Happy New Year to each one of you. I’d like to wish each of you, my friends in Christ, many blessings in the year 2022.
The past six months of my life – months of new experiences and new friends – have been filled with an awareness of how present the Holy Spirit has been in my life.
In June I moved into a new phase of my life’s journey. Having retired in December 2019, I thought that I would be able to do whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it. I was moving to a new home in Florida and life would be great. I arrived in Florida in February of 2020 – just in time for the world as I knew it to come to a screeching halt in response to COVID-19.
Everything around me shut down. I spent months inside my home, wondering just when I would be able to enjoy my new “freedom to be me.” I learned a great deal about myself – and my own faith in God. (Although honestly, sometimes that faith was challenged!)
In April of 2021, I was invited to consider the position of Director of the Associates of Peace. God had prepared me for this possibility, and I was totally open for the opportunity – and on June 1, 2021, I began this wonderful adventure.
Over the past six months, I have been able to meet and greet many of the Associates of the Dominican Sisters of Peace in person. I have met many more through the windows of Zoom. Meeting my sisters and brothers in Dominic’s family has assured me that I am where I want to be.
I traveled to the Motherhouse in Great Bend to direct a Retreat on the 4 Pillars of Dominican Life and experience the Commitment Ceremony of the Associates. I saw a part of our country I had not seen before where the sunrises were beautiful.
I have been to the Akron and Columbus Motherhouses and met many Associates and Sisters. I have sat in on planning meetings, prayer services, and commitment ceremonies.
Traveling to Virginia, Philadelphia, New York, Michigan, I met more Associates and learned how they worship and fellowship in their local areas. Virginia, Philadelphia, and New York were homecomings, as I had lived there as an Associate myself. My visit to Michigan was my first time in the state, and everyone made me feel welcome.
Being one of a group of women and men committed to the Four Pillars of Dominican life has been tremendously life-giving to me.
But in the midst of this joy, I have also seen and heard what the pandemic has done to our Associates and their families. Each month I have heard the stories and concerns, all leading to one question – when will our lives return to normal? I am not even sure what normal is at this point of my journey.
What I do know is that we, as Associates of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, in mission with the community of Sisters, are resilient. Through many hours of conversation, I have learned that even though some Associates feel disconnected because of the virus, there is also much to be encouraged by as monthly gatherings are returning in person or on zoom. Our associates are, again, on the move.
Great prayer services are being held, presentations are being delivered, ministries are being nurtured and new ministries are springing up. Like the rest of the world, Associates are seeing new and different possibilities – and God is with us with every step.
The past six months have held challenges. The Office of Director was left vacant by the sudden death of Colette Parker, and I did not have her assistance during the transition. But sitting in the Akron Office of Associates, I feel Colette’s presence and her strength. I am supported by Celeste Williams, our wonderful Administrative Assistant. We are making great progress in getting things in order and doing important things together.
Just one month into the New Year, many innovative ideas and developments are coming into view. I believe we are a very strong group of women and men who are committed to discerning a new path in Associate life. There are answers to our questions – with faith in God and in each other.
Will we be challenged? Yes. But we are moving forward. We have great Sisters leading our Congregation. We have a strong Associates Council that is ready for the challenge. We have Mentors nurturing our small groups. Most importantly, each of us is continually saying YES to our commitment. Our continued YES communicates our desire that the Spirit of Dominic continues. We are capable and willing to be part of the future of the Congregation, and we welcome new people to join us in this work.
Indeed, the Holy Spirit has been very present to me in my first six months as Director of Associates and will continue to be present each day. I am grateful for all that has taken place and excited for all that is to come. Please continue to say YES as we move forward, as we become the hope for the future. I am certainly grateful for each one of you.
Remember, “In God all things are possible.” Let us make it happen.
Thank you and bless you
Highlights: June 2021-January 2022
- SAFE in-person Associates group meetings.
- Regular Associate Zoom meetings.
- New discerners and new Commitments are expected in August.
- Communication between Associate groups around the country.
- An active Mentorship program has been launched.
- A new Associate Council has been launched.