God Calling??

Do you dream of doing something more with your life? Are you longing for deeper meaning and sometimes feel that there is more to life than what you are currently doing? Maybe God is inviting you to explore becoming a Dominican Sister of Peace. Share your gifts with others who want to make a difference in the world. For more information, contact us to begin a conversation.


 

What Are You Doing for Others?

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

As I opened my email this morning from Cards by Anne, an international greeting card company specializing in inspirational messages, this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. caught my attention: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others.”  Of course, Dr. King’s legacy is one of advocacy for others, having dedicated his life to the nonviolent struggle for racial equality in the United States.

The question, “What are you doing for others?” stops me in my tracks and resists being ignored.  It’s like a neon sign flashing in the darkness looking for daylight and for a response.  It’s a question that cuts through to the heart of what matters, to what is important, to where our passion drives us.  The question prompts another question, “What am I living for?”

These questions demand some difficult, honest examination of one’s values, beliefs, and priorities.  Where do I spend my time and energy?   These are challenging questions to answer.  As an introvert with a contemplative personality, my focus tends to be more on the internal stuff of life, rather than the external happenings around me.  I try to live each day mindful of being kind to those I encounter throughout the day with a hello, a smile, a listening ear.  I try to live by the golden rule of treating others as I would like to be treated.

You and I may not be grand-scale activists and leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., but we can make a positive impact on the lives of others–coworkers, family members, kids, friends, etc.  If we touch one life through an act of kindness, we have done something positive for someone.  By doing something kind for one person, that person may do something kind for yet another person.  One act of kindness can set in motion the possibility for multiple acts of kindness.  We can start a ripple effect of many positive things happening to many people and begin a Kindness Revolution.

Need some ideas for what to do for others?  Here’s a short list to get you started:

  1. Call or text a friend whom you haven’t spoken to in awhile
  2. Bake a special treat for someone you know
  3. Let another person go ahead of you in the grocery line
  4. Talk to a teenager about what’s happening in their life
  5. Donate blood to help someone in need
  6. Give a coworker a compliment
  7. Forgive someone who has hurt you
  8. Be kind to someone who is unkind
  9. Send a thank-you note to someone who has shown you kindness
  10. Play a card game with a child or elderly person

The possibilities for kindness are endless.  Doing for others can be simple and easy.  Doing for others may seem like a small thing but it can have a big impact on someone else’s life.  Doing for others is an important tenet of the Christian faith.  In Matthew 25: 40, we hear Jesus say to his disciples ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

If you want to touch the lives of others and be part of a community that seeks to do good for others, why not contact us and learn more about how you can live a consecrated life.

Posted in God Calling??, News

A Discussion Around the ‘Coffee Table’ on Religious Life Discernment

  1. I’ve never thought of being a sister, but I want to give myself an opportunity to be exposed to an experience of religious life, just in case God is calling me to this way of life. What should I do?

    Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

I appreciate your openness to God’s call, no matter how it will turn out. God calls each person differently. One way to explore this is to listen to vocation stories of some sisters on our website (https://oppeace.org/become-a-sister/vocation-stories/). Then, be  courageous and contact one of our vocation ministers who can  help you to clarify/discern your call. At the same time, ask God to help you be open to all possible pathways.

The Dominican Sisters of Peace offer various opportunities for you to discern your call and to get familiar with religious life. You and your friends (single women) can join us for:

  • “Come and See” Discernment weekend retreat to share, pray, and learn more about your personal call and the sisters’ lives and missions. “Come and See” is offered twice a year. The up-coming Come and See will be September 7 – 9, 2018, at our Motherhouse in St. Catharine, KY.
  • Mission Immersion Experience involves spending a few days or up to a week with the Dominican Sisters of Peace and other women in discernment in one of our convents. You will have the opportunity to pray and work with us, and also to experience what it’s like to live in a religious community.
  • Mini Live-In Experience are arranged individually and range from a few days to two weeks living with sisters in community. You will join in our day-to-day life of prayer, ministry, and community life.  You can learn more about it here: (https://oppeace.org/get-involved/discernment-opportunities/)
  1. Do you have a place for people like me who just want to live with sisters a few months to experience religious life?

For a more extended experience, the Dominican Sisters of peace operate a house of welcome in New Heaven, CT. Women may apply to spend a semester or two with us to discern and explore their calling, while pursuing their studies or continuing to work in their current job. without making a commitment to join our congregation. Contact our vocation ministers (call or text) to discuss this possibility.  If the New Haven location isn’t convenient for you, we have other locations where we may be able to arrange for this experience on an individual basis.

  1. You have said previously that Religious Life is blessed and fulfilling, and may be how God is calling you to become the best person you can be. Can you tell me more about your congregation’s formation program?

A great question! First, you must be deeply aware that the call to Religious Life is a call that grows out of the love between you and God. The more open and flexible you are, the more God can work in you through community, and the more you will be fulfilled and accept who you are and work for God’s mission on the earth.

During the discernment process, before you apply to enter the congregation as a Candidate, the vocation ministers will meet with you monthly to explore various themes of discernment and prayer.  You will be invited to some of the different events listed above. You will also be invited to visit our sisters located in various parts of the country.  This discernment process will help you deepen your call and help both you and the community determine if this congregation is the best fit for you. It is a mutual discernment.

Once you enter a religious congregation, a formation director will journey with you. We treat new members as mature adults, therefore, you will live with different groups of sisters to learn more about community life while working, studying or doing some volunteer works. You will also be exposed to different ways of prayer, engage more in congregational missions, such as promoting peace and justice, and learn how to reflect and develop your gifts while accepting your limitations and areas of growth. All of this will help you grow spiritually and intellectually, be competent and yet compassionate, build your sense of belonging, and inspire you to respond freely to this call. For more information about this process, go to https://oppeace.org/become-a-sister/how-do-i-know/

I believe that Religious Life is a blessing and a fulfilling life because through service, prayer, study and community, you will grow and flourish in various dimensions beyond your imagination. Thus, instead of doubt, focus your energy to build trust in this call, yourself and trust in God who will unfold a future full of hope for you.

Posted in God Calling??, News

Car Prayers

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

…adventures of an itinerant vocation minister….

I pray in my car.

Actually, my confession is that I pray in my car more than I do in our chapel.

You may not think that is such a big admission but, you see I’m a Sister.  I am a Catholic Dominican Sister with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.  In our Constitutions (the general guidelines for our life and how we live it) it stresses that we are women of prayer.  That is true, I am a woman of prayer and I’m also an “itinerant,” which means “traveling from place to place.” As an itinerant I often find myself somewhere between here…and there…. Thus, I often find myself praying in my car.

Do you pray in your car?

I suspect you do.

Several years ago I came across a book called My Monastery is a Minivan by Denise Roy.  In it, Roy, a mother of four children, writes of how her thoughts about prayer, holiness, and places of holiness had changed over the years.  Having studied theology, she envisioned places of prayer as monasteries, chapels, convents, and churches.  Then, in the reality of her life as a wife, mother and woman of prayer, she found that her minivan was indeed her monastery.

So, in a way, my car is my chapel.

When I was discerning my call to religious life, I was working full time and had a commute of 45 minutes to an hour each way.  The cassette (yes, a few years ago) I’d pop into the player each morning and evening was one of John Michael Talbot’s which contained psalms of Morning Prayer – on the way to work – and Evening Prayer – on the way home.  This practice eased me into the day and grounded me in prayer and in my awareness of God. It sustained me and nourished me as I traveled and as I continued to discern, “The Call.”

There are other sisters I know who pray in the car.  Sister Aimee Ryan and I lived together in Miami.  Sr. Aimee had a practice of praying a decade of the rosary each time she waited at a light to cross U.S. 1.  Some days she could pray an entire 10 decades in her travels around town.  For me, as a young sister, her witness of faith inspired me to find ways to remind myself to pray when stopped at a light or passing a church or other landmark.

The practice of prayer while traveling is an ancient one.  We hear of pilgrims to the Holy Land, as early as 100 AD, praying the Way of the Cross as they journeyed to Jerusalem.  Prayer on the go, or traveling prayers are ever ancient and ever new.

St. Dominic prayed as he traveled by foot from Spain to France to Italy.  He was said to either speak of God or to God as he walked.  Often he would break out into holy song and praise of God’s creation as he went through fields of sunflowers or crossed rushing brooks.  He delighted in God’s creation and he told God and all who would listen.

Today, as I drive from Massachusetts to Connecticut and tomorrow when I get in the car again, I will be praying.  I’ll pray for you, for our world, for those who are celebrating life and those who are waiting to enter into the next life and all the while I will be thanking God for the many gifts that surround me each day.

How will you pray in the car today?

Posted in God Calling??, News

Five Other Common Concerns or Myths about Religious Life

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

My March blog was about five common concerns or myths in pursuing religious life. Today’s blog is going to address five other common concerns.

  1. Personal doubt: I am not sure if I can be a sister for the rest of my life. I don’t feel I am worthy to be a sister.

We are all sinners, and yet, worthy and precious in the eye of God. Nobody knows what the future holds, which is true for all life styles: married, single, and religious. If we trust God’s provident care, we will enter the future with an open mind and heart and trust without fear. God will lead us into the future and provide more than what we need.

  1. Reality of religious community: Religious life is lonely because I cannot have a life partner. Also, most sisters are older than me. I want to hang around and live with people of my own age, not my grandmother’s age.

We do not focus our love and partnership on a certain person like those who are married. Our love and partnership are spread out to various people within and outside religious communities, making religious life a real blessing and a fulfilled life. I, myself, very seldom feel a sense of emptiness or loneliness since I entered the religious life.

Yes, most of the U.S. religious communities have many elderly sisters, and yet, they are vibrant and joyful with young hearts and contemplative spirits. They are pioneers who have built a strong foundation. There are other women discerning with our community who are candidates, novices, and temporary professed members. We invite you to join us to share the gifts of life and to carry on the mission and the torch of faith now and into the future. We also encourage you to have friends of your own age as well as other ages so you can learn life experiences from different cohort groups.

  1. Culture: I am from a different culture. I may feel lonesome and will miss my ethnic food.

We heartedly welcome you. Your cultural sharing with us will enrich our lives, help us to value more the diversity of life and enhance our sensitivity on discrimination and racism issues. You can help us learn what it means to be Christian from your cultural perspective.

We encourage each other to live out and share cultures, including foods and cultural celebrations. We have sisters from Peru, Vietnam, China, Ireland, Germany, and more.  We have Native American, African American, Nigerian American sisters. Some of them are the first person from their ethnic group who have entered our congregation.

  1. Student loan: I didn’t know if I could join a religious community if I have educational debt.

Depending on each situation, this issue can be resolvable. We encourage those who are discerning a call to religious life to try to pay off their student loan as much as they can before they enter their novitiate year. Don’t let your student loan block you from pursuing your call to be a sister.  To know more about this, contact us so we can discuss your situation with you.

  1. Wearing the habit: What is the point of being a sister if I just wear secular clothes like lay people?

There are communities wearing the habit and there are communities who don’t. You have both options to consider. Different communities fit different people.

When discerning my religious call, I looked for communities wearing the habit. Later on, when I encountered sisters without the habit, I questioned myself: “What is my religious life truly based on, the habit or the call from God? Does this community make me feel at home and help me to be the best person I can be in order to live my call radically/authentically?” In my community of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, some sisters are still in the habit and we respect this decision.

Be courageous in responding to God’s call and allow God to fulfill your life. Don’t hesitate to contact us (vocation@oppeace.org) if you have any concerns. Consider joining us for our Come and See weekend coming up September 7-9 in Kentucky for those who want to explore more about this life.

Posted in God Calling??, News

Easter Peace

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

The daily news cycle keeps us constantly aware of each day’s escalating violence.  A few days after celebrating Easter Sunday, I remember hearing news of the most recent chemical gassing of Syrian citizens, women, men and children, by its own government.  As I prayed for peace that day in the safety of my home halfway around the world, I could not help wondering how the Christian Syrians were coping during the commemoration of the holiest events of the Christian faith, in the midst of such suffering.

During my prayer, I thought also about the victims and the loved ones of those killed by gun violence around the world and the myriad ways humanity has found to inflict suffering upon one another.  Pope Francis spoke to the world in his Easter Message of many of these areas of global suffering. His message called for peace and reconciliation in a world “torn by war and conflict and marked by so many acts of injustice and violence.”

Recently I participated in an Easter Novena for Peace. It was an excellent way to really remember the Resurrection gifts of hope and peace.  I know that achieving true peace requires both prayer and action, but I believe it is God’s gift of hope through the Resurrection that brings lasting peace—“the peace beyond all understanding”–despite the circumstances.

“Peace Be With You.”  These were the first words that Jesus proclaimed when he appeared to his frightened friends who had just days before witnessed the horrors of his execution and death. Yet, here Jesus stands before them speaking of “peace” and sharing with them the Spirit that would empower them with hope. Is this not Easter hope, a gift of the Resurrection, still being offered by Jesus to each of us today?  I believe it is.  It is this Resurrection hope that enables Christians to proclaim “Happy Easter” even in a world, “torn by war and conflict and marked by so many acts of injustice and violence.”

Peace and Happy Easter.

Posted in God Calling??, News