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.


 

Living Today as a Day of Thanks

Blog by Sr. Mai-Dung Nguyen

Everyone can agree 2020 has been a challenging year in our human history, filled with so many uncertainties and losses. We cannot predict how from day to day our life will turn out. In such a reality, how do you live each day joyfully and how do you find opportunities to lighten your day?

Although Thanksgiving has passed, I still want to share with you a wonderful turkey story that brought so much lightness to our local community.

One day, a sister and I went to buy a turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner. We brought home two turkeys because of a bargain deal, “buy one, get one free.” We froze one and thawed out the other one, and after the thawed turkey was unpacked, what we saw on this turkey was not what we had expected.

“Oh no! Where are the legs?” I shouted with a high voice, drawing the attention of three other sisters in my community who were in the kitchen.

“Oh, no wings either. Why?” my voice sounded higher.  

For those who desire dark turkey meat for their Thanksgiving dinner, you can imagine how disappointed I was at that moment. While I was still fretting over missing these delicious parts of the turkey, suddenly, after looking at the turkey, then looking at my sisters, all four of us burst out laughing at the same time.  We were laughing because the fine print on the package labeling read “Honey Turkey Breast.”  This was not a whole turkey.  We chuckled and shared humorous conversations back and forth.

“No wonder it was buy one get one free.”

But … we saved almost $40 in purchasing the turkey.”

“Think about it this way: if the turkey had legs and wings, it would fly away and would not be here for us to eat.”

Maybe the wings and the legs are somewhere helping people affected by the pandemic.”

We laughed and laughed without stopping. We could not believe that this turkey uplifted our spirit so much. If we had a whole, perfect turkey, we would not have enjoyed a memorable and funny Thanksgiving Day.

Having this joyful spirit within the community, plus the presence of the turkey without legs and wings, brought to mind the scripture quote, “We are the body of Christ.” Yes, we are the body of Christ to one another in any situation and wherever we live. Through the community of Christ, darkness can become the light of Christ, shining in various ways. We did not have the dark meat, but we had abundant laughter instead. Even now, after two weeks, we still laugh every time we talk about the turkey and recall our jokes. The breast meat was the most delicious turkey meat that I had ever eaten before, maybe because it was seasoned with our joyful spirit. And yet, the lost wings and legs of this turkey reminds us that God needs our help as God’s wings and legs to deliver love, hope, joy, peace to the world through who we are.

This turkey story speaks volumes for us as we live out this Advent season with joy, love, peace, and hope.  It is a story that calls us to give thanks for what we receive each day.

Today is a great day to give thanks to God
for my life and the lives of others.
Today is a great day to reaffirm that
with God, everything is possible.
With God, all pieces of life come together,
for God is the energy in all relationships,
pulling all things together in unity and love.
Today is a great day to start over as a brand-new day.
New possibilities are opened throughout the day,
for me to live fully under God’s grace,
to become truly who I am called to be,
to give one another legs to walk or wings to fly.
If today is not a great day, what day would be a great day for me?

If today you feel God’s voice nudging you, this is definitely a great day to discern your call. Visit our vocation website page or contact us. We don’t need a perfect day or a perfect plan to start our discernment, for today is a great day that God has given to us.

Posted in God Calling?

A Season of Hope…

Blog by Sr. Bea Tiboldi

Sometimes it feels like we have been “waiting in darkness” for so long, especially since the beginning of this pandemic. Lauren Thompson says in her book, Hope is an Open Heart: “sometimes hope feels far away, but hope is always there. (…) Hope is always there inside you, waiting to unfold.”

Last weekend, some of us participated in an online retreat, titled, “Waiting in joyful hope.” Sr. Anne Kilbride, OP, offered a prayerful and insightful reflection about the essence of waiting, hope, and joy as she shared quotes by Meister Eckhart, who was our spiritual companion during the retreat.

We might be beaten down or fatigued by current events or the pandemic, however, Sr. Anne helped us recognize that the God of compassion and the God of hope is always with us, or as Eckhart said: “trust that you already have God in your heart, for God is always already there, and in that trust, you will find God…” Sr. Anne reminded us with the words of Eckhart, that this experience depends on the quality of our lives and whether we have enough space for God. She then encouraged us to let go of things that keep us from experiencing God, so that we can become free to be more loving.

How can we experience God and free ourselves to become more loving? Eckhart says: “What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we reap in the harvest of action.” In other words, Sr. Anne explained: “it is in contemplation that hope is born into action.”

Let us begin this new Liturgical year with hope. We hope that these songs below might inspire you during this Advent season, or they might help you experience and contemplate God. How can you cultivate hope at this time?

May we re-kindle our hope in God, and that our hope can be born into action as we prepare the way of the Lord by making God’s love and compassion known to all.

Christ be our Light
Come, Emmanuel
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Jesus, Hope of the world
The King shall come when morning dawns
Light of the World
My soul in stillness waits
O Come Divine Messiah
O Come O Come Emmanuel (Phil Whickham)
O Lord of Light who made the starts
People look East
To You, o Lord, I lift my soul
Waiting in silence, waiting in hope
We have this hope

Posted in God Calling?

Ruth – a Woman who trusted God

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

Sometimes life does not turn out as we think it will.

Anyone alive today, in 2020, can relate to this feeling.

How we deal with the unexpected says a lot about who we are, about what we value, and about our faith.

I believe that the Book of Ruth and its main protagonists – Ruth and Naomi—have something to teach us about resiliency, hope, transformation, and discernment.

I, and the other members of my local community, have been participating in a Women’s Bible Study with Sr. Teresa Tuite on the Book of Ruth.  Sr. Teresa has paired the Scripture with the book by Joan Chittister, The Story of Ruth:  Twelve Moments in Every Woman’s Life.  Each week, via Zoom, we gather with women from around the country to pray with our foremothers, Ruth and Naomi, and with each other.  It has been a time of great grace and blessing for me and has reaffirmed my belief in the resiliency of the human spirit amidst the difficulties of life.

Ruth was a young Moabite woman, married to her beloved and looking forward to bearing children and watching her family grow and prosper.  However, it was not to be.  Her husband died of an illness that also took the lives of his father and brother.  Ruth was left a widow, along with her mother-in-law, Naomi, and her sister-in-law Orpah.  Without their husbands, father, or sons, they were without any means of support and chose to return to Bethlehem.

Each woman made a different choice.  Naomi chose to return to her people in Bethlehem where she knew she would be welcomed and cared for.  Orpah chose to return to her family’s home with hopes to marry again. Ruth chose to remain faithful to Naomi and return with her to Bethlehem.  Ruth’s famous declaration is an inspiration to many of us to this day, “Wherever you go, I will go.  Wherever you live, I shall live.  Wherever you die, I shall die.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

Srs. Annie Killian and Shirley Bodisch as Ruth and Naomi.

Ruth undergoes a radical transformation when she becomes a widow.  By choosing to become an immigrant in a land she does not know, she must trust in a God she is just getting to know through Naomi and must rely on her faith.  Ruth not only accepts the circumstances of her life, but she allows these circumstances to change her from the inside out by embracing her new life, and in doing so, becomes a new person – she is transformed.

A moment of transformation comes when something inside us shifts and, despite ourselves, we find that we are no longer the person we used to be.  Like Naomi and Ruth, we find not only that life has changed but that we have changed.  Then we know with certainty that God is working in our soul.

Such transformations have happened among many of the women in our Bible Study group.  Each has been impacted by the pandemic in different ways.  Some have experienced the death of one or more loved ones, some have welcomed new grandchildren, a few have lost jobs and all of us have had plans changed beyond our control.  Yet, as we have gathered each week to journey with Ruth and Naomi, we have discovered once again our God, who is faithful and present to us all in all.  God is revealed to us in the face and the words of another, in the tears and laughter of a new baby, and in the rise of the sun each day.

Such transformations also happen in the women who choose to answer God’s call to enter religious life.  They must leave home, take on a new identity, and join with others on a journey into the unknown.  Religious life is changing around us and yet we and those who join us are willing to trust–to trust in God and to trust in each other as we walk this journey together.

To embrace that transformation takes discernment and an intentional choice.  Transformation does not just happen – it is an active process.  It takes deep reflection, prayer, and the decision to choose that which is placed before us.  What about you?  Are you willing to be transformed into a new creation?

If so, and you hear God calling, give us a call.  Or attend our upcoming Advent retreat on Sunday, November 29.

 

Posted in God Calling?

Wandering in the Wilderness

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

As November rolls in with colder weather, shorter days, and darker nights, I find myself thinking about the imagery and symbolism of walking in the wilderness. In the Oxford English Dictionary, wilderness is defined as “an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region” and as “a neglected or abandoned area.”

Given these two definitions, I wonder why anyone would want to make a trek into the wilderness. Who would want to abandon the familiar and set out into unknown territory? Who would want to risk their lives in the wilderness, journeying across parched and barren land, unsure of what might be found on the other side? What is it about the wilderness that attracts some people to explore its surroundings while making others fearful of what is there?  Of course, sometimes, we simply find ourselves wandering in the wilderness, not by choice but by circumstance. We can’t always avoid living in the wilderness of life where we find life hard.

From biblical times to modern times, we can find countless examples of people who have wandered in the wilderness and whose faith is tested as they respond to a call from God.  In the Scriptures, Abraham responds to God’s call to leave his country and his family and is led into the wilderness on his way to a land that God would reveal to him.  Moses is called by God to deliver the Israelites from bondage in Egypt but must travel through the wilderness, which takes forty years, before reaching the Promised Land.  After being baptized, Jesus is led into the wilderness and is in seclusion for 40 days and 40 nights, where his faith is tested and he encounters temptations to deny his calling.

In modern times, we see migrants leaving their homelands to escape violence and poverty in hopes of finding peace and a place where their basic material needs for food, housing, and jobs are satisfied.  We, ourselves, can certainly recount our own wilderness experiences, whether material, emotional, financial, physical, or spiritual. Even now during this pandemic time, you might describe it as a wilderness moment, and for some it is a time of loss, emptiness, loneliness and despair and for others it may be a time of change and spiritual renewal.

A wilderness experience can be unpleasant and uncomfortable, burdensome and painful–a time of trial, of soul searching for understanding our situation, and asking why suffering is happening. It can also be liberating and humbling (once we pass through the rough terrain), teaching us reliance on a higher power to guide us and to lead us from fear to faith. The wilderness is a time of letting go of everything that has sustained us and turning to this higher power for our hope and direction.

What so many wilderness experiences seem to share is also a calling, a summons to go deeper, to trust in God’s providence for us. It is in this calling to something new, to something better, and to something greater than ourselves that our wilderness experience has the power to transform us and our relationship with God and others. We may be uprooted to see life through a new lens, a lens that beckons us to be of service to others.

Have you found yourself wandering in the wilderness, wondering how God is calling you?  God may be calling you to become a Sister.  Do you hear his voice in the wilderness?  If so, contact us to start a conversation about how this voice and this calling is manifesting itself in you.

Posted in God Calling?

Hidden Blessings in Living Religious Life

Blog by Sr. Mai Dung Nguyen

To help women discern their life’s calling, the Vocation team offers a monthly Emmaus discussion group on various topics around religious life and discernment. Topics have included “Keys to Discernment,” “A Sister’s Daily Life Schedule,” “How to Decide Which Community Best Fits You,” or “Common Fears When Discerning.” Sometimes, we invite a sister to join us and to share her experience or perspective on a topic. This monthly group begins and ends with prayer and provides women with more information to discern and reflect with in a dialogue format with sisters and their peers.

The topic this October was community living. We talked about the blessings and challenges of living in a community with a multigenerational, multicultural, and multi-ministerial composition. Each vocation team member shared her varied experiences of community living along with pictures and stories.

My sharing focused on three hidden blessings that I have found when living my religious life in the Dominican Sisters of Peace:

First, a religious community is a community of faith that is different from other experiences of community living. We come to live together because we each have a great desire for intimacy with God, and a passion for mission. We share our reflections, life stories and experiences from readings, news, or from ministry—all in the context of living our faith and mission.  Most of the time, this sharing leads us to a deeper gratitude towards God and increases our passion for mission. It also adds to creating a reflective and contemplative atmosphere in how we live and do our ministry. Such an open atmosphere brings so much peace and joy to our life. We laugh a lot, even about little things, and we care for one another. We are women with young hearts of all ages! For me, inspiration and gratitude fill me each day.

Second, we don’t just talk or discuss what is happening, but we dare to dream and envision what and how we need to respond to the needs of our times.  We may each have different views and perspectives on a topic or life issue, but we share our views in daily dialogue and, in so doing, we expand our understanding on that topic or issue.  Alone, we may only see one aspect of a topic like the six blind men who each describe one aspect of the elephant, as shown in the illustration here. But, when everyone’s views are taken together, we gain a better understanding of what the elephant (or issue) looks like. In community living, a spiritual awakening can happen daily, creating opportunities for us to serve and respond to reality with fresh eyes. My heart has often danced with gratitude because of the wisdom we share with each other in our religious communities.

Third, wherever I live or go out for mission, I know that I have a support system behind me, praying for me, helping me to move forward. I can lean on their prayers. I also know that these are my sisters, whom I can trust and share at a deep level, who can share profound wisdom. This support gives me a strong motivation to move and stretch my wings, to dare to dream and envision possibilities, and to dare to step into an unknown future.  I must admit that without my sisters, I cannot be who I am today- a confident woman of faith. Before I entered the community, I was happy with my life, but I have found much more since I entered religious life.

You will find other blessings when living in a religious community. These blessings are abundant.  Why not explore what blessings God has in store for you? Contact us to begin this exploration of religious life.

Posted in God Calling?