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.


 

Speed Limits & The Discernment Process

Blog by Sr. Maidung Nguyen, OP

Sometimes when we are driving on the highway, we may see the speed limit at 70, then 65, or it may go down to 55 and then go up again to 70 or even 75.  We try to pay attention to the speed limit and adjust our push on the pedal accordingly. We trust the traffic control engineers who set these speeds, believing that the limit specified helps us drive safely.

The discernment process can be similar to what we experience with speed limits on the highway. Sometimes, discernment can be at a fast pace, but sometimes, discernment suddenly moves to a slower pace, requiring patience and attention. When the pace increases, we may have to push the pedal a little stronger to catch up to the new speed, exerting more effort to get to our destination.  Other times, we may feel like we are crawling at such a slow pace that we may never reach where we want to be.

Whatever the pace, we need to keep our eyes on the road, adjusting our vision to follow wherever the path leads or takes us. Sometimes we will encounter curves along the way and be forced to maneuver around unforeseen happenings. In these cases, it is important to be patient, flexible, and focused, and not be distracted from where we are being called and how we are being asked to follow God’s call.

During the discernment process, we may also experience various degrees of intensity. Sometimes, the call can be very strong, and sometimes, the call can be less intense, but still needs attention. No matter what the degree of intensity we experience when we know God is calling us, one thing is certain, God often shows us signs. We will see the signs if we are attentive to how God speaks to us.

We also need to remember that God is in the driver’s seat and just as we trust the traffic control engineer in setting appropriate speed limits, we need to trust that God’s hand is on the steering wheel directing our path.

Discerning God’s call requires attention, trust, action, patience, flexibility, and effort. You may feel overwhelmed and uncertain as you engage in the discernment process. But, remember you are not alone in this process. God is always with you and there are many Saints and sisters who have responded to God’s call who you can ask for help on the journey

We’re here to guide and companion you in your discernment process.  We invite you to visit our vocation website, contact us, or register for our hybrid Come and See Discernment retreat on September 23-25 in Akron, OH.

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

Marian Days- Cultural Immersion and Vocation Outreach

Blog by Sr. Maidung Nguyen, OP

Last week, August 3-7, six of us—Sisters Ana Gonzalez, June Fitzgerald, Mai-Dung Nguyen, Patricia Connick, Phuong Vu, and Tram Bui—packed a van and a car full of vocation materials then headed to Carthage, Missouri for the 43rd Vietnamese Marian Days Festival. This event began in 1977, when Vietnamese people gathered here to honor Our Lady and to thank her for help in reaching freedom. It has also been and continues to be a time for the Vietnamese faithful to be immersed in their culture and prayers, to attend workshops, prayer services and Mass in Vietnamese. For us, this event is a great opportunity to be present to these Vietnamese Catholics, to promote vocations to religious life, and to have an experience of cultural immersion. This event also helps us see how people from different ethnic groups live out their faith. Even though some of us did not know Vietnamese, we ate Vietnamese food, praised God and gave thanks to our Mother with one heart of faith and love. It was a very enriching experience.

Our Kentucky community has participated in this event since the 1990s with a vocation booth. When we became Dominican Sisters of Peace, we continued the tradition to attend every other year. This year, even though we were soaked with sweat under the extremely hot weather, six of us took turns to be at the booth and interact with people, to listen and share stories, and to pray with them. Sr. Ana Gonzalez was also one of the panelists for the youth session. Each day, we participated in a solemn Mass and procession with all in attendance.

At our vocation booth, we gave out tote bags, backpacks, and fans, all free of charge.  We also gave away Be Peace silicon bracelets, peace rosary bracelets, missionary rosaries, Be Peace pins, and many other vocation prayer cards and promotional materials. All of these items were imprinted with the words “Be Peace,” reminding people that each of us has a responsibility to “be, build, live and preach” peace.

We also had Pope Francis with us (as a standup cardboard poster), wearing a traditional Vietnamese hat called “nón lá.” Our Pope became a drawing card for many people who stopped to have their picture taken with him.  Sr. Ana served as our official photographer.  Before taking a picture, she would say, “We are the Dominican Sisters of Peace, so I would like to invite all of you to say PEACE (not CHEESE) when I take the picture.” They all happily said PEACE with beautiful smiles.

During this weekend, we interacted with thousands of people from many places, including the young, old, women and men, different ethnic groups, religious sisters, brothers, and priests from various congregations and dioceses. We were also happy to connect with sisters, brothers, and friends, especially sisters from different congregations whose members have stayed with us during their studies here in the U.S.

Our presence and participation, along with many other religious, gave people the chance to get to know something about religious life.

Over the years, several of our Sisters first met us at our Vocation Booth during Marian Days. Sr. Mary Vuong is one example. Her father came to our booth in 1996, had some conversations with our sisters, then picked up our vocation material, bringing the material home, and giving these materials to his daughter, Mary.  He encouraged her to write a letter to the vocation director who was Sr. Mary Ortho at that time; and finally, Mary ended up becoming a Dominican Sister, who is now living in South Bend, Indiana.  In 1999, Sr. Maidung met the sisters at the vocation booth also. After having a conversation with them, going home, and reading their vocation materials, she contacted the vocation director (Sr. Binh Nguyen) and entered as a discerner in 2000. Recently, in 2019, Sr. Tram Bui, volunteered with us at the vocation booth and in conversation with Sr. June Fitzgerald, she decided to discern her vocation with us again, after a few years of pause.

There are many ways God reaches out to you to invite you to consider a call to religious life.  Perhaps this call has come to you through an invitation to have your picture taken with the Pope, to scan the QR code, or to read a rack card, newsletter, retreat invitation, personal conversation, or through a friend who brings these materials home to you.  Whether or not you feel a call to religious life, we invite you to take time to read our vocation materials or visit our website so that you can learn more about religious life and our mission. The more you explore and open your heart, the more you can begin to hear the voice of God calling you to consider discerning and entering religious life.  To explore this life, visit our vocation website, contact us, or register for our hybrid Come and See Discernment retreat September 23-25 in Akron, OH.

Click here for photos.

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

The Saving Grace of Faith

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

Life has its ups and downs.  And when the chips are down, we may find ourselves consumed by painful experiences that we wish we did not have to face or go through.

Let’s face it – we all experience heartbreak, sadness, and difficult moments that can leave us feeling wounded. Left unattended, emotional wounds have a way of spreading in unhealthy ways and affecting our ability or capacity to be present in our relationships with others. Recovering from such challenging moments, I know from my own experience, takes time. During this time of healing, it is important for us to be gentle with ourselves, to practice self-compassion, and to exercise patience as the healing process unfolds in us and we let God heal us.

There are certainly many examples from Jesus’ life of him facing hardships—abandonment, betrayal, rejection, and being crucified. Jesus took these hardships to God in prayer, seeking to know and understand how to process whatever life experiences he encountered. In turning to God in moments of distress, Jesus found the strength, courage, and wisdom he needed to continue walking the journey he was on. As David declares in Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” and in Psalm 34:18, we hear the reassuring words that God is ever at our side when we feel broken, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Our faith becomes our bedrock that sustains us through difficult times and healing becomes a spiritual journey that calls us to place our trust in God. When we look back at other periods of hardship in our lives, we can see God’s footprint in our lives, assuring us that God is always with us. The power of one’s faith is often cited in many biblical stories as being a factor in the healing process.  One example can be found in Mark 5:34, where Jesus says to the woman, Veronica, “You are now well because of your faith. May God give you peace! You are healed, and you will no longer be in pain.”

So, if you are a woman discerning a call to religious life, knowing yourself is important.  It is important to understand how you manage both the joys and the difficulties of life.  This kind of self-knowledge is essential to maintaining healthy relationships.  You might ask yourself, for example, how you handle relationship conflicts since you will likely live in community with other women. Do you withdraw or are you willing to work through conflict? Are you able to support women whose personalities and cultures are different from yours? Are you able to forgive and be open to reconciliation?  Can you minister to those in need of healing?  Where does prayer fit into your life?  Do you seek God’s guidance in moments of difficulty?

If you are eager to offer care and comfort to God’s people, perhaps God is calling you to consider becoming a religious sister. We can help you discern God’s movement in your life.  Contact us to explore where you are in your discernment.

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

Gold and Loyalty to Love

Blog by Sr. Pat Connick, OP

Recently I laid down a decades-long teaching career and embarked on a sabbatical journey of preparing for a new retreat ministry.  Just this past month, I gave my first weeklong retreat, “Trinity and Community: The Mysticism of Creation” where we explored the Book of Creation using the lens of science to understand and hopefully imitate the ways in which God calls Creation (including we humans) to build community (a.k.a. the Kingdom).  Starting with the Big Bang (a.k.a. the Flaring Forth), we examined several levels of increasing complexity, called sciences, until we reached the most complex form in the universe, ecosystems.

Since the retreat, I have begun reflections on how common everyday objects or events from my daily life contain this universe story.  The following story tracks the universe story of the gold in my maternal grandmother’s wedding ring, which I inherited from my family upon my religious profession in 2005.

After the Big Bang, the genesis of the first nuclei occurred as the universe gradually cooled, but only the elements hydrogen and helium and a little lithium were part of the universe.  No gold anywhere!

The gathering of those elements, driven by gravity, produced a relatively massive star, whose nuclear fusion produced not only light, but many more elements up to iron, including, but not limited to: carbon, oxygen, neon, silicon, sulfur, calcium, too. Still no gold!

At the end of that star’s life, gravity prevailed as fusion ceased. A supernova event, signaling the death of that first-generation star’s life, created the gold that eventually became my grandmother’s wedding ring!  This final violent explosion of this first star released that gold into the universe at large.  Now gold, but still no earth!

Slowly over time, gravity regathered this gold and other elements then present in that locality of the universe into a new solar system, whose third planet, earth, became the residence of at least some of that gold. (Perhaps, too, other nearby suns produced gold in supernovae of their own, which also became part of the gold on the earth.) Now gold in the earth, but it is inaccessible to humans!

That gold then migrated inside the earth in the viscous circulation of the mantle for a long time until it migrated near the surface and became part of the crust of the earth.  Sometime in the early 20th century, miners extracted it. Gold now near the surface of the earth, but still no ring! (Ironically, my mother’s family produced a number of coal miners who worked in Wilkes-Barre, PA.)

After an artisan purified it from other elements using fire (see 1 Peter 1: 3-9, especially verse 7), s/he carefully mixed with other elements to form a more durable 14K gold.  After shaping it and sizing it to fit my grandmother’s ring finger on her left hand, the artisan etched it with delicate, beautiful designs on its outer surface and a message of eternal love on the inside: “F.P. to A.P”…from Francis Puseman to Anna Puseman.  Finally, a gold ring, symbol of perpetual love, one that I wear today as a sign of permanent commitment to my religious congregation, continuing my grandmother’s sense of loyalty to love!

Sr. Margaret Uche, OP, (53), right, receives the Congregation’s shield from Sister Pat Dual, OP, left, at her Profession of Temporary Vows in 2018.

In the coming days it will be my happy privilege to attend the final profession of one of our sisters from Kansas, Sister Margaret Uche, OP.  She, too, will receive a ring, a symbol of God’s everlasting, faithful love to her and to her commitment of love to God’s people and to the Dominican Sisters of Peace. As she commits to our religious congregation, I and others there will pledge our own support of her commitment.

Please join us for Sister Margaret’s perpetual profession, on Sunday, July 31 at 10:30 am CST/11:30 am EDT by tuning into the live-streamed Eucharistic Liturgy and Rite of Perpetual Profession of Vows from our Great Bend Motherhouse Chapel in Kansas. Please click here to watch live on YouTube. Or, you can click here to join the celebration via Zoom or copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://DominicanSistersofPeace.zoom.us/s/87483677310. Webinar ID: 874 8367 7310.

What tugs at your heart this summer?

Is God tugging at your heart?  We invite you to come and listen with others who are in discernment about religious life at our next Come and See Retreat in Akron, Ohio on September 23 – 25, 2022.  For more information and to register, click here.

 

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog

New Women Answer the Summons from God

Featuring Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

On Thursday, July 14, 2022 we officially welcomed Shingai Chigwedere and Paula Danforth as Candidates with our congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Peace.  What a joy it has been to accompany these women as they discerned their call to religious life.  As a Vocation Director, I walked with them as they visited us, asked questions, prayed with us, played with us, and as they and we sat in quiet contemplation with God as their discernment unfolded.  It was with each movement of the Spirit that the call became clearer until each was able to say, “Yes” to God’s invitation.  The Welcoming Ceremony was the first official step as they enter into formation for religious life.  The ritual begins with the women knocking on the door and asking to be admitted.  The door is opened and they are greeted by the Prioress who presents them with a lit candle – which signifies the light of Christ that they received at baptism.

Then, we began our Evening Prayer as we always do, and sang our opening hymn, The Summons by John Bell . . . Take a moment – okay, 4 minutes – to listen to the song before continuing to read.

What did you hear?  How did it touch you?

This song touches me deeply and reminds me of my own entrance into community more than 30 years ago.  As I prepared a short reflection to share during the ceremony, I found that song a perfect framework for my comments.  I would like to share it with you here (in a slightly modified form).  Please note that the words in bold were sung. 

Will you come and follow me . . .      Can you hear the echo of this call?
Will you come and follow me . . .      This call from the beloved one – from God
Will you come and follow me . . .      sings God to you Paula and to you Shingai –

To hear – to listen – to follow in faith takes a lot of courage and patience and perseverance – are you ready?

Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same? 

Hmmm, will you?
Each of us, has heard this invitation –
To come and follow God
And in some manner has answered the call –

To religious life, to marriage, to lay ministry, to the diaconate, or to parenthood, and each day – in word or action, we have to say YES once again to the Beloved who beckons us –

Will you come and follow me . . .  

And so here we are –
You have heard the invitation – the summons
You have risked the hostile stare – should your life attract or scare
You have stepped forward with a tentative Yes.
And you have sought –
Sought your beloved and where your beloved was calling you.
For each of YOU (all of you) – that call and response took different paths.

For Shingai –

Growing in the faith as a young woman as your family answered the call to diplomatic service and then as you chose to study in the US and to stay and establish yourself as a professional woman –

God spoke to you through the women & men you met in college and then later as you attended retreats and found yourself a part of a faith community that welcomed you and cared for you when you needed support.

God continued to call you in prayer – through the Psalm we just prayed – Psalm 139 as you were reminded that – that God already knew you – your ways were familiar to God –

And your Beloved continued to call and you answered by studying theology and choosing to work for the Church and yet – God called you further and further closer to his heart.

Then, summoning the courage that only God can give – you knocked on the door of the Dominican Sisters of Peace motherhouse in Kentucky in the fall of 2019 and your journey led you to this day and time – as you once again knock.

Will you come and follow me . . .  will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around….

 

And Paula

Growing up in New York & Vermont – you found God in the beauty of creation – in the animals of the woods and your back yard and in the Church where you too grew in your faith.

God continued to accompany you and led you on the path of higher education & then marriage and family, when your daughter, Janelle entered your life.

As you gazed upon your daughter, you began to comprehend the love God has for each one of us.  A love that grew stronger as you beheld the wonder of this beautiful child of God you were given to nourish and care for.

You shared your faith with Janelle and in time that seed of faith that had been planted deep within your heart began to flourish and you grew deeper in your faith.

Then God called you into a deeper relationship through prayer, study of the scriptures and volunteer ministry in your church and community.

Your journey brought you to the Dominican Retreat House in Niskayuna, where you knocked on the door and entered for retreat after retreat, for dream group, for spiritual direction, for volunteering, and then . . .

God sang to your heart . . .”Will you leave yourself behind, if I but call your name? …

Shingai Chigwedere, Sr. Pat Twohill, OP, and Paula Danforth at Welcoming Ceremony for Shingai and Paula at Albertus Magnus College on July 14, 2022.

And so, God has summoned you both.
You have sought.
You have knocked,
And it has been opened to you.
And we welcome you in as God continues to sing to you,
And we sing together:

Lord, your summons echoes true,
When you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you
And never be the same.
In your company I’ll go
Where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me. 

Will you?

~~~~~~

Welcome to the family Paula and Shingai.

As you continue to answer God’s call, may you find this time of learning what it is to be a Dominican to be one of great blessing, new growth, and great freedom as you grow into the fullness of who you are called to be.

If God is calling you to something more, we invite you to take the first step and contact one of us to start the conversation or attend our upcoming Come & See Retreat, September 23 – 25 in Akron, Ohio.

Support the Dominican Sisters of Peace in their efforts to increase vocations to religious life!

 

Posted in God Calling?, News, Vocations Blog