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.


 

Being Pruned

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

One of my favorite Gospel quotes is: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. (John 15:1-3) This message spoke to me during the retreat in preparation for my first vows and recently in the prayer before our Ministry of Welcome – Vocations team meeting.

Pruning can be a painful process – but the fruits are well worth it. Looking back at the time before I entered the community, I thought religious life was a life of prayer and helping the poor. The concept of helping the poor has evolved in me over the years.  I have come to see the poor not just as those who are materially poor but those in need of love, a spiritual life, and equal justice. The need to work on justice and dignity is present not only at the human level but also in the life of other species and the earth. This understanding broadens my view of ministry and daily prayer. Today, I realize that the call to live religious life is a call to live prophetically. This prophetic life is a dynamic one that must be built on faith and in the reality of life where I am living. So, it calls me to be open to on-going transformation and to accept the pruning necessary for new branches to form.

Another example of needing to be pruned happened when I was first called to religious life. At that time, I was worried that I would need to leave behind my love of engineering, life experiences, friends, and even my personal freedom when entering religious life. Later, I realized God did not ask me to cut them off completely but pruned me to see how to view them to bear more fruit and so that God’s work in me could be accomplished a hundredfold.  Thus, I am reminded of what Jesus said, “I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” (Mt 5:17).

Now, we are dealing with COVID, job layoffs, violence, and division in our country. The questions that have been raised within our community echo inside me: “What does the world or our society ask from us?” “What does the earth ask of us?” These are all big questions. To respond prophetically, you and I must be pruned so a new way of thinking, living life, and doing ministry can bring forth and bear more fruit. How willing are we to be pruned for this process? And God will make the way for us to live such prophetic life.

The call to live in religious life is the call to live prophetically in our time, with one another in God’s grace. This is an authentic call from God. Are you willing to be pruned by God and to accept this call to be prophetic? If so, contact us or visit our vocation webpages to learn more about the discernment process. We also have a virtual Discernment retreat this March 12-14, 2021 at no cost. An online register link is coming soon.

Posted in God Calling?

“To see it and to be it”

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi

We have had such an emotional week. Can I get an Amen? We honored and remembered the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We observed National Day of Racial Healing. We remembered the 400,000 people who lost their lives during this pandemic and prayed for their loved ones. We expressed our gratitude for first responders. We celebrated the beginning of a new chapter in our American democracy as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took office. We are in a time when we need to acknowledge the need for unity and healing. As President Joe Biden encouraged us in his inaugural speech: “Let’s begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another.”

There is just so much emotion going on inside me. If I could paint my feelings, the fireworks that we saw at the end of the concert on Wednesday evening is the perfect visual image I would express in a painting. Fireworks represent the release of repressed feelings, and they also symbolize happiness and joy.

Are these the feelings the first disciples felt at the very first Easter? I wonder. They, too, must have felt an immense joy and renewed hope. Amanda Gorman, in her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” encourages us to “step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it. (…) For there is always light, if only we were brave enough to see it, if only we were brave enough to be it.”

“To see it and to be it” are powerful words to believe and follow. In today’s Gospel reading, we recall Jesus calling the disciples, and we, too, per our baptism, are called to share the Good News, to share God’s love and peace. The prayer of St. Teresa of Avila reminds us that Christ has no hands but ours. Click here for the song that is accompanied by a slideshow. How is God calling you to be, build and preach God’s peace today?

If you would like to talk about living out your call as a vowed religious sister, contact us at vocations@oppeace.org.

Posted in God Calling?

A Glimpse of Community

Blog by Sr. Ana Gonzalez

The fragrance of fresh pizza wafted through the house on a cold Saturday evening. Cathy, our Candidate and newest member to our community in New Haven, treated us with two large pizza pies from Modern Apizza. We usually designate Saturdays as a day for pickup for dinner or “review for religious” (a.k.a. “leftovers”).  Cathy’s contribution to our weekend dinner was a welcome surprise. The smell of freshly baked pies, kept warm in the oven, announced to all that dinner was ready.  The community gathered in the kitchen before preparing to bless the meal.

“Have you seen Sister An Hoa,” asked Cathy, as she placed the pies on the kitchen table.

“No, I am not sure if she has completed her test.” I responded, noticing the community’s concern for Sister An Hoa.

“It is getting dark and cold and I wonder if she is ok?” said Sister Julia.

“I am not sure if she is home, but some random table is on the back porch,” said Sister June. “Last time a random table showed up on the back porch Sister An Hoa brought it home. Perhaps she is home and resting after her test.”

In the next moment, the cozy kitchen burst into a roar of cheer as Sister An Hoa walked into the kitchen. “There she is,” I exclaimed.  The community was eager to hear about how her English competency exam had gone because this was an exam she had to take in order to apply for her PhD program.  Her reply, however, had to wait as Cathy started, “Let us pray…”

My little community is a diverse intergenerational, intercultural and inter-congregational mix.  An outsider might imagine that this diversity might create conflicts among the members living under the same roof; it does not. I am learning that, unlike housemates, life in a religious community encourages us to COME together in UNITY, forged by being grounded in our relationship with God and in living out our call to consecrated life.  As we share our common life, we live with the awareness that we are dependent on each other.  We experience God in our relationships and interactions with one another.  Our community life both broadens our vision of God and deepens our understanding of the Divine. Ultimately, community helps us grow closer because of our common unity with God.

“This pizza is amazing,” I exclaim as I bite into my first slice of bacon and sausage pizza. While Modern Apizza is delicious, my real joy comes from sharing a meal with these women gathered around the dinner table. God brought me to this place through my call to religious life.  As I continue my journey of formation as a sister, I am gifted by the opportunity to share my experience, life and faith with women, who like me, are following God’s call. The gift of their lives and their sharing makes my life so much better.  I appreciate greatly the opportunities to grow in my personal and spiritual awareness as part of my interaction with my sisters.  I count my blessings in being able to live in a community. We COME, sharing our diversity and gifts with each other in UNITY with God. Our intentional, diverse community gives me hope for a future filled with promise.

If God is calling you to consider religious life, why not take the leap and call one of our vocation ministers to start a conversation?

Posted in God Calling?

Following God During a Time of Pandemic

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

For sure, the year 2020 was a year like no other. I need not list here, the suffering and chaos of the year to anyone old enough to read this blog.  But I am reminded of the message of hope expressed during the Christmas season and reiterated at the Epiphany—God’s Light (Christ) has come to dispel the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome the Light.  I have found over the last few months, that I need to hold this message firmly in my spirit. One thing that has helped sustain my hope during this time has been seeing God’s spirit continuing to inspire and call women to consider a life in service to God and the people of God.  Perhaps, it is in times of greater suffering and confusion that God’s call is clearer to us. However, I am certain that God continues to call women to consider religious life even amid a pandemic.

The fact that God is still calling women to religious life and to our congregation is great news!  But for relational ministries like Formation and Vocation, the isolation and protocol for preventing the spread of the virus, presented somewhat of a problem. The 2020 year of pandemic caused disruptions in everyone’s life, redefining how we lived, worked, and related to each other. Making use of virtual technology became the safest way to work and to relate to each other.  For better or worse, virtual technology became the “new normal.”

The vocation team seemed to quickly adapt to this new way of connecting with discerning women by sponsoring virtual Come and See Weekends; virtual dinner or prayer events with Sisters; and virtual Mission for Peace events, like the one happening this weekend.  The vocation team has designed a complete online program that continues the important ministry of helping women discern God’s call. They have been quite successful in their efforts, adapting to the fact that God continues to call people to consecrated life, even during COVID-19.

Sr. Phuong Vu Professing her First Vows with Sr. Dot Trosclair on Dec. 8, 2020

The Formation ministry also had to adapt to pandemic conditions. We had to rethink how we would welcome women who discerned and were accepted as Candidates in the congregation. In addition, there were several women already in the initial formation process as novices and temporary professed Sisters. Most of them were ready to take the next steps in their journey of becoming a Sister.

The ritual ceremonies for each step in the formation process are very meaningful and culminate after several years with final vows.  The rituals and ceremonies usually take place during congregational gatherings and requires traveling for almost everyone involved. As weeks stretched into months during the pandemic, using technology was the only way forward to hold these ceremonies.  The women in formation were open and ready for participating in modified virtual ceremonies, witnessed in person with their local community, with the congregation, and with family and friends joining virtually. Though not ideal, these virtual ceremonies were wonderful events seen by our Sisters and guests in several states.  Holding such ceremonies virtually, these women in formation have demonstrated two necessary characteristics of women in religious life—openness and adaptability.

Candidate Tram Bui’s Virtual Welcome Ceremony with Prioress Sr. Pat Twohill and Formation Coordinator Pat Dual.

I am very happy that the Dominican Sisters of Peace have been able to adapt to the continuing call of women to religious life.  Currently, we have seven women in formation. Two became Candidates during the pandemic this year.  Cathy Buchanan and Tram Bui were welcomed into the congregation with their local convent communities in New Haven, CT, and Columbus, OH, respectively. Canonical Novice, Sr. Annie Killian entered our Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) in Chicago, IL. All aspects of the novitiate have been adapted with online classes, retreats and even ministry in some cases. It has been a very different experience at the novitiate this year, but the novices are grateful they were able to continue their discernment process.  Our second-year novice, Sr. Ellen Coates returned to Columbus, OH from the CDN in August 2020. She can do her ministry from home as part of the Ohio State University Contact tracing team. Sr. Phuong Vu professed her First Vows in a beautiful Mass in New Orleans, LA since it was unsafe to travel to the Motherhouse in Columbus, OH.  While masks, face shields and social distancing were required, Sr. Phuong was grateful to take her first vows. The Prioress and I, along with her family, watched her special moment virtually and with much gratitude.

Posted in God Calling?

When a Child is Born…

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

When a child is born, there is so much joy, awe, and wonderment. While I cannot personally attest to the experience of giving birth to a child, I can recall the joy around the birth of my nieces and nephews through the years.  This joy, mixed with awe about their growth and development and wanting to know more about who they were becoming, what they were interested in, and how they were doing, became the focus of many conversations within the family.

Certainly for Jesus’ Mother, Mary these many feelings undoubtedly held true.  As she waited for her Son’s birth, she assuredly experienced moments of wondering what this child would be like. And knowing that she and Joseph were entrusted with raising a son who was born to bring good tidings to all of God’s people, must have been an overwhelming feeling. Understanding this concern, we learn that God sends the angel Gabriel to be with Mary and tells her to not be afraid for God will be with her.

We, too, can take comfort in trusting that God is with us in our own journeys and to not be afraid of what comes next.  What is God birthing in you and waiting for you to say “yes” to in your life?

As we approach the celebration of the Christ Child on Christmas Day, may we be filled with joy, awe, and wonderment, pondering the meaning that this birth holds. May we find peace, hope, and love for a future that calls us to seek God’s will always and to respond, like Mary, with a faith that trusts that God is present within and among us.  May we and all humankind know God’s peace and love and may we be instruments to each other in extending this same peace and love in both the enriching and challenging moments of life’s happenings.

If you are ready to begin entrusting your life to God as a religious sister, we invite you to contact us as we walk with you in this journey of faith.  We also invite you to join us for a Mission for Peace program where you can EXPERIENCE daily prayer, reflection, and sharing; PARTICIPATE in interactive presentations, ENGAGE in mission opportunities, EXPLORE God’s call for your life – all from your home! Click here for more information.

Posted in God Calling?