God Calling?

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.


 

Fruits of our Contemplation

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

As Dominicans, one of our mottos is, “Contemplata aliis tradere” – which, means “To contemplate and to share the fruits of our contemplation.”  Most often, these contemplative fruits are shared in the form of preaching or service.  However, sometimes we actually grow the fruit of our contemplation.  Yes, quite literally at times.  You see, our newest Candidate Cathy Buchanan has shared with us the actual fruit grown from her contemplation.  An Asian melon – affectionately named “Hoa” or “Flower” in Vietnamese was harvested in New Jersey and brought to our convent in New Haven, CT.  Cathy shared the fruit of her contemplation with us and it was delicious.

Let me explain –

In June, Cathy participated in our Mission for Peace program.  In the context of the opening prayer service and reflection, we were invited to reflect on the story of the Parable of the Sower.  Sr. Luisa invited us to see ourselves as the sower, the soil and the seed.  What type of soil were we?  Were we ready to receive the Word of God as a seed planted in our hearts?  Were we the sower?  If so, what were we sowing in our lives?  In the prayer service, we were invited to prepare the soil and plant some seeds.  Then, to nurture them and watch them grow.  All the while paying attention to what God was planting in our hearts and nurturing in our lives.

Cathy planted a small seed and nurtured it – just as she had received the call from God in her heart.  A call from God that took many years to grow as she nurtured it with prayer, service and study.  This seed of a vocation flourished and she took the formal step to enter our congregation as a Candidate during Evening Prayer on the Feast of St. Dominic, August 8.

Just as Cathy’s vocation grew, so did the little plant that she planted in the context of the prayer service during our Mission program.  In the course of caring for the plant, Cathy invited her good friend to plant it in her home garden.  At this point, her friend decided to name the plant “Hoa” or “Flower” because of her beautiful yellow flowers.  Over the months, Hoa grew and spread her vine up the trellis.  Yesterday, the melon was harvested and brought to our convent where we enjoyed it for dinner.  As we ate the melon, Cathy shared its story with us and we reflected on what fruit we were cultivating in our lives and spirits these days.

Sometimes our dinner conversation turns into a theological reflection.  During our dinner yesterday, we recognized the importance of being attentive to the still small voice of God – planting the Word, the seed of a call in our hearts.  Once planted, the call must be nurtured through prayer and the accompaniment of wise guides.  One of the ways of doing this is by attending Discernment retreats.  In fact, this weekend, we are having such a retreat.  Fourteen women will be zooming in from around the country to listen to God and to nurture the call planted within their hearts.  May we be faithful sowers and gardeners as we accompany them and help nurture that which God has planted.

If God has planted a call in your heart and you want to begin this amazing journey of discernment, contact us here – we will be happy to walk with you as you listen to God’s call.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Fifty Seven Years and Counting…

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Last week, I watched news coverage and commemorated virtually my solidarity with those who commemorated the 1963 March on Washington, for jobs and racial equality, with a 2020 March on Washington protesting racial inequality.   On August 28, 2020, thousands flooded the streets of Washington, D.C. once again to protest racial injustice, but with the added demand for police reform and to proclaim that Black Lives Matter.

Fifty seven years after Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed his  “Dream” of the Beloved Community before our nation, we stand in the same spot demanding not only racial equality—but the right NOT to be killed by those sworn to protect and to serve.  In the midst of a pandemic, they came—masked and risking their lives to bear a wide variety of messages—calling for justice and equality with persistent reminders on signs and on their person—that human dignity applies to black and brown bodies too.

While many of the inequality issues of both the March in 1963 and the March in 2020 remained the same, there were some important differences.  The most evident was the significant diversity of the mostly young protesters. In addition, the theme that they chose, “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks,” might seem provocative, but it bears an image of truth about racism in America. Racism is the “knee” that systematically “chokes” the life out of black and brown people—economically, educationally and actually every aspect of life.  Systemic racism can literally cost them their lives.

