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.


 

Religious Life – Then and Now

Blog by Sr. Maidung Nguyen

Once in a while, I receive comments such as:

“Entering religious life, my daughter cannot pursue her dream for a higher education.”

“What time is the curfew in the convent?”

“You are surrounded by elderly people. Is it boring to live that way?”

What is your experience of religious life at this time?

People have lots of questions and oftentimes hold many misconceptions about what it is like to live the religious life as a sister.

Religious life is a real blessing, sanctified by God. Of course, religious life has seen many changes through the years.

In the past, women had to stay in the convent or monastery, living a more closed life and were bound to an institution. They entered religious life at very young ages, still maturing and growing in their faith and life. They had to adapt to a rigid schedule and rules, which at that time was thought to help them grow spiritually.

Now, those who enter religious life are older, from diverse backgrounds, and better educated with extensive life experiences. They go through a more thorough discernment process that provides them with greater clarity in believing that their call is from God. They want to share their love and passion for mission beyond their families. What inspires so many women to join religious life today is the charism of the congregation, the variety of ministries the congregations offer and the meaningful ways the sisters live.

Elder sisters bring a lifetime of experience, having pursued a faith journey, already marked by hope for the future. Living in community with elder sisters, our younger sisters benefit from the wisdom that comes with age, and receive encouragement, and inspiration to follow God’s will and to engage in varied ministries. They find elder sisters to be models of humility and faith-centered living. Thus, the experience of intergenerational living in a religious community today brings with it an exchange of joy, love, and mutual respect between sisters of all ages.

Now, women today work with sisters from other congregations and laypeople of faith to meet the needs of our time and to build a future of hope through trust and collaboration. Sisters in a younger cohort group have many opportunities to connect with their peer groups across congregational boundaries. Encouraged by congregational leadership, they have many chances to articulate their visions, blessings, and challenges to support and share mission together. With the support from elder sisters, younger members are encouraged to reimagine and envision religious life, with the possibility of giving birth to many vibrant movements. One elder sister remarked, “I wish I could live longer than 100 years of age to see such things happen.”

As a sister in the younger cohort group, I often feel joy, peace, and gratitude for this grace-filled journey and for my vocational call, which provides me much energy and enthusiasm. I often feel like Elizabeth when she greets Mary, “Why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke 1:43-4) I often leap for joy as I live this life as a religious sister.

 

If you want to know more about this way of life, sharing mission together in a collaborative and interconnected spirit with other sisters, or if you want to know more about sisterhood in general, contact us, visit our vocation webpage, or join us for a three-hour Advent Mini-Retreat on December 12 from 2-5pm EST.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Don’t Let Clutter Get in the Way of Answering God’s Call

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

I’ve been thinking lately about how physical and mental clutter affects how we live, and even its effects on our spiritual life. We tend to let things pile up in us and around us and before long we find ourselves overwhelmed and frustrated by the power that these things can have over us.  We might ask ourselves if we are letting clutter get in the way of answering God’s call in our life.  Clutter may be keeping us from being able to discern a clearer path to where God is leading us.

We know that clutter can easily take up space in many places, not just on counter tops and desk tops, but can also take up residence in our minds and hearts. Many of us like to hold onto things. My two culprits are books and fabric. I’m often looking for that next bargain deal to satisfy my appetite for more, even when I have enough already. My obsession with acquiring these possessions can easily consume my attention because what is truthfully happening is that I am seeking to fill every nook and corner of empty space in me. If I pause long enough to realize my obsessive behavior, I can admit that this habit is a sign that I need to quiet my mind and ask myself why I am feeling empty and then spend time in silence and prayer with God, who alone can fill my heart space with all that I need.

What might your clutter be telling you?  Is it telling you that you might be avoiding or procrastinating about something? Are you afraid to let go of things and to discover new possibilities?  Do you need to make room for God in your life?  Could the clutter in your life be keeping you from seeking or discovering your vocational call in life?  Do you find mental clutter gets in your way of feeling free to respond to God’s call?  Do you need to declutter your mind so you can hear what God is saying to you?

Sometimes it is not physical things, however, that we hold on to.  We can hold on to our thoughts, to what others say to us or don’t say to us, what’s happened to us in the past or present, or what we did not receive from others.  We can easily become burdened and weighed down by our cluttered thoughts.  When we recognize that our thoughts are wreaking havoc on our mental and spiritual well-being, keeping us from living life fully, it is time to declutter.

Decluttering is good for the soul. It can be a cleansing and freeing experience. It can help us put what’s important in order.  It can teach us about letting go of what’s not important.  By creating uncluttered spaces, we can be open to letting God in, clearing a path to a more open, expansive heart and mind that can see, hear, and feel how we are being called to live more authentically.

As we declutter from physical things and mental preoccupations that weigh us down, we can begin to receive clarity about what’s important and become free to discover the path we are called to follow.

If you are a woman discerning a vocation to religious life and want help in decluttering the thoughts that might be getting in the way of your responding to God’s invitation, contact us.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Learning through Play

Blog by Sr. Bea Tiboldi, OP

Recently, I participated in a workshop online that started with an icebreaker that took us to a virtual “escape room.” The name of this game may sound scary, but it is a fun game if you like brain games. During the game, the brain is put to a good workout – looking for clues, decoding puzzles, solving word problems, and even trying to read between the lines of a word problem.

Before playing the game, I wondered how this game was supposed to help us strengthen the various skills we each were working on. However, I learned that the virtual escape room game was just the right fit for our workshop. This game required us to discern solutions together by listening to one another’s perspectives and findings, by having to voice each new clue or key information, and by using other compassionate communication skills (i.e. encouraging one another, cheering on the team, and staying positive – negative thoughts would have just hurt the progress.) This game offered plenty of opportunities for practicing other skills, such as staying open to others’ perspectives and having a limited time to respond helped us practice how we should not overthink the challenges.

How does all this resonate with one’s discernment? In the game, players look for clues and they do it by helping one another. Similarly, when someone is discerning religious life, IT IS A JOURNEY THAT NO ONE TAKES ALONE. We recommend talking to someone you trust, as well as working with a spiritual director and a vocation minister. You may also want to consider participating in our discernment group or our prayer group, with other women who are discerning their call to religious life. In addition, you can always count on our prayers.

Participating in the game, we could not get fixated on just one detail – similarly, when discerning religious life, we try to DISCERN FROM VARIOUS PERSPECTIVES. During the game, we shared and received insights about the things that were being discovered. During discernment, we, too, RECEIVE INPUTS AND SHARE INSIGHTS through sharing faith with one another, and through gaining insights that others may notice, but that we haven’t noticed yet. In the game, we had several “ah-ha” moments and each of those moments helped us gain clarity, which resonates with the discernment process: through PRAYER, we may experience “AH-HA” MOMENTS and AFFIRMATION, which can help us GAIN a deeper CLARITY about our vocation.

TEST IT OUT. After finding a solution in the game, we put it to the test by typing in the answer in the computer or by turning the numbers on a lock. Similar to discernment, when praying with the thoughts of discerning a life of prayer that is lived in a community, we recommend you give religious life a try to see what it feels like.

Last but not least… another element that I think resonates with discerning a call to religious life is BEING IN SYNC. When playing the game, players need to be in sync with each other because syncing ensures accuracy. We can discern our vocation more accurately, if not only our heart and mind are in sync, but also if our heart is in sync with the religious community’s charism, mission, and life in community, and ultimately and most importantly, if our heart is in sync with God. Being in TOTAL SYNC WITH GOD requires us to BE ATTENTIVE, to LISTEN, to TRUST, to be OPEN to where God guides us, and accepting that everything happens in GOD’S TIME.

If you are discerning God’s call to religious life, remember, you don’t need to walk this journey alone. We are here to walk with you. Click here to contact us.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Repotting Orchids . . . Reflections on the Spiritual Life

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

It was a mess! 

What had begun as a quiet morning was interrupted by a loud crash as the orchid pot hit the floor.  Sphagnum moss, bark chips, and pieces of orchid littered the stairwell. 

I put down my laundry basket that I’d been carrying when it collided with the orchid on the window sill.  As I stooped down to examine the situation, I was stunned to see the roots of the orchid had escaped the confines of their pot. They were now free to spread out in their constant search for air, water, and nutrients.  I knelt there and examined the roots, the pot, and the orchid’s leaves & flowers.  It became a moment of contemplation and prayer for me, and I reveled in the beauty of God’s creation.  Then, it dawned on me that this orchid could be a metaphor for what our spiritual life can look like at times and how God invites us to search for more.  I believe this is especially true for those discerning God’s call in their lives. 

Let me back up for a moment and share a little about Orchids.  One of the most important things to know is that they are epiphytes, which are plants that do not grow in soil but attach to other trees, or to a wall, or to some other stable surface where they can use their specially adapted roots to extract moisture and nutrients from the air around them.  Thus, they need something stable to hold on to – just like us in our spiritual life, we need God and faith.  Secondly, they need certain things, like water & nutrients, to live and to grow – just like we need the Word of God and the sacraments to flourish as people of God.  Third, their leaves must turn toward the light to absorb the energy needed for photosynthesis – just as those discerning God’s call must spend time sitting in the light of God’s love in prayer and contemplation to find the enlightenment they need to take the next step. 

I invite you to take a few moments to reflect on your own spiritual life.  What do you need to flourish and to grow?  Do you need to be repotted or trimmed?  Share from your heart, then listen to the master gardener, and allow yourself to be tended to.  Who knows what new life awaits to blossom forth.

 

Is the master gardener calling you to tend to your life as a religious sister?  Are you eager to discover or explore your calling?  If so, contact us.  

 

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

We Are Autumn People

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

(From A Reflection on Autumn Days by Joyce Rupp)

The season of Autumn arrived with its last burst of colors and its days of early falling darkness.  Autumn is a natural season of transition. I believe it highlights a persistent message from God, to us, about life and change.  I read recently, “Reflection on Autumn Days” by Joyce Rupp. The reflection expresses this persistent message about change in these words, “In the deepest part of who we are, there is always a call to continue our transformation process.  We are Autumn people.  We are always called to be in the process of growing and changing.”

While these are words of truth for everyone, they are prophetic words for those living in religious life today. They are prophetic words for those in the initial stages of formation, as well as those in the process of discerning a religious vocation. We are continually called to be open to God’s spirit of transformation.

Joyce Rupp’s autumn reflection led me to think about my own need for continuing transformation. It reminded me that openness to God’s call to ongoing transformation is essential to living religious life and to formation ministry. In fact, religious life in the 21st century is undergoing a time of great transition. We have learned during these years of rapid change, that our openness to “the process of growing and changing” is crucial to remaining viable and relevant as we move into the future. One of the most important qualities that a person must bring to the formation process is openness to God’s slow and sometimes challenging work of transformation.

In addition to being open to the process of change, recognizing the times when we are called to “let go” is also part of the transition process.  I have learned that those times of “letting go” in my life have also been times of great personal growth.

“We are autumn people,” and autumn seems to naturally invite us to reflection. As you experience these beautiful days of autumn, I invite you to indulge in your own self- reflection. You may want to use Joyce Rupp’s autumn reflection as I did.  You may also want to use another poem or writing that speaks to you.  I invite you to sit with such questions as:

What changes might God be asking of you?  
What are you being invited to let go of?
Where are you being invited to grow?
More importantly, what is your level of openness to self-reflection on any of these questions?

If your reflection leads you to feel God is inviting you to consider becoming a Sister, I invite you to give us a call.

Peace.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog