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.


 

Did we put Lent in a box?

Blog by Sr. Bea Tiboldi

A few days before Lent, we might have heard this question: “Have you decided what you are giving up for Lent?” Many people associate Lent with giving up something, and then strive to keep that commitment. We may give up something for Lent, but is this really the most important thing we can do during Lent? Did we put Lent in a box?

How can we ‘unbox’ Lent and discover God’s love for us?

Our human brain is wired in a way that when we are introduced to a goal, such as prayer, fasting and almsgiving, our brain right away boxes us in by associating that goal with familiar schemes and connotations of what to do based on previous experiences.  When we do so, we limit what the Lenten season can truly offer us.

Have you ever wondered why facilitators are present at large gatherings? The role of a good facilitator is to help people think outside the box and to help everyone listen to the Spirit freely, without any restrictions or schemes, and to help everyone dream up innovative ideas. So this Lent, instead of us thinking hard and pushing ourselves to create goals based on our previous experiences, I invite us to let the Spirit in, and focus more on encountering God and allowing God to move us into the direction where God’s love can be shared.

This ‘unboxing’ of the Spirit is very similar to the process of discerning our vocation. Sometimes we might push hard to know where God is calling us or what plan God has for us, but really, discernment is a prayerful process. This process is rooted in God, and through prayer we free ourselves to encounter God – allowing God to work in us and through us.

And so, this is where I will end this blog, because I don’t want to limit the opportunities that God has to offer us. Rather, I’ll just share a playlist of songs that might help us encounter God and go for an ‘adventure’ in whichever direction God is moving you to go.

If you would like to talk to a sister about discerning God’s call to religious life, please contact us at vocations@oppeace.org. If you would like to participate in a discernment retreat, please click here for more information.

Posted in God Calling?

Winter’s Mystery

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

There’s something mystical and magical about watching snow fall.  I love the way the soft, gentle flakes descend onto the earth, offering a light, bright presence. Of course, I write this as I’m snuggled up warm inside, looking out the window in my makeshift office. The snowfall offers a moment for quiet reflection, for contemplating the mystery and beauty that winter offers, if we can stop to revel in it.  The snow also reminds me of a scripture quote from the Book of Daniel, “ice and snow bless the Lord.” (Daniel 3:70)

As snow blows hither and thither, is this a metaphor for our lives, of feeling scattered here and there?  Or, could it be that the snow holds meaning as it rests on sacred ground, reminding us to take time to rest and just to BE (more than doing), enjoying the still quiet beauty that unfolds within us and around us.

Winter is such a good time for being with “a few of my best friends”:  books and music.  It’s a time for letting words and lyrics inspire and engage me, for being touched in a deeper way—in a way that connects me to my center and to the Divine.  How do you connect with God?

God is in the mystery of winter’s metaphorical messages, as we walk icy paths or take delight in creating snow angels, leaving footprints of where we have journeyed. Are we able to see or feel God’s presence, God’s footprints in both the treacherous paths we cross and in the creative endeavors we enjoy?

God is in the musings and ponderings, where we search for life’s meaning and question life’s purpose, lifting our hearts and minds to understand where and how we are being called, at this time, in this moment.

God is in the suffering and the despair we see around us, inviting us to be ambassadors of peace and comfort to a hurting, broken world.  Sometimes we are the recipient of God’s care and love for us in a difficult time when someone aids us in our distress.

So, let us pray to see and feel God’s presence in the winters of our lives.  May we trust that the mysteries we encounter are moments that connect us to the Divine.  As the snow falls and it’s hard to see the path before us, let us step forward with faith that God will guide our steps and lead us to a place where God calls us to be our fullest self.

If you are searching for where God is calling you and feel God may be calling you to live as a religious sister, we invite you to contact us, and consider attending one of our upcoming discernment events.

Posted in God Calling?

What Gives You Hope?

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

As the year 2021 continues to unfold, in both challenge and hope, I know that I am not alone in the effort to focus on hope during these unprecedented times.  I find that hope comes in different ways and often quite unexpectedly.  We can never really predict how or when the Spirit will break into our reality to inspire us and renew our hope.  One such moment for me was during the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Young poet, Amanda Gorman, and her recitation of her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” inspired me, along with millions of others, to see the light of hope after darkness. It was a remarkable moment that made me feel great hope for the future.

My ministry of journeying with women in formation also fills me with great hope for the future.  I journey closely with those seeking to answer the call to religious life.  I witness the God-given gifts they bring to this life—gifts of openness to mission and service, openness to diversity, inclusion, and justice.  They are open to living in inter-generational and inter-cultural communities and are signs of great hope during a time of divisiveness and inequity in our society.  It is inspiring and hopeful to witness God at work in their lives and hearts, even amid the challenges of our times and the isolation of a pandemic.

For me, the last stanza of Amanda Gorman’s poem fully embodies the virtue of hope.  However, the most significant part of this stanza are the last three lines which speak of a hope that we all need. These words also express the great hope that I see in religious life and all who choose to embrace this call, both now and in the future:

“When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Knowing that God continues to call women to consider religious life is one thing that gives me hope. What is one thing that gives you hope?

If you are open to being a light for hope—join us!  Contact us to get started.

Posted in God Calling?

A Discerner’s FAQs

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

Dear Sister,

Why is Study so important to Dominicans?

Dear Discerner,

You are right, study is very important to Dominicans.  In fact, on any given evening, you can find individual sisters or several members of our local community gathered in a circle discussing a book or article, attending a webinar, listening to a speaker or attending a spiritual retreat.  We Dominicans like to study.  We have bunches of books – both physically present on bookshelves and digitally filling up the memory on our e-readers and cloud accounts. Actually, study is so important to Dominicans that it is one of our “Four Pillars,” that is one of the foundations of our spirituality and life.  When I entered the Order, I knew that both formal and informal study would be part of my life.  It helps us to prepare for preaching, ministry, for educating ourselves on issues of justice and learning ways to create a more peaceful world.  Even more than that, study has changed me and challenged me to be, think, and act differently.

