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.


 

Encountering the Holy Spirit in Our Lives

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

This weekend we will celebrate the wonderful feast of Pentecost, recalling the coming of the Holy Spirit among us. Remembering God’s gift of the Holy Spirit within and among us is a source of renewal and hope in these uncertain times of 2021.  Recently, I found a prayer that Sr. Joan Chittister wrote about Pentecost.  I love what she said about the Holy Spirit in her prayer, that it “embodies the life force of the universe, the power of God, the animating energy present in all things, and captured by none.”  My imagination was captured by the phrase, “The Holy Spirit is the animating energy present in all things and captured by none.”  The phrase started me thinking about moments I became aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life in a particular situation or event.

I remember one such encounter that happened during the time that I was discerning religious life. I had been seriously discerning with the congregation’s vocation minister for several years.  But, even though things began to fall into place that would enable me to apply to the community, I started to rethink my decision.  Finally, I decided to end the discernment for religious life to look at another option I was exploring.  Before I officially called the vocation director to end the process with her, I was invited to a religious conference where different communities of Sisters had invited lay women to join them for a weekend of prayer and talks on various topics—including a panel talking about vocations. I made sure that I did not register for the vocation talk.

As you may have guessed, that was not the end of the story from God’s point of view. During the first day of the conference, I began feeling that I should attend—for one last time—the vocation talk. I spent the lunch hour that day asking God if I should go to the talk or not. I could not decide.  Finally, I said to God, if the door to the workshop was open, I would go in, but if it was closed, I would go to the workshop I signed up to attend.  When I approached the hallway where workshops were being held, I could see that all the other doors were open, but the room door for the vocation talk was closed. I thought, ok, problem solved! But just as I was passing the closed door, someone opened the door, smiled, and invited me in.

As I sat and listened to the Sisters on the panel, all from various communities, my mental self-talk began to list several reasons why religious life was a ridiculous idea for me. By the end of the presentation, I was sure I was not being called to religious life.  After the presentations, they asked if anyone had any questions.  A woman stood up and briefly shared her story and ended by saying that she was taking her first vows the following week.  This was a “Holy Spirit” moment for me because what she shared about herself were the exact same things—listed in the exact order—as my mental “elimination list” to God about religious life.  I was amazed.  Here was someone whose life circumstances were like mine, and she was accepted to make first vows. I literally felt that the Spirit was saying to me, “OK, now what other excuses do you have?”  That was quite a moment!  This took place in July 2002 and I entered the congregation as a Candidate in August 2005. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit was operative within me and within Sr. Jackie Laster, RSM, the woman who shared her testimony that day.

All of us have had experiences of what I like to call “Holy Spirit” moments. Those times we become suddenly aware of the presence of the Spirit in our experience or within ourselves. Furthermore, as the congregation’s Coordinator of Formation, I have heard many stories about “Holy Spirit” moments from our women in formation.  As we approach Pentecost Sunday this weekend, I invite you to recall a few “Holy Spirit” moments from your own life.  How have you encountered the Holy Spirit lately?

If you feel the Spirit has been inviting you to consider becoming a Sister, give us a call.

Peace.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Accepting Jesus’s Mission in the Eucharist

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

Each time you receive the Eucharist, what do you feel or what is your experience?

At the Last Supper, after giving thanks, Jesus passed the consecrated bread and wine into the hands of his disciples. This act of Jesus giving bread and wine to the disciples has been known as the time that Jesus established the Eucharist, so that the disciples could receive Jesus’ body and blood for their spiritual nourishment. Jesus also told his disciples “Do this in remembrance of Me,” and in saying this, he entrusted his mission to all who followed him. For me, this invitation along with the command “take it” signifies Jesus’ desire for the disciples to claim his mission as their own mission and to see their essential roles in God’s missionary plan. From the moment the disciples took the bread and the chalice from Jesus’ hands, God’s earthly mission became both Jesus’ and disciples’ mission. This mission has been passed from generation to generation and continues with us — with you and me.

Every time I prepare myself to receive Communion, I reflect on these two questions: “Am I willing to accept Jesus’ invitation” and “What is Jesus inviting me to?” Sometimes, Jesus’ invitation is not what we expect.

What invitation might Jesus be offering to you?  Could Jesus be inviting you to a life as a religious sister or inviting you to a change in ministry or to a way of living that allows you to respond to the needs of our times? We may feel that we are not ready or well equipped for this invitation. Yet, if we trust in Jesus, we will have the courage to embrace his invitation with deep gratitude. We will also find ourselves becoming closer to Jesus with a generous spirit and with confidence to follow God’s will and God’s plan for us.

When I receive the Eucharist in my hands, it allows me to briefly look at the host and feel touched by Jesus. Then, with great gratitude, knowing that Jesus loves and trusts me, I humbly respond “Amen!” and accept Jesus in the Eucharist as well as the mission of Jesus and his will for me. When using my own hands to put the host into my mouth, I say to God and to myself that “With my full freedom, under your love and trust, I am willing to accept your Body/Blood along with your will and mission to proclaim the Good News on earth. Help me to find you in every step of my life.” This ritual keeps me reflecting on the needs and the signs of our time for the mission of serving God’s people.

Jesus is looking for people who are open to his call and willing to carry on his mission. Are you willing to be one of these people? If you hear or feel some echo of this invitation inside you, inviting you to do Jesus’ mission through your consecrated life, visit our vocation website, or contact us. And if you are already in the discernment process with us, what invitation do you hear from God at this time?

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

What Riddles and the Discernment Process Have in Common

Blog by Sr. Bea Tiboldi

Recently, I heard this riddle: “What appears 1x in a minute, 2x in a moment, but never in a thousand years?” If you keep reading, you will find the answer.

A riddle might serve as a game or an ice breaker; however, riddles remind me of the discernment process in some ways. What do riddles and the discernment process have in common?

Both take time and effort

Whether it’s figuring out the answer to a riddle or praying with God’s plan for our life, the solution or path may not be obvious at first sight. It feels great when we do figure out the answer, but many times both solving a riddle or discerning one’s vocations, take time.

Both might require digging deeper for real meaning

Sometimes, riddles are meant to trip you up, but if we take a closer look at them, they challenge us to look at things from different angles.  When we look into exploring our vocation or when we start to discern, we also look at things from different angles. For example, when discerning a specific religious congregation, you may want to look at its prayer life, charism, service or ministry, and life in community. You may also want to pray with the question: “which community can I picture myself in?” The discernment process is meant to bring us to a deeper level of self-awareness.

Both urge us to recognize what’s missing

Sometimes a riddle focuses on things that are missing.  (“What is it that has cities but no houses, that has mountains but no trees, and has water but no fish?” The answer is: a map.) The discernment process helps you identify not only what religious life is but also what it is not. Also, the process can help you identify the areas where you need to grow or to assess what might be holding you back from moving forward. Knowing what you are looking for in a community or religious like can help you narrow down your search and can help you find the congregation where you can be your best self.

Both invite us to think it through

Some riddles invite us to think logically or straightforward.  In discerning one’s vocation, we prayerfully consider pros and cons, we pray to see what path God is calling us to, which way of life (single, married, or religious life) will enable us to use the gifts that God has blessed us with.

Both might stretch us

Riddles work by making us think – beyond words, numbers, or concepts—that stretch our brains and imaginations. During the discernment process, we are encouraged to stretch ourselves to become more compassionate or to try a service or mission experience to help us find clarity with our vocation. Similar to solving a riddle, these “stretching” experiences eventually help us reach an answer.

Both encourage us to keep it simple

Some riddles are long and include extra information, and if we want to be able to solve, the riddle, the key is in keeping things simple; sometimes less is more. The same notion of keeping it simple holds true with the discernment process – don’t get tangled up in the process.  Instead, ask questions as they come up to make it easier to know your vocation and purpose.

Both encourage us to notice and be aware of ‘the hidden’

Riddles are not meant to be easy or obvious. Let’s revisit the riddle that helped me recognize what riddles and the discernment process have in common: “What appears 1x in a minute, 2x in a moment, but never in a thousand years?” In this riddle, we are invited to notice the answer within the question. The answer is, the letter “m.” Notice, the answer was there even at the time the question was asked. We, too, are encouraged to notice God’s presence, who is always present in our discernment.

 

If you would like to talk to a Sister about your vocation, contact us to begin a conversation.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Prayers for Vocations

Last Sunday, April 25th, marked a special day of Prayer for Vocations.  During our prayer group for discerners that the Vocations team offers monthly, we contemplated peace with a guided meditation, and then we prayed for vocations.  Knowing that there is a power in communal prayer, we invite you to pray one of these prayers.

If you are a Sister, or Associate, or know someone who is discerning God’s call:

Loving God,
we pray for women and men who are discerning Your call for their life.
Open their hearts to hear your voice inviting them to be
preachers of the Gospel
following Jesus in the footsteps of St. Dominic.
Grant them generosity of spirit for selfless service
and enkindle within their hearts a desire to be your Peace in our world.
We make this prayer in the name of Jesus, our Risen Lord,
who lives and loves with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.

If you are discerning God’s call for your life:

(The original prayer card that our team crafted can be found here.)

Loving Creator,
Thank you for calling me to share in Jesus’ mission.
I am not sure which way of life You are calling us to,
and I humbly ask you to guide me along the way.
Help me remain open and patient in this process,
whether to live the single life, the married life, or as a religious sister, nun,
brother, monk or priest.

Compassionate Jesus,
You showed us what it means to lay down one’s life for others.
As I seek to deepen my relationship with you,
help me to bear witness to the Gospel,
to lead others to you,
to speak for a more just and peaceful world,
to give voice to the voiceless,
and to be there for those in need.

Holy Spirit,
Inspire me and guide me
that I may listen to the still small voice in my heart.
I ask for wisdom, understanding, and courage to follow God’s call.
Amen.

You can find additional prayers for vocations here.

May God bless all of us as we stay aware of God’s presence in our life and discern God’s call day-by-day.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

The Gift of the Empty Tomb

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Can you imagine Mary Magdalene’s incredulous encounter with Jesus that first Easter morning—moving from experiencing the depths of sorrow to indescribable joy?  Can you imagine hearing Divine Love speak your name, revealing to you the Living Hope of God?  I cannot fully comprehend the joy of Mary Magdalene’s encounter—discovering the empty tomb or meeting the Risen Christ on that first Easter morning.  But centuries later, with other Christians, I celebrate the gift of the Empty Tomb of Easter and the eternal Living Hope that emerged.

How do you celebrate these two gifts? Usually, I celebrate the Easter season by attending the Easter Vigil Mass, to help welcome new members into the Church, and by singing the ritualistic “Alleluias” that elevate my spirit and bring me to a closer encounter with Living Hope.  This Easter season, however, has been different for all of us, not only because of the life-changing effects of a 14-month pandemic but also because of escalating divisions and violence in our nation.

In this Easter season, when so many families mourn the death of a loved one, I struggle to sing, Alleluia. At a time when centuries of racism and inequity tears at the fabric of our society, I struggle to sing, Alleluia. At a time when daily violence is claiming the lives of our youth and loved ones, I struggle to sing, Alleluia.  In a time when peace seems many times to be an elusive dream, I struggle to sing, Alleluia.

Faith and my life experience teach me, however, to look for the hope in difficulty, just as Mary Magdalene did in that moment when she emerged from sorrow to joy. While I know there are many circumstances that contribute to temporarily losing sight of the joy of Easter—I also know that the Living Spirit of Hope will eventually renew my spirit and restore my voice to sing the “Alleluia” of the empty tomb, not just during Easter, but throughout my life.

If we are open, this living hope of the Spirit will come in different ways and at different times to renew each of us. Recently, I experienced this renewal and hope as several of our women in formation prepared to enter the next stage of their formation journey. Sr. Margaret Uche will renew her vows, Candidates Cathy Buchanan and Tram Bui will become novices, Sr. Ann Killian will return from the novitiate and become an Apostolic novice, Apostolic novice Sr. Ellen Coates will make First Profession, and Sr. Ana Gonzalez is preparing to make her final vows as a Dominican Sister of Peace. Amid the challenges of our times, these, and all our women in formation who are discerning God’s call in their life, are part of the hope and joy of our future.

How have you experienced the renewal of Living Hope during this Easter season? How has Jesus, our Living Hope, shown up for you?   I invite you to listen to this inspiring song, Living Hope by Phil Wickham, as you ponder this question.

If you feel called to join us in sharing Living Hope with others as a Sister, contact us!

Peace.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog