God Calling?

Do you dream of doing something more with your life? Are you longing for deeper meaning and sometimes feel that there is more to life than what you are currently doing? Maybe God is inviting you to explore becoming a Dominican Sister of Peace. Share your gifts with others who want to make a difference in the world. For more information, contact us to begin a conversation.


 

What does a Come and See weekend retreat mean to you?

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

Have you seen a flyer or advertisement for a “Come and See” weekend retreat posted on a campus, church bulletin, Facebook Page, or other social media platform, what is your first reaction?  Do you know what “Come and See” means and what it’s like if you attend one?

Our Dominican Sisters of Peace community offers “Come and See” retreat weekends two times per year, usually in the Spring and in September in various locations. Each retreat has a slightly different theme related to discernment or some aspect of living religious life. Last weekend, the sisters and staff at our Motherhouse in Akron, OH, joyfully welcomed six retreatants for the “Come and See” weekend retreat.  The theme was, “To Praise, To Bless, and To Preach” which is one of our Dominican mottos. During the retreat, each retreatant was accompanied by a sister for deep spiritual sharing which she might not have felt comfortable to share in a large setting.

Sr. Amy McFrederick helped us to understand that “To Praise” is to be aware and to be engaged with God’s presence within us and around us. “Praise” goes beyond traditional prayer and can be expressed in music, poetry, and physical prayer postures like “The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic.”

Sr. Barbara Catalano and Sr. Barbara Kane spoke about the motto, “To Bless” and shared with us their ministries (human trafficking, peace and social justice issues, etc.) and how they are blessed by their ministries and how they seek to bless others to whom they minister. “To bless” includes how we are blessed and how we become a blessing to each other and to all God’s creation.

Finally, when focusing on the motto “To Preach,” Sr. Mary Ann Wiesemann-Mills led us beyond the image of preaching at a pulpit to how we are to become daily witnesses of the Living Word by being fully who we are. She said we should be an event of the self-communication of God and allow God to communicate to and through us freely.

Besides these talks, reflections, and sharing, retreatants had time to observe and interact with sisters and staff during the breaks, meals, prayers, and social times. Besides praying the Liturgy of the Hours with our sisters, we participated in a Taize Prayer and a version of the Stations of the Cross that focused on “All of Creation”.

Addition to that, Sr. Diana Culbertson took us on a tour to learn about the history of the Dominican Sisters in Akron and Sr. Maura Bartel guided us through Our Lady of the Elms High School, which is one of our Founded Ministries. Our retreat also included activities such as making care packages for the homeless. We were all invited to a pizza party at one of the local convents with Sr. Amy McFrederick and Sr. Barbara Catalano on Saturday evening.

At our closing session on Sunday, each retreatant was blessed by her sister-companion and received a candle as a symbol of the light of Christ we are to carry out to the world. The retreatants also had the opportunity to express how they were blessed by the retreat. One woman shared that she has attended three “Come and See” retreats and has received different blessings each time. Another stated in her evaluation that “…you all showed me much caring, love and joy while I was visiting in Akron. God is very evident in your lives and in your ministries. I left with much to pray about and much to discern.”  A third retreatant said that even in the kitchen staff she could see the joy and peace in the way they served and interacted with each person. Several women shared that they came for clarity and that they were leaving the retreat affirmed and ‘things clarified.’

At the closing session, retreatants received candles and were blessed by sisters

I, myself, was deeply touched by the Living Word shared in each sister’s presentation and the retreatants. One of the presenters shared that during this weekend, she felt reaffirmed and blessed by her decision to become a Dominican Sister of Peace. How wonderful to hear such feelings and feedback?

Thank you to all (sisters, staff and retreatants) who helped to make this “Come and See” retreat such a success.

Please consider joining us for our next “Come and See” retreat so you can experience a taste of how sisters live out their lives in community, prayer, ministry and study. Each time you attend, you will receive greater clarification of how God is calling you.

We have other opportunities for you to discern with us, such as our monthly on-line discernment group, our mission immersion week (June 1-5 in Columbus OH), and one-on-one conversations with our Vocation Ministers.  To begin the journey, contact us here.

To view more photos from this weekend’s Come & See retreat, click here.

Posted in God Calling??, News

Lenten Commitment as a Response to God’s Call

Blog by Sr. Bea Tiboldi

I love the feeling that Lent brings – a deeper relationship with God that comes from the prayers and from the ways we help others see the presence of Christ in how we live, love, or respond to various needs. Even though we live a life of prayer throughout the year, Lent brings a special meaning to me as we pray with the Stations of the Cross and turn our hearts to God more intentionally.

Each year, I used to set a new ‘challenge’ for myself. However, this year, I went blank each time I thought about giving up something for Lent. I decided to go online and search for some ideas. I found an article about what to give up in the light of one’s MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) personality. It sounded interesting.  Based on my personality-type, I was invited to give up internalizing things, and so I challenged myself to give up that one for Lent. Ash Wednesday came, and ashes were smudged upon our foreheads in the shape of a cross as a reminder to ‘repent and believe in the Gospel.’ When I was younger, I used to compare my classmates’ ash-crosses with mine. To be honest, I still look at other’s crosses and mine too. Last week, I ran into a Facebook posting that labelled and interpreted the different shapes of the “ash crosses,” as shown in the illustration below. This was a light-hearted one, instead of anything serious. I looked in the mirror and thought: “sweet, it’s not ‘The Blob’ and it’s not ‘Father’s revenge’. It is definitely a cross… I think it looks like ‘The Mini.’” Then, I started to internalize: “what does this “Mini” cross mean for me – what is the invitation here?” Then, the next thing I was thinking: “Oh, great… I’m internalizing already.”

It was God, through the action of a boy, who guided me back to my Lenten commitment.  In the evening, I read on the news online that a 9-year old student was asked by his teacher in Utah to wash off the cross on his forehead.  It was his first time receiving ashes, and it was a choice that the boy carefully made after asking questions of his grandmother.  She carefully informed him why Catholics receive the cross on Ash Wednesday, but she also added that he didn’t need to receive it because his classmates would probably ask him questions. The brave, young boy followed God in his heart: “OK, I want to wear them.” Later, the boy was asked by his teacher to wash it off.  However, the boy’s beliefs truly determined what he was about to do as he followed God in his heart and gained courage to inform his principal. [The principal, and since then the teacher, too, apologized.)

I realized that, although my Lenten commitment helps me deepen my relationship with God, it should no longer be ‘an annual challenge.” From now on, I want my Lenten commitment to be about seeking continuously what God wants of me, and to be about my response to what God is calling me to be/do, and then follow that in a way that deepens my relationship with God and that helps others recognize God’s presence and God’s love.

I love the Servant song by Sr. Donna McGargill OSM, because it inspires me to stay tuned to God and to seek continuously what God wants of me.  I especially like these lines: “What do you want of me Lord? Where do you want me to serve you? Where can I sing your praises? (…) Your Spirit stirs my deepest self (…) Fire my life with your love (…) Jesus, Jesus, you are the Lord. Jesus, Jesus, you are the way.”

On this National Catholic Sisters Week, I would like to express my gratitude for all vowed religious sisters who responded to God’s call and have been singing their praises to God through their witness of faith. Their faithfulness, compassion, courage, and passion for justice inspire me day-by-day. Thank you!

As you continue this Lenten season, what is God calling you to and what is your response? If you think that God is calling you to religious life, please contact us at vocations@oppeace.org.

Posted in God Calling??, News

A Day in the Life of a Dominican Sister of Peace

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

When I was discerning, I had no clue what sisters did all day.  I knew that my teachers were with us students during the day and that the sisters at the retreat house were busy with programs on the weekends.  What did they do when they were not with us?  Were they ever bored?  Do they pray all day?  What kind of fun things did they do?

Well, if you have ever wondered what we do all day, here is a glimpse into “A Day in the Life”.

Friday, February 28th began like any other day at our convent at St. Stanislaus Parish in New Haven.  I got up, showered & dressed, spent some time in personal prayer and then walked over to St. Stan’s for 7:00 am Mass with my sisters.  Afterwards, we returned to the convent where we prayed Morning Prayer.  After prayer, we have the custom of talking about what we are doing that day, if we will be home late for dinner or if there is anything we need to share with the community.  This morning, Sr. Ana (who works at Albertus Magnus College in International Admissions) shared that she was volunteering to read to students at a local school and she wondered if anyone was interested in coming with her.  I immediately responded, “Yes.”  Then, she told me I would be reading in Spanish to kindergarteners and, “It will be very easy,” she assured me.  Little did I know it would not be easy.

Within 15 minutes, we were in her car.  Ana chatted the whole way about how this was National Read Across America Day and that she was excited to have the opportunity to help out in the community and to encourage children to read.  When we arrived, we discovered we were going to be reading the book, El Lorax by Dr. Seuss.  Did I mention this book was in Spanish?  This was not the “easy” book I had been led to expect.  Yikes!  All for God!  The good news is that the fourth graders and I survived the experience and they even asked me to come back again.

After this, Ana dropped me off at my office to attend to my ministry as Vocation Director.  The first order of business was to speak to a discerning woman on the phone for our monthly session.  We discussed her prayer life, ministry, and specifically, how she feels God is calling her to religious life in our congregation.

My office is in our convent on Lincoln St. and this brings me into contact with the five sisters who live there along with any guests they may be hosting that week.  This week, one of our sisters from Columbus, Ohio is staying there while she is on vacation and visiting her family.  Yes, we do get to go on vacation.  During lunch, we all shared memories about favorite vacations and places we have visited.

Later in the afternoon, I met with my Vocation Ministry Peer Group via video conferencing.  These four religious sisters and one brother are all in Vocation ministry for their respective congregations.  We meet each month to discuss our ministry and to help each other explore issues we encounter with discerners.  We first met when we were training for this ministry over five years ago and we have met almost every month since then.

That evening at dinner, Ana and I shared our experience of reading to the students – much to the delight of our sisters.  Our evening meals are often extended times at the table sharing about our day – the challenges and the delights – and we offer each other support and encouragement.

Evening Prayer follows and as the day winds down we often spend time reading, talking, playing a game or watching a program on television before retiring.  For me, I like to spend some time reading before bed and taking time to prayfully review my day and to read the scriptures for tomorrow.

To answer the questions I posed at the beginning:

  1. What we do each day always includes personal and communal prayer, ministry and some time spent with community along with personal time for reflection or rest.
  2. No, I have never been bored.
  3. We (active sisters) do not pray all day – however, contemplative nuns and monks do pray most of the day along with ministry to support the community and community time.
  4. For fun, we like to play games, exercise, participate in sports, read, do cross word puzzles, hang out with friends, and do a lot of the things other people do for fun.

Could God be calling you to consider religious life?  If so, contact one of us to begin the conversation.  Who knows, maybe one day you will be writing your own “A Day in the Life of a Dominican Sister.”

Posted in God Calling??, News

Becoming a Dominican Sister

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

The process of discerning religious life is an exciting journey!

In the journey of becoming a sister, there are several significant phases of initial formation. In my ministry with the Dominican Sisters of Peace as Coordinator of Formation, I have the wonderful opportunity to journey with women in the various stages of formation until they make perpetual profession. I do this in concert with other Sisters who serve as formation mentors, community members and guides along the way.  Whether a woman has just entered as a candidate or has become a novice or has taken first vows, each distinctive stage of her journey is unique.  Each stage deepens her self-knowledge and her understanding of the call, the congregation, and her relationship with God. I love being a part of this wonderful process.

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting our Dominican Sister of Peace novice, Sr. Phuong Vu.  Sr. Phuong is part of the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) in St. Louis, Missouri and shares this novitiate experience with a Maryknoll novice, Sr. Rolande Pendeza Kahindo (the Maryknoll congregation is part of the Dominican family).

Phuong and Rolande are mid-way through their novitiate year. The novitiate year is a very busy and special year of immersion into deepening the understanding of the four pillars of Dominican life: prayer, community, ministry, and study. The novices also connect with the wider Dominican family and interact with novices from other religious congregations who are in the same place in their journey.

Celebrating this mid-year mark in the novitiate and sharing some of their experiences with members in congregational leadership and with formation representatives is an annual event for every novitiate group at the CDN. I remember well doing this during my own time in the novitiate over 13 years ago. This year as a formation representative, I was blessed to be present for this wonderful sharing by novices Phuong and Rolande as they did their group presentation about their time at the CDN.

In their sharing, Phuong and Rolande spoke about how blessed and grateful each felt for all that they have learned and experienced. They spoke of how loved and supported they felt by their communities, from their CDN co-directors and from the extended family of sisters and the Dominican family. They spoke about the wonderful learnings they have acquired from their studies that include theology, preaching, the vows, human development and conflict resolution—to name just a few. They talked about learning to live in a diverse community and about the skills needed for good community living, especially good intercultural community living. They spoke about the rich prayer and reflection day experiences that helped support them as they engaged in ministry as tutors/mentors in an economically challenged school.

Phuong and Rolande also shared about what challenged them and about times of fun and laughter. Their presentation spoke volumes about how they are integrating their learnings during this grace-filled time of their canonical novitiate year.

Finally, Phuong and Rolande collaborated on creating a beautiful ritual as part of their presentation.  They helped plan the Mass where the entire group celebrated together.  And celebrate we did, with drums, shakers, spirited singing and preaching.  Each novice played an essential role in the Mass, from Phuong being a lector and writing the intercessions to Rolande breaking open the Word with us with her preaching and leading us all in a Congolese inspired rendition of the Our Father. We were all so very proud!

Walking the journey with women who desire to live religious life as a Dominican Sister of Peace is a blessing.  Being with our novices who will help carry on the Dominican tradition fills me with deep gratitude and hope for the future.

I invite you to enjoy some of the pictures from this wonderful event that I was privileged to attend.

I also ask you to continue to pray for our novices at the CDN, Phuong and Rolande, as they continue to journey into this grace-filled year at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate.

Perhaps hearing this story about Phuong and Rolande’s journey stirs something in you and makes you think about religious life.  If so, I invite you to contact one of our Vocation Ministers to explore what being a Dominican Sister of Peace might be like for you.

Peace.

Posted in God Calling??, News

Memorable Words

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George

What three words best describe who you are?  What words would others use to describe you? Take a moment to reflect on these questions to see what words bubble up for you.

In preparation for writing a eulogy for my Mom’s recent memorial service, my nephew, Andy, asked my seven siblings what three words we would use to describe Mom.  The three most meaningful words given were family, sacrifice, and faith.  Andy spoke about how Mom embodied and gave meaning to these traits in her life by telling stories he collected from us siblings about her.  He invited all of the mourners present to “take up the baton of faith, sacrifice, and family,” asking us to answer these questions:

  • Who will serve their families well, even when it’s hard?
  • Who will sacrifice for others as [Mom] did for everyone around her?
  • Who will keep a long prayer list, pleading to God on behalf of family and others who desperately need those prayers?

After noting the family significance of the “wooden spoon” that Mom used only to scare us little ones when we needed to change our behavior, Andy suggested thinking of it now “as a baton that’s being passed to each of us“ to carry on Mom’s legacy of family, sacrifice, and faith.  In his closing remarks, he noted these two Scripture passages in marking the end of Mom’s earthly life and in inviting us to persevere in finishing our own race:  “In 2 Timothy 4:7, St. Paul says to his spiritual son: ‘I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness…’ In Hebrews 12:1, it says, ‘And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…’”

We each then received a “wooden spoon” with a purple ribbon (Mom’s favorite color that we were all dressed in) containing the inscription, “Finish the Race.  Keep the Faith.”

How do you want to be remembered?  How will others remember you and what you stood  for? What will be your legacy to pass on to others?  We know in Christ Jesus the fulfillment of God’s legacy of love for us and so I invite you to embrace the words of the song, All I Ask of You, as sung by Gregory Norbet, OSB, of the Monks of Weston Priory.  Let yourself hear and hold onto God’s loving words in the refrain:  All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you.

God calls each of us for a specific purpose in life. Perhaps you are being called to respond to the words, “Come, follow me” by becoming a religious sister. Discerning what these words mean in your life is part of what our Vocation Ministers are here to help you with. You can find Sr. June, Sr. Mai-Dung, or Sr. Bea’s contact information here. They look forward to helping you discover God’s path for you.

 

Posted in God Calling??, News