Associate Blog

Learn about Associate Life and the wonderful work our Associates are doing around the world. Could God be calling you to Associate Life? Contact a member of our Associate Life  team to begin a conversation.


 

United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

Last Friday, the Gospel reading at Mass quoted Jesus saying “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house.” –Luke 11:17

Immediately, the image of a map showing 917 active hate groups across the USA came to my mind. The map by The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was on display last year at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Cleveland, which was then hosting  This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Era.

The SPLC defines a hate group as “an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.“

I remember standing there horrified and shocked that our country—which I had been taught and had believed was founded on the principles of equality, freedom, and justice for all—could be home to hate groups such as those who exterminated millions of Jews less than a century ago. There were things we were not taught, but are also part of our history—the slaughter of the native peoples of the Americas, the Black Holocaust where millions of black people died in the slave ships bound for the Americas; the internment camps for the Japanese.  So it was a painful realization that my country was not really founded on “justice for all.”

But is this the future we want to hand on to our children? –A future where any class of people is singled out for persecution or extermination? We see it in our own past and present, continuing around the world—humans doing inhuman things to other humans. Divided we fall.

Citizens of the Americas have come from every part of the globe. Our strength and richness flows from the diversity of gifts shared among us—not only ethnic foods, but health care and safety professionals, educators, technology and engineering experts, everyday laborers, service providers, and countless others.  Even our United States Armed Forces are made up of citizens  whose origins range from every continent. United we stand.

As we were praying for our country and our world this morning, Cathy Arnold, OP shared with me a song by Jesse Manibusan that lifted my spirit and inspired me with hope—Hold on to Love. Pat Twohill, OP had shared it on Facebook. It should go viral. Some of his lyrics are:

“When pain and confusion seem endless, hold on to love.

We cultivate healing through kindness; hold on to love….

 

When terror and fear overwhelm us, hold on to love.

Courage and faith will sustain us;  hold on to love.

When violence seeks to destroy us, hold on to love.

Acts of compassion restore us; hold on to love…

 

When hatred is used to divide us, hold on to love.

Wisdom and truth reunite us; hold on to love.

When prejudice poses as freedom, hold on to love.

Dignity means all are welcome; hold on to love….”

 

I invite you to listen to this song, and pass it on. Go to: http://youtu.be/v-5I8ZGklN4

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Spread a Little Sunshine

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I have a confession to make: I watch reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show.”

I am disclosing that because I woke up Sunday morning with an earworm (you know, when a song or tune gets stuck in your head and you can’t get it out).

Well, the melody in my head was sung by Andy and Barney, characters on the situation comedy:

“Spread a little sunshine every day.

Spread a little sunshine every day.

Help someone along life’s way.

Spread a little sunshine every day!”

Crazy, right?

I thought so at first. And then I tried to figure out why Andy and Barney kept singing in my head.

I concluded that my earworm was triggered by all of the stories that have been shared over the past couple of months about people who have given of themselves to help others in devastating situations. I consider those people bright spots in darkness – people who spread a little sunshine to help others along life’s way.

People like Victoria White, a university admissions counselor, who lifted the spirits of Hurricane Harvey evacuees at a Texas shelter by singing gospel music about hope and perseverance and who encouraged her fans to serve people impacted by the storm.

People like Sister Margaret Ann, a Carmelite nun and 30-year education veteran, who used a chainsaw to clear branches from a fallen tree that blocked a road in Florida, after Hurricane Irma hit. She said she was following the example of what she teaches her students: “Do what you can to help.”

People like the random, unnamed guy who gave the shirt off his back to be used as a makeshift tourniquet on a teenage girl who was wounded in the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

People like Lin-Manuel Miranda, a playwright and the creator of the hit musical “Hamilton,” who enlisted salsa legends and pop artists to collaborate on a benefit song for hurricane-battered Puerto Rico. Proceeds from the track — “Almost Like Praying” — will go toward the Hispanic Federation’s hurricane relief fund for Puerto Rico.

During a television interview, Miranda said of the song title, “Thoughts and prayers are great, but thoughts and prayers are not enough.”

My translation: Continue to keep those in need in your thoughts and prayers, but don’t stop there.

Do Something!

Give of yourself – your time, talent and/or treasure — to spread a little sunshine everyday by helping someone along life’s way.

