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.


 

It’s in the Simple Things

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

I woke up in the middle of the night and felt the warmth of our cat resting on my side.  In that moment, I felt God’s comfort, whispering to me “it’s in the simple things where I can be found and am present with you.”  This one simple awareness caught my attention, enough for me to roll out of bed in the wee hours to write down this significant moment of God speaking to me.

So now I’m thinking about how often I miss seeing God at work in my life. I suspect I am not alone—that we are all often blind to God’s presence, of God with us, around us, and in us.  God is in the very breath of our life, in our relationships, in our doings.  God is in our struggles and the longings of our heart. Yet, do we believe God is active in our lives and actively knocking on the door of our heart to let God in?

It’s in the simple things where I can smile at the presence of God.  I’m learning to pause and notice with gratitude how God is in the simple things.  I just have to look and listen.  God’s presence is indeed everywhere–in the receiving of help during difficult times, a pleasant encounter with a stranger in the grocery store, in the helping hands of volunteers giving out food and clothing to victims of disasters.

Are you able to look around and see that God is present in the simple things in your life?  Are you missing out on how God is working through you, and using you to be God’s instruments of peace and love to others?  Yes, God “uses” us, through our gifts and even our weaknesses to reach out to others, to transform us and others. We only need to say “yes” to God and to begin to see as God sees us, and when we see ourselves as God sees us, love and beauty will enfold us. It is in the “yes” moments that we will also have our “aha” moments of knowing and believing that God is where we are.

So, join me in claiming this mantra that “it’s in the simple things where God can be found.”  We don’t have to search high and low for our Creator.  We just have to open our eyes to seeing God before us and attune our ears to hearing God around us.

What is God’s desire for you? It may be the same as your desire to follow God in community, prayer, ministry, and study with others as a religious sister.  Are you missing how God is calling you to follow a certain path? Remember, God is in the simple things and the journey to responding to God can be a profound, but simple “yes.”  If you are ready to explore how God may be calling you to become a religious sister, we invite you to contact us.  It really is that simple.

 

 

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Reflections on Black History Month 2022

Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

I grew up celebrating Black History week first, before it was officially designated Black History Month in February.  Through the years, I developed a deeper appreciation of Black history, remembering our contributions in many areas of society.  In the last two years, I have seen what can only be described as the reversal of some of the racial progress and equity gained after the Civil Rights Movement.  At the same time, I have also witnessed a kind of waking-up of white consciousness.  This awakening was spurred, in large part, by the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.  The challenge to dismantling racism has been very compelling these last few years.  I find it especially significant at this time, that the mantle has been taken up by both black and white Americans, from all walks of life and culture, especially the culture of religious life.

As a Black religious sister, I have been deeply heartened by the way many religious communities and religious organizations are in the forefront of addressing and educating themselves and others about racism. My own congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Peace, has studied, provided resources, offered presentations, and engaged in dialogue opportunities among our members.  Our Leadership team and our congregation have been open to engaging in difficult conversations about race, bias, intercultural living, and systemic inequity.  Why?  I believe it is because grappling with these issues is part of the future that is unfolding in religious life.  While the number of women entering religious life are fewer than in the past, those entering are very diverse culturally.  I think this diversity is an important part of the unfolding future of religious life.  Preparation and openness are key to this future success.

Black History Month in 2022, found me reflecting on the Black religious women on whose shoulders I stand, some still alive, but many more in the presence of God.  Historian Dr. Shannen Dee Williams, Ph.D. in her upcoming book, “Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle” wrote about the hidden histories of many women of color, who either entered or attempted to enter white religious orders in the past.  She has given some fascinating presentations from her research.  I invite you to view this short video clip with Dr. Williams here.  My reflection led me to think about two Black religious women who played an important role in my discernment and journey into religious life–Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, OSP and Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA.

Mother Elizabeth Lange was a Haitian refugee and one of the foundresses for the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first order of religious sisters founded in 1829 for women of color in Baltimore, MD.  The Oblate Sisters of Providence continue their mission today of the education of African American children.  I was an Associate with the Oblate Sisters of Providence for three years.  I still remember the experience of entering their motherhouse for the first time and seeing Black sisters walking the halls of the convent. It was here that I discerned my call to “something more” was not to Associate membership, but to vowed religious life.  I also felt called to a broader expression of religious life than being in an all-Black congregation.

Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA was also an important role model for me.  The reason why is summed up in this quote from her, “I bring myself; my Black self, all that I am, all that I have, all that I hope to become. I bring my whole history, my traditions, my experience, my culture, my African-American song and dance, and gesture and movement, and teaching and preaching, and healing and responsibility – as gifts to the Church,” and I would add–to religious congregations.  Sr. Thea Bowman modeled the concept of “unity in diversity.”  Thea modeled that I could be true to who I am as a Black woman and a religious sister. She is not the only Black religious to model this, but she was important to my religious discernment.  I honor both Sr. Thea’s contribution and Mother Lange’s contribution to America during Black History Month 2022.  I invite you to read here about Mother Lange and Sr. Thea Bowman along with four other Black Candidates for Sainthood in 2020.

I end with these thoughts.  This quote is often attributed to actor, Morgan Freeman, “Black history is American History.”  It is a truth this country continues to struggle to recognize.  I believe that only in our efforts to reconcile and learn from the past, will we emerge into a more loving and radiant future.  I also think that vowed religious and all people of goodwill have a part to play in bringing about such a future.

