expressing such concerns as “I am too young” or “I have a problem with speech.” Jonah even ran away. However, no matter how many times each individual resisted God’s call, all of them eventually did what God asked them to do and were faithful to that call until they died. And God blessed and journeyed with them all to the end.

The girl in the story above did not like what her Mom commanded her. No matter how much the girl wanted to go her way, she finally changed her mind. What made her change her mind? I think pausing for a moment allowed her to think about where she was. Seeing the little girl and her Mom talking and walking together reminds me of how God walks and journeys with us.  

Sometimes on our journey, we need to take a break and pause to reflect on what God’s invitation to us is about. Just as the Mom waited for her daughter to join her, God is waiting for us to respond to God’s invitation and journey with us. If we allow ourselves to pause and look at our faith journey, we may have the courage to see and hear the direction that God invites us to follow, just like the girl listened to the path her mom was calling for her to follow.

Have you ever paused to reflect on how God is calling you? If so, you may be interested to know that we have an effective discernment program to help you reflect deeply on your call. Visit us or contact us for more information. We invite you also to a time of discernment at our September Come & See Discernment Retreat. For more details on this hybrid retreat weekend, September 10-12, please contact Sr. June Fitzgerald at June.Fitzgerald@oppeace.org.

Posted in News, Vocations Blog