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 firstname.lastname@example.org.