In case you want to hear Andy and Barney: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUHU6JWm4bc

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Still Another Way

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

A week ago it seemed all our paths to the first gathering of Ohio Pennsylvania Associate Leaders (OPAL) at Villa Maria, PA, were blocked. Colette Parker, OPA, and I (Co-directors of Associates of Dominican Sisters of Peace) were glad this new regional group of the North American Conference of Associates and Religious, was closer to us—near Youngstown, Ohio, just across the Pennsylvania border—giving us an alternative to the Tri-State regional (Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio) which meets in Cincinnati. Since Colette lives in Warren, OH not far from Villa Maria, and Conni Dubick, OPA, President of NACAR, lives a few blocks north of me in Akron, Conni offered to pick me up, we could drive together, and we’d meet Colette there.. But easier said than done!

We had failed to notice that the Akron Marathon—whose blue line had been painted on several streets marking its path for weeks already—was scheduled to begin that same Saturday at 7 a.m., ending at 1 or 2 p.m. Conni’s street was blocked off, as was every street between her home and mine. Cathy Arnold, OP, hearing of our dilemma joined me in consulting area maps and Google, while Conni talked to patrolmen and neighbors in hopes of finding another way for her to get to my home or I could get to hers. No way.

Conni could only get out of her street by going north, away from the marathon, but also away from me. Just as we were about to give up, Cathy thought of still another way: she and I could avoid the marathon by going the opposite direction to take the highways around the city and meet Conni at an agreed upon site near a highway exit. Bingo! Great idea. We agreed to meet at the parking lot of the International Institute in 15 minutes. I’d switch cars, and we’d be on our way. So we each set out.

Neither Cathy nor I being natives of Akron, we activated her phone GPS whose voice gave clear directions for the shortest way to that parking lot. But the GPS was guiding us right to the streets blocked off for the  marathon, so instead of following it we took the highway route. As we went our way, we noticed that each time Cathy didn’t follow the voiced directions, the GPS immediately showed still another way using our latest position (without announcing “recalculating”). It reminded us how God, having given us free will—is guiding, redirecting us, accepting and cooperating with our choices, ever interacting with us to turn all things to our good.

Thanks to Cathy, Conni and I did meet at the designated parking lot, traveled together, and arrived on time for our OPAL meeting where we met up with Colette.

A Learning and A Reflection

All our roads were blocked except those that went the opposite way of our goal. Considering them led us to a   longer, but effective way. When direct routes to fulfill our hopes and dreams are blocked, a longer and circuitous way may be God’s direction, helping us avoid troublesome roadblocks.

On September 28, Nancy Sylvester IHM wrote in Global Sisters Report: “Since the turn of the last century, there has been an exponential increase in the amount of news we hear or read from every corner of the globe. In turn, there is an increasing sense of disempowerment or impotency in the face of such suffering and pain because we don’t know what we can do….In the face of such knowledge where does our compassion find expression? How can I feel that I am making a difference?…the destruction on the Americas wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and the Mexico earthquakes. So many people hurt, injured or dead. Thousands more displaced, their houses ruined, businesses gone. Cities and countries facing weeks or months without power and the astronomical cost of rebuilding their infrastructure.”

She continued: “women religious are in a unique positon to respond. We have sisters in many if not most of the countries of our world. They are in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, as well as Iraq, South Korea, Venezuela and other countries worldwide. They live in Florida and Texas. They are not strangers. They, and the people with whom they work, are our neighbors.”

Men and women in increasing numbers around the world are answering the call to live the mission and charism of Religious Congregations as Lay Associates.  Might this relationship make possible STILL OTHER WAYS for us to make a difference in our hurting world?  How could we use our highly networked web of relationships to find still another way to make a greater impact together to help heal, to rebuild?  

Posted in Associate Blog, News

THE POWER OF KNEELING

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

It is now officially fall – which can mean a lot of things for different people.

By now, I have usually gotten a first look at several NFL teams, including my beloved Chicago Bears.

But, this year, things are different: I have made a conscious decision not to watch the NFL, until Colin Kaepernick is treated fairly.

The 29-year-old quarterback made national headlines during the 2016 NFL season for kneeling during the national anthem, sparking a movement among athletes across the sports spectrum. That movement was reignited this past weekend, when the U.S. Commander in Chief described the act as disrespecting the flag and called for players who kneel during the anthem to be fired.

Kaepernick’s explanation for his action: to support Black Lives Matter and to protest police violence against people of color. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder,” he said in a published report.

And he vowed to continue his nonviolent protest until he feels like “[the American flag] represents what it’s supposed to represent.”

