God Calling?

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.


 

Inspired by the life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi

Last Friday, in our monthly Emmaus Discernment Group, a discerner raised the question of how one might feel God nudging her. One way to know is paying attention to the feelings inside. A person might feel an immense joy, or find herself restless about the idea of religious life, or wish to deepen her relationship with God, or might feel passionate about peace and justice, etc.

For me, it was a combination of three feelings, which came in stages. When I first recognized and felt how much God loved me, an immense joy inspired me (and I also felt being called) to share that joy of being loved by God. The next stage was when I became super sensitive to songs, i.e. listening to “Take a chance on me” while watching Mamma Mia, was another nudge. The more I played with the thought of religious life, the more restless I became. My prayer life was a ‘busy’ one, but something was still missing, and I wanted to get deeper. And then came the feeling of healthy anger. A healthy anger is a type of anger that helps us to explore our feelings and the way we would respond instead of just reacting. What might a healthy anger look like? Let me explain it with my experience. I started to discern God’s call with a spiritual director. At that time, I was teaching in an underprivileged area. As a teacher, I saw the effects of the 2007-2008 financial debt-ceiling crisis: the electricity in some of our students’ homes was cut, and some even became homeless for a short period of time. My spiritual director helped me understand how not to let this distract me but rather to explore what I could about it, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) symbolizes for me how to take action.

Last Friday, our country lost a giant, a Champion of Justice, our “Notorious R.B.G.” RBG’s mother taught her not to be distracted by emotions like anger because it just drains one’s energy. So, Justice RBG used her energy for empathy and equality, and her passion for justice wisely. My spiritual director, too, advised me similarly, to use my passion for justice wisely.

RBG was about embracing justice and embracing people – especially those who were left out or left behind. She was a woman of courage, vision, determination and action. She put anger and fear behind her and was all about serving those in need. She is an inspiration for all. She had a way of helping others see injustice and discrimination. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg knocked on closed doors, opened them, and held them open for others.” (quote by Dean Lizabeth Cohen) She gave voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless.

The combination of discerning God’s call in my life and the urge to work toward a more just and peaceful world led me to look into religious congregations that worked for peace and justice. I found the answer in becoming a Dominican Sister of Peace. We, Dominican Sisters of Peace bear witness to the Gospel and we work to build a more peaceful world through our ministries, our prayer, and our way of life. Being in vocation ministry, I find inspiration in her advice: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” (RBG) My prayer is that I can be a witness of faith and that others may see the meaning and joy of this way of life.

Thank you, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg! Now let us honor her by continuing her advocacy for a more peaceful world.

If you think that God is calling you to live out your call as a Dominican Sister of Peace, contact us.

Posted in God Calling?, News

What Happens at a Virtual Discernment Retreat?

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

To help single women discerning God’s calling, last weekend, September 11-13, we hosted an online discernment retreat “Listening to God’s Voice with an Open Heart.”  Ten discerners participated. Our candidate Cathy Buchanan and many sisters were involved in the retreat as companions, supporters, and speakers.

Spread throughout the retreat were prayers, presentations, reflections, and sharing. We also showcased some videos about the Dominican Sisters of Peace. These videos ranged from a short video about the Motherhouse in Great Bend, KS with some Sisters offering messages of affirmation to the discerners; an overview highlights of the previous ‘Come and See’ event at the Motherhouse in St. Catharine, KY; virtual tours at the Motherhouses in Columbus, OH and Akron, OH.  We also watched a video on how our Sisters live out the Dominican pillars and charism.

Every night, we held an optional social, where some discerners joined our Houses of Welcome communities in Connecticut and Columbus for games, such as a scavenger hunt and Scattergories, which provided humorous exchanges and the opportunity to get to know one another better.

When it was time to pray, we lit candles to symbolize our unity, despite the geographic distances that separated us.  We experienced various forms of prayer, including preaching, guided meditation, Lectio Divina, and Dominican Praise with local communities in Wichita, KS and New Haven, CT. We provided a link for an online Mass, and participants could tune in to a Mass of their preference. The retreatants also had opportunities for personal prayer, reflecting, journaling, and integrating their retreat experience.

For the discernment session on Saturday morning, Sr. Pat Dual introduced some critical components of the discernment process and how it differs from decision making.  In the afternoon, we held a panel discussion on, “Living out our call as a Dominican Sister of Peace,” with Sr. Pat Connick, Sr. Ana Gonzalez and Sr. Ellen Coates zooming in and sharing their vocation journeys and life as Dominican Sisters of Peace. On Sunday, Sr. Bea’s presentation highlighted and integrated the weekend’s journey and ways that retreatants could continue moving forward in their discernment.

Sharing also occurred in many forms. In multiple breakout rooms, arranged by Associate Mary Ellen George OPA, the retreatants were able to share their reflections and ask challenging questions in one-on-one meetings with Sister companions and in small and large groups.

The discerners expressed their gratitude for this retreat. They experienced God’s presence and found some common ground among Sisters, their peers, and about their vocational calls. Some said they received clarification, reassurance, or comfort in their own discernment, which brought them joy and peace. Two retreatants offered these reflections:

“This virtual discernment retreat was an awesome experience and time well spent. I received great counsel regarding my discernment journey. The sisters who acted as mentors for us throughout the weekend cared deeply about helping us understand their lifestyles. This weekend was a great blessing to me.” Paula D.

“It was such a blessing to be part of the September virtual discernment retreat! In the midst of all the COVID chaos, it was a welcomed time to relax, rejuvenate, and really focus on trying to hear God’s call.  I especially loved the opportunity to meet 1-1 with my Sister companion to talk about our journeys and her experiences as a Dominican Sister of Peace!  While my vocation still isn’t crystal clear, it was a big comfort to hear that many of the Sisters and my fellow retreatants had similar stories and experiences of the discernment process.  Thank you, Dominican Sisters of Peace!”  Sarah

 

The discerners were not the only ones who experienced feelings of inspiration and joy. The sisters who joined us as companions and presenters also felt that they were renewed, had great hope for the future, and felt privileged to journey with these discerners.

When asked about this retreat, Sr. Rose Mary Stein, OP, said, “My experience at the online discernment retreat was most inspiring, rewarding, and very prayerful.  As a Sister Companion, I was assigned to meet with a discerner, and she was impressed to learn how I eventually came to my decision becoming a sister.  I know the Holy Spirit had put us together as we shared our stories and had a number of things in common. Many of the questions the discerners asked during the large group session could be answered by one of the Sisters because they had a story or experience that responded to the question…I was blessed to have been included in the retreat.”

God’s grace-filled days were upon each of us in many ways during this retreat. We believe that the seeds and spirit of this retreat will continue to grow and journey with each individual no matter which direction each person takes. Click here for photos from this retreat.

If you are interested in knowing more about our vocational discernment programs, contact us and we will be happy to share details about these programs.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Fruits of our Contemplation

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

As Dominicans, one of our mottos is, “Contemplata aliis tradere” – which, means “To contemplate and to share the fruits of our contemplation.”  Most often, these contemplative fruits are shared in the form of preaching or service.  However, sometimes we actually grow the fruit of our contemplation.  Yes, quite literally at times.  You see, our newest Candidate Cathy Buchanan has shared with us the actual fruit grown from her contemplation.  An Asian melon – affectionately named “Hoa” or “Flower” in Vietnamese was harvested in New Jersey and brought to our convent in New Haven, CT.  Cathy shared the fruit of her contemplation with us and it was delicious.

Let me explain –

In June, Cathy participated in our Mission for Peace program.  In the context of the opening prayer service and reflection, we were invited to reflect on the story of the Parable of the Sower.  Sr. Luisa invited us to see ourselves as the sower, the soil and the seed.  What type of soil were we?  Were we ready to receive the Word of God as a seed planted in our hearts?  Were we the sower?  If so, what were we sowing in our lives?  In the prayer service, we were invited to prepare the soil and plant some seeds.  Then, to nurture them and watch them grow.  All the while paying attention to what God was planting in our hearts and nurturing in our lives.

Cathy planted a small seed and nurtured it – just as she had received the call from God in her heart.  A call from God that took many years to grow as she nurtured it with prayer, service and study.  This seed of a vocation flourished and she took the formal step to enter our congregation as a Candidate during Evening Prayer on the Feast of St. Dominic, August 8.

Just as Cathy’s vocation grew, so did the little plant that she planted in the context of the prayer service during our Mission program.  In the course of caring for the plant, Cathy invited her good friend to plant it in her home garden.  At this point, her friend decided to name the plant “Hoa” or “Flower” because of her beautiful yellow flowers.  Over the months, Hoa grew and spread her vine up the trellis.  Yesterday, the melon was harvested and brought to our convent where we enjoyed it for dinner.  As we ate the melon, Cathy shared its story with us and we reflected on what fruit we were cultivating in our lives and spirits these days.

Sometimes our dinner conversation turns into a theological reflection.  During our dinner yesterday, we recognized the importance of being attentive to the still small voice of God – planting the Word, the seed of a call in our hearts.  Once planted, the call must be nurtured through prayer and the accompaniment of wise guides.  One of the ways of doing this is by attending Discernment retreats.  In fact, this weekend, we are having such a retreat.  Fourteen women will be zooming in from around the country to listen to God and to nurture the call planted within their hearts.  May we be faithful sowers and gardeners as we accompany them and help nurture that which God has planted.

If God has planted a call in your heart and you want to begin this amazing journey of discernment, contact us here – we will be happy to walk with you as you listen to God’s call.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Fifty Seven Years and Counting…

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Last week, I watched news coverage and commemorated virtually my solidarity with those who commemorated the 1963 March on Washington, for jobs and racial equality, with a 2020 March on Washington protesting racial inequality.   On August 28, 2020, thousands flooded the streets of Washington, D.C. once again to protest racial injustice, but with the added demand for police reform and to proclaim that Black Lives Matter.

Fifty seven years after Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed his  “Dream” of the Beloved Community before our nation, we stand in the same spot demanding not only racial equality—but the right NOT to be killed by those sworn to protect and to serve.  In the midst of a pandemic, they came—masked and risking their lives to bear a wide variety of messages—calling for justice and equality with persistent reminders on signs and on their person—that human dignity applies to black and brown bodies too.

While many of the inequality issues of both the March in 1963 and the March in 2020 remained the same, there were some important differences.  The most evident was the significant diversity of the mostly young protesters. In addition, the theme that they chose, “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,” might seem provocative, but it bears an image of truth about racism in America. Racism is the “knee” that systematically “chokes” the life out of black and brown people—economically, educationally and actually every aspect of life.  Systemic racism can literally cost them their lives.

Whether America will more effectively acknowledge and address the entrenchment of systemic racism in our society this time, is still an open question for me.  However, I do feel that the national and global consciousness of racism is in a place it has not been before. We are at a place where real change is possible, but not without uncomfortable and difficult dialogue and change.

Fifty seven years and counting—as a 68 year old Black woman, as a religious Sister, as a Dominican Sister of Peace—I often ask myself, how do I feel about this continuing struggle for human dignity?  This may seem like an easy question, but sometimes, it is not. Certainly, it is a given, that I stand with those seeking justice and peace. But many times, to quote the recent words of former First Lady Michelle Obama and countless others, “I am frustrated and tired.” Especially, when I hear of more violence and yet another shooting of an unarmed Black person by police.  Or, when I hear the obvious lies and promotion of violence coming from the highest office in America. The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Then comes the reality check.

The Atlantic photo credit Emily Jan.

I can always count on God to provide a reality check. It comes in different ways and sometimes, I wish it would come much sooner—but it comes.  It comes in the form of hope, like an adorable picture of a baby sporting an indelible truth on his hat and his shirt.  Or, it comes in the form of the 12-year old granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., standing in the very spot her grandfather stood in 57 years ago, talking about justice and speaking truth to power.  Sometimes hope comes in the realization that the diversity and youth involved in the struggle for justice today, is indeed, a sign of progress.  Hope came last week in the form of a peaceful march by diverse peoples to Washington, D.C. to commemorate earlier struggles for racial equality.

 

 

12 year old Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at March on Washington 2020 and with her father, Martin Luther King III. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
12 year old Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at March on Washington 2020 and with her father, Martin Luther King III. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In whatever form God chooses to inspire me with hope during these times, I am grateful.  How does God inspire you during these times?

Posted in God Calling?, News

Journey to the Core

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

As I prepare to participate in a year-long spiritual development adventure with the Wellstreams program, I want to share with you what has led me to this moment.  But first, let me explain that the Wellstreams program is about deepening one’s spiritual life and awakening to self, to others, and to God, and expanding one’s wisdom.  The program “fosters discernment and provides education for those who may feel called to the practice of spiritual direction.”

I started the program once before, many years ago, but was not in a space to continue the program.  So this time I needed to discern my readiness and willingness to commit to this opportunity for growth and transformation.  Being like the doubting disciple Thomas, my fears about what this journey to the core would require made me question whether I had “the stuff” to be part of this journey with others. My internal dialogue was working overtime to cast doubts about my being “good enough” or “spiritual enough” to be part of this program. While this dialogue still plagues me, my desire to give this time to God, to let God work in me and to be open to whatever God wants to do in me is stronger than these doubts.

During my discernment process, I came to realize also that to move forward and to open myself to possibilities, I needed to take a leap of faith.  And so it is that I embark now on this journey, knowing that this program will likely offer opportunities to be stretched, to develop compassion, and to deepen my awareness, appreciation, and acceptance of self and others, and to nurture my relationship with the Divine.

This journey to the core, to understanding who I am (not who I should be), who God is for me, and who God desires me to be, are the strongest pulls for my participating in this program. I trust that it will be an unfolding journey of discovery, mystery, connection, freedom, and groundedness.  To connect with and reach this core, I know I will need to be open and vulnerable, something that I have learned to do through writing these blogs and slowly through my own work with my spiritual director.

You might say that my journey to the core is similar to the discernment journey to understanding if God is calling a woman to religious life as a Sister.  In both journeys, God speaks to us through our desires and calls us to be who we are meant to be, and invites us to go where we can best be ourselves, knowing God is always with us wherever we are.

If you are feeling called by God, cast aside any fears you might have about religious life and contact us to explore if God is calling you to become a Sister.

Also, we invite you to join us also for a virtual discernment retreat, September 11-13, 2020, which we are hosting via Zoom.  Spend some time with us praying and talking with our Sisters, sharing with other women of FAITH, discovering God’s PURPOSE for your life, and enjoying an experience of COMMUNITY online.  Click here If interested in this retreat or contact Sr. Bea Tiboldi, OP at btiboldi@oppeace.org for details about this free retreat opportunity!

Posted in God Calling?, News