Perhaps you are being called to help bring about a brighter future of love for all people– as a Sister?   Call us, we would be happy to help.

Peace.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Where Will my Journey Take Me?

Blog by Sr. Cathy Buchanan, shown here on a walk.

Since arriving at the novitiate on August 14, 2021, I have physically journeyed 1,245 miles! How do I know that? Because my Fitbit tells me each day how many miles I walked on a given day.  But how many more miles have I spiritually journeyed with God since arriving here at the CDN in August? And is there a spiritual Fitbit to measure that? Back to those questions a little later.

For those who know me, you may know I love to walk. But that wasn’t always the case. I grew into the practice of walking when I set my mind on becoming “healthier”. I started by just walking around the block because that’s all I could do when I started on this walking journey four years ago. Little by little I began to enjoy being outside in nature walking. I began to understand how to see God’s beauty in nature and how to love God’s creation. My love for walking really kicked in when I decided to train to walk the Way of St. James (the Camino) in Spain. I read Joyce Rupp’s book, “Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino” and it was then that I understood that walking could be a prayer and a spiritual journey as well.

One of the reasons I believe I was attracted to the Dominican Order was because I learned that St. Dominic used his many “walking journeys” as a time to “talk with God and about God” to anyone he met on his journey.  I felt a very strong connection to St. Dominic’s way of journeying with prayer. This has now become a very important practice in my daily prayer life here at the CDN. I get up at 5AM every morning so that I can go out before community prayer to walk and talk with God. I call this my “journeying with God” time.

I have come to treasure my time here at the CDN because it gives me the space and time to (literally and spiritually) journey with God and more importantly, the contemplative space to listen to what God is saying to me. My spiritual journey is well on its way in some areas, but only just beginning in other areas. So, my spiritual Fitbit is reminding me to keep up the journey with God and to trust that God knows where God wants my journey to take me. I have a great inner peace that I am on the right journey and that God is leading the way. Here at the CDN, I have learned to trust what God is speaking to my heart, especially as I track the spiritual miles that I spend walking and talking with God. Where will God be taking you and your spiritual Fitbit today on your journey? Peace, Joy and Blessings for the Way.

If you hear God’s call for a closer walk, and to life as a religious Sister, contact us or participate in our Come and See event this March 4-6, 2022. Click here to register now for this weekend event.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Wake Up to What’s Possible

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

As I prepared my morning breakfast, the inspiration for this blog presented itself on a package of muffins. I had an “aha” moment at seeing these words, “wake up to what’s possible,” in plain view for my reflection. Messages can surround us and appear before us waiting to be noticed.

“Wake up” is the first message I see in the phrase on this package. For many of us, waking up can be hard to do, both physically and spiritually. We like to hit the snooze button and enjoy a few extra minutes of slumber before we are ready to meet a new day.  Inside every new day is an opportunity to wake up to where and how God presents God’s presence in everything we do and are about.

How do we practice waking up? We can start with a morning ritual of prayer and silence to awaken our minds and our hearts to be mindful of God’s presence as we invite God into the nook and crannies of our lives. As we eat our morning breakfast and possibly share a meal with others, we can be alert to how we and others are instruments of God’s grace, simply with a smile, a hug, or a greeting as a tangible sign of presence.  These simple gestures can reveal God’s way of reaching out to us, affirming us and teaching us to be attentive to the ways God is present to us.

Sometimes waking up can be a startling or unpleasant awakening, where we are stretched or called to see life differently, both our own life and the life of others. How often have we been challenged to recognize that our ways, our views, are not the only ones out there? We might ask, “What is God teaching me in this moment?” or “How is God calling me to be present in this moment?” These wake-up questions invite us to focus on how God is nudging us into greater awareness of who God wants us to be and where God is for us. As we reflect on these questions, more questions may emerge. Am I open to God’s desire for me?  Am I open to God’s call in my life? Am I willing to give my life over to God’s control? How can I trust in God?  Or, in moments of despair, loss, or hurt, we may ask, “Where is God in this moment?” and the answer will be waiting to be awakened within our soul.

Waking up is certainly a lifelong spiritual journey of seeking to see, hear, and witness how God reveals God’s faithful presence. We need each other to help us see more clearly when we are blind to God’s ways.  We need each other to help us listen to how God is present to us when we feel God is silent. We need each other to remind us that we are not alone and that if we are lonely, to trust that God is always a breath and heartbeat within us, loving us. God is always waking us up and calling us to see and hear the path to which we are being called to follow.

The second message on this package invites the question, “what’s possible?” Faith has been my teacher in viewing and seeing what’s possible. Faced with questions about how I could bear a trial or what to do about a situation, faith and prayer have been my constant friends, making the seemingly impossible possible. Jesus, himself, conveys that it is our faith that enables and empowers us to live a life of possibility, as the Gospel of Matthew tells us “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20) We hear also in this same gospel, the message that “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

Or another way to frame our understanding of seeing what’s possible is to embrace the wisdom of the young poet, Amanda Gorman, as she asserts that “there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.” And with all that seems impossible in our world today, Amanda also inspires us to “lift our gazes not to what stands between us but what stands before us.”  May it be so.

So, I invite you and me to wake up to what is possible, knowing that with God everything is possible.

Is God possibly calling you to consider living as a religious sister?  If so, contact us and be awakened to a life of rich possibilities.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog