Vocations Blog

Every vocation story begins with a call – a call to share your gifts with others who want to make a difference in the world. If you believe that you’ve heard God’s call, and you want to write your own story with the Dominican Sisters of Peace, contact us to begin a conversation.


Vocations Blog

Blog by Sr. Bea Tiboldi
Connecting with What’s on Our Heart

If you were to write a journal entry, a letter to someone, or record something in your diary about an experience that happened to you today or recently, what would you write about?

The question above surfaced recently when I saw a journaling idea that piqued my interest: “Attach an envelope to your journal or your Bible and insert a letter to God.” “That sounds like a good idea,” I thought, as it could be not only a reflective and meaningful experience but also a way to nurture and reflect on our relationship with God, on our thoughts, feelings, concerns, and observations and to reflect on what’s important and to know ourselves better.

“A handwritten letter to God…” I thought. Handwritten letters are so rare nowadays. They are not as fast as text messages or emails, yet, I believe, most of us cheer up when we find a handwritten letter from someone we know. Why? Most likely because letters connote an endearing and enduring relationship.

As I kept playing with the thought about writing a letter to God, I was pondering: “I’m quick to offer a prayer to God, but if I were to write a letter to God, what would I write about?” What would you write to God in a letter?

Reflecting on this question, my mind wandered to a recent experience of reading little notes of wishes on a Wishing Tree: at the Irish Festival in Dublin, Ohio.  Dangling from this tree were colorful slips of paper tied to a branch with a string, which looked similar to the peace flags on the meditation trail at our Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center in Blacklick, Ohio. At this Wishing Tree, people wrote down their wishes on a small piece of paper and then hung the wish on the tree. There were wishes for a trip to Ireland, for a more peaceful world, for overcoming physical or mental illnesses, for a happy marriage, for a pet, etc. Some of these wishes made me smile and feel content, some made me think, and some filled me with sadness, especially when I read the one that was most likely written by a child: “I wish me and my mom find a house for ourselves soon.” As I read these wishes, I found myself wanting to offer a prayer for each wish, and so I continued reading these wishes – praying to God for each intent.

Both writing a letter to God and offering a prayer are just two simple ways to reflect on what’s on our heart or mind, what’s important to us, what we value, and ultimately, to reflect on our relationship with God.  So, as you read this blog, what’s on your heart and mind? What would you write to God in a letter?

If you would like to spend a few days reflecting on your relationship with God and contemplating what it might be like to live a life of prayer that’s lived out in ministry and community, we are offering an upcoming discernment retreat, September 8-10, 2023, for single, Catholic women ages 18-45, either virtually or in person, at our Motherhouse in St. Catharine, Kentucky. Click here for more information or to register.

Click here for photos. Wishing Tree

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

Coming Down the Mountain – Moving from Prayer to Action

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald

This week, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  In the Gospel, we heard, “Mary set out and traveled . . . to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” (Luke 1:39)  Mary, as the first disciple of Jesus, is showing us how we are called to share the Good News of God’s presence and action in our lives.

Many pilgrims are returning from World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal with their hearts burning with the love of God, body tired from the travel and the activities, and yet are searching for the answer to “now what?”  What am I to do now as I return home from this life-changing experience of being with 1.5 billion other young people on fire with the love of God?  Others may have the same question, “now what?” as they return from a mission trip, or a summer retreat, or another experience of God’s presence and action in their lives. Perhaps Mary and Moses before her can give us an answer to this question.

Moses came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments he received from God and shared these commandments with the people waiting for him to return.  Engraved on stone tablets, these commandments, offered our ancestors then and us now signposts for living our lives and for being a person of faith.  Moses did not simply take and put these tablets on a shelf with his other possessions. He knew what to do next with the commandments God gave him–to proclaim and to live out these commandments.  Mary, likewise, having received the call to become the mother of Jesus, responded by sharing her joy with Elizabeth, and in embracing this next step in her life, her joy resounded in the heart of Elizabeth and caused John to leap in Elizabeth’s womb.  Nothing was ever the same again for Moses and Mary after they accepted how they were being called to live a life of faith and trust in God.