Well, he’s not sending his message from a football field this season (because no team has signed him). Some argue that it’s because of his stats. Others, including me, believe it’s because of his posture against racial injustice and because we don’t want to be reminded that something is terribly wrong in America (including an anthem that celebrates the murder of slaves in its third verse).

I think Kaepernick’s stats speak for themselves – ESPN reports that last season he threw for 2,241 yards in 12 games and had a quarterback rating of 90.7 (and quarterbacks with much less impressive stats are on NFL rosters this year).

But I don’t want to get caught up in that dialogue. Let’s focus on the kneel.

I have a coffee mug with a message that reads: “When Life Gives You More Than You Can Stand, Kneel.”

Could it be that Kaepernick, a black man in America, had experienced all that he could stand, so he kneeled?

One of Kaepernick’s formers teammates, Eric Reid, said in a published report: “What Colin and Eli (Harold) and I did was peaceful protest fueled by faith in God to help make our country a better place. And I feel like I need to regain control of that narrative and not let people say what we’re doing is un-American. Because it’s not. It’s completely American.”

Could it be that Kaepernick, a Christian, is inspired by his faith to kneel?

Could it be that instead of disrespecting the flag, he is showing a deep respect for the God who granted this nation its freedom?

In his own words, Kaepernick said in a newspaper interview: “I think God guides me through every day and helps me take the right steps and has helped me to get to where I’m at. When I step on the field, I always say a prayer, say I am thankful to be able to wake up that morning and go out there and try to glorify the Lord with what I do on the field.”

Until Kaepernick is allowed to return to the field to glorify God, I will not watch the NFL.

Kaepernick may not be kneeling on the field this days, but others – like the NFL players, coaches and owners across the league on Sunday who sat, kneeled, raised fists, locked arms or stayed inside locker rooms as the anthem was played before games – will continue to make a statement about their commitment to working toward justice for all (including those who some people think do not have a right to peaceful protest).

This isn’t about disrespecting the flag, this is about humbling ourselves, acknowledging America’s racial justice failures, recognizing that we are all created equal, and working to help America live up to its promise of being a nation where freedom, liberty, and justice reign.

And maybe it’s time for one of those owners who took a stand against injustice on Sunday to bring Kaepernick back to the field.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

What Sets Us Free to Be All We Can Be?

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I enjoy watching America’s Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, and the Olympics—winter and summer events whenever they come on and I have the time. I am intrigued and inspired by performers who push their limits to be all they can be: a woman completely deaf but singing in perfect pitch and rhythm; a lone survivor of a fiery plane crash bravely standing before millions in her disfigurement  and sharing her gift of song. And break dancing blows me away—the way they defy gravity—spinning on their heads, bouncing on one hand, summersaulting mid-air from the floor. Just to mention a few… As I watch and marvel, I imagine God within me also delighting in these performers breaking through usual limitations to realize their human potential.

But even more, this past week my heart was warmed and inspired by the “Hand in Hand” Hurricane Relief Telethon in which stars and celebrities of every ilk performed and called on everyone to donate to help rebuild and restore Houston, raising over 44 million dollars in one night. There were endless pictures of persons who themselves were losing everything to the flood waters but reaching out to save others—using whatever specific gifts they had to offer. Again, as I watched these, though saddened to see all the destruction and human suffering, a quiet joy welled up within me to see people freed up to be all they (we) can be.

As more hurricanes, storms, floods, fires, oppression, wars, isms, and every kind of disaster continue to leave a path of destruction and suffering, we humans will always be called on to be all we can be for others. “What sets you and me free to be all we can be? and what holds us back?”

As Dominican Sisters of Peace and Associates, we challenge each other to be and do what we can to bring healing and peace to the world, empowered by Christ and the Good News, calling forth and activating the gifts we hold individually and communally.

A few weeks ago Jolene Geier OP sent me a link to a YouTube that she received from someone else, saying “Take a look at this video. You’ll be glad you did.” So I watched it,, and I was glad I did. I was humbled and inspired by Chris Koch, from Nanton, Alberta, who spends his spring, summer, and fall working on a farm near Torquay, Saskatchewan.

What’s so inspiring about that? For one thing, he looks like a happy, good natured man not unlike many men I know. But as I watched the video I soon realized Chris is no ordinary person. It became obvious that he grew up armed with something that set him free and unleashed his human potential.

Chris’ life can inspire, challenge, and encourage us to be all we can be, no matter what we see as our limitation. Watch it here:  https://www.youtube.com/

Posted in Associate Blog, News