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.


 

Where Will my Journey Take Me?

Blog by Sr. Cathy Buchanan, shown here on a walk.

Since arriving at the novitiate on August 14, 2021, I have physically journeyed 1,245 miles! How do I know that? Because my Fitbit tells me each day how many miles I walked on a given day.  But how many more miles have I spiritually journeyed with God since arriving here at the CDN in August? And is there a spiritual Fitbit to measure that? Back to those questions a little later.

For those who know me, you may know I love to walk. But that wasn’t always the case. I grew into the practice of walking when I set my mind on becoming “healthier”. I started by just walking around the block because that’s all I could do when I started on this walking journey four years ago. Little by little I began to enjoy being outside in nature walking. I began to understand how to see God’s beauty in nature and how to love God’s creation. My love for walking really kicked in when I decided to train to walk the Way of St. James (the Camino) in Spain. I read Joyce Rupp’s book, “Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino” and it was then that I understood that walking could be a prayer and a spiritual journey as well.

One of the reasons I believe I was attracted to the Dominican Order was because I learned that St. Dominic used his many “walking journeys” as a time to “talk with God and about God” to anyone he met on his journey.  I felt a very strong connection to St. Dominic’s way of journeying with prayer. This has now become a very important practice in my daily prayer life here at the CDN. I get up at 5AM every morning so that I can go out before community prayer to walk and talk with God. I call this my “journeying with God” time.

I have come to treasure my time here at the CDN because it gives me the space and time to (literally and spiritually) journey with God and more importantly, the contemplative space to listen to what God is saying to me. My spiritual journey is well on its way in some areas, but only just beginning in other areas. So, my spiritual Fitbit is reminding me to keep up the journey with God and to trust that God knows where God wants my journey to take me. I have a great inner peace that I am on the right journey and that God is leading the way. Here at the CDN, I have learned to trust what God is speaking to my heart, especially as I track the spiritual miles that I spend walking and talking with God. Where will God be taking you and your spiritual Fitbit today on your journey? Peace, Joy and Blessings for the Way.

If you hear God’s call for a closer walk, and to life as a religious Sister, contact us or participate in our Come and See event this March 4-6, 2022. Click here to register now for this weekend event.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Wake Up to What’s Possible

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

As I prepared my morning breakfast, the inspiration for this blog presented itself on a package of muffins. I had an “aha” moment at seeing these words, “wake up to what’s possible,” in plain view for my reflection. Messages can surround us and appear before us waiting to be noticed.

“Wake up” is the first message I see in the phrase on this package. For many of us, waking up can be hard to do, both physically and spiritually. We like to hit the snooze button and enjoy a few extra minutes of slumber before we are ready to meet a new day.  Inside every new day is an opportunity to wake up to where and how God presents God’s presence in everything we do and are about.

How do we practice waking up? We can start with a morning ritual of prayer and silence to awaken our minds and our hearts to be mindful of God’s presence as we invite God into the nook and crannies of our lives. As we eat our morning breakfast and possibly share a meal with others, we can be alert to how we and others are instruments of God’s grace, simply with a smile, a hug, or a greeting as a tangible sign of presence.  These simple gestures can reveal God’s way of reaching out to us, affirming us and teaching us to be attentive to the ways God is present to us.

Sometimes waking up can be a startling or unpleasant awakening, where we are stretched or called to see life differently, both our own life and the life of others. How often have we been challenged to recognize that our ways, our views, are not the only ones out there? We might ask, “What is God teaching me in this moment?” or “How is God calling me to be present in this moment?” These wake-up questions invite us to focus on how God is nudging us into greater awareness of who God wants us to be and where God is for us. As we reflect on these questions, more questions may emerge. Am I open to God’s desire for me?  Am I open to God’s call in my life? Am I willing to give my life over to God’s control? How can I trust in God?  Or, in moments of despair, loss, or hurt, we may ask, “Where is God in this moment?” and the answer will be waiting to be awakened within our soul.

Waking up is certainly a lifelong spiritual journey of seeking to see, hear, and witness how God reveals God’s faithful presence. We need each other to help us see more clearly when we are blind to God’s ways.  We need each other to help us listen to how God is present to us when we feel God is silent. We need each other to remind us that we are not alone and that if we are lonely, to trust that God is always a breath and heartbeat within us, loving us. God is always waking us up and calling us to see and hear the path to which we are being called to follow.

The second message on this package invites the question, “what’s possible?” Faith has been my teacher in viewing and seeing what’s possible. Faced with questions about how I could bear a trial or what to do about a situation, faith and prayer have been my constant friends, making the seemingly impossible possible. Jesus, himself, conveys that it is our faith that enables and empowers us to live a life of possibility, as the Gospel of Matthew tells us “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20) We hear also in this same gospel, the message that “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

Or another way to frame our understanding of seeing what’s possible is to embrace the wisdom of the young poet, Amanda Gorman, as she asserts that “there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.” And with all that seems impossible in our world today, Amanda also inspires us to “lift our gazes not to what stands between us but what stands before us.”  May it be so.

So, I invite you and me to wake up to what is possible, knowing that with God everything is possible.

Is God possibly calling you to consider living as a religious sister?  If so, contact us and be awakened to a life of rich possibilities.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Vocation Discernment – Now and Then

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

“Sister, why did you become a Dominican Sister of Peace?”

“What do you see as the future of religious life in your congregation?”

“How do you respond to the needs of our time?”

“How does your community function?”

These are some of the many questions that discerners ask. The process of discerning a vocation today is different from what most religious sisters experienced in the past, including me.

When I was discerning, I often asked senior sisters about their vocation stories. I learned that in the past eighty, sixty, or fifty years ago, most sisters entered the convent at a young age, around 16 or 18 years old or even younger (in Vietnam, for instance). They did not experience much life outside their families. No vocational discernment program was established for them at that time. Their decision to enter a convent was based mainly on their connections with sisters, their impression of some of the sisters they encountered, or their attraction to the mission life of religious sisters.

Then, about twenty or thirty years ago, the process of discerning a religious vocation changed. Many congregations began to have Come and See events or allowed discerners to stay with them for a few days or a week. To respond to the needs of discerners at that time, the Dominican Sisters in Kentucky, who are now the Dominican Sisters of Peace, opened a house of discernment in Boston for discerners to live with sisters up to a year while participating in their discerning program. I decided to move into that house. I was impressed by their vision for mission and how the sisters interacted and shared life daily. After that year, I decided to stay.

Now that I am involved in the vocation ministry, I realize that there are many discernment programs around the country. Let’s take a look at the discernment programs the Dominican Sisters of Peace offer as an example of the variety of discernment opportunities available to discerning women. First, discerners meet with one of our vocation ministers monthly to seek clarification of their calling and to cultivate their call at a deeper level.  Second, they can also attend monthly Emmaus groups, Discernment Prayer groups, online Mini-Retreats, Come and See weekend retreats, Mission for Peace programs for 3- to 5-days, and mini live-in experiences.

The congregation also launched a congregational website to share our mission, and the vocation team created a vocation website, specifically for discerners. All of these programs and our websites are designed to help discerners develop their spirituality and to learn more about themselves, and their calling.  Today, discerners and sisters have many more opportunities to learn about and know one another at more profound and intimate levels.

At her studio, Sr. Thoma Swanson, OP shares her drawing with a visiting discerner, Terry Schell, and a temporary professed sister, Sr. Ellen Coates, OP.

In journeying with discerners, I find that most women, who come to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, are diverse and unique in many ways by age, race, career, and life experiences. Those who say “Yes” to becoming a Dominican Sister of Peace found themselves at home with our sisters. They are inspired by the joy, the peace, the faith living, and the strong commitments the sisters have. They desire to live this life and share in the congregation’s mission with sisters. At the same time, our sisters enjoy sharing their vocation stories and having conversations with these discerners or newer members because of the fresh vision, new fire, and new energy they bring to the congregation. Together, discerners, newer members, and professed sisters all create an environment for spreading hope and enthusiasm and for motivating and awakening us to the new possibilities for religious life in the present and for the future.

Reflecting on this history of vocational discernment through the years, I see a common thread of mutual affection between professed sisters and new members.

If you feel a call to this mutual affection for the church’s mission and for your vocation call, contact us or participate in our Come and See event this March 4-6, 2022. Or, click here to register now for this weekend event.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Embracing the ‘What Will Be’

We are three weeks into 2022. I would like us to step back from our busy lives and take a glance at these past three weeks and what the year ahead could look like.

On New Year’s Eve, my community watched the movie: “New Year’s Eve” (2011) It reminded me of three characteristics that are often found in a Hallmark movie: family conflict, financial distress, and isolation. I think, most of us experienced these three in these last two years as CoViD has reshaped our lives. However, there is a fourth characteristic of these movies: serendipity – – discovering unexpected things that matter – whether it’s happiness, or hope, or love, you name it.

In the movie, New Year’s Eve was a night about having another chance – another chance for love, forgiveness, and hope, reminding us that we, too, are blessed with these serendipitous moments. We might consider that every New Year’s Eve, like Claire, who is in charge of the New Year’s eve celebrations in the movie, reminded us that we, too, have an opportunity for another chance to make our lives and the lives of others better. When the ball got stuck halfway in the air on Times Square during the celebration, Claire was asked to share a few words with the audience:

“As you all can see, the ball has stopped halfway to its perch. It’s suspended there to remind us before we pop the champagne and celebrate the new year, to stop, and reflect on the year that has gone by, to remember both our triumphs and our missteps, our promises made and broken, the times we opened ourselves up to great adventures… or closed ourselves down for fear of getting hurt, because that’s what new year’s all about: getting another chance – a chance to forgive, to do better, to do more, to give more, to love more, and to stop worrying about ‘what if?’ and start embracing ‘what will be.’ So, when that ball drops at midnight, and it will drop, let’s remember to be nice to each other, kind to each other, and not just tonight but all year long.”

The movie invited everyone to embrace the ‘what will be’ and to be kind to one another. Pope Francis, too, invited us to listen to one another and to walk with one another. He summoned us to enter into a personal and communal discernment for a synodal Church by praying with and listening to where the Spirit is calling us, by listening to one another, and by reflecting on how we are called to be Church. May we be awakened to our call and be challenged to become better disciples.

I would like us to reflect and pray with these questions:

  • What is God asking of us at this time?
  • What can help us listen to God’s Spirit in our hearts?
  • How can we stop worrying about the ‘what if’ and embrace the ‘what will be’? 

Our faith teaches us to be bearers of hope, love, and charity. As a final reflection, I would like us to consider the words spoken by Sam, a businessman in the movie, where he states,

As we move forward in this new year, let’s try to remember

 that sometimes it’s ok to listen to your heart.

I know it’s risky, take that leap of faith.

Let us take the risk to listen to the call within us, where God reveals who we will be, individually and communally.

Some of you reading this blog may have played with the thought of responding to God’s love by becoming a Sister; you may have even prayed with this thought for a while. If you would like to talk to a Sister about discerning God’s call to religious life, click here to contact us. If you would like to come and see what it feels like to live a life of prayer and service in community, we are offering a retreat in March (March 4-6, 2022) at our Motherhouse in Kentucky for single Catholic women, ages 18-45. We are offering the retreat both in person and via Zoom. For more information, contact Sr. Bea at 614-400-1255, or via email: Bea.Tiboldi@oppeace.org.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog