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.


 

The Simple Faith and Inspiration of Mister Rogers

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

I just finished reading Amy Hollingsworth’s book, The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers and saw the movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.  Both the book and the movie are equally poignant stories about this icon of children’s television, Fred Rogers.  If you grew up between 1968 and 2001, or were the parent of a child during this period, you may have watched this daily, educational show.  The PBS series, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, was a safe place for children to learn about the importance of expressing feelings, how to deal with new and scary moments and to feel valued as human beings.

The persona he showed on camera of kindness, compassion, and friendship was the same persona he showed to others off-camera.  He lived what he preached and the spiritual legacy behind his words and actions are both simplistic and profound.  He always offered hope and encouragement, telling his viewers:

“Don’t ever give up on yourself or your dreams.  You’re worthwhile, and always will be, no matter what.  Just remember to always be who you are, because that person is very special.  There’s no person in the whole world like you.  And I like you just the way you are.”

Though some mocked/ridiculed him and his television show, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, he wanted children to hear and believe that they were unique and special.  In the show’s opening theme song, Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” he expresses a desire to be neighbors with his young viewers, immediately extending a caring hand of friendship.  In his closing song, It’s Such a Good Feeling, he affirms what a good feeling it is to be friends with these young viewers. During this closing song, he speaks these endearing words:

“You always make each day such a special day. You know how: by just your being you. There’s only one person in the whole world exactly like you, and that’s you yourself, and people can like you exactly as you are.”

Imagine if every child (and every adult) heard and believed these words daily.  For Mister Rogers believed that “The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile.”

According to Hollingsworth, even Mister Rogers’ ritual of changing from a suit coat into a cardigan sweater and from dress shoes to tennis shoes was designed intentionally to have a calming effect and to teach children the importance of slowing down.  He wanted children to know the value of feelings, to know that feelings of anger, hurt, sadness were all right and “that you don’t have to hide them and that there are ways that you can say how you feel that aren’t going to hurt you or anybody else.” (Hollingsworth, 61-62)

Walking out of the movie theater, I wanted to stay and see it again so I could soak up the inspirational messages Mister Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) imparts to the man he befriends, Lloyd Vogel, who is an investigative reporter assigned to profile Mister Rogers.  Vogel is skeptical of Mister Roger’s good nature but is changed by the compassion and friendship Mister Rogers extends to him.  Vogel is initially annoyed by Mister Rogers’ gentle questioning of Vogel’s painful past with his father but the support and affirmation he receives from Mister Rogers enables him to reconcile with his father.  Mister Rogers even comes to be with Vogel’s family when Vogel’s father is dying and asks the dying father to pray for him, a moment where he sees the gift of a dying man being able to bring him closer to God.

In an interview with Fred Rogers, Hollingsworth quotes him as saying “And so, for me, being quiet and slow is being myself, and that is my gift.”  Being able to acknowledge his own gifts enabled him to serve others well.  Closely related to this gift of being quiet and slow, was appreciating silence. Hollingsworth notes about Mister Rogers that “It wasn’t just the absence of noise he advocated, but silence that reflects on the goodness of God, the goodness of what and whom He made.  Silence to think about those who have helped us. He knew that silence leads to reflection, reflection to appreciation, and that appreciation looks for someone to thank.”  (Hollingsworth, p.7)

Someone who Mister Rogers appreciated was his close friend, Henri Nouwen, a well-known Catholic priest, author, and theologian, whose spiritual writings inspired and influenced him. Although he was an ordained minister in the Presbyterian faith, Mr. Rogers had ties to Catholicism.  Speaking of his friend, Rogers noted how Nouwen taught him the importance of silence, writing that “Even though most of the world knows Henri by his words, I’ve come to recognize his deepest respect for the still, small voice among the quiet of eternity.  That’s what continues to inspire me.”  (Hollingsworth, p.12)

Whether reading the book or watching the movie, the lessons learned from Mister Rogers’ humility, his sincerity, his authenticity, and his wisdom make you want to be a better person.  His ministry and purpose in life centered on seeing and affirming the good in people and helping those he met to see the good in themselves.  He rarely spoke about his faith on his show, but his inspirational messages flowed from a life of prayer and served to communicate a message of love and compassion for self and our neighbor, just as Jesus did.

Are you eager to be a neighbor to those in need, to those seeking a deeper meaning in life?  Why not consider exploring a call to religious life as a Sister?  Come and be a neighbor to God’s people.  Contact us to learn more about how we can help you discern God’s call in your life.

Posted in God Calling?

Gifts to be Explored and Embraced

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

January 15, 2000 was the day I officially moved in to live with a group of religious sisters. Twenty years of living in religious life have brought me so many memorial blessings. One of them was the question: “What are your gifts, and how do you contribute your gifts to the congregation mission?”

“Gifts? Dominican mission?” I pondered why I needed to name my gifts/talents.

My Vietnamese culture does not encourage us to focus on gifts or talents because these can make us haughty.  Instead, my culture emphasizes self-improvement from personal weaknesses. So, I did not feel comfortable naming my gifts. Thank God though for the gift of community. Sisters have been walking with me to help me name my gifts without feeling uncomfortable. I began to explore, accept, and embrace the gifts God has given to me. I realize that acknowledging or naming personal gifts is not enough.  My gifts are intended to be used to praise God and for God’s mission, which requires time, reflection, patience, trust, faith, courage, investigation, and practice.

I’ve learned that prayer is also a gift and that there are many ways to pray.  Before I entered religious life, the praying styles I was familiar with were Mass, rosary, and adoration. I had the contemplating and reflecting gifts, but I was not aware of them. I spent an hour at church or at home praying. Yet, I did not recognize God during my day, even after I learned that God is everywhere. Later, I found out there were many ways to be with God and many ways God approaches me, including through meditation, contemplation, silence, and interaction.

The call to religious life is also a gift from God. As I keep exploring the meaning of this life, integrating and moving forward with what I learn and practicing my faith, then this life will be a transformative and embracing one filled with love, vision, compassion, and peace. Living this life is like the growth of a seed, similar to what Jesus said; “Still others are like the seeds sown on good soil. They hear the word, receive it, and produce a crop—thirtyfold, sixtyfold, or a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)

Gifts or calls or ministry are given for us to love, embrace, integrate, practice, and share. By authentically recognizing our gifts and valuing the gifts of others, we can build a more peace-filled world.  May our gifts shine forth. For Jesus said “Does anyone bring in a lamp so he can place it under a basket or a bed? Doesn’t he set it on a lampstand? (Mark 4:21).  Let us pray that more women will recognize that their gifts can be used in service to God so that religious life flourishes.

Contact us if you want to explore what God is calling you to be. We invite you to attend our Come and See Retreat weekend (March 13-15, Columbus, Ohio) with the theme “Show Me the Way: Discerning a Call to Religious Life.” Come to explore and embrace your gifts!

 

Posted in God Calling?, News

Immersed in the Mission

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi

For the last few days, I’ve been at the Mission Immersion experience with the Vocation team and with a few other women. We chose to come to New Orleans for several reasons. First, because even though it has been 15 years since Hurricane Katrina hit the city, it still hasn’t recovered fully yet, and secondly, we have a rich congregational history in the city, as our sisters have been in the Crescent City since 1860.

We planned the five-day mission immersion specifically to respond to the most direct needs of the city: caring for the homeless and providing much needed affordable housing. We cooked and served a meal for families at Hotel Hope, which is a short-term residence for homeless women and their children. On weekday mornings, we helped to rebuild New Orleans through the  St. Bernard Project, which is an organization whose goal is to shrink the time between disaster and recovery. Each day, we started and closed the day with prayer, asking God’s blessings upon those we served and praying for a more peaceful world.

In the afternoons, we met Dominican Sisters of Peace at their ministry sites, and when opportunity allowed, we immersed ourselves into the experience. We went to the Spirituality Center, where we met Sr. Dot Trosclair, OP, who guided us in a prayerful reflection. We visited  St. Mary’s Dominican High School, where we met a few of our Sisters, and learned from Dr. Cynthia Thomas and Mrs. Jill Cabes about how St. Mary’s continues to educate women in the Dominican tradition and challenge young women to excel, i.e. robotics program. The students were very articulate and

Sisters and discerners gather for a photo on a build site with the St. Bernard Project in New Orleans.

excited to share what they were learning. That evening, we listened to Sr. Kathy Broussard, OP, as she shared about her ministry. As a Death Penalty Mitigation Specialist, she advocates for those who are facing the death penalty and works to save their lives. The importance of her ministry, her compassion, and her passion for this ministry left us speechless. We also visited the Peace Center, where we learned about our Sisters’ ministry to the Gert Town neighborhood community of New Orleans and interacted with the students who attend the after-school program there. The Sisters also treated us with a delicious jambalaya meal. We also talked to one of the Dominican friars, Fr. John G. Resrepo, O.P at St. Dominic’s parish, where we learned how Katrina effected the parish.

We are very grateful to Sisters Kathy Broussard, OP and Sr. Binh Nguyen, OP, whose hospitality, witness of what community-life is about, and witness of faith were transformative.

The Mission Immersion group met with Fr. John G. Resrepo, O.P at St. Dominic’s parish, to discuss the effect of Hurricane Katrina on
the parish.

The women who participated in this immersion experience left everything behind, traveled hundreds of miles to experience the ‘unknown’ when our mission asks us to be open to bring God’s presence where ever God is calling us to do that. This reminded me of the song from Frozen 2: Into the unknown, or click on this link: https://youtu.be/gIOyB9ZXn8s.

In the movie, there is a voice that only Elsa, the main character, can hear. She is trying to ignore it at first, but then she investigates what that voice is and where the voice is calling her to find truth. When you feel nudged by God, what helps you staying open and attentive to God’s nudging?

Here are a few lines from the song to ponder, and click on the link for the entire song. I can imagine that those who came to this week’s mission immersion may have pondered these lines before they came.

“There’s a thousand reasons I should go about my day,  and ignore your whispers which I wish would go away.”

 “I’ve had my adventure; I don’t need something new. I’m afraid of what I’m risking if I follow you.”

“What do you want? ‘Cause you’ve been keeping me awake. (…)

“Are you someone out there who’s a little bit like me? Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be?”

“Where are you going? Don’t leave me alone. How do I follow you into the unknown?”

Elsa left everything behind to find truth. There is so much going on in the world. What are we willing to do to keep searching for truth, and speak truth to power?

We experience in the movie the importance of processing things, and that there is a place for transformation as long as we keep asking our questions. If you feel nudged by God, I encourage you with a line from Olaf’s song, When I am older: “someday I will see that this makes sense.” Will it make sense? Pray with the question where God is calling you, and see where it takes you. If you would like to talk to a Sister, contact us at vocations@oppeace.org

To view photos from our week, please go to our Facebook page, and view posting between January 4-8, 2020.

 

 

Posted in God Calling?

Entertaining Angels and Radical Hospitality

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

As a Sister, I have often had the opportunity to show, receive, and witness radical hospitality, such as that spoken of in this quote from the Letter to the Hebrews:

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

(Hebrews 13:2)

Here are four examples of such radical hospitality that illustrate to me that we never know when we might be entertaining angels among us:

  • Many years ago, I had the opportunity to help some people injured in an automobile accident. After the ambulances left the scene, my friends and I realized we were covered in dirt and blood.  We needed to get cleaned up before we continued our journey for the day.  A woman, who lived close to the accident scene, saw us and invited us to come into her house to get cleaned up.  Before we departed from her home, she gave us something to eat and drink, and sent us on our way with her blessing and a hug.
  • My friend, Sr. Genie Natividad, MM is ministering in El Paso, Texas with people seeking refuge in our country. Here is her reflection on the hospitality sought, given and received each day in this place.

”On Christmas Eve, a Posada was held followed by Mass at the Casa del Refugiado. The children of those who crossed the border arrived at the Casa and reenacted Mary and Joseph searching for a place to stay before the birth of Jesus. Of course, there were shepherds, sheep and angels as part of the play. Before the final blessing of Mass, the lights were turned off.  Then, the children went around lighting the candles of those around them.  This symbolizes the Light of Christ that we are called to share even in our darkest of nights. It becomes Holy Night. Together, we sang Silent Night in Portuguese, English, and Spanish.

The Posada that I witnessed ‪that evening mirrors the heartbreaking struggle that the migrants face when they cross the border and are seeking welcome and asylum here in the U.S.

Images of the many (tired, hungry and shivering from the cold) children, women and men arriving at Casa del Refugiado these past eight days are very much in my thoughts and in my heart. I assisted two women yesterday at the Roperia with little children whose husbands have been separated from them. One was in tears as she came to look for a change of clothes for her two-year old daughter and herself. The other woman, with a little boy, said she was hopeful that her husband will be reunited with them soon.”

  • Last week, I had the opportunity to see the Musical Theatre production of “Come From Away.” It is based on the stories of the 6,500 people who had to land in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada on 9/11 when the United States closed their airspace after the terrorist attacks.  These “Come From Aways” (a term used in Newfoundland for someone who has moved to the area from somewhere else) were received by the generous people of the area who fed, housed, and cared for them for five days until they were able to continue their journeys.  The lives of all were changed as a result of giving and receiving radical hospitality.
  • This week, several discerning women are joining us for a Mission Immersion program in New Orleans, Louisiana. We will practice and receive radical hospitality as we stay in one of our local convents, serve women and children at Hotel Hope (a shelter for families experiencing homelessness), and as we build houses with the St. Bernard’s Project.

As you look back on the year 2019, I invite you to reflect on those times when you have entertained and have been entertained by angels.  Where is God calling you to practice radical hospitality today and in this New Year?

If you feel God calling you to practice that radical hospitality in community, we invite you to contact one of our vocation ministers to begin a conversation about whether you might be called to serve God as a religious sister.

Posted in God Calling?, News

An Advent Reflection

She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins…Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, God is with us.”
Matthew 1:21, 23

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

The Gospel of Matthew ushers in the fourth week of Advent and reminds me once more of the “indescribable gift” we prepare to receive at Christmas. The familiar refrain, “Come, Lord Jesus” has deep meaning this year, as it does every year, because it is a call of hope.

Come, Lord Jesus, bring your peace among us.
Come, Lord Jesus, bring your justice among us.
Come, Lord Jesus, spread your love among us.
And as the days of Advent usher in the joy of Christmas,
I am reminded—Emmanuel, God-with-us, lives!

As we enter into these days of Advent, I invite you to reflect with this different kind of Advent poem by Oscar Romero.  It reminded me that Jesus’ mission is still as relevant today as it was in his time. It reminded me, too, that I am called to share in some part of that mission.  The poem also reminded me of the real joy of Christmas—the presence of God-with-us in our past, in our present and in our future.

What reminders might it hold for you?  Wishing you Advent blessings and Christmas joy! 

The God We Hardly Knew
by Oscar Romero

No one can celebrate
a genuine Christmas
without being truly poor.
The self-sufficient, the proud,
those who, because they have
everything, look down on others,
those who have no need
even of God- for them there
will be no Christmas.

Only the poor, the hungry,
those who need someone
to come on their behalf,
will have that someone.
That someone is God.
Emmanuel. God-with-us.
Without poverty of spirit
there can be no abundance of God.

Posted in God Calling?, News