In our Constitutions for the Dominican Sisters of Peace, which are the guidelines for living our religious life, it states, The search for truth through study and contemplation is intrinsic to our mission as members of the Order of Preachers. Our prayer and preaching are informed by our diligent and loving attention to scripture and theology, as well as to all that expands our appreciation for the wisdom and beauty of God and God’s creation.”

So, what are you studying?    

I am reading and studying a variety of things, both in groups and independently.  On Tuesday, my Peace & Non-Violence group gathered to study, Hungry for Hope, a book by Simone Campbell.  She offers a personal reflection on her contemplative practice and how it has informed and shapes her life and ministry.  Reading this book calls me to examine how faithful I am to my prayer practice and how it informs my life and ministry.

On Wednesday, I gathering with the FIAT – Women’s Discernment Group of the Archdiocese of Boston to discuss Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis’ encyclical.  As I have read and reflected on it, I was drawn to pray with the story of the Good Samaritan.  Usually, I think of myself as the Samaritan, but lately I have been challenged to imagine myself as the person beside the road.  What is it like to be injured and to watch another walk by?  How is God with me as I wait for help?  What does this vulnerability open up in me?

In our Vocation Ministry, we invite discerning women to study with us various aspects of religious life, prayer, and discernment.  This month, our Emmaus Discernment Group will study and reflect on the stages of formation in religious life and hear from sisters in formation what it is really like after one enters the congregation.

What are other Sisters studying? 

Great question.  Thanks for asking.

I reached out to my sisters, and as expected, their study reflects the wide diversity of our members.

Here is a sampling of what they are reading and studying:

  • Reading poetry and prayers by David Whyte, Rainer Maria Rilke and Julian of Norwich
  • Studying Anti-Racism by:
    • attending webinars on Racism in the Sisterhood by Dr. Shannen Dee Williams
    • reading & discussing such books as:
    • Reading and studying Papal Encyclicals such as Fratelli Tutti and Laudato Si.
    • Studying topics related to their ministries:
      • Vocation ministers attending workshops on Virtual Retreats
      • Pastoral Ministers studying grieving and ministering to people with dementia
      • A Spiritual Director studying gender issues, contemplative prayer and retreats for young people.
    • Studying the signs of the times such as the pandemic, politics, economics, and mental health.
    • Learning how to play the guitar
    • Attending an on-line pottery workshop on creating porcelain ware
    • And the list goes on…

What are you studying?

If you want to learn more about religious life, and our community, please contact one of our vocation ministers to discuss or attend an upcoming program.

Posted in God Calling?

Spirit of Generosity

February 2nd marked the 25th World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. As I was listening to Bishop Brennan’s homily on that day, there was a phrase that kept resonating with me: “spirit of generosity.” Generosity is usually associated with kindness, charity, dedication, and often with offering more time, attention, care, or money than expected. Having a spirit of generosity is about having the openness to be generous without having any expectation of receiving anything in return. In the homily, we heard examples of this generosity from the day’s readings, like God’s self-emptying love, or Anna’s and Simeon’s prophecies of sharing God’s message without expecting anything in return. Later, Bishop Brennan thanked religious men and women for their spirit of generosity that God is calling out from each and every one of us.

The World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life also happens to be Candlemas Day, when candles, representing the light of Christ, are blessed. I heard several ways that we can reflect Christ’s light in the world from a panel conversation by the National Religious Vocation Conference, when six religious sisters and brothers reflected on God’s call in Pope Francis’ newest encyclical on Fraternity and Social Friendship, Fratelli Tutti. Click here for a video recording. Fr. Joseph reminded us that we are called to be hope bearers. God needs us to respond to the cry of the suffering, the marginalized, the abandoned and the neglected by sharing God’s hope with them. Sr. Leslie invited us to identify with the vulnerability of others, like we hear in the parable of the Good Samaritan. Fr. Steve shared insights on effective love and encouraged us to let love bubble into action and live out our caritas as true and effective. At last, Sr. Nicole shared about recovering kindness – recovering what it means to recognize God in one another and in otherness. This last thought brought me back to the spirit of generosity that I mentioned at the start of this blog.

Having a spirit of generosity can call us to “look beyond personal convenience, the petty securities and compensations which limit our horizon, and it can open us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile.” (Fratelli Tutti, #55) The world is filled with hard hearts, and Pope Francis highlights several current issues in his encyclical. “If you today you hear God’s voice, harden not your heart.” (Psalm 95:8) How is God calling you at this time?

The combination of discerning God’s call in my life and the urge to work toward a more just and peaceful world led me to look into religious congregations that worked for peace and justice. I found the answer in becoming a Dominican Sister of Peace. I entered religious life in 2011, but it was not until early 2014 that I was able to put into words what I felt about our congregation while watching “Call the midwife,” a BBC TV series. A line in the last episode of the first season spoke to me as I was reflecting on my discernment journey with the Dominican Sisters of Peace: “I found grace, faith, laughter, tenderness, I found a purpose and a path, and I worked with passion for the best reason of all. I did it for love.” And I am doing it for the love of God…

I’m grateful to my Sisters and Associates, who help me become more aware of the cries of this world and show me where God’s love, hope, and peace can be shared joyfully. May the spirit of generosity, which God is calling out from each and every one of us, radiate in our hearts as we continue to reflect Christ’s light in the world.

If you would like to talk to a sister about discerning God’s call to religious life, please contact us at vocations@oppeace.org. If you would like to participate in a discernment retreat, please click here for more information.

Posted in God Calling?