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.


 

Formation Ministry and the Image of the Butterfly

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Recently, while on vacation, I enjoyed some of the scenic views in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  One of the highlights of my trip was a visit to the butterfly house on Mackinaw Island!  I love butterflies and believe they are the perfect symbol of transformation. They witness to the new life that can emerge in the process of transformation.   The words, “transformation” and “transition” are used often when talking about religious life and the process of initial formation in religious life.

As every butterfly is diverse in its beauty, so too are the women who respond to God’s call to religious life. They bring their various gifts, experiences, and talents to this life.  They are from various cultures and ethnicities.  As the Formation Coordinator, I am often privileged to witness the Spirit’s transforming grace in the lives of women in initial formation.  Another important aspect of this process of formation, is the personal experience of the Spirit’s transforming grace within me.  The ministry of formation is a process of the Spirit which changes both the person in formation and their formators.

Formation is often a time of learning, personal growth, change, and letting go.  Perhaps the learnings are new insights about ourselves, or perhaps new talents are discovered. Formation is a continual process of learning and change.  I remember hearing early in my own formation journey, “The only thing constant about religious life is change!”  I have found this statement to be an accurate assessment.  Being open to change is an important quality to possess for living in religious life.  In fact, openness to change and God’s transforming grace is important in life and in our relationship with God.

While change is an intimate part of the journey, so is grace—God’s transforming grace. I like the image of the butterfly as a symbol for the journey of formation.  The butterfly witnesses to new life and transformation. It also symbolizes joy and hope.  Transformation, joy, and hope are all part of the journey!

My prayer for all women discerning religious life, those who are in formation and Sisters who recently professed final vows, is that they continue their openness to God’s transforming grace. May they also continue to witness to the transformative power and new life proclaimed in the Gospel.

Perhaps God is calling you to discern a call to religious life?  Why not check out the details of our next Come and See Retreat in Akron, OH on September 10-12, 2021.  You can participate in person or virtually.

Peace,
Pat Dual, OP

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Making a U-Turn

Sr. Mai-dung Nguyen, OP

When was the last time you made a U-turn? Where and in what situation? Can you recall this situation and what prompted you to make this U-turn?

No matter how, when, and where you made a U-turn, you were probably aware at that moment why you made that decision. It might be that you missed an exit on the highway and needed to take the next exit to return to your route. It might be that you passed the road where you were to turn and so you made a U-turn to get back on track. Or, it could be that you wanted to get to the parking lot or a building on the left, but there was a middle lane, and you had to go a little farther before you could make a U-turn.

Last month, I went to a Walmart to buy gift cards for the sisters who were making their temporary and perpetual vows. As you know, giving a gift card on an occasion is a common way of celebrating an event. It might be a Visa gift card, a BestBuy’s gift card, etc. The moment I drove into the parking lot, I decided to make a U-turn and headed home without buying any gift cards.

Why did I make this U-turn? I made this U-turn because another thought came to me about buying gift cards when I entered the Walmart parking lot. I realized that while a gift card is a friendly and convenient gift, the recipients may toss these cards away after using them, thus contributing to pollution, and causing harm to our environment indirectly. This may sound extreme but protecting the earth needs a little help from individuals. I found myself asking, “Is there a practical way to give a gift or make it more personal?” This kind of U-turn requires rethinking the decisions we make, seeking what’s important, switching gears, and committing to another direction.

We used to think that making a U-turn in our lives meant coming back to the same road or going back to the same bad behavior. However, making a U-turn may mean coming back with a new awareness of what God is calling us to be and how to live with this call.

We find in Scripture many examples of U-turns happening. Throughout Scripture, God called people to turn around in their ordinary world. God invited Moses to come back to Egypt to rescue his people. At Jesus’ tomb, he asked Mary Magdalene not to cling to him but to come back to his disciples and deliver the message of the Risen Christ to them. On the road to Emmaus, two disciples returned to their friends to tell them of their encounter with Jesus. In each story, we see people making U-turns in their life for God’s mission.

At the end of the Mass, the priest usually says, “the Mass is ended, go in peace.” or “the Mass is ended, go and announce the Good News of the Lord.” We then respond, “Thanks be to God.” By saying this, we give thanks to our God and are happy to return to where we are with an energized presence. This U-turn brings us back with a new attitude and new commitment.

God may invite you to make a U-turn today too. I invite you to reflect on what God is calling you to at this moment, then decide how to respond to the call.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost

If you hear a voice whisper inside you, inviting you to consider religious life, don’t ignore this call. Rather, turn and respond to this call with an open mind, heart, and body. Trust this call with your new insight and faith in God.

We invite you to contact us about your call from God and to visit our vocation website to learn more about us. If you are a single, Catholic woman, age 18-45, we would also like to invite you to our Come and See Discernment Retreat, Sept 10-12, 2021. For more information or to register, click here.

Finally, to all of our readers, we need your help to spread the word about this retreat and our other vocational discernment opportunities.  Please consider posting this event and others on your FB page, Instagram or Twitter feed, parish bulletin, or share it with others who may be discerning a call to religious life.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Meeting God in All That Life is

Pause to reflect on what experiences have shaped your spiritual life?

What practices do you follow to nurture your spirituality?

Recently, I was reading one of my favorite books: Traits of a Healthy Spirituality by Melanie Svoboda, SND. The book describes several attributes that can help us reflect on and deepen our spirituality. In the first chapter, two quotes caught my eyes: “Spirituality is how I cope with life” (Gerard Broccolo), and my personal favorite: “Spirituality is meeting God in all that life is.” (Patricia Livingston)

Broccolo views spirituality from the aspect of the way we cope with life. In what area of your life do you long for clarity? Where is God leading you?

Livingston views spirituality as meeting God in all that life is. We can meet God in the Scriptures through Lectio Divina, through quiet places, in music, in our quest for Truth, in times of need, in our joys, in our struggles, and in our everyday adventures and daily life. There is intention in encountering God and in allowing God to work in us and through us in everyday circumstances. Prayerful discernment also includes meeting God in the everyday moments of our lives. What helps you meet God in all that life is?

Let this be our prayer: “God, when you ask, ‘where are you?’ May my answer always be: ‘with you, my God. With you.” (Melanie Svoboda SND, Traits of a Healthy Spirituality, p8)

If you are a single, Catholic woman, age 18-45, and would like to pray together with religious Sisters and other women who are discerning God’s call to religious life, we invite you to our upcoming “Come and See Retreat.” The theme is: “Show me the way.” For more information and to register, click here.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Embracing the Transitions of Life

Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

May the God of Transition be with you, inviting you to the new and the unknown where God waits to spring to life in you.”  Maxine Shonk, OP

Before entering religious life, I rarely thought about the word “transition” or the action of “being in transition.”  Yet, I certainly was aware of going through and adjusting to different changes in my life. I was also aware that these times of change were times of great personal growth.  We have all heard the famous quote by the ancient philosopher, Heraclitus, “The only thing constant in life is change.”  Religious life is such a wonderful example and teacher of that principle.  Our Loving “God of Transition” is always inviting us to the “new and the unknown.”

Indeed, God goes before us on our paths of change. The gift of approaching our transitions with open hearts and minds, is the blessing of allowing God to transform us into our best selves. I am grateful for the openness of several of the women in formation with our congregation, the Dominican Sisters of Peace, who are transitioning to the next stage of their initial formation journey.  I am inspired by their openness to continue the new and changing path of their journey, opening themselves up to new experiences, such as new locations, new local communities, and new ministries.  Each of the women in formation, who are anticipating a transition in the next few weeks and months, have allowed themselves to be open to God and the unknown path of their future.

Candidates Cathy Buchanan and Tram Bui will become Canonical Novices in July and will begin the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) in Chicago, on August 14, 2021. They are looking forward to deepening their knowledge and experience of Dominican life.  Sr. Ann Killian has recently returned from the CDN and did a short preaching for her Welcome Back ceremony at Evening Vespers, which I invite you to read.  Sr. Annie will be part of a new local community that is forming in South Bend, Indiana on July 1, 2021.  She will begin her Apostolic novitiate year in ministry doing a Fellowship at Notre Dame University.  Sr. Margaret Uche will renew her vows of Temporary Profession and recently began a summer unit of CPE.  Sr. Ellen Coates will make her First Profession of Vows in the congregation on August 1, 2021.  Additionally, Sr. Ana Gonzalez will make her Perpetual Profession of Vows on August 8, 2021.  These women in formation, along with Sr. Phuong Vu, who made First Profession of Vows on December 8, 2020, have whole heartily embraced the transition and unknown elements of their future as they continue the path of their journey into religious life.

Transition is a part of all our lives.  Even religious life, itself, is in transition, but moving toward a hopeful future. The good news about transition is that if we allow our hearts and minds to be open, God will enable us to grow through the transformative process of change.  I want to invite you to please keep all our women in formation in your prayers as they continue the many transitions in their journey.  And may “The God of Transition” be with all of us!

Call us if you feel that God may be inviting you to become a Sister!

Peace.

Pat Dual, OP

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog

Starting Your Day Right

Blog by Sr. Bea Tiboldi, OP

Have you ever heard that the way you start the day effects how your day will go? What gets you up in the morning? Do you have any morning routines you follow?

Do you start your day with…

… a smile?
… a prayer?
… a run or yoga?
… a cup of coffee?
… a grateful heart?
… a glass of water?
… a cup of “positivitea?”
… a fresh start and energy?
… thinking: “it’s my favorite day of the week?”

Pedro Arrupe, SJ writes about how love affects many aspects of our lives in his poem, Falling in Love:

Nothing is more practical than finding God,
than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus today, we commemorate God’s love for humanity, Truly finding love, falling in love, and staying in love is a daily adventure that affects how we live and move through our days.

One meaningful way to start your day is to pray in the morning by using the practice of Lectio Divina with the daily Mass readings to set the tone for the day.

When Tram, our Candidate, moved in to our House of Welcome, I found her “writing” on her blanket in Vietnamese. I asked her what it meant. She translated it and explained that each morning when she makes her bed, she sends off a prayer to God by writing on her blanket (see photos below), and every time she enters her room, she sees the note to God, and it helps her think of God throughout the day. I thought this practice was a really neat idea.

Whether you are reading this blog to help you find your vocation, or you are reading this blog to deepen your relationship with God through daily discernment to discover where God wants you, I invite you to pray with these two questions:

What gets you up in the morning?
What helps you keep your heart tuned to God?

After all, “the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” (Frederick Buechner)

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

Please show/teach me the way. Thank you, Tram.
May your love strengthen me and guide my feet. Thank you, Tram.

 

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog