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.


 

Searching for Answers in Jesus’ Life and Teachings

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

I remember in my senior year of undergraduate college
browsing through the library shelves searching for an author or a title that
resonated with me for writing my Senior Thesis.  As a serious student, majoring in Religion and
Philosophy, with burning questions about God and Jesus, I was determined to
find the
book that would satisfy my thirst for knowledge and give me answers to my
searching questions.

After many agonizing weeks of combing through books in the
religion and philosophy section of the library stacks, I discovered a trilogy
of works combined into one book by John Knox. 
This trilogy was entitled Jesus
Lord and Christ
and included these three titles:  The Man Christ Jesus, Christ the
Lord
and On the Meaning of Christ. What delighted me about this book was that it easy to read and
understand, with language that spoke to my intellectual interests at the
time. 

What I explored ultimately
in my thesis was the question of how the historical Jesus relates to the Christ
of faith based on John Knox’s writings. 
I still have this thesis as the writing of it was significant in my
faith journey.  The question of Who
was this man Jesus?
intrigued me and was at the core of my searching.  This question still offers moments of
reflection, but my ponderings now take me from an intellectual search to a contemplative
quest for understanding the life and teachings of Jesus.

So, who was this man Jesus?  What in his life and teachings is the most powerful message to us?  Of his life, I find that Jesus’ work with the marginalized (the poor, the hungry, the disenfranchised, the sick, the imprisoned) is both an example and challenge for how we are to live individually and communally.  It is in helping the marginalized where we can find Jesus and experience a transformation of heart and mind. Being with the marginalized teaches us not just humility but also about having faith and hope,despite our circumstances.

We are told in Matthew 25:35-36 that Jesus can be found in the marginalized:  “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” And then later, in verse 40 of this same chapter, we hear Jesus’ words “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”  So,when we are looking for Jesus, it is to the marginalized where we will find him.

Of Jesus’ teachings, two Scripture passages communicate to me Jesus’ message for how we are to live our life:

“Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Love never comes to an end.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

“You shall love the Lord your God with all
your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
 The second is this: ‘You shall love
your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
” Mark 12: 30-31

Love is clearly the
central message in Jesus’ teachings. 
Story after story in Scripture, we hear and see how Jesus’ actions
spring from a place of love.  From the
story of the women caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) to the story of the
‘sinful’ woman who bathes Jesus’ feet with her tears
(Luke 7:36-50), Jesus conveys a
message of forgiveness, compassion, and love for the person.  By his example, Jesus teaches us to live a
life free of condemnation and judgement. 
We do not see Jesus burdened with guilt or tormented with
second-guessing his actions because he is grounded in God’s love.  It is this trust and belief in God’s love
that empowers him to minister to so many and to advocate for justice for all
people.  And when  Jesus needed to be refueled with this love or
to understand the path he was called to follow, he went away to a quiet place
to pray.

And so we pray that
in our search for answers to life’s struggles that we turn to Jesus’ life and
teachings for answers and take time to pray and listen to God’s unfolding
message of love to us.

Are you searching
for answers to what to do with your life? Why not consider exploring the
religious life as a Dominican Sister of Peace? 
Come and be the feet and hands of Jesus. 
Our Vocation Ministers are
happy to walk with you as you seek to answer God’s call in your life.

Posted in God Calling??, News

Religious Life: A Journey to Self-Transformation

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

Some people are called to live in married life
and others choose single life or consecrated life. Compared with religious
life, married life is easier to understand because many of us were raised in a
two-parent home. We observed the joys and challenges of married couples. Religious
life, on the other hand, is often surrounded by myths. Many people think that
religious life is without fun, focusing on sacrifice and prayer. When I first
began discerning, I thought religious life that way because I didn’t truly know
what this life offered. How about you? What myths do you believe about
religious life?  Can you name opportunities
that religious life has offered to those who live that call?

For me, self-transformation is one of the many gifts that religious life has brought to me. I
would like to talk about this gift in this blog;
the other gifts from religious life will be discussed in my future blogs.

As a human being, I tend to think I know myself
well, but in reality, I don’t really know who I am from a faith perspective. St.
Catherine of Siena said; “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world
on fire.” How can I know and accept what God intended me to be?

I know some of my gifts and dreams, but the
hidden potentials are not easy to recognize. Even when I recognize them, I may
not know how to develop them fully for the sake of a fulfilling life and God’s desired
mission for me. Have you ever had such an experience?

In religious life, I have been gifted with time
for daily reflection, more time to pray, more chances to attend inspiring and
challenging workshops, and more time to be focused on self-development and
mission.  I have had chances to share
life and dreams with sisters and associates in my community, and more time to reflect
on realities of ministry and what has been happening around me. These valuable
experiences create great opportunities for me to see more clearly and to be deeply touched by what
is going on around me.  I begin to see
and act differently.  With all the support from the community and
with God’s grace, I have more courage to open myself for potential gifts as
well as understanding my weaknesses.

The journey of self-awareness, acceptance, and
development brings so much growth in me. 
The more I accept and value myself and allow God to work in me through
others, the more respect and gratitude I have toward life, people, and all
creations. All are gifts from God. I become more peaceful, joyful,
compassionate, and active. I begin to touch and accept the vision that God has
planted in me that at first, I did not understand. Now, I feel more
confident and strive to share these fruits with the world.  

I am humbly convinced that with religious life,
I can be who I am today. Even though the journey of self-transformation is an
on-going process, I am willing to stay on this journey and I feel blessed to be
on the journey that God has paved for me. If you truly want to enter this
on-going transformative journey to find out what God is calling you to be, contact us at vocations@oppeace.org or check out our
webpage here.
We also have a “Come and See” retreat weekend coming up in Akron, Ohio on March 15-17, 2019.

Posted in God Calling??, News

Can you hear God in the music?

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi

Most
of us like to listen to music, right? There are several motivations why we
choose to listen to music: it can provide a good pace/rhythm for exercising, it
can soothe the soul, it can help us be more creative, it can even affect an
unborn baby as well, and the list could go on.

Listening
to music helps me deepen my relationship with God. A few years ago, when I got
very frustrated, I would get in my car, and blast the song, “Lord,
I need you
” by Matt Maher, until my frustration dissipated and his
words became my words as well.

Other
times, I heard God in the “still small voice”, like Jenna Woods sings in “Still
small voice
”, or in “The Wind” by Cat
Stevens when he sings: “where I’ll end up, well, I think only God really knows.”
Singing songs from Taizé does the same for me.

I recently heard: “Set a fire
by Will Reagan. The song says it all: “so set a
fire down in my soul that I can’t contain and I can’t control. I want more of
you God.”

To be able to preach in a way that
sets the world on fire with God’s love, like St. Catherine of Siena said,
starts with recognizing the fire of God’s love in us, and then, we can spread
it.

Music
can help us tune our ears and hearts to God. It can move us into a direction
that helps us discover God’s desire with us. I asked a few sisters, “What song would you choose
to describe religious life?” Here are a few responses:

  • Heal
    the World
    ” by Michael Jackson, because it is about making the world
    a better place, and as vowed religious, we also are missioned to do so.

  • Be
    God’s…
    ” by Danielle Rose, because it inspires us to bring God’s love
    to others.

  • Where You Lead
    by Carole King, because God is calling us to follow God wherever God leads us,
    knowing that God will always be with us along the way.

  • Thankful” sung by
    Josh Groban, because religious life provides so many people and opportunities
    to be grateful for, especially those who call, encourage, and support me to be
    the person God wants me to be. 

  • The Same Love” by
    Paul Baloche, because the same Love, which set captives free and opened the
    eyes of the blind to see, called me by name and keeps calling.

  •  “Go Make a Difference
    by Steve Angrisano and Tom Tomaszek, because it really speaks to what we do and
    what religious life is about.

  • We Are
    Family
    ” by Sister Sledge, because we are family in the Dominican
    Order, and it’s a song that speaks of unity.

  • Every Praise
    by Hezekiah Walker, because it has a lot of energy and it helps to motivate us.

  • All My
    Days
    ” by Dan Schutte, because it is our deepest desire to praise
    God.

Do
you hear God’s voice in any of these songs?

What
songs do you like to listen to that help you tune your heart to God?

Posted in God Calling??, News

Companions on the Journey

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

As
a Vocation Director, I often meet with discerning women over a cup of coffee,
tea or even the occasional bowl of vegan lentil-kale soup.  It does not matter what it is that we are
eating or drinking – it is the conversation and being together on the journey
that matters.  

I
remember such meetings when I was discerning my call.  My sister companion and I would meet in a
local restaurant over steaming platters of Chinese food, wonton soup and
fortune cookies.  We would settle into
the vinyl booth and talk for hours about the vows, what it really meant to live
in community, how it is possible for four women to share two cars and not get
into fights…then in between those topics we settled the problems of the
world. 

Since
entering the congregation I continue to cherish extended community dinners
where we take the time to savor our food and the company of each other.  On any given day the conversation may be
about ministry, a family gathering, the “Nuns on the Bus,” or whether or not
the Sox are going to win the World Series – which they did!  Go Sox! 

Religious life is about many things but, one of the
significant elements that ties it all together is community.  It isn’t always without conflict, but it is
the best place for me to become all that God wants me to be and to do it with
companions on the journey. 

God Calling?? Call us to begin
the conversation with one of our vocation ministers. 

Posted in God Calling??, News

A Special Bible

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Who planted the legacy of the Catholic faith in your
life?  For me, it was my mother. Mom came
from a long line of family members with Protestant roots, mostly Baptist or
Pentecostal.  While the family religious
background was basically Protestant, Black parents knew the value of education. When they were able, many enrolled their
kids in the neighborhood Catholic parish schools that many religious orders
established in Black neighborhoods.  My
mom attended St. Joseph Catholic School and eventually, as a teenager, she was
baptized into the Catholic faith and later insisted on raising her family in
the Catholic tradition. So my roots in the legacy of the Catholic faith were
planted with my baptism as an infant in 1951 and my relationship with the bible
was planted during my early childhood.

For as long as I can remember, there had always been a bible
in the living room. The one that I most remember growing up with was a large
print, huge bible that included a section in the back with stories of the lives
of the saints.  As a child, I liked to read the stories about the saints but often
wondered why these friends of God seemed to be disliked or often killed.  I outgrew this childish thinking about God
during my youth.  However, as a young
adult, I distanced myself from the institutional Church for about 10 years.  When I returned to practicing my faith, I
wanted to buy a nice bible to, perhaps, symbolize this renewed relationship
with God.

The bible I found was beautiful.  The cover was a rose color with silver
lettering on the cover and pages with silver gilding around the edges.  However, after I had meticulously put on
bible book tabs, I decided to give the bible to my mother as a gift and to buy a different bible with study notes for me. Over the
years, I did not necessarily see this bible again when I would visit mom, but
there was always a bible in her living room.

Over 20 plus years had passed before I saw this rose covered
bible again. I was packing up my mother’s belonging when she was no longer able
to live alone because of dementia.  The
bible was in a clear plastic bag and literally coming apart.  The cover was worn.  The pages were marked and dog eared.  There were notes in the margins and in empty
spaces on various pages. Some of the books in the bible near the end were
separating from the binding. This was clearly a bible that had been used for studying,
praying—and in general—living.

Recently, I sat reflecting with this bible some five years
after rediscovering it.  I thought about
all that has transpired in my mom’s life since I gave it to her many years ago.
I thought about the comfort and wisdom it must have provided to her over the
years. I thought about the deep relationship with her God which she had
developed throughout her life that spilled out over these worn pages of God’s
Word and promises to us. These thoughts led me to clearly see the deep
faithfulness that God has shown in her life.

Mom has been faithful in her relationship with God over the
years and God has been faithful to her. Even as she has lost much of her mental
capacity and memories to dementia, God has continued to be faithful to her.
Being in a place where she is being well cared for and close by where I can
visit is, to me, a tangible sign of God’s continued faithfulness to mom—even  though she does not know where she is or even how
God has been a consistent part of her life. 

This worn bible has helped me to reflect on the truth of
God’s faithfulness to both my mom and to me. God is faithful to all of us.  This is a deep truth of our faith and is
revealed over and over again in the Word. 
While my own bible is important to me, this worn, marked bible is,
indeed, very special to me.  You see, in
looking at some of the marked passages, I learned that Psalm 27 was a favorite
psalm for both of us.  We even marked
some of the same lines within it.

Do you have a special bible? What story does it tell about
you and your relationship with God?   More
importantly, is your relationship with God, perhaps, calling you to consider
the possibility of a vocation to religious life? 

Posted in God Calling??, News