Whether America will more effectively acknowledge and address the entrenchment of systemic racism in our society this time, is still an open question for me.  However, I do feel that the national and global consciousness of racism is in a place it has not been before. We are at a place where real change is possible, but not without uncomfortable and difficult dialogue and change.

Fifty seven years and counting—as a 68 year old Black woman, as a religious Sister, as a Dominican Sister of Peace—I often ask myself, how do I feel about this continuing struggle for human dignity?  This may seem like an easy question, but sometimes, it is not. Certainly, it is a given, that I stand with those seeking justice and peace. But many times, to quote the recent words of former First Lady Michelle Obama and countless others, “I am frustrated and tired.” Especially, when I hear of more violence and yet another shooting of an unarmed Black person by police.  Or, when I hear the obvious lies and promotion of violence coming from the highest office in America. The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Then comes the reality check.

The Atlantic photo credit Emily Jan.

I can always count on God to provide a reality check. It comes in different ways and sometimes, I wish it would come much sooner—but it comes.  It comes in the form of hope, like an adorable picture of a baby sporting an indelible truth on his hat and his shirt.  Or, it comes in the form of the 12-year old granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., standing in the very spot her grandfather stood in 57 years ago, talking about justice and speaking truth to power.  Sometimes hope comes in the realization that the diversity and youth involved in the struggle for justice today, is indeed, a sign of progress.  Hope came last week in the form of a peaceful march by diverse peoples to Washington, D.C. to commemorate earlier struggles for racial equality.

 

 

12 year old Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at March on Washington 2020 and with her father, Martin Luther King III. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
12 year old Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking at March on Washington 2020 and with her father, Martin Luther King III. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In whatever form God chooses to inspire me with hope during these times, I am grateful.  How does God inspire you during these times?

Posted in God Calling?, News

Journey to the Core

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

As I prepare to participate in a year-long spiritual development adventure with the Wellstreams program, I want to share with you what has led me to this moment.  But first, let me explain that the Wellstreams program is about deepening one’s spiritual life and awakening to self, to others, and to God, and expanding one’s wisdom.  The program “fosters discernment and provides education for those who may feel called to the practice of spiritual direction.”

I started the program once before, many years ago, but was not in a space to continue the program.  So this time I needed to discern my readiness and willingness to commit to this opportunity for growth and transformation.  Being like the doubting disciple Thomas, my fears about what this journey to the core would require made me question whether I had “the stuff” to be part of this journey with others. My internal dialogue was working overtime to cast doubts about my being “good enough” or “spiritual enough” to be part of this program. While this dialogue still plagues me, my desire to give this time to God, to let God work in me and to be open to whatever God wants to do in me is stronger than these doubts.

During my discernment process, I came to realize also that to move forward and to open myself to possibilities, I needed to take a leap of faith.  And so it is that I embark now on this journey, knowing that this program will likely offer opportunities to be stretched, to develop compassion, and to deepen my awareness, appreciation, and acceptance of self and others, and to nurture my relationship with the Divine.

This journey to the core, to understanding who I am (not who I should be), who God is for me, and who God desires me to be, are the strongest pulls for my participating in this program. I trust that it will be an unfolding journey of discovery, mystery, connection, freedom, and groundedness.  To connect with and reach this core, I know I will need to be open and vulnerable, something that I have learned to do through writing these blogs and slowly through my own work with my spiritual director.

You might say that my journey to the core is similar to the discernment journey to understanding if God is calling a woman to religious life as a Sister.  In both journeys, God speaks to us through our desires and calls us to be who we are meant to be, and invites us to go where we can best be ourselves, knowing God is always with us wherever we are.

If you are feeling called by God, cast aside any fears you might have about religious life and contact us to explore if God is calling you to become a Sister.

Also, we invite you to join us also for a virtual discernment retreat, September 11-13, 2020, which we are hosting via Zoom.  Spend some time with us praying and talking with our Sisters, sharing with other women of FAITH, discovering God’s PURPOSE for your life, and enjoying an experience of COMMUNITY online.  Click here If interested in this retreat or contact Sr. Bea Tiboldi, OP at btiboldi@oppeace.org for details about this free retreat opportunity!