We, too, are invited to take our experiences and allow God to transform our hearts and spirit so that God can direct our next steps.  Here are a few practical things you can do as you seek to answer the question, “Now what?”

  • Set aside some time to reflect on your experience, whether a pilgrimage, a retreat, a mission trip, or a prayer experience. Recall the details, the high points, the low points, who you were with, and any words from God or others that have stayed with you.  Take time to journal what you recall and what emerges for you as you reflect on your experience.
  • Take your reflections to prayer. Sit before God and ask God to help you see and hear what is next, or how you are called to share your experiences with others, or how you are to live out your life in service to others or to the world.
  • Speak to a trusted friend, spiritual guide, or wise person to get their perspective on your experience and your prayerful reflections.
  • Pray, pray, and pray some more.
  • Take the first step, even if it is a small step, a step of faith, a step of exploring possibilities, steps that bring you closer to the life God desires for you. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Perhaps you are feeling that God is inviting you to explore religious life.  If so, consider attending our Come & See Discernment Retreat – “Called by Name.”  September 8 – 10, 2023 in St. Catharine, Kentucky.  Gather with other discerning women and the Dominican Sisters of Peace for prayer, presentations, sharing with the sisters, and time for rest and recreation.  The retreat is free, and some travel assistance is available.  For more information, click the link above or contact Sr. Mai-dung Nguyen, OP at mai-dung.nguyen@oppeace.org or call or text her at 405-248-7027.

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

Making Room for God

Sr. Mary Ellen George

I took some time this past week to clean out our four-drawer vertical file at home, which produced about 8-10 bags of shredded paper to recycle. Ambitious and determined, I also started decluttering closets to donate clothing and household items to a charity

On the surface, this may not be very interesting. But what is interesting is that this seemingly mundane activity of decluttering held such a metaphorically-rich spiritual experience for me. While the process of going through the files and determining what to dispose of was daunting and tiresome at times, I found meaning in letting go of what was no longer needed or important to hold onto.

As I purged items, I found myself feeling less burdened and weighed down with non-essential stuff. Even shredding so much paper was liberating, making room to enjoy and dwell in this empty space. Knowing also that this shredded paper could be recycled and used for another purpose held meaning. Nothing goes to waste, a lesson by itself. Everything has a purpose and a meaning, even empty spaces.

Focusing on this empty space is what I find so rich with spiritual meaning. By emptying ourselves of what is no longer needed or not important, we open ourselves to what is important – making room for God and for each other.  When we harbor or cling to things and even emotions, we are prone to focus on what is fleeting and unsustainable. We deny ourselves the opportunity to be filled from within by a God who lovingly waits for us to receive all that we need. The more we can empty ourselves and make room for God in silence and in the community, we can surrender to mystery and be transformed anew.

As I was de-cluttering, I caught myself pondering how I could make more room for God, and two books came to mind that I have on my bookshelf–Make Room for God: Clearing Out the Clutter by Susan K. Rowland and Making Room for God: Decluttering and the Spiritual Life by Mary Elizabeth Sperry.  Now I feel inspired and called to spend some time reading these books and reflecting on my spiritual life and relationship with God. Such moments of awakening and reflection from reading books like these fill the empty spaces in my life and bring me to a stronger relationship with God.

As you reflect on your own life, what decluttering thoughts resonate or emerge for you?  What are you holding onto?  What do you need to let go of? Can you make room for God to have space in your life?  Can you trust and have faith that God can transform your “stuff” into something purposeful?  Perhaps God is calling you to live a fulfilling life as a religious sister?  Are you ready to see what God can do within you and through you?

Coming up in September, we are offering a Come and See retreat for single, Catholic women, 18 to 45 years old, to make some room to reflect on how God may be calling you. This September 8-10, 2023 retreat is being held in the beautiful countryside in St. Catharine, Kentucky.  If you are interested or know someone who may be interested, please click here for more information and to register.  You can also contact us to talk to a sister and to learn more about being a sister with the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

Lighten Your Load if you Want to Soar.

Blog by Sr. Mai-dung Nguyen, OP

I used to be a homebody.

It’s ironic, then, that I ended up becoming a Dominican Sister. The Dominican order has always been known as itinerant – traveling from place to place to meet the needs of God’s people.

Dominicans are also called to be itinerant in mind, spirit, and intellect – open to ideas.

At the beginning of my own religious life, I wondered why being itinerant was so important to the Order of Preachers. But the more I live and minister as a Dominican, the more I realize that being itinerant is not just a physical attribute – it’s the spiritual and mental combination of flexibility, reflectivity, and openness to new ideas and outcomes. Being itinerant gives us an opportunity to sort out what we need to let go and organize what we need for our life journey. Itinerancy also creates chances for us to reexperience some valuable treasure that may be buried in our everyday life and allows a glimpse of an expanded horizon.

Sr. Barbara Kane, one of many Dominican Sisters of Peace, reflected on her moving to her new ministry and new place. She wrote:

Sr. Barbara Kane, OP


I’ve recently been asked to move for a new ministry.

I’ve moved a number of times and it’s always an opportunity to ask myself “Do I really need _____?”

Sorting and packing can be such a hassle and overwhelming. The other day I came across a card that my father sent me when I entered the congregation. There is a picture of an eagle with wings outstretched in the sky with the words “Spread Your Wings And Soar.”  Inside, the caption is “You Can Do It.” Dad wrote “Since you will not be encumbered by earthly things, you will be able to serve God better. I think this card is appropriate for you. Soaring like an Eagle to God. Love, Dad.”

If only he could see the pile of stuff surrounding me today! He would laugh and shake his head. I’ve been trying to whittle down my possessions for 20-plus years and while I’ve been somewhat successful, I wouldn’t say that I’m unencumbered!  In today’s world, the temptation to collect things – like books – is always present. Before we know it, there’s just too much. As religious, we are invited to ask “Do I really need this? Does someone need this more than me?”

I chuckled when I found Dad’s card. I’m glad I saved it and will continue to carry it with me to my next ministry. It was a good reminder to allow myself to soar like an eagle to God … and to continue to lighten the load.

Sr. Barbara’s experience mirrors my own Dominican life. I have learned that itinerancy makes me more open to the reality of life and makes it easier to follow God’s call. Itinerancy has given me the freedom to feel God walking with me, lighting my path, and inspiring me to fearlessly bring God’s love and peace to the world. To use Sr. Barb’s metaphor, Dominican itinerancy has allowed me to soar like an eagle to God.

Are you curious how religious sisters live this life of movement and freedom? Our vocations team can answer your questions. If you want to explore and discern if you can be itinerant in body, mind, and spirit, join us at our Come and See event from Sept. 8-10 in Kentucky. Travel assistance is available. Click here to register.


Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

Pilgrims Embrace the Spirit of St. Dominic

Sr. Mai-Dung Nguyen, Candidate Terri Schell, and Sr. Cathy Buchanan in the town center in Fanjeaux, France.

Recently, three of our members—Sr. Mai-Dung Nguyen, Candidate Terri Schell, and Sr. Cathy Buchanan—went on a pilgrimage with other members of the Dominican Order.  This pilgrimage focused on the life and travels of St. Dominic and on the early nuns and friars who lived and ministered near Fanjeaux, France, where the Order was founded in the 13th Century.  Sister Cathy Buchanan and Candidate Terri Schell share their experiences in the following essays.

Sister Cathy’s Reflection

My recent pilgrimage to Fanjeaux, France was just what I needed to remind me of why I’m professing vows with the Dominican Sisters of Peace in less than a month!

I began my journey running as fast as I have run in years, through the airport in Paris, even then, barely making my connecting flight to Toulouse. Then, my luggage was delayed and I fell flat on my face, tripping over the bed in my room at the monastery and that was just the first day!

Thank God, we, the 27 pilgrims on the journey together, were given the Pilgrim’s Creed on the first day of our pilgrimage, which read “I am not in control. I am not in a hurry. I walk in faith and hope. I greet everyone with peace. I bring back only what God gives me.”

Standing at the Assassin’s Cross where Dominic encountered thieves who attempted to take his life. Seeing how joyful Dominic was, the thieves were captivated by his joy and decided not to kill him. The cross is on the road that Dominic travelled from Fanjeaux to Proullie in France.

The creed was a wonderful reminder to me that God is the one who is in control and setting the path and the pace of my life’s journey. I can only imagine that Dominic was reminded of this fact on occasion as well. To realize the struggles and hardships that Dominic endured as the founder of the Dominican order was a reality check for me. I was just happy there was running water in the fourteenth-century monastery we were staying at in Fanjeaux! And I could imagine Dominic praying all night long in the dark chapel in his house in Fanjeaux. From re-reading Don Goergen’s book, St. Dominic: The Story of a Preaching Friar, I was able to calculate that from 1206 to 1221 Dominic walked over 30 thousand miles during the time he was founding the Dominican order! Amazing!

This journey reminded me that I am called to be peace, build peace, and preach peace through the way I will live my vows and my life from here forward. What God gave me to bring back with me was the new understanding of what it means to be a Dominican in the 21st century and what it means to belong to something bigger than myself. Walking through the fields in Fanjeaux, past the assassin’s cross, and praying evening prayer with the nuns in Prouilhe, these are some of the images that will stay with me for a lifetime. I am forever blessed by God to have had this opportunity to journey with Dominic’s spirit in France.

Candidate Terri Schell’s Reflection

Hiking in the Pyrenees Mountains.

As a candidate, praying in common with sisters has been new for me. The commitment, rhythm, and daily joining of purpose has been something I have come to treasure. One of my favorite lines from our prayer together in community is from Isaiah (52:7), describing how we are to be joyful peace bearers to the world. Isaiah says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”

After spending nine days walking the fields of Fanjeaux, France, and hiking in the Pyrenees mountains following the footsteps of St. Dominic, this call from Isaiah has taken on a deeper meaning for me. During our trip, we reflected on the truth that Dominic was the messenger of Isaiah’s reading of “running swiftly over the mountains and through the countryside preaching the message of peace and good news of a God who is ‘for us’ always.” This description of Dominic, with the backdrop of the mountains and rolling hills of southern France, paints a vivid picture in my heart and mind, inspiring me to “proclaim peace” and “bring good tidings” of God’s reign to others in my journey as a soon-to-be novice with the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

Walking along the wheat fields between Fanjeaux and Prouilhe in France.

Dominic was overflowing with the desire to bring people to the fullness of life, preaching truth and compassion that leads to peace. His feet were certainly blessed. And they were also well-worn. As my fellow pilgrim, Sr. Cathy calculated, St. Dominic walked over 30,000 miles throughout his travels. His devotion and joy also blessed the land on which he traveled, often singing or praising God. While walking through the fields of sunflower and wheat on this nine-day pilgrimage, I could feel Dominic’s presence and encouragement. His spirit still inspires us to walk this lifelong path bearing good news and proclaiming peace in our world.

Why not start your journey exploring the landscape of Dominican life and learning about Dominic’s spirit by joining us at our upcoming Come & See retreat, September 8-10, 2023?   We will gather in the beautiful countryside in St. Catherine, Kentucky at our Motherhouse.  Click here for more information and to register.  We look forward to journeying with you and invite you to contact us to help you explore where God may be calling you.

Scripture and Quotes referenced by Terri:

Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”

“[Dominic] was the messenger of Isaiah’s reading… running swiftly over the mountains and through the countryside preaching the message of peace and good news of a God who is ‘for us’ always.” Mary Ann Nelson, OP


Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog