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.


 

A Glimpse of Community

Blog by Sr. Ana Gonzalez

The fragrance of fresh pizza wafted through the house on a cold Saturday evening. Cathy, our Candidate and newest member to our community in New Haven, treated us with two large pizza pies from Modern Apizza. We usually designate Saturdays as a day for pickup for dinner or “review for religious” (a.k.a. “leftovers”).  Cathy’s contribution to our weekend dinner was a welcome surprise. The smell of freshly baked pies, kept warm in the oven, announced to all that dinner was ready.  The community gathered in the kitchen before preparing to bless the meal.

“Have you seen Sister An Hoa,” asked Cathy, as she placed the pies on the kitchen table.

“No, I am not sure if she has completed her test.” I responded, noticing the community’s concern for Sister An Hoa.

“It is getting dark and cold and I wonder if she is ok?” said Sister Julia.

“I am not sure if she is home, but some random table is on the back porch,” said Sister June. “Last time a random table showed up on the back porch Sister An Hoa brought it home. Perhaps she is home and resting after her test.”

In the next moment, the cozy kitchen burst into a roar of cheer as Sister An Hoa walked into the kitchen. “There she is,” I exclaimed.  The community was eager to hear about how her English competency exam had gone because this was an exam she had to take in order to apply for her PhD program.  Her reply, however, had to wait as Cathy started, “Let us pray…”

My little community is a diverse intergenerational, intercultural and inter-congregational mix.  An outsider might imagine that this diversity might create conflicts among the members living under the same roof; it does not. I am learning that, unlike housemates, life in a religious community encourages us to COME together in UNITY, forged by being grounded in our relationship with God and in living out our call to consecrated life.  As we share our common life, we live with the awareness that we are dependent on each other.  We experience God in our relationships and interactions with one another.  Our community life both broadens our vision of God and deepens our understanding of the Divine. Ultimately, community helps us grow closer because of our common unity with God.

“This pizza is amazing,” I exclaim as I bite into my first slice of bacon and sausage pizza. While Modern Apizza is delicious, my real joy comes from sharing a meal with these women gathered around the dinner table. God brought me to this place through my call to religious life.  As I continue my journey of formation as a sister, I am gifted by the opportunity to share my experience, life and faith with women, who like me, are following God’s call. The gift of their lives and their sharing makes my life so much better.  I appreciate greatly the opportunities to grow in my personal and spiritual awareness as part of my interaction with my sisters.  I count my blessings in being able to live in a community. We COME, sharing our diversity and gifts with each other in UNITY with God. Our intentional, diverse community gives me hope for a future filled with promise.

If God is calling you to consider religious life, why not take the leap and call one of our vocation ministers to start a conversation?

Posted in God Calling?, News

Following God During a Time of Pandemic

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

For sure, the year 2020 was a year like no other. I need not list here, the suffering and chaos of the year to anyone old enough to read this blog.  But I am reminded of the message of hope expressed during the Christmas season and reiterated at the Epiphany—God’s Light (Christ) has come to dispel the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome the Light.  I have found over the last few months, that I need to hold this message firmly in my spirit. One thing that has helped sustain my hope during this time has been seeing God’s spirit continuing to inspire and call women to consider a life in service to God and the people of God.  Perhaps, it is in times of greater suffering and confusion that God’s call is clearer to us. However, I am certain that God continues to call women to consider religious life even amid a pandemic.

The fact that God is still calling women to religious life and to our congregation is great news!  But for relational ministries like Formation and Vocation, the isolation and protocol for preventing the spread of the virus, presented somewhat of a problem. The 2020 year of pandemic caused disruptions in everyone’s life, redefining how we lived, worked, and related to each other. Making use of virtual technology became the safest way to work and to relate to each other.  For better or worse, virtual technology became the “new normal.”

The vocation team seemed to quickly adapt to this new way of connecting with discerning women by sponsoring virtual Come and See Weekends; virtual dinner or prayer events with Sisters; and virtual Mission for Peace events, like the one happening this weekend.  The vocation team has designed a complete online program that continues the important ministry of helping women discern God’s call. They have been quite successful in their efforts, adapting to the fact that God continues to call people to consecrated life, even during COVID-19.

Sr. Phuong Vu Professing her First Vows with Sr. Dot Trosclair on Dec. 8, 2020

The Formation ministry also had to adapt to pandemic conditions. We had to rethink how we would welcome women who discerned and were accepted as Candidates in the congregation. In addition, there were several women already in the initial formation process as novices and temporary professed Sisters. Most of them were ready to take the next steps in their journey of becoming a Sister.

