Associate Blog

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Why I Became an Associate of the Dominican Sisters of Peace

Blog by Associate Frank Bevvino

As a new Associate of the Dominican Sisters of Peace I am proud to be a part of the Dominican family.  What drew me to become an Associate was a desire to become part of a community dedicated to prayer, study and building church and community. Simply stated, I wanted to proclaim the Gospel in many different formats.

As a deacon I have the privilege of preaching regularly at the Sacred Liturgy. However, St. Dominic saw the message of the gospel needed to be proclaimed not just to churchgoers but to all people: Christian and non-Christian.

At a time when social justice issues and the need to ensure all people are treated as God’s children, I felt a need to become part of a community that transcends the boundaries of the parish.

For many years, I have been interested in the life of St Francis and thought that someday I would become affiliated with the Franciscans. I expressed this one day to Sr. Bea Tiboldi, OP. She asked me: “Why not a Dominican? and gave me a few books on St Dominic. As I read the books, I began to see similarities with St Francis. Dominic, however, focused on spreading the WORD to all people through preaching and outreach.

St Dominic’s approach was, for me, “catholic” (universal).  This appealed to me in light of where the Catholic church is today in the early decades of the 21st Century. The church is desperately in need of reform. It needs a new “aggiornamento” to revive the openness that Vatican II sought to achieve; a church that is inclusive and welcoming. Dominic’s emphasis on prayer, study, preaching and community brought together the things in my life that have brought me along my faith journey.

As I began to attend associate meetings and meet with my mentors, I was asked to read the Associates guidebook and reflect on what I read. I was also asked to seek out Dominicans who best represented the Dominican charism. This was not an easy task. In fact, during my search I came across a book written by Sr. Mary Jane Dorcy, OP entitled, St Dominic’s Family. The book tells the story of the lives of more than 300 famous Dominicans. The Dominican family has a wealth of contributors to Church history. Following St Dominic’s example are many women and men who have proclaimed Christ in a manner indicative of building church. However, what I was looking for was a contemporary example. I found one in Yves Congar, OP.

Yves Congar, a French Dominican priest, was one of the pioneers in the Church’s theology on ecumenism and the place of the laity in the Church. Pope John XXIII appointed him as a counselor at the Second Vatican Council. Congar’s personal influence on the Second Vatican Council was far reaching. It included lecturing international groups of bishops and helping to draft conciliar documents. Congar’s hand can be discerned in almost every major document produced by the Council Fathers. Congar was made a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1994, shortly before his death.

Reading about Congar led me to discover the brilliant minds of many Dominicans of the 19th and 20th Centuries: Chenu, Schillebeeckx, Gutiérrez, and many more. These names are just a continuation of the long history of Dominicans that have contributed greatly in spreading the Good News, including Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, Rose of Lima and  Catherine of Siena.

Today, the Dominican Sisters of Peace are preaching the Gospel worldwide in outreach programs, calling for an end of gun violence and the death penalty and advocating for equal rights for minorities and the safe treatment of migrant families entering the United States and other countries.

As Associates, we are fortunate to be part of a community dedicated to preaching the Gospel and praying together as a family united under St Dominic. The rich history of the Dominican Order demonstrates the success and divinely inspired efforts of St Dominic.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

LAUGHTER DOES GOOD, JUST LIKE MEDICINE

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Once you start laughing, you start healing.

That is something one of my late mentor’s used to say. He would say “Colette, you will always be able to conquer anything as long as you can continue to laugh in the midst of adversity. Laughter is the best medicine you can have.”

I was reminded of his words recently when I heard a new gospel song by BeBe Winans and Korean Soul called “Laughter Just Like Medicine.”

It turns out that the singers and my beloved mentor (a psychologist and religious brother) are right.

Scientists and researchers say that laughing is medically beneficial. Studies show that laughter boosts the immune system and triggers the release of pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain.

Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increase blood flow; reduces pain and allows toleration of discomfort; and relaxes the body. It creates a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between people and produces a general sense of well-being.

When was the last time you had a good laugh?

Go ahead, take your medicine. Click here to start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuQOnT6R6mY

 

Posted in Associate Blog, News

When You See Them, You Will Grieve

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I did something this weekend that I really didn’t want to do.

I watched the Ava DuVernay-directed When They See Us, the four-part mini-series streaming on Netflix that tells the story of the Exonerated Five.

I hesitated to view it because I knew it was going to be difficult to watch. I knew it would trigger the trauma of strategic and systemic racism – a system that devalues black and brown lives (meaning it would take me on a very rough emotional roller coaster ride).

I knew the story and its outcome: five black and Hispanic teens (ages 14 to 16), labeled the Central Park Five, were arrested, interrogated, tried and convicted of brutally raping a 28-year-old white female jogger, despite the fact that DNA evidence wasn’t a match for any of them. Twelve years later (when all but two of the five were out of prison), a convicted rapist and murderer (whose DNA was a match) confessed to the crime.  The five were exonerated and eventually received a $41 million settlement and have found life after incarceration.

But I convinced myself to watch it – even though I knew it would cause me to be an emotional wreck –because I knew it was an opportunity to hear the story from the perspective of the five – all now men in their 40s.

I made the decision after reading articles and seeing interviews of the five and experiencing their words describing the mini-series as a way to convey their “truth”; as a “sacrifice” to change the culture by becoming engaged; as a “platform” to start the conversation to prevent another Central Park Five; as a means to “effect change”; as a vehicle for telling their stories.

It became very clear to me that these men wanted and needed to be heard. I was compelled to oblige, knowing that my discomfort couldn’t possibly compare to their lived pain and trauma. So, I braced myself – still, their pain and trauma were transferable. I fully understand why a grief counselor was on the set while filming.

Ava DuVernay has said her goal in directing the series was “to humanize boys, now men, who are widely regarded as criminals” and “to invite the audience to re-interrogate everyone that they define as a criminal … I’m asking the question to everyone, ‘What do you see when you see black boys’?”

From my vantage point, black and brown boys continue to be seen as deviant in our culture. Isn’t it time for that practice to end?  Tens of thousands of innocent people continue to be incarcerated for years and decades for crimes they did not commit. Isn’t it time for that to end too?

When They See Us is the Exonerated Five telling their story. And as painful as it is to hear, I think they should be heard. They paid a terrible price, and I think we owe it to them to listen.

I hope you accept Ava DuVernay’s invitation to question who you define as a criminal and to answer the question: What do you see when you see black and brown boys?

 

Posted in Associate Blog

MINISTRY OF DEFENSE: PROTECTING THE FLOCK

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

The doors of the sanctuary are … locked?

Let that sink in: limited access to a place of refuge and safety.

It has become the new normal in our places of worship – locked doors, armed security officers, barriers, surveillance cameras, bag searches, etc.

What in the world is going on with the Fort Knox-level security in places that have traditionally been open places of welcome? This is a question that I have pondered for years and one that emerged again  on Sunday, as I watched and listened to a news report called “Faith under fire: How 3 congregations moved on from mass shootings.”

The report took on special significance for me because it was aired on the weekend devoted to raise awareness about gun violence and to honor the victims and survivors of gun violence.

While security in houses of worship is not new to some parishioners, who have traditionally provided protection for high-profile religious leaders; it certainly was not the norm for most, until fatal shootings at faith-based properties (at least a dozen in the past six years) got our attention and raised questions of safety and preparedness.

I admit that I have no firm answers. In fact, I have more questions than answers because I believe that  there are dangers in under-reacting to security risks and in over-reacting to security risks in places of worship and that no place of worship can promise complete safety and security.

I also believe that any security measures taken need to be ministry-based and reflect a belief that God is our ultimate protector while offering preparedness for a real risk.

I’m not sure what that looks like – how do we balance concerns for safety with an open-door policy that can put our safety at risk?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

WE HAVE ONE JOB!: LET’S DO IT RIGHT

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

It is not our job to fix people, change people or judge people. It’s our job to love people. The rest is in God’s hands. Amen!

A friend of mine posted those words on her Facebook page the other day. My first reaction was: Amen! (as a declaration of affirmation).

Two days later, those words resurfaced in my mind and hit me a different way (and I am the first to admit that I sometimes have a peculiar sense of humor). I immediately thought of the expression: You had one job! And burst into laughter.

I thought about all of the memes I have seen across the internet, on social media, using that catchphrase to call attention to blunders made by individuals on the job. The images accompanying the phrase are typically humorous, like a right button with an arrow pointing left and a left button with an arrow pointing right or the word SHCOOL [SCHOOL] painted in a crosswalk.

The images tend to be funny because it’s hard to believe that such obvious errors could be made. While I am not advocating that it is okay to laugh at people who make mistakes, I am saying that we can find comic relief in the innocent mistakes themselves.

After doing a little research on the catchphrase, I discovered that the meme originated in a clip from the movie Ocean’s Eleven (2011). It implies that you had one seemingly simplistic task (one job) to complete and you messed it up.

Messing up the spelling of a word or the direction of an arrow is one thing. But failing to do the one job that we are here on earth to do – love people – is another. When we fail at that, it is no laughing matter.

Yet, we fail time after time –sometimes because we refuse to stretch beyond our comfort zone and sometimes because we put limitations, conditions, and restraints on how we will love others.

There are people in our lives who are easy to love. There are others who take a little work. And there are some who take more effort and energy than we want to (or are willing to) exert.

As people of God, we don’t have the option to put limitations, conditions and restraints on how we love others. If we do, we mess up the one job that we have – to help people experience the love of God through our lives.

Remember that our love for God is directly displayed in our love for God’s people. If we don’t show genuine love for one another, what does that tell us?

 

Posted in Associate Blog, News