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.


 

Be the hope God calls you to be

Blog by Sr. Bea Tiboldi, OP

What is your reason for hope?

In what ways do you communicate this hope to others?

Last Fall, during the Convocation of the National Religious Vocation Conference, Sr. Addie Walker, SSND gave a talk entitled, “Reason for our hope: a testimony of our life, death, and resurrection in Christ Jesus,” which was also published in the Winter 2021 edition of Horizon Magazine.  A year later, her talk continues to inspire me and so I want to share some highlights from this article so that all of us might rekindle our hope in Christ, and to be an instrument of God’s hope.

Recognizing the needs of our times… the need for an end to racism, and the need for racial harmony and healing, “in times like this, we need hope!” she wrote. “There are fires in California, hurricanes in the Gulf, tornadoes and floods across the Midwest. In times like this, we need hope.” “We’re experiencing high unemployment, exhausted health care workers, students moved to online platforms for study and mentoring, local businesses at minimum capacity, churches unable to gather in regular capacity for worship and prayer. In times like these, we need hope.”

We need hope – even in times like now…

Pope Francis dedicated the year of 2015 to a year focusing on Consecrated Life, and in his talk he said: “It is precisely amid these uncertainties (…) that we are called to practice the virtue of hope. (…) This hope is not based on statistics or accomplishments, but in ‘Christ Jesus our hope’ (cf 1 Tim 1:1), the One for whom ‘nothing is impossible’ (Lk 1:37).”

Sr. Addie encourages us: “Do something! Live the gospel, radically, now!” She writes this in the midst of the struggles that she and I mentioned above. Sr. Addie continues to inspire us: “Let us live life in the here and now with a passion and a zeal for the God who first loved us and at every moment continues to love us, the God who called us and promised to accompany us on the way, the God who brought us here to this point in our lives. Living the present with passion stirs up hope. We are called to be women and men of hope.”

It sounds doable to share God’s hope, but when we read or watch the daily news, we may become discouraged quickly.  Personally, I am always eager to watch Lester Holt’s “Inspire America” story at the end of his newscast. Just one inspiring story, yet it recharges my hope. Maybe, that’s one way to start. Incorporate one small act of kindness every day to give hope to someone. Imagine how much kinder our world would be if we all practiced this habit.

Sr. Addie inspires us to really be alive, and not to just survive each day but to thrive each day. Let me share her advice:

“To live, requires that we pay attention to what has heart and meaning, reading the signs of the times, listening to the calls of the Spirit, the people, the church, listening to myself, listening to you, listening with the heart of God. The second step of prayer requires us to see where God is acting, and it calls us to act in our times. We must pray that we can see what God sees and be moved to response-ability. Then we must act. We must do something for God’s sake. Finally, we must pause, reflect, and assess our faithfulness to God’s mission.

Let us live life in the here and now with a passion and a zeal for the God who first loved us and at every moment continues to love us, the God who called us and promised to accompany us on the way, the God who brought us here to this point in our lives. Living the present with passion stirs up hope. We are called to be women and men of hope.”

Once we rekindle our hope in Christ, we must share that hope. In his exhortation about evangelization, Pope Francis writes that it is a “joyful response to God’s love which summons us to mission and makes us fulfilled and productive.” (Joy of the Gospel, #81)

Sr. Addie continues:

“As I look to the future, I keep in mind that hope is based on God and vision for our world and the people that God has called to carry out that vision: you and me. We carry this hope together.”

I leave it here for you.
Listen to the Spirit and to the world around us.
Make your plan (Habakkuk 2:2-2)
Be alive. Do something.
Continuously pause and assess.
Be the hope God calls you to be.

If you feel that God calls you to carry out the vision of hope as a vowed religious Sister, please contact us here.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Show Me The Way!

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

Laughter echoed in the front hallways of the Akron Motherhouse as five women came from across the country gathered in person for our Come & See retreat this past weekend.  (A sixth woman attended the retreat in person at our St. Catharine, Kentucky Motherhouse.)  What joy to see their faces!  (Albeit masked faces.) This, our first in person retreat in two years took extra effort on the part of retreatants, Ministry of Welcome – Vocations team and the Sisters & staff in our Motherhouses, but it was certainly worth it to be together “in real life.”  With strict COVID protocols in place, including testing, masking, and maintaining appropriate physical distance from each other – we were able to have a blessed retreat.

The four pillars of Dominican Spirituality formed the framework for the presentations, which were conducted, in person and via Zoom.  Sr. Linda Lee Jackson shared about the Pillar of Prayer and how the Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic can be practiced today from a more wholistic, incarnational approach to spirituality.  Sisters Maura Bartel and Ana Gonzalez explored the Pillar of Study in their lives as Dominican Sisters of Peace.  Sister Joanne Caniglia shared her deep love of the wide Dominican mission of service and of how God has called her to use her gifts as a teacher and professor for almost 40 years.  Rounding out the pillars, Sisters Annie Killian and Mary Vuong shared about their experience of Community.  They highlighted how they discerned and chose to establish a new local community in South Bend, Indiana as a response to one Sister’s new ministry in the area.  All in all, there was a deep sense of connection, love, support, and encouragement.  Questions flowed during the sessions and in between times at meals and informal sharing.

This retreat was truly a hybrid retreat in that we had five women in person at the Akron, Ohio Motherhouse and one woman retreating with the community at the St. Catherine, Kentucky Motherhouse.  In both places, the retreatants were able to enjoy the beauty of the motherhouse grounds, open areas, farm animals, chapels, community rooms and heritage exhibits.  Woven within it all was time for both communal and personal prayer.  Capping off the evening on Saturday was a social with our sisters in formation who zoomed in from Indiana, Illinois, Connecticut, Louisiana, and Ohio to share with the discerning women.

From the opening prayer on Friday evening as we sang the Salve until we closed the retreat with a rousing rendition of the Dominican Blessing by James Marchionda, OP, we felt the prayers and support of all of our Sisters.  It indeed takes an entire Congregation to conduct a Come & See retreat.  We are grateful to all who made it possible in Akron, St. Catharine’s, and beyond.  Our locations might have been more than 300 miles apart, but the distance was made much shorter by the Spirit of God uniting us in a common quest – to discover God’s plan and path for our lives.

We closed with the words to the Dominican Blessing:

May God Creator Bless us,
May God Redeemer Heal us,
and
May God the Holy Spirit fill us with light. 

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

FOREVER

On the day of my final profession, I heard the call of my name.

I took a deep breath and with it came the abundant outpouring of love and an invitation to follow God forever. The moment of consecration had arrived as I heard the words of my Prioress, “I ask you now, do you wish to profess Perpetual Vows as a Dominican Sister of Peace?.”

Another deep breath. These profound words stirred in my heart as I expressed my desire to profess my forever vows. Suddenly, I felt my heart beating, vibrating a joyful rhythm within my chest and throughout my body. With each pulse, I was reminded of the amazing journey that brought me to this point–forever aware of God’s call.  

I held onto the hands of my Prioress, affirmed by her gentle grasp. The touch made palpable the presence of The Divine. This journey was not made alone. I was blessed with mentors and companions, who allowed me to have a tangible experience of God. 

I spoke my name out loud.

As I began to profess my forever commitment to God as a Dominican Sister of Peace, I was overcome by the realization that God first committed to me. Overwhelmed by gratitude and bliss, I choked up. I took a deep breath and tried again. 

“I, Sister Ana Isabel Gonzalez Michel, profess the vows of obedience, celibacy and poverty to God and in your hands, Sister Patricia Twohill, to be lived in the light of the Gospel and according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of this congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, for my whole life.”

My elated heart beat with a strong cadence throughout my body. With these words, I was embracing a lifelong journey to seek God first. I was mindful also that my ten-year journey of discernment and the last seven years of formation brought me to a greater understanding of Dominican Life.  I realized that this life allows me to have a close relationship with God and I can’t imagine life any other way.  

For my whole life, forever. 

I was embraced.

For my whole life, FOREVER!

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Formation Ministry and the Image of the Butterfly

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Recently, while on vacation, I enjoyed some of the scenic views in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  One of the highlights of my trip was a visit to the butterfly house on Mackinaw Island!  I love butterflies and believe they are the perfect symbol of transformation. They witness to the new life that can emerge in the process of transformation.   The words, “transformation” and “transition” are used often when talking about religious life and the process of initial formation in religious life.

As every butterfly is diverse in its beauty, so too are the women who respond to God’s call to religious life. They bring their various gifts, experiences, and talents to this life.  They are from various cultures and ethnicities.  As the Formation Coordinator, I am often privileged to witness the Spirit’s transforming grace in the lives of women in initial formation.  Another important aspect of this process of formation, is the personal experience of the Spirit’s transforming grace within me.  The ministry of formation is a process of the Spirit which changes both the person in formation and their formators.

Formation is often a time of learning, personal growth, change, and letting go.  Perhaps the learnings are new insights about ourselves, or perhaps new talents are discovered. Formation is a continual process of learning and change.  I remember hearing early in my own formation journey, “The only thing constant about religious life is change!”  I have found this statement to be an accurate assessment.  Being open to change is an important quality to possess for living in religious life.  In fact, openness to change and God’s transforming grace is important in life and in our relationship with God.

While change is an intimate part of the journey, so is grace—God’s transforming grace. I like the image of the butterfly as a symbol for the journey of formation.  The butterfly witnesses to new life and transformation. It also symbolizes joy and hope.  Transformation, joy, and hope are all part of the journey!

My prayer for all women discerning religious life, those who are in formation and Sisters who recently professed final vows, is that they continue their openness to God’s transforming grace. May they also continue to witness to the transformative power and new life proclaimed in the Gospel.

Perhaps God is calling you to discern a call to religious life?  Why not check out the details of our next Come and See Retreat in Akron, OH on September 10-12, 2021.  You can participate in person or virtually.

Peace,
Pat Dual, OP

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Making a U-Turn

Sr. Mai-dung Nguyen, OP

When was the last time you made a U-turn? Where and in what situation? Can you recall this situation and what prompted you to make this U-turn?

No matter how, when, and where you made a U-turn, you were probably aware at that moment why you made that decision. It might be that you missed an exit on the highway and needed to take the next exit to return to your route. It might be that you passed the road where you were to turn and so you made a U-turn to get back on track. Or, it could be that you wanted to get to the parking lot or a building on the left, but there was a middle lane, and you had to go a little farther before you could make a U-turn.

Last month, I went to a Walmart to buy gift cards for the sisters who were making their temporary and perpetual vows. As you know, giving a gift card on an occasion is a common way of celebrating an event. It might be a Visa gift card, a BestBuy’s gift card, etc. The moment I drove into the parking lot, I decided to make a U-turn and headed home without buying any gift cards.

Why did I make this U-turn? I made this U-turn because another thought came to me about buying gift cards when I entered the Walmart parking lot. I realized that while a gift card is a friendly and convenient gift, the recipients may toss these cards away after using them, thus contributing to pollution, and causing harm to our environment indirectly. This may sound extreme but protecting the earth needs a little help from individuals. I found myself asking, “Is there a practical way to give a gift or make it more personal?” This kind of U-turn requires rethinking the decisions we make, seeking what’s important, switching gears, and committing to another direction.

We used to think that making a U-turn in our lives meant coming back to the same road or going back to the same bad behavior. However, making a U-turn may mean coming back with a new awareness of what God is calling us to be and how to live with this call.

We find in Scripture many examples of U-turns happening. Throughout Scripture, God called people to turn around in their ordinary world. God invited Moses to come back to Egypt to rescue his people. At Jesus’ tomb, he asked Mary Magdalene not to cling to him but to come back to his disciples and deliver the message of the Risen Christ to them. On the road to Emmaus, two disciples returned to their friends to tell them of their encounter with Jesus. In each story, we see people making U-turns in their life for God’s mission.

At the end of the Mass, the priest usually says, “the Mass is ended, go in peace.” or “the Mass is ended, go and announce the Good News of the Lord.” We then respond, “Thanks be to God.” By saying this, we give thanks to our God and are happy to return to where we are with an energized presence. This U-turn brings us back with a new attitude and new commitment.

God may invite you to make a U-turn today too. I invite you to reflect on what God is calling you to at this moment, then decide how to respond to the call.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost

If you hear a voice whisper inside you, inviting you to consider religious life, don’t ignore this call. Rather, turn and respond to this call with an open mind, heart, and body. Trust this call with your new insight and faith in God.

We invite you to contact us about your call from God and to visit our vocation website to learn more about us. If you are a single, Catholic woman, age 18-45, we would also like to invite you to our Come and See Discernment Retreat, Sept 10-12, 2021. For more information or to register, click here.

Finally, to all of our readers, we need your help to spread the word about this retreat and our other vocational discernment opportunities.  Please consider posting this event and others on your FB page, Instagram or Twitter feed, parish bulletin, or share it with others who may be discerning a call to religious life.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog