God Calling?

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.


 

The Art of Discernment and Decision-Making

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

The development of discernment and decision-making skills are important for everyone and can help us cultivate a discerning approach to the questions and challenges we face throughout our lives. This moment in our national history is certainly a time when a discerning approach to our present challenges is urgent. I found myself pondering the question of good discernment and decision-making skills this week standing in line on the first day of early voting.  Each of us, masked and socially distanced, were waiting to weigh in on our own decision-making process for the future leaders of our country.

The importance of the path we choose cannot be overstated because our collective decision will have sweeping consequences for justice and peace in this nation.  As I stood in a line with several hundred racially diverse people, from different backgrounds and different perspectives, I began to wonder how each person had made their decision about how they would vote. I imagined that, for most, it would be roughly along political party affiliations. Perhaps, the decision reflected long-held beliefs on particular issues.  However, as I reflected on how people had come to their decision, I prayed that the majority of our voting choices would be rooted in some degree of good decision-making skills and concern for peace, justice and the common good.

Discernment and decision-making is an essential life skill.  Whether our decision is about a voting choice, our vocation, or some other decision or challenge in life, I believe some of the basic elements of discernment can help us in making important decisions. These include:

  • Being open to the truth about ourselves and what we value and believe
  • Openness to praying for wisdom and the grace to allow the Spirit to guide our discernment
  • Seeking information and insight as we weigh the evidence and information gathered
  • Considering any pertinent facts or considerations that may influence the decision

Remember, opportunities for discernment and making decisions in life never ends, and our best decisions involve some level of discernment—some level of seeking the wisdom of the Spirit.

May it be so as we collectively decide our nation’s path in our upcoming elections.

If you feel called to discern a religious vocation as a Sister, I invite you to contact one of our Vocation Ministers.

Peace.

Pat Dual, OP

Posted in God Calling?

Seeds of Growth and Transformation

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

In my last blog, I shared with you my interest in participating in a year-long spiritual development adventure with the Wellstreams program, which started at the end of August.

As a newly minted cohort in this program, the seeds of transformation and enlightenment are already growing.  In our sessions, we have shared personal vignettes of our lives, and reflected on our images of God and what doors we’ve stood before with longing. Some have shared from a place of brokenness that has touched me by their willingness and ability to be vulnerable.

This speaking from a place of brokenness and vulnerability reminds me of a passage from Henri Nouwen, who wrote, “Nobody escapes being wounded.  We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.”  Instead of hiding from our wounds, he invites us to consider “How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?” and become “wounded healers.”

To serve as a wounded healer, we must be willing to be vulnerable, to be seen and heard as we truly are.  Being vulnerable takes us to a new level of connection and relationship with others. When we are vulnerable, we open up space for others to feel safe in expressing and being their true selves also. It is in this shared space that we nurture each other and come to know and discern God’s presence. Spiritual discernment then is listening to the inner still small voice where the Spirit calls us and reveals to us our loving nature.

The sharing among our group of 15 has been meaningful and deep and the program offers a safe space to explore not only where we are in our relationship with the Divine but also to develop a deeper awareness, appreciation, and understanding of Self.  In this communal atmosphere and circle of trust that we are developing, we are each sharing a personal story of transformation and being invited to hold each other’s story in reverence and non-judgement.

Our stories reveal much about who we are, what experiences have shaped us, maybe even transformed us.  Our stories are intertwined with the lives of others, people who have challenged and encouraged us to grow whether through conflict or harmonious encounters.  Clearly, we do not travel this journey alone, as we know from the book of Genesis that God created us to be in companionship with others and did not want us to walk alone.

For as Palmer J. Palmer writes in his book, A Hidden Wholeness:  The Journey Toward an Undivided Life,  “while solitude is essential to personal integration in which there are places in the landscapes of our lives where no one can accompany us, we are still communal creatures who need each other’s support” and that “we all need other people in whose presence we can speak our soul” and who “invite, amplify, and help us discern the inner teacher’s voice.” While I tend to enjoy solitude and a solitary lifestyle, I am also eager to grow within a community of other seekers and to cultivate friendships that are life-giving.  I trust that this communal experience will be enriching and soul-searching at times.

Knowing ourselves, examining our relationship with God, seeking confirmation and insight from others, and paying attention to our feelings are all part of the discernment process. What is your story?  What is your story of transformation that has brought you to where you are in your life now?  How do you see God’s footprints on the landscape of your life?  Are you ready to explore how God is calling you in community with others? When you’re ready, contact us and we will walk with you in your discernment journey.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Inspired by the life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi

Last Friday, in our monthly Emmaus Discernment Group, a discerner raised the question of how one might feel God nudging her. One way to know is paying attention to the feelings inside. A person might feel an immense joy, or find herself restless about the idea of religious life, or wish to deepen her relationship with God, or might feel passionate about peace and justice, etc.

For me, it was a combination of three feelings, which came in stages. When I first recognized and felt how much God loved me, an immense joy inspired me (and I also felt being called) to share that joy of being loved by God. The next stage was when I became super sensitive to songs, i.e. listening to “Take a chance on me” while watching Mamma Mia, was another nudge. The more I played with the thought of religious life, the more restless I became. My prayer life was a ‘busy’ one, but something was still missing, and I wanted to get deeper. And then came the feeling of healthy anger. A healthy anger is a type of anger that helps us to explore our feelings and the way we would respond instead of just reacting. What might a healthy anger look like? Let me explain it with my experience. I started to discern God’s call with a spiritual director. At that time, I was teaching in an underprivileged area. As a teacher, I saw the effects of the 2007-2008 financial debt-ceiling crisis: the electricity in some of our students’ homes was cut, and some even became homeless for a short period of time. My spiritual director helped me understand how not to let this distract me but rather to explore what I could about it, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) symbolizes for me how to take action.

Last Friday, our country lost a giant, a Champion of Justice, our “Notorious R.B.G.” RBG’s mother taught her not to be distracted by emotions like anger because it just drains one’s energy. So, Justice RBG used her energy for empathy and equality, and her passion for justice wisely. My spiritual director, too, advised me similarly, to use my passion for justice wisely.

RBG was about embracing justice and embracing people – especially those who were left out or left behind. She was a woman of courage, vision, determination and action. She put anger and fear behind her and was all about serving those in need. She is an inspiration for all. She had a way of helping others see injustice and discrimination. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg knocked on closed doors, opened them, and held them open for others.” (quote by Dean Lizabeth Cohen) She gave voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless.

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. We, Dominican Sisters of Peace bear witness to the Gospel and we work to build a more peaceful world through our ministries, our prayer, and our way of life. Being in vocation ministry, I find inspiration in her advice: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” (RBG) My prayer is that I can be a witness of faith and that others may see the meaning and joy of this way of life.

Thank you, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg! Now let us honor her by continuing her advocacy for a more peaceful world.

If you think that God is calling you to live out your call as a Dominican Sister of Peace, contact us.

Posted in God Calling?

What Happens at a Virtual Discernment Retreat?

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

To help single women discerning God’s calling, last weekend, September 11-13, we hosted an online discernment retreat “Listening to God’s Voice with an Open Heart.”  Ten discerners participated. Our candidate Cathy Buchanan and many sisters were involved in the retreat as companions, supporters, and speakers.

Spread throughout the retreat were prayers, presentations, reflections, and sharing. We also showcased some videos about the Dominican Sisters of Peace. These videos ranged from a short video about the Motherhouse in Great Bend, KS with some Sisters offering messages of affirmation to the discerners; an overview highlights of the previous ‘Come and See’ event at the Motherhouse in St. Catharine, KY; virtual tours at the Motherhouses in Columbus, OH and Akron, OH.  We also watched a video on how our Sisters live out the Dominican pillars and charism.

Every night, we held an optional social, where some discerners joined our Houses of Welcome communities in Connecticut and Columbus for games, such as a scavenger hunt and Scattergories, which provided humorous exchanges and the opportunity to get to know one another better.

When it was time to pray, we lit candles to symbolize our unity, despite the geographic distances that separated us.  We experienced various forms of prayer, including preaching, guided meditation, Lectio Divina, and Dominican Praise with local communities in Wichita, KS and New Haven, CT. We provided a link for an online Mass, and participants could tune in to a Mass of their preference. The retreatants also had opportunities for personal prayer, reflecting, journaling, and integrating their retreat experience.

For the discernment session on Saturday morning, Sr. Pat Dual introduced some critical components of the discernment process and how it differs from decision making.  In the afternoon, we held a panel discussion on, “Living out our call as a Dominican Sister of Peace,” with Sr. Pat Connick, Sr. Ana Gonzalez and Sr. Ellen Coates zooming in and sharing their vocation journeys and life as Dominican Sisters of Peace. On Sunday, Sr. Bea’s presentation highlighted and integrated the weekend’s journey and ways that retreatants could continue moving forward in their discernment.

Sharing also occurred in many forms. In multiple breakout rooms, arranged by Associate Mary Ellen George OPA, the retreatants were able to share their reflections and ask challenging questions in one-on-one meetings with Sister companions and in small and large groups.

The discerners expressed their gratitude for this retreat. They experienced God’s presence and found some common ground among Sisters, their peers, and about their vocational calls. Some said they received clarification, reassurance, or comfort in their own discernment, which brought them joy and peace. Two retreatants offered these reflections:

“This virtual discernment retreat was an awesome experience and time well spent. I received great counsel regarding my discernment journey. The sisters who acted as mentors for us throughout the weekend cared deeply about helping us understand their lifestyles. This weekend was a great blessing to me.” Paula D.

“It was such a blessing to be part of the September virtual discernment retreat! In the midst of all the COVID chaos, it was a welcomed time to relax, rejuvenate, and really focus on trying to hear God’s call.  I especially loved the opportunity to meet 1-1 with my Sister companion to talk about our journeys and her experiences as a Dominican Sister of Peace!  While my vocation still isn’t crystal clear, it was a big comfort to hear that many of the Sisters and my fellow retreatants had similar stories and experiences of the discernment process.  Thank you, Dominican Sisters of Peace!”  Sarah

 

The discerners were not the only ones who experienced feelings of inspiration and joy. The sisters who joined us as companions and presenters also felt that they were renewed, had great hope for the future, and felt privileged to journey with these discerners.

When asked about this retreat, Sr. Rose Mary Stein, OP, said, “My experience at the online discernment retreat was most inspiring, rewarding, and very prayerful.  As a Sister Companion, I was assigned to meet with a discerner, and she was impressed to learn how I eventually came to my decision becoming a sister.  I know the Holy Spirit had put us together as we shared our stories and had a number of things in common. Many of the questions the discerners asked during the large group session could be answered by one of the Sisters because they had a story or experience that responded to the question…I was blessed to have been included in the retreat.”

God’s grace-filled days were upon each of us in many ways during this retreat. We believe that the seeds and spirit of this retreat will continue to grow and journey with each individual no matter which direction each person takes. Click here for photos from this retreat.

If you are interested in knowing more about our vocational discernment programs, contact us and we will be happy to share details about these programs.

Posted in God Calling?