God Calling?

Do you dream of doing something more with your life? Are you longing for deeper meaning and sometimes feel that there is more to life than what you are currently doing? Maybe God is inviting you to explore becoming a Dominican Sister of Peace. Share your gifts with others who want to make a difference in the world. For more information, contact us to begin a conversation.


Looking back at our Come and See Retreat

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi

Last weekend, some of us participated in a “Come and See” Retreat – where discerners come to one of our motherhouses and visit for a weekend along with others interested in exploring religious life. The weekend is structured around the four pillars of Dominican Spirituality: prayer, study, community and (learning about) ministry, and each retreat has a different theme.

Just as St. Dominic prayed nine different ways, so, we too, prayed with a variety of prayers. We chanted the liturgy of the hours, we prayed in the Taize style, and we let God’s words sink in and inspire us through Lectio Divina. We also had the opportunity to pray communally and to pray individually, with words or by reflecting in silence.

We learned about discernment, about the difference between discernment and decision-making, about ways to listen actively while we examine and deepen our relationship with God, about being aware of our feelings, and about seeking confirmation. We also learned from women in formation about the joys and challenges of discernment and the stages of formation – what formation looks like and feels like nowadays. Fun fact:  Would you ever have thought that there was a Sister who was working for the FBI prior to entering religious life?

Then, we learned how Sisters live the vows as a daily commitment to God, to others and to self, and how Sisters discern communally for obedience/ministry in the light of what the world needs at this time, pointing to and witnessing to God’s reign to come and for compassion. We learned also about how one answers the call for various ministries. Pope Francis encourages us: “The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. (…) Do not be afraid to go and bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away and most indifferent. (…) Wherever we are, we always have an opportunity to share the joy of the Gospel. That is how the Lord goes out to meet everyone.” (Christus Vivit, #177.) In what ways do you feel called to share the Good News?

Being in St. Catharine, KY, where nine women answered the call to religious life and became the first Dominican Sisters in the USA, we visited the site of the original motherhouse as part of a hayride, and we toured other sites, like St. Rose Church and the place where the pioneer Dominican Sisters’ cabin home stood.

The Sisters at our motherhouse in Kentucky couldn’t have been more welcoming. Each participant of the retreat had a ‘sister-companion,’ who journeyed together in faith during the weekend. Other Sisters either shared during presentations or during panel conversation. We also reconnected with Sisters during prayer times and Mass, during meals, and there were also the Sisters who made our weekend go smooth as they gave us a tour, accompanied us in music, or made sure we had refreshments. As some discerners arrived a few days early or stayed a few days late, our Sisters helped us out very generously. Some made sure we all had a room, some accompanied us, some prayed with us, some shared about their ministries on-site, etc. They rock! We are very grateful.

Living out one’s vocation is a response to God’s call. Twelve women came to our Come and See Retreat who responded to the call to ‘come and see.’ Some got clarification, some became more energized, and some found peace in being able to share with a companion about their discernment. Responding to the call as a vowed religious Sister is a life-long journey that always requires openness to God, others and to self, compassion, passion for the mission, and at times, even courage.

Do you feel God calling you or nudging you? If you would like to talk to someone about it, please contact us at vocations@oppeace.org.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Come & See

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald

The two disciples followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi”, “where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying,
and they stayed with him that day. (Jn 1:37-39)

I attended my first Come and See discernment retreat when I was 24 years old. I was terrified and excited at the same time. It was a beautiful fall day and as I drove to Pennsylvania, questions and concerns swirled in my mind and heart. What would it be like? Who else would be there? Do I have what it takes to be a sister? I arrived at the Motherhouse and was greeted by several novices who had been charged with getting us settled. Their joy and laughter settled my nerves and I finally took a deep breath and relaxed.

It was a transformational time for me, and one of great blessing. I remember sitting in the chapel late one evening and seeing the fireflies outside floating about the lawn. Deer were grazing on the hillside and munching on acorns as the sun moved lower in the sky. The smell of candles, incense, furniture polish and paint from a recently completed mural were also present. A deep sense of God’s presence was with me and for the first time I truly opened my heart to believing that God was calling me to religious life. It just seemed right. I sat there and prayed for over an hour. When I left the chapel, I knew that whatever happened, God was leading me. I just needed to remember to follow and to trust.

Fast forward to 2019 and here I am on the other side of the equation. I am on the Vocations team and we are preparing for our Come and See retreat this weekend at our Motherhouse in Kentucky. It has been a few years since that first Come and See retreat and I am celebrating my 25th Jubilee this year. With a bit more of life lived and religious life embraced, I would like to share the answers to the questions that plagued me on that drive to my first retreat so long ago.

So, here it goes:

1. What will it be like?
It will be a program designed with you in mind. The retreat will include presentations by sisters on discernment, the vows, life in community and the history and charism of our Dominican Order and Congregation. Each day will begin and end with prayer in common. You will have time for private prayer & reflection, group conversations, fun, good food and even a hayride on our farm. You may even see some fireflies.

2. Who else will be there?
Other women of faith, like yourself, who have heard God calling them to something more – who are exploring religious life. Some are in their first years of college and others have graduated long ago and are involved in professional careers. They are accountants, doctors, nurses, social workers and pastoral ministers. Along with the retreatants, there will be sisters who will serve as speakers, spiritual companions, prayer leaders and tour guides. Of course, God will be present in a special way to you.

3. Do I have what it takes to be a sister?
Well, I cannot answer that one but I do know that each of us is a child of God – and have been called to something special from the moment of our conception, which was sealed in the waters of baptism. God loves you and calls you by name. I invite you to respond in faith and trust. The answer will be revealed.

We are preparing to welcome 13 women for this Come and See retreat. They are coming from around the country as are the Vocations team who will accompany them. Please keep us all in prayer.

If you are feeling that God is calling you to something more, take courage and contact one of us here. Blessings and much peace, Sister June

Posted in God Calling?, News

Work as Purpose

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George

Have you ever been unemployed?  Or, do you know someone who has experienced being unemployed?  Why is work or ministry so important to how we feel about ourselves? Beyond a paycheck, does work matter?

If you’ve ever experienced job loss, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, you know the accompanying feelings of doubt, despair, and loneliness that come from not working. Even when we are not occupationally employed, work of any kind matters to our sense of well-being, to our ability to interact and connect with others, and to contribute to our communities. Work gives us meaning and a purpose for our lives.

Having just celebrated Labor Day, I think it’s fitting to take a moment to reflect on the value of work. What does being able to work or not being able to work mean to you?  How does your work or ministry affect how you feel about yourself?  Do you take being able to work and to perform a job or task for granted?  What makes your work or ministry meaningful?  Is there some work you would never want to do?

What makes work meaningful to me is to see it in the context of ministry, that is, as a way of serving God and of using my gifts to help others. When I see my work as ministry, my work becomes more than a job or task to do.  By viewing work as having a spiritual or ministerial component, I find it easier to carry out whatever tasks I need to do and to see my work as having a deeper purpose and meaning. Thus, in my administrative role here with the vocations and formation teams, I see my work as a way of serving God, of using my gifts to help the Sisters in their ministry with women who are discerning religious life.

What I learned also from my years as a hospice caregiver is to appreciate that by simply being present to others and by listening to the women I visited, a reciprocal relationship of ministering to and being ministered to can happen.  Wanda, who was one of my hospice patients, for example, taught me to quilt and her gift has blessed me immensely.  So, when we adopt a service attitude and work from the heart, it  can change us and perhaps others. Through our work or our ministry, we can become the hands, the feet, the eyes, the ears that bring love, hope, peace, and healing to a broken world.

Work is an important part of who we are and gives us an opportunity to share our gifts, to be in community with others, and to contribute to some mission or to someone.  We are each called to be workers in the harvest of God’s kingdom.  Our work or ministry is also one of the tools God uses to transform us and to teach us life lessons.

As Martin Luther King Jr. noted, “No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” Or, another way to think about our calling in life is to recognize what Frederick Buechner once said, and that is, “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.”

There are many ways that our work, our ministry, our calling can be beneficial to ourselves, to others, and to our communities.  Perhaps you can think of ordinary people whose simple or extraordinary work has contributed to the well-being of others.

Work can be physical or intellectual, creative or mechanical, domestic or industrial. All work matters and has the potential of making someone else’s life better, bearable, or more enjoyable. For example, an athlete or musician can entertain us in different but joy-filled ways or a scientist can discover a life-altering cure, or an artist can help us see beauty around us, an electrician can assure that a building is wired properly, a housekeeper can make a nursing home patient feel special just by tidying her personal space.

Even if we have physical or intellectual disabilities, our “work” or “calling” can make a difference in the lives of others. Do you know of someone with physical or intellectual limitations whose simple presence brings you joy—a Down’s Syndrome person, a blind or deaf person, or some other person who has learned to use their gifts for the betterment of others?

Whatever work we do, how we do this work is important also.  Do we do our work with a cheerful heart or with drudgery?  Are we hospitable and compassionate when working with others?  Are we competitive or cooperative?

As God’s work of creation, we are each endowed with gifts given to us for a purpose. Our work matters to God and it is through our work that we can serve God and others.

What is the work you enjoy doing?  Are you being called to put your gifts at the service of others as a religious sister?  Come and be a part of our work and our mission to preach the Gospel in every season.  Begin the journey of discerning your calling by contacting one of our Vocation Ministers.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Jubilee Gratitude

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald

When I made my first profession of vows, I had no idea what adventures, blessings, challenges and changes I would experience.  I knew that God was calling me to embrace life as a vowed Dominican Sister and I sung my “Yes” with gusto.  Today, as I celebrate my 25th Jubilee (counting from my first profession), I am overwhelmed with wonder and gratitude for all that has been. God has been so good to me and has surrounded me with faithful companions on the journey to challenge me, support me, guide me, and accompany me while calling me to greater faithfulness. It is to these faithful companions that I dedicate this blog.

You see, we do not do this journey alone. The call I received was an individual call, but it was one to be lived in community. My community can be defined as being local, regional, and congregational and can consist of five, fifteen or four hundred and sixty-five sisters.  Always it has been intergenerational, and most of the time it has been multicultural, and on a few occasions, it has been inter-congregational (meaning several different congregations living together).  As I look back on the sisters I have lived with, what stands out the most is that we have been and are family.

2019 Jubilarians

When I was discerning religious life, one of the questions I faced was, “What would it be like not having a family of my own?” I never asked myself, “What would it be like to have a religious family of sisters?”  My vision was too small and I did not even know it.  This week, as I have been opening and reading my Jubilee cards from my sisters and friends, I have been reminded of the many women who have shared my life along the way–those I know well and those who I do not know well, but I love just the same.  The reading from Colossians comes to mind, “In my prayers I always thank God for you.” (paraphrase of Col 1:3a)

I am continuing to read my cards – alternating between laughter, tears, sweet memories, and longing for the presence of some who have passed onto God.  (Sr. Mary Carmel, I know you are dancing in heaven.) I am writing my thank you cards and with each one, I pause and say a prayer for that person.  Near or far, we are united in God.

Are you hearing a call to religious life?  Have you asked the question, “How will it be not to have a family of my own?”  Maybe the question really should be, “What will it be like to have a religious family of sisters?”  Come and See!  Consider attending our next discernment retreat here or contact one of us to begin the conversation.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Community Hive

Recently, I visited the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, OH.  Among the exhibitions, there is a hands-on, thought-provoking activity where the curators invite visitors to contribute to a “community hive.”

In the exhibit, they describe this activity in this way: “Each block features a word or icon that represents an aspect of community. Choose the blocks that you think are most important. Connect the blocks to build your ideal community. Think about how you can improve your community to reflect your ideals.” The picture represents what other visitors created. I invite you to look at each block on the picture of the community hive. Which one speaks to you? Which ones would you use to create your own? If you would add a tile, what would you write on it?

The community-hive activity made me think about: what makes a community? Because community is only as good as the members make it. Also, why would someone join a religious community? Is it seeking a deeper relationship with God? Is it praying in community? Is it the passion for the mission? Passion for justice and peace? Is it empowering the neglected? The little ‘wheels’ in my brain came up with more and more questions.

When I saw this ‘community hive,’ my thoughts went back to our most recent community gathering, where we revisited what has been in the last ten years, and we also had table discussions about what our hope for the future was. Those conversations at our Tenth Anniversary articulated some of the same ideas that the ‘community hive’ exhibit evoked in me: how our community reflects our ideals, our passion, and our mission. Sr. June Fitzgerald recently wrote a blog about community.

I am not here to tell you why someone would enter our congregation of Dominican Sisters of Peace. However, I invite you to pray with these thoughts:

  • If you are a Sister or an Associate, what were your reasons to live out God’s call with the Dominican Sisters of Peace; what ‘keeps’ you here; and what are ways we could ‘spice up’ our community to better reflect our Chapter Commitments?
  • If you are discerning living vowed religious life as a Sister or becoming an Associate, what are your motivations to join a religious community?

If you think you would like to talk to someone about your vocation or you would like to check out our community, contact us at vocations@oppeace.org, or join us for a ‘Come and See’ retreat in September.

Blog by Sr. Beata Tiboldi
Posted in God Calling?, News