News

For further information on any of the news items listed here, please contact Alice Black, PhD, OPA, Director of Communications & Mission Advancement, at 614-416-1020.


 

DON’T STOP BELIEVING

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Over the weekend, I watched an old holiday classic – the original black and white version of Miracle on 34th Street.

I watch it every year before Christmas to remind myself that there is something restorative about having faith in the goodness of humanity.

In the 70-year-old film, Kris Kringle shows up amid the hustle and bustle of New York City during the holiday season to remind us that what makes Christmas special is the happiness of people, not commercialism.

He reminds us that belief with a childlike simplicity can be healing and even energizing.

The short storyline: Kringle fills in for an intoxicated Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and becomes so popular that he is hired to appear regularly at the Macy’s store in midtown Manhattan. When Kringle claims that he really is Santa Claus, it leads to a court case to determine his mental stability and authenticity.

Throughout the film, the characters – the mother, the daughter, the neighbor, the judge — struggle to find the balance between faith and reason.

The young daughter of the (single mother) advertising executive strives to reconcile her mother’s determination to raise her without “filling her mind with fantasies” and Kringle’s perseverance in trying to show her that imagination is important.

The neighbor of the mother and daughter (the lawyer who defends Kringle) is all about ideals and finds himself at odds with the mother’s realistic approach.

At one point, the neighbor tells the disapproving mother: “Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to. Don’t you see? It’s not just Kris that’s on trial, it’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles.”

Ah, the intangibles – the things that can’t be touched or seen or bought or sold — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faith, hope, self-control, goodness, etc.

The neighbor goes on to tell the mother “… someday you’re going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile.”

I choose to believe that the intangibles are real, powerful, and worthwhile.

I choose to believe in the Santa that Kringle represents in Miracle on 34th Street – the human ability to suppress selfish and hateful tendencies and replace them with compassion and goodwill.

I choose to keep believing.

Posted in News

Expect a Miracle!

Blog by Sr. Cathy Arnold, OP

When was the last time you witnessed what you considered a miracle – within and/or around you?

Recently, in the Akron Motherhouse, we hosted a prayer service with a focus on increasing awareness of racial injustice and praying for greater racial harmony in our city, nation, and world.  Six members of the Choir of the House of the Lord Congregation led us in praise and worship.  One song that touched me was “I’m Looking for a Miracle.”  I had to stop and ask myself, do I look for miracles each and every day?  Am I looking for a miracle this Christmas?  Am I open to the abundant graces of God’s love flowing in and around me at all times?

I have to confess that sometimes during Advent I get stuck on the fact that in our world today, lions do not lay down with lambs, and swords in the shape of bombs are a far cry from plowshares.  In essence I can forget to look for and accept the grace that surrounds me.  I forget to express gratitude and to look for signs of hope.  I forget to note that God’s kingdom is here, even as I feel the pain of not yet.

So, with a greater sense of hope I left the prayer service, eager to see the miracles all around me – love and care of sisters for each other; beauty in the trees, the snow, the faces of those I meet; goodness and compassion in those who walk with me as friends, family, community; and courage in those who are treated by our societal systems as inferior or outcasts.

My most favorite miracles are the ones when I see someone show compassion to another, when someone stops to truly encounter another – to look, see, touch, and serve.  These miracles make me cry.  My other favorites are the Earth and sky and all of nature.  As snow is falling in Akron these days, I marvel at the beauty and sustenance of life which surrounds us.  God is good!

Today I pray we may each receive all the love, beauty, compassion, and courage God in Christ Jesus wants to give us.  Then, may we share these gifts with those around us.

On this coming third Sunday of Advent, we are reminded to ‘Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.  In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.’  While this may sound impossible, I think giving thanks and looking for miracles might be the way to go.

Click here to contact our Sisters who know a lot about discerning one’s life’s call.

https://oppeace.org/become-a-sister/

Click here to listen to a version of the song, “I’m Looking for a Miracle.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qxC18kKswg

Posted in God Calling??, News

Advent: the message of the Prophet, Past, Present, and Future

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

The prophetic readings of this Advent season are calls to hope. Assuring God’s tender faithfulness, they offer visions of the future, the promise of comfort, peace, and jubilant homecoming when all God’s work of creation and salvation is accomplished.  At other times  they bring warnings  of the not-so-wonderful kind:  of the rise and fall of kingdoms, wars, plagues and  catastrophes of nature, if we do not repent with fervent hearts.  We tend to identify prophets as predictors of events to come. The prophet is one who stands before the vastness of the future and tells a stiff-necked people that we are in peril if we do not change our ways, and to a people brought low promises a God of patience and tender care ever ready to forgive.

We know enough tragedy in the space of the past century. We have witnessed the immensity of evil world-wide, and our own unspeakable cruelty to one another, enough to tremble at God’s judgment. But we’ve also watched the destructiveness of tornados and hurricanes, fires,  earthquakes, volcanoes, and we know the science of their inevitability. These are not the visitation of God’s wrath upon us–although we know we are implicated in pollution, global warming and extinctions, and we have sinned against God’s earth and Gods beloved creatures.

So today prophecy takes another form, in the present tense:  naming here and now the evils both blatant and hidden. Prophets see more sharply than others—they view the human condition as seen through God’s eyes, and name not just particular wrongs but systemic evil. Here prophecy  is bold speech at the risk of alienating one’s own community. To speak truth: not “It is what it is” as much as ”It is not what we think it is”—“it is not God’s IS.” Not “That’s the way things are” and we can’t do anything about it, but “Look again. Open your eyes. There are illusions and delusions all around. Deliberate blindness obscures human sin,  massive collective evils described casually as just  the way things are.”  No. This boat needs to be rocked. This silence needs to be broken.

To keep things “nice”, to smooth over problems, to adhere to the propriety of “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”:  No, not the prophetic call of the present.

We Dominicans are pledged to truth.  We are part of an order dedicated to the Holy (not safe) Preaching. We strive to seek clarity, to listen carefully  to many points of  view, and with study and prayer, aware of our fallibility, name what we see. We remember that we are voices of God’s righteousness and saving grace, and especially voices for the voiceless. So we speak  as our energies and gifts make possible, keeping  the Gospel out there, before everyone’s eyes.

Finally, prophets are also Carriers of the Memory—the past tense is critically important. We REMEMBER, and carry the promises God made to our ancestors in faith. We witness to God’s passionate involvement in every age. This is not the romance of “the good old days.” We carry the living memory of the Incarnation of God among us, the Cross and the Resurrection; the staggering, outrageous claim of our participation in Christ’s triumph over sin and death. As a Eucharistic family we “make memorial.” Proclaiming the death of the Lord, we remember our future. And Memory and Promise bring us in this present moment our prophetic truth for today. As Pope Honorius described the Dominican charism, we are “champions of the faith, and true lights for the world.”

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Compassionately Demanding Reforms

Blog by Associate Frank Martens, OPA

I have a friend who thinks it is funny to say, “She wants me” or “She wants you” whenever an attractive woman looks our way. I can’t get a haircut without hearing the latest sexist, racist or otherwise crude joke or remark. My secretary once accused me of disrespecting her as a woman.

I also confess that I have a habit of touching women, perhaps more than men, on the shoulder to get their attention or as an act of affection. During my career as a hearing officer for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission I heard many cases of sexual harassment or, as we called them, “he said, she said” cases. That is why corroborating evidence was so important.

In spite of this I was shocked to see a trickle of sexual harassment accusations turn into a flood sweeping over well-known politicians, athletes, preachers, high-level executives, actors, broadcasters and others. It is an epidemic that does not spare Republicans, Democrats, liberals or conservatives.

Some of the accused have accepted the blame, apologized to their victims, resigned from lucrative positions, and retreated from public life. Others have steadfastly maintained their innocence attacking their accusers and relying on the criminal burden of proof, “innocent until proven guilty.”

So what are we as Christians to do?  We can pray for the victims, and in the future, we can demand reforms that provide avenues for women in the workplace to complain without fear of retaliation, and work to change our culture of sexism. We can condemn the actions of the victimizers or alleged perpetrators. I believe that as Christians we also have to pray for those who victimize and support their rehabilitation as we support prisoners, addicts and others in recovery. Jesus calls us to be compassionate and forgiving.

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

PEACE BY PIECE

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

I enjoy putting puzzles together. When I walk through the loggia at the DSOP Motherhouse in Akron, Ohio, there is always a puzzle in process. Anyone can stop by and put a few pieces in, or work/play at it as their free time allows. When I’m not in a hurry, I usually try to get at least one piece in before moving on. There is a sense of satisfaction when—out of a thousand pieces, you find something that fits together. I often think God must also enjoy puzzles.

Judy Cannato’s Radical Amazement, published in 2006, still inspires me. She describes the Big Bang burst of light and life, reflecting on how everything in the universe—including Earth and all her inhabitants—is connected and evolving in amazing complexity. I imagine God enjoying and delighting in interacting with natural laws and our free choices to make all things work together for something good that we cannot imagine.

In an October 1, 2017 letter to all Dominican men and women throughout the world, the Master of the Dominican Family, Bruno Cadore, OP, wrote:

One of the recurrent themes from our Jubilee was the importance of us renewing our preaching to be

advocates of peace (like Dominic) in a world torn apart by many forms of violence and war. There is

hardly a country anywhere that is spared from this harsh reality that breeds fear, insecurity, and the

assertion of narrow ethnic and religious identities, that result in enormous suffering, death and

displacement of entire communities.

While many Dominicans are already involved in forms of preaching that are bringing hope to such

situations, we would now like to promote a global Dominican solidarity for all such efforts. We

therefore propose to identify a period each year when Dominicans everywhere will pray for peace, and

will offer solidarity for a particular project for peace.

The period we propose is Advent, when we are all waiting for the incarnation of the Prince of Peace.

Our focus on Peace will then start on the First Sunday of Advent and culminate on the Church’s World

Day of Peace on I January. Each December will therefore be our Dominican Month for Peace.

Our focus of solidarity this year (2017) will be on Colombia.

In Fr. Cadore’s letter he suggests several ways we can live into this Month for Peace with a focus on Colombia.

[Click here for the complete letter.]

Whether you are a member of the Dominican Family, Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates, you are invited to join with us in solidarity by choosing your way to participate: in prayer, preaching, art, contribution, or other. While our prayers for peace are poured out to God in a special way through our Advent/Christmas songs, it takes all of us together to build peace in our world. Like a 1000 piece puzzle, every piece adds to the whole. Will you add your piece for peace?

This morning’s Beacon Journal ran a front page story about Ana Ramirez, who noticed a neighbor, Raymond Tanner, who was living alone, seeming to have no family or friends. A Vietnam vet suffering from PTSD, he had left his family behind and moved to Florida.

Ana knocked on his door and asked for a cigarette. He threw her a pack and said, “Don’t come back.” But she decided to cook a meal and leave a plate of food on his porch. After a while, he began leaving soup and some vegetables on her porch, and gradually a simple act of kindness flowered into a 20-year friendship bringing healing and peace to Raymond and eventually to his family members, as well as to Ana who had been suffering from substance abuse. Her piece for peace was a cigarette…a plate of food. Not much, but it spread peace and helped piece one family back together.

Posted in Associate Blog, News