Posted in God Calling?, News

Be Compassionate About Your Call

Blog by Sr. Mai-Dung Nguyen

What do you expect when you plant a garden? To grow and harvest fresh fruit, fresh veggies, fresh flowers? But what if something happens beyond your expectations, then what will you do?  Like gardening, if God’s call is not what you dream about, then what will you do?  The process of vocation discernment in which God invites each of us to grow in compassion about our daily call is like the process I want to share with you about my compassion toward rabbits in my garden.

I planted sweet potatoes in our back yard, and as I did, I imagined eating delicious sweet potato leaves. Sweet potato leaves have healthy nutrients and provide physical healing.

One day I realized that some leaves were partially cut. The following day, more leaves were chopped off. It was the garden rabbits who ate these leaves, and I could not let the rabbits ruin my garden.

I fenced my garden with string. It did not work.  I used vinegar because rabbits do not like the smell of vinegar. Ironically, that night, the heavy rain washed away the scent of the vinegar.  I thought about buying a garden fence to protect my garden.  But then, I questioned doing this because the rabbits might be hungry and city rabbits have a tough time finding veggies. Instead of fencing, I began to plant more sweet potatoes for them. Now, I feel happy every time I water the garden because I know the rabbits will enjoy it. I did not expect garden rabbits to eat my sweet potato leaves, but I learned to make changes and to be at peace with them.

Sometimes, God’s call is not what you expect. You plan for your future, and suddenly, you hear God calling you to consider living in religious life or changing your ministry or your way of life to respond to the needs of our times. This call may disturb your dreams and settled life. However, like the rabbits who kept eating my veggies, no matter what I did to prevent it, God’s call is always there, nudging you and being persistent. When you experience this moment of God’s nudging, be attentive and trust that God will provide in abundance.

Thus, under God’s abundance, if today you feel or hear God’s voice, do not postpone or delay your discernment process. Take some concrete actions to allow your compassion about this call grow in you. Bring your concerns and feelings to God in your prayers, listen to your inner feelings, share with those whom you trust, especially your spiritual director, and contact our vocation team. We have a great discernment program for you to reflect on your vocation call. Once you follow how God is calling you, God will provide more than enough for you as you live this call, and you will find joy, peace, and fulfillment. Take a leap of faith and begin the journey.

Posted in God Calling?, News

Reach up!  Step out!  Take a Leap of Faith! 

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

That is exactly what Cathy Buchanan did on Saturday, August 8th when she entered the Dominican Sisters of Peace.  With local community gathered around her and an extended community of Sisters, family and friends zooming in from around the country, she reached up, stepped out and took a leap of faith.

Cathy will spend the next year, or so, as a Candidate in our Congregation.  During the rite of entrance, our Prioress, Sr. Pat Twohill, asked her, “Cathy, what is your desire?”  Cathy replied, “To live as a candidate with the Dominican Sisters of Peace, to learn what it is to be a Dominican, and to continue to answer God’s call.”  To this request, the Sisters affirmed that they were willing to welcome Cathy, support her with prayer, share their knowledge and experience with her and receive her gifts.  Indeed, we will welcome her gifts and encourage her to find new ones, to accompany her in challenging times, listen to her as she continues to discern God’s call and celebrate with her every step of the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a powerful witness of the fact that God is calling people to radical witness and to courageous action. In these times of uncertainty, one thing is clear; God is with us in all of it.  We just need to listen, reach up, step out and take a leap of faith!

What is your desire?  If it is “To live as a Dominican Sister of Peace.” – Then contact us to begin the conversation.   Also, please consider attending our Virtual Discernment Retreat, September 11-13.  To register, click here, or to get more information, please call/text Sr. Bea Tiboldi at 614-400-1255 or e-mail btibodi@oppeace.org

It was my great honor to preach during Cathy’s Welcome Ceremony.  I offer that preaching to you here for your reflection.  Please pray for Cathy, and all people discerning their call.

Blessings,

Sr. June

p.s. stay tuned for a video of Cathy’s entrance ceremony.

Posted in God Calling?