The ritual ceremonies for each step in the formation process are very meaningful and culminate after several years with final vows.  The rituals and ceremonies usually take place during congregational gatherings and requires traveling for almost everyone involved. As weeks stretched into months during the pandemic, using technology was the only way forward to hold these ceremonies.  The women in formation were open and ready for participating in modified virtual ceremonies, witnessed in person with their local community, with the congregation, and with family and friends joining virtually. Though not ideal, these virtual ceremonies were wonderful events seen by our Sisters and guests in several states.  Holding such ceremonies virtually, these women in formation have demonstrated two necessary characteristics of women in religious life—openness and adaptability.

Candidate Tram Bui’s Virtual Welcome Ceremony with Prioress Sr. Pat Twohill and Formation Coordinator Pat Dual.

I am very happy that the Dominican Sisters of Peace have been able to adapt to the continuing call of women to religious life.  Currently, we have seven women in formation. Two became Candidates during the pandemic this year.  Cathy Buchanan and Tram Bui were welcomed into the congregation with their local convent communities in New Haven, CT, and Columbus, OH, respectively. Canonical Novice, Sr. Annie Killian entered our Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) in Chicago, IL. All aspects of the novitiate have been adapted with online classes, retreats and even ministry in some cases. It has been a very different experience at the novitiate this year, but the novices are grateful they were able to continue their discernment process.  Our second-year novice, Sr. Ellen Coates returned to Columbus, OH from the CDN in August 2020. She can do her ministry from home as part of the Ohio State University Contact tracing team. Sr. Phuong Vu professed her First Vows in a beautiful Mass in New Orleans, LA since it was unsafe to travel to the Motherhouse in Columbus, OH.  While masks, face shields and social distancing were required, Sr. Phuong was grateful to take her first vows. The Prioress and I, along with her family, watched her special moment virtually and with much gratitude.

Posted in God Calling?, News

When a Child is Born…

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

When a child is born, there is so much joy, awe, and wonderment. While I cannot personally attest to the experience of giving birth to a child, I can recall the joy around the birth of my nieces and nephews through the years.  This joy, mixed with awe about their growth and development and wanting to know more about who they were becoming, what they were interested in, and how they were doing, became the focus of many conversations within the family.

Certainly for Jesus’ Mother, Mary these many feelings undoubtedly held true.  As she waited for her Son’s birth, she assuredly experienced moments of wondering what this child would be like. And knowing that she and Joseph were entrusted with raising a son who was born to bring good tidings to all of God’s people, must have been an overwhelming feeling. Understanding this concern, we learn that God sends the angel Gabriel to be with Mary and tells her to not be afraid for God will be with her.

We, too, can take comfort in trusting that God is with us in our own journeys and to not be afraid of what comes next.  What is God birthing in you and waiting for you to say “yes” to in your life?

As we approach the celebration of the Christ Child on Christmas Day, may we be filled with joy, awe, and wonderment, pondering the meaning that this birth holds. May we find peace, hope, and love for a future that calls us to seek God’s will always and to respond, like Mary, with a faith that trusts that God is present within and among us.  May we and all humankind know God’s peace and love and may we be instruments to each other in extending this same peace and love in both the enriching and challenging moments of life’s happenings.

If you are ready to begin entrusting your life to God as a religious sister, we invite you to contact us as we walk with you in this journey of faith.  We also invite you to join us for a Mission for Peace program where you can EXPERIENCE daily prayer, reflection, and sharing; PARTICIPATE in interactive presentations, ENGAGE in mission opportunities, EXPLORE God’s call for your life – all from your home! Click here for more information.

Posted in God Calling?

Living Today as a Day of Thanks

Blog by Sr. Mai-Dung Nguyen

Everyone can agree 2020 has been a challenging year in our human history, filled with so many uncertainties and losses. We cannot predict how from day to day our life will turn out. In such a reality, how do you live each day joyfully and how do you find opportunities to lighten your day?

Although Thanksgiving has passed, I still want to share with you a wonderful turkey story that brought so much lightness to our local community.

One day, a sister and I went to buy a turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner. We brought home two turkeys because of a bargain deal, “buy one, get one free.” We froze one and thawed out the other one, and after the thawed turkey was unpacked, what we saw on this turkey was not what we had expected.

“Oh no! Where are the legs?” I shouted with a high voice, drawing the attention of three other sisters in my community who were in the kitchen.

“Oh, no wings either. Why?” my voice sounded higher.  

For those who desire dark turkey meat for their Thanksgiving dinner, you can imagine how disappointed I was at that moment. While I was still fretting over missing these delicious parts of the turkey, suddenly, after looking at the turkey, then looking at my sisters, all four of us burst out laughing at the same time.  We were laughing because the fine print on the package labeling read “Honey Turkey Breast.”  This was not a whole turkey.  We chuckled and shared humorous conversations back and forth.

“No wonder it was buy one get one free.”

But … we saved almost $40 in purchasing the turkey.”

“Think about it this way: if the turkey had legs and wings, it would fly away and would not be here for us to eat.”

Maybe the wings and the legs are somewhere helping people affected by the pandemic.”

We laughed and laughed without stopping. We could not believe that this turkey uplifted our spirit so much. If we had a whole, perfect turkey, we would not have enjoyed a memorable and funny Thanksgiving Day.

Having this joyful spirit within the community, plus the presence of the turkey without legs and wings, brought to mind the scripture quote, “We are the body of Christ.” Yes, we are the body of Christ to one another in any situation and wherever we live. Through the community of Christ, darkness can become the light of Christ, shining in various ways. We did not have the dark meat, but we had abundant laughter instead. Even now, after two weeks, we still laugh every time we talk about the turkey and recall our jokes. The breast meat was the most delicious turkey meat that I had ever eaten before, maybe because it was seasoned with our joyful spirit. And yet, the lost wings and legs of this turkey reminds us that God needs our help as God’s wings and legs to deliver love, hope, joy, peace to the world through who we are.

This turkey story speaks volumes for us as we live out this Advent season with joy, love, peace, and hope.  It is a story that calls us to give thanks for what we receive each day.

Today is a great day to give thanks to God
for my life and the lives of others.
Today is a great day to reaffirm that
with God, everything is possible.
With God, all pieces of life come together,
for God is the energy in all relationships,
pulling all things together in unity and love.
Today is a great day to start over as a brand-new day.
New possibilities are opened throughout the day,
for me to live fully under God’s grace,
to become truly who I am called to be,
to give one another legs to walk or wings to fly.
If today is not a great day, what day would be a great day for me?

If today you feel God’s voice nudging you, this is definitely a great day to discern your call. Visit our vocation website page or contact us. We don’t need a perfect day or a perfect plan to start our discernment, for today is a great day that God has given to us.

Posted in God Calling?

A Season of Hope…

Blog by Sr. Bea Tiboldi

Sometimes it feels like we have been “waiting in darkness” for so long, especially since the beginning of this pandemic. Lauren Thompson says in her book, Hope is an Open Heart: “sometimes hope feels far away, but hope is always there. (…) Hope is always there inside you, waiting to unfold.”

Last weekend, some of us participated in an online retreat, titled, “Waiting in joyful hope.” Sr. Anne Kilbride, OP, offered a prayerful and insightful reflection about the essence of waiting, hope, and joy as she shared quotes by Meister Eckhart, who was our spiritual companion during the retreat.

We might be beaten down or fatigued by current events or the pandemic, however, Sr. Anne helped us recognize that the God of compassion and the God of hope is always with us, or as Eckhart said: “trust that you already have God in your heart, for God is always already there, and in that trust, you will find God…” Sr. Anne reminded us with the words of Eckhart, that this experience depends on the quality of our lives and whether we have enough space for God. She then encouraged us to let go of things that keep us from experiencing God, so that we can become free to be more loving.

How can we experience God and free ourselves to become more loving? Eckhart says: “What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we reap in the harvest of action.” In other words, Sr. Anne explained: “it is in contemplation that hope is born into action.”

Let us begin this new Liturgical year with hope. We hope that these songs below might inspire you during this Advent season, or they might help you experience and contemplate God. How can you cultivate hope at this time?

May we re-kindle our hope in God, and that our hope can be born into action as we prepare the way of the Lord by making God’s love and compassion known to all.

Christ be our Light
Come, Emmanuel
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Jesus, Hope of the world
The King shall come when morning dawns
Light of the World
My soul in stillness waits
O Come Divine Messiah
O Come O Come Emmanuel (Phil Whickham)
O Lord of Light who made the starts
People look East
To You, o Lord, I lift my soul
Waiting in silence, waiting in hope
We have this hope

Posted in God Calling?