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.


 

Travel as Prayer

Blog by Anita Davidson, OPA

To celebrate my 60th and her 30th birthday, my daughter and I took a trip to Ireland and Lithuania. Ireland because I’ve always wanted to go there and Lithuania because my maternal grandparents emigrated from there to the US. It was my first trip “across the pond” and I was full of anticipation!  The red-eye flight from Chicago to Dublin left me exhausted, but even exhaustion couldn’t quash my delight as we shared our first beautiful Irish sunrise followed almost immediately by a rainbow!  It felt as if all of Ireland was saying, “Welcome!  We’re so glad you’re here!” It was the beginning of a wonderful week of adventures.

I spent much of our visit awestruck – by the magnificent churches and castles, the beautiful countryside, the deep sense of history embedded in the cobblestones on which we walked.  Nature sings the praises of God in Ireland through the bright yellow fields of rapeseed, the Dunmore Caves, the rolling hills, the blue waters of Dingle Bay (and its famous dolphin!), the majestic Cliffs of Moher and all the way up to Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. I’ve always imagined Ireland to be a “thin” place – where the boundary between heaven and earth is nearly non-existent.  It turns out that I was right!

As if the natural wonders weren’t enough, or perhaps because of the natural beauty of which they were a part, human beings have been hallowing this land since long before recorded history began.  At Newgrange is an ancient temple built around 3200 BCE (older than the pyramids!). Stone circles built by civilizations from 1100 BCE can be found all over the countryside. Christian monasteries and churches date back to the early 5th century CE, some of which are still at least partially standing.  As we visited many of these sites, I was moved to reflect on the deep connection to the Holy that must have permeated the lives of the generations of people who, without benefit of modern earthmoving machinery, spent their lives using their God-given gifts to imagine, design, carve, paint, and sculpt these magnificent structures.  Most of them began the projects knowing they would never live to see them finished, but hoping their children and surely their grandchildren would. I was deeply humbled by their vision and faith.  I wandered around them in wonder and awe, soaking up the holiness of the place, the land, the people.

Just being in Ireland – the land of Ériu, the goddess of the land – felt like prayer. Walking its fields and roads, wading in its waters, listening to its music, watching its dances, all felt like sacred ritual. I left this beautiful land with my heart and soul filled to overflowing.

Who knew there was more holiness awaiting me in Lithuania, the land of my ancestors?!  But I’ll save that for another day.

Click here for pictures.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Love Conquers Hate Every Time

Blog by Associate Colette Parker, OPA – Co-Director

The headlines are daunting:

  • “Man Yelling Hate Speech on Portland Train Kills Two Men Who Try to Intervene, Police Say”
  • “College Student Beaten and Robbed By Masked Men Shouting Racial Slurs”
  • “Noose found in National Museum of African American History and Culture”
  • “Ethnic Intimidation Charge for Ohio Man Who Threatened Father and Son, Used Racial Slurs”
  • “New York Man Turns Himself in After Anti-Gay Tirade and Cane Attack”
  • “Police Investigate Anti-Mexican Vandalism at New Jersey Business”
  • “Former New York Substitute Teacher Charged with Hate Crime for Removing Second-Grader’s Hijab”
  • “Still No Leads in Vandalism of Jewish Cemetery in St. Louis”
  • “Woman Goes on Racial Tirade in Arkansas Walmart”
  • “LeBron James’ Los Angeles Home Vandalized With ‘N-Word’ Graffiti”

 

I am distressed each time I hear about an act of hate, like those listed above.

Then, I remember that love conquers hate, evil, sorrow and worry.

And I remember that there are people in the world who refuse to yield to hatred and who rise to a level of love that has within it a redemptive and transformative power.

People like Jennifer Pennington, an Akron, Ohio teacher, who countered the act of hate at LeBron James’ Los Angeles home by placing signs that read “Hero,” Role Model,” “Mentor,” “Humanitarian,” “Leader,” and “Good Samaritan” near James’ driveway at his Ohio home.

People like Ariana Grande, who spread her message of “One Love” during a recent benefit concert for the 22 people who lost their lives and the 119 people who were injured during a suicide bombing at her May concert in Manchester, England. The singer/actress has also spent time with survivors of the terror attack and their families.

People like the group of British Muslims who handed out 3,000 roses on London Bridge as a symbol of love and solidarity in the wake of the terror attack at Borough Market.

People like the diverse group of citizens who united to help clean up and raise money for Jewish cemeteries vandalized in Philadelphia and St. Louis.

People like the more than 28,000 blood donors who gave more than 28,000 pints of blood in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

People like those involved in the Islamic Networks Group and the 70 interfaith organizations who have partnered to launch a “Know Your Neighbor” campaign, which encourages individuals and groups to encounter people of faith traditions different from their own.

People who share messages of hope, engage in acts of kindness, and give without expectation model for us how to defeat evil, how to overcome hate – by responding with a strong and powerful element of love.

As Christians, we are commanded to love one another. It is not an option. It should be a natural expression of who we are.

The love we are commanded to have for one another is something inward which shows itself in actions – like the “Know Your Neighbor” campaign; the blood donations; the cemetery cleanups; the sharing of roses; the time spent with people in distress; and the display of positive, encouraging signs.

The teacher who planted those signs near LeBron James’ driveway summed it up nicely when she said “It just seemed like the right thing to do to combat the evil, combat the hate in the world.”

Wouldn’t it be amazing if all of us would allow God’s love to flow through us to others as we yield to be vessels and channels of God’s unconditional love?

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Trust in the Magic of New Beginnings

Blog by Conni Dubick, OPA

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings.”

Meister Eckhart OP and Conni Dubick, OPA

Six months ago, I followed the words of Meister Eckhart OP and trusted in the magic of new beginnings when I retired from the Co-Director position for DSOP.  And guess what?  He spoke the truth to me!  But the magic and new beginnings were really a more focused effort to live my life as a Dominican Associate of Peace.   More deeply I realized that my associate commitment “called by God to become the Holy Preaching by promoting the liberating truth of the Gospel of Jesus” was an essential commitment in my life.  Now in “retirement” I can set my own schedule and pick and choose and continue to be active as a Dominican.  And I must say, I love it.

I will give you this brief summary of my activities with the purpose of articulating the significant role that we as associates have in promoting Dominican spirituality.   As president of the North American Conference of Associates and Religious (NACAR), I work with a leadership team serving over 55,000 associates in the US and Canada.  We are examining the results of the study by the Center for Applied Research of the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University in order to enhance the associate movement which is significant in the development of our Church.  I have formed a DSOP-NACAR-CARA Team and I welcome new members to explore with us the broader vision for the associates-religious relationship.

The Dominican corporate stance for Comprehensive Immigration Reform is the focus of the DSOP Committee that I chair in collaboration with Kelly Litt, the Justice Promoter.  This committee works throughout the year to communicate information and to facilitate actions for DSOP sisters and associates on immigration and refugee justice.  We welcome new members to this committee.  We also request actions from you to promote the World Refugee Day on June 20.  (Read more justiceforimmigrants.org ) My own new volunteer experience at the International Institute of Akron allows me personally to work toward welcoming the stranger in Akron Ohio.

The reality of the need for racial justice formed in my heart and mind thirty years ago when I began to volunteer at the King Kennedy Community Center near Kent State University.  Over the years, hundreds of university students/staff and thousands of hours of volunteer experiences forged a vibrant partnership with the children and residents of this economically depressed community.  Our 2017 summer youth program has the expertise of Sr. Joanne Caniglia OP from Akron teaching STEM content in the context of summer fun with learning!  In addition, Co-Director Colette Parker OPA, Sr. Valerie Shaul OP and other associates, sisters and motherhouse staff are establishing the Akron Motherhouse as a center of prayer and study for racial justice/racial harmony in Northeast Ohio.

Now back to the point of my words.  I am a Dominican Associate inviting you to write a reflection on your activities in parish, professional, volunteer or family describing your forum for living your Dominican spirituality.  The CARA Study urges associates to articulate their leadership in order to invite others to join us in our special presence in the future Church. Please contact me (cdubick@kent.edu) for more information about these DSOP activities or to share your Holy Preaching!

 

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Do the Right Thing for the Right Reason

Blog by Associate Colette Parker, OPA – Co-Director

Sometimes, I see or hear or read something that makes me wonder:  “What kind of crazy, mixed up world do we live in?”

It happened again last week, when I read several news reports about Stephen Mader, a former police officer who says he was fired because he chose not to shoot and kill a 23-year-old man whom he assessed as being suicidal, during a domestic disturbance call.

“He didn’t appear angry or aggressive. He seemed depressed. As a Marine vet that served in Afghanistan and as an active member of the National Guard, all my training told me he was not a threat to others or me. Because of that, I attempted to de-escalate the situation. I was just doing my job,” Mader said during an interview with CNN.

Apparently, Mader responded to a call around 2 a.m. on May 6, 2016, about a man threatening to hurt himself with a knife.

When he arrived on the scene, he encountered a 23-year-old man, who had his hands behind his back. After ordering the man, several times, to show his hands, he complied, revealing a silver handgun in his right hand.

Mader pulled his service revolver and ordered the man to drop his weapon. The man replied “I can’t do that. Just shoot me.”

Convinced that the man was trying to commit “suicide by cop,” Mader responded “I’m not going to shoot you brother” and continued to plead with the young father to drop the gun. As two other officers arrived, the man reportedly began waving his weapon and was shot dead by one of the other officers.

An investigation into the shooting – which deemed the use of deadly force justifiable — found that the man’s gun was unloaded.

It seems that Mader made the right decision in trying to de-escalate the situation. But his assessment cost him his job as a police officer – he was fired about a month after the deadly shooting because he “failed to eliminate a threat.”

In this day and age, when police officers have kept their jobs despite brutality, corruption, harassment, and questionable circumstances in the use of deadly force, an officer who seemingly shows compassion and takes the time to see others as human beings gets fired?

From my vantage point, there is something wrong with this picture.

Mader (who happens to be a Marine who identified IED’s in the warzone of Afghanistan so that they could be disarmed without harming our troops or the communities they were in) is the kind of cop that I want on the streets – one who fully assesses a problem and uses his/her skill to resolve the problem; one who is compassionate and values life; one who knows how to use critical thinking to gauge whether he/she is in imminent danger; one who operates with calm and poise.

Although the deadly shooting of the 23-year-old African-American man and firing of Mader, a then 24-year-year-old white police officer (and young father himself) occurred last year, the story made national headlines last week because Mader is now suing the Weirton, West Virginia police department that fired him for wrongful termination.

For me, Mader’s story reveals some problems in our criminal justice system. Is there something wrong with a culture that punishes an officer who shows restraint and rewards behavior that results in death and destruction?

Shouldn’t we expect those who put on a uniform and a badge and commit to protecting and serving our communities to respect the sanctity of life?

Mader’s words reveal that he saw more than a suicidal man begging him to shoot. He saw his brother, standing before him, hurting and in distress. He then decided to try to peacefully resolve the situation.

I think Mader handled things the right way. I respect his judgement. I applaud his ability to see others as members of his human family. I commend him for standing up for what he believes is right.

“In the simple moral maxim, the Marine Corps teaches — do the right thing, for the right reason — no exception exists that says: unless there’s criticism or risk.”

― Josh Rushing (Mission Al-Jazeera: Build a Bridge, Seek the Truth, Change the World)

Posted in Associate Blog

The Zip Line of Faith

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

“It is not easy to entrust oneself to God’s mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must!”  –Pope Francis, March 2013

I read this quote the other day in one of the LCWR Prayer Journals, and it struck me as so true. I’m sure most persons of faith can think of times in one’s life when they feel they are standing on the brink of the great abyss of God’s mercy, and know their faith demands that they make that fearful leap into the incomprehensible. It’s a moment that puts their faith in God to test.

It could be during a retreat or moment of grace when one is gripped by a deep realization of one’s sin—whether in thought, word, deed, or omission—and is overwhelmed by feelings of confusion, guilt, the helpless need for forgiveness and mercy. The fearful choice is to stay paralyzed in unworthiness, self-loathing, and condemnation, or to leap into the abyss of God’s incomprehensible mercy. We question: do we dare believe that the God-Who-Is truly loves us unconditionally with infinite mercy, and is not the God-of-my-own-making who waits to punish?

For me, it was a little less than two months ago when I was about to undergo surgery for breast cancer. The doctors and nurses in making sure that I understood all that was going to happen, the risks, the possibilities, and all the choices that I would need to make, plied me with booklets, print-outs, and more information than I ever hoped to have. Having read it all, and making the best choices I could, I then faced the moment of truth, and was admitted to the surgery unit. I remember the feeling of being completely in the hands of others as I watched the surgery staff strap first the left arm, then the right to arm extensions, as others efficiently applied pressure wraps to my legs, and the anesthetist told me he was going to start the medication that would put me to sleep. It was the moment to leap into the abyss of God’s mercy, entrusting all…

Today as I imagine myself standing again and again at the brink of the abyss of God’s mercy, I am aware that I don’t just foolishly presume to leap recklessly from a high place to test God (as the devil would have Jesus leap from the tower, testing God to keep him from dashing a foot against a stone.) No, if I’m going to take such a leap, I want to make sure I have a trusted ZIP line to which I am firmly secured. My ZIP LINE is God’s Word and God’s Promises – especially the God preached by Christ in the Gospels; and it’s my FAITH in Christ, the unfolding Word of God – that attaches me firmly to that ZIP LINE. Only then can I confidently -though maybe a bit nervously – make that leap. And so far it has always proven to be quite a ride!

Posted in Associate Blog