News

For further information on any of the news items listed here, please contact Alice Black, PhD, OPA, Director of Communications & Mission Advancement, at 614-416-1020.


 

Supporting Religious Life in Nigeria

Top: Central Clinic Malumfashi educates on prevention of coronavirus. Middle: Novices celebrate their First Profession of Vows. Bottom: Reception of Novices, July 11, 2019.

In 1956, when the Dominican Sisters of Peace were called to help build a Catholic presence in Nigeria, they were ready for the challenge. The Great Bend, KS, sisters traveled to Nigeria to found schools and hospitals. They also founded a new indigenous Congregation, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of
Siena, Gusau.

The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, Gusau, welcomed their first native postulant in 1973, and in 1977, two native Sisters made first profession. This “sister” congregation has continued to grow, and today, The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, Gusau, serve 115,000+ annually in the Northwest area of the country with health care, social services and educational ministries.

Prioress Jacinta Nwaohiri describes a little about religious life in Nigeria. “In some parts of Nigeria, Sisters have a special seat in the church. From the beginning, with the American Dominican Sisters, our congregation has been grounded in inclusiveness, reflected in the way we interact with both the laity and people of other beliefs.

“Our partnership with the Dominican Sisters of Peace and the GHR Foundation Sister Support project has offered the financial and moral support to bring old and new members of the Congregation together to reassess our faith, practices and attitudes – to look at how we treated each other and our neighbors, Christians and Muslims alike,” Sr. Jacinta continued. “This helped us to improve relationships with the people we serve in our ministries and to serve as ambassadors of peace as women, disassociating ourselves from any activity that demeans the human person.”

The Sisters are challenged by the harsh economic realities of life in Nigeria. The women of the Congregation had little access to education prior to entering religious life, and many novices lacked the education necessary to sustain the work of the Congregation. The resulting inability to command good wages or financial support often left the Sisters struggling to support the Congregation, much less their ministries.

“Our partnership with the Dominican Sisters of Peace and the GHR Foundation has also increased the numbers of Sisters able to obtain higher education and helped us become more efficient and effective in ministry. Our Sisters are now more confident facilitators of programs and leaders in their various apostolates,” says Sr. Jacinta.

“The certificates our Sisters have acquired have helped them to increase their take-home pay, supporting both the Congregation and our ministries. With jobs in the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria or government institutions, we have a voice in the national conversation,” she explained.

“Young women entering the apostolate are beginning to be more prepared as well, as our Congregation has championed the education of the girl. Our Sisters are assigned permanently to manage the education project at a rural village in GidanYawa, Kafur Local Government Area of Katsina State in Northern Nigeria,” Sr. Jacinta
said. “We have also been able to build a secondary school in Agbor Delta State.”

Speaking of the Church in Nigeria, Sr. Jacinta points out that, “Religious in our country are respected for their selfless love for God. The capacity for selfless love is the hallmark of Christianity. The Dominican Sisters of Peace and their friends have exemplified this love by empowering us to be fruitful witnesses of God’s kingdom, and we are profoundly grateful.”

The Annual Great Bend Bazaar, which was held online this year to maintain safety, supports the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine, Gusau, and other ministries of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Your generosity makes a difference!

Your year-end donation supports our ministries of education, justice, and service around the world.

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Sr. Phuong Thuy Vu Makes First Profession to Dominican Sisters of Peace

The Dominican Sisters of Peace were blessed by the First Profession of Vows for Sr. Phuong Thuy Vu on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

The ceremony was held in the Chapel at St. Mary’s Dominican High School, New Orleans, LA, which was founded by the Congregation in 1860. Sr. Phuong ministers as an assistant in the Guidance Department at the school.

Dominican Sister of Peace, Dorothy Trosclair, receives Sister Phuong Vu’s profession of vows, in a December 8, 2020, ceremony.

Sr. Dorothy Trosclair, as delegate of the Prioress, received Sr. Phuong’s vows. Providing the music was the school’s Laudare Music Ministry, led by Lauren Bordelon with accompaniment by Kenny Lannes. Dominican Sisters of Peace Prioress, Pat Twohill, OP, and Formation Coordinator Pat Dual, OP, addressed attendees via video link Columbus, OH. Fr. John Restrepo, O.P., St. Martin de Porres Province, presided at Eucharist.

Sr. Phuong entered the Dominican Sisters of Peace as a candidate in 2016. She spent her candidacy at our House of Welcome in New Haven, CT, before attending the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate in St. Louis.

A native of Vietnam, Phuong and her family immigrated to the United States with her parents and siblings in 1989. She is a naturalized citizen. She holds a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Phuong first encountered the congregation when Dominican Sister of Peace, Sr. Binh Nguyen, OP, spoke at Phuong’s Texas parish, Mother of Perpetual Help.

Newly professed Dominican Sister of Peace Phuong Vu and Sr. Dorothy Trosclair sign Phuong’s temporary vows while, from right, witnesses, Sisters Mary Ann Culotta, OP and Kathy Broussard, OP, look on.

It wasn’t until my first retreat (with the Dominican Sisters) that I strongly encountered God,” Sr. Phuong says. “As I am more grateful for the many blessings that I have received in my life, I want to share God’s love with others.”

“Being a Sister,” Phuong continued, “I have learned to embrace God’s people more. I strongly believe God will continue to give me the grace I need to fulfill my calling.”

“We are inspired by Phuong’s faith, and the depth of her commitment to Dominican Life and Mission. Not even a pandemic could keep her from responding to God’s call!” said Sr. Pat Twohill, OP, Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. “She has caught the Dominican spirit, and deeply desires to embrace our Order’s preaching mission.”

Wendy S. Grubb, NCC, LPC, Director of Counseling/College Advisor at St. Mary’s Dominican High School and Sr. Phuong’s supervisor at the School, said Sr. Phuong has been an asset to the department during her two years there. “She is very professional, kind, helpful, and determined to complete every task perfectly. Sr. Phuong takes her job very seriously and we continue to grow together.  She is a role model for all as she lives the four pillars of Dominican life.”

Sr. Phuong will continue her ministry at St. Mary’s Dominican High School, as she also continues to discern her call to Dominican vowed life.

To view a video of Sr. Phuong Vu’s First Profession Mass, please click here. 

Your donation to the Dominican Sisters of Peace helps us continue to help women hear the call of God and follow their vocation to vowed religious life. 

 

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas from the Dominican Sisters of Peace

This is not a normal Christmas season. In a time that we usually associate with great joy, we see sickness, frailty, loneliness and need all around us.

As we share the beautiful words of the Christmas story, we are reminded that God gave us the gift of a Savior who was one of us … one who shares our human needs and physical condition. Our loving Savior, Jesus, understands our needs during this Christmas, and wants to come into our hearts today,

Let us rejoice with the angels and shepherds. Do not be afraid … for today, a Savior is born.

May we welcome our living and liberating God into our hearts today.

All of your Dominican Sisters of Peace wish you the most blessed Christmas, and a happy and healthy New Year.

Please click here to view a video Christmas greeting from Sister Pat Twohill, Prioress, Dominican Sisters of Peace.

To download a printed copy of this greeting, click here.

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Our Response to Systemic Racism

For years, women religious have stood for and with those calling for racial equality in America. In the past, Dominican Sisters of Peace marched with Dr. King. Today, we pray for Dreamers at the Capitol and help those Dreamers and their parents attain citizenship at our literacy centers. We march with our sisters and brothers of color and work to end the systemic racism that holds those same sisters and brothers in the grip of poverty across the nation.

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery in early 2020 called into focus systemic racism and called the Dominican Sisters of Peace to respond. The challenge of social distancing caused by the COVID-19  pandemic required creative thinking and a response that combined old and new media. Sr.
Anne Lythgoe, OP, spearheaded the response on behalf of the entire Leadership team, of which she is a member.

“Like so many people of conscience, we were heartbroken and angered by the violent and senseless death of George Floyd,” Sr. Anne said. “Our Sisters and Associates wanted to speak out against racism, but many of them were quarantined because of the virus. We had to find a way to speak out from our Convents and Motherhouses while maintaining safety in a time of pandemic.”

It started online. The Leadership team posted a statement on the OPPeace website, followed by a 30-day series of social media postings quoting Father Bryan Massingale, one of the world’s leading Catholic social ethicists and scholars of African-American theological ethics.

As the nation began to open after the shutdowns of the early pandemic, our Akron Motherhouse hosted an interfaith group of about 150 people for a prayer vigil on the lawn. Sisters and associates joined marches and demonstrations. We carried signs, we stood as allies and we prayed.

By mid-summer, Sisters, associates and friends began witnessing from their homes, driveways and windows. Our “Racism is a Sin. Period.” signs have popped up at Motherhouses, ministries, and private homes across the nation.

At Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT, Sr. Anne Kilbride posted her “Racism is a Sin. Period.” signs around the college chapel when the students returned in September.

“This message really seemed to resonate with our students,” said Sr. Anne. “Students were stopping to talk about and take photos with the signs; the faculty had a positive response – they were just very well received.”

Andrea E. Kovacs, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing at the college, saw an opportunity to make a big statement about the college and its mission, and asked if the college could place this message on one of their billboards around New Haven, CT.

“The “Racism is a Sin. Period.” message is a strong statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in our local community,” Kovacs said. “We felt this message from our founders, the Dominican Sisters of Peace, was strong, direct, and crystal clear. We wanted our larger community to know these powerful women and their clear view of social justice.”

The billboard is currently on display in East Haven and Hartford, CT.

We continue to pray – not just for peace, but that our own hearts and minds be opened to the issue of systemic racism, and that our walls of privilege be broken.

As important is discussion, study and contemplation. The Dominican Sisters of Peace and their 700+ associates have been involved in a study of racism for several years. As we look at our world in chaos, we also look inside at our own hearts, and reach out to our neighbors with compassion to stand up for justice.

Director of Associates Colette Parker, 1960 -2020

Our late Director of Associates, Colette Parker, was an eloquent voice for racial justice. Her powerful words fueled much of the Congregation’s racial justice work. She expressed her hope for the future in a 2020 blog, where she paraphrased the late John Lewis, “Together, we can redeem the soul of America by getting in…good trouble, necessary trouble.’”

 

 

 

Your year-end donation supports our ministries of social justice, standing with our sisters and brothers who are marginalized by race, color, gender, or social standing.

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Go and Do Likewise – From the 2020 Annual Report

Sr. Mai-Dung Nguyen and her family made more than 2000 masks for local charities and first responders.

These words in the book of Luke, 10:37, close the parable of the Good Samaritan. With them, Jesus illustrated the value of mercy.

Like our founder, St. Dominic and our patron, St. Catherine of Siena, our Sisters have always gone where the need is greatest. As the United States quarantined to protect citizens from the emerging coronavirus, our Sisters wanted to help the poor, the sick and the marginalized. For some of our Sisters in their 80’s, and others in poor health, this was not to be.

As essential workers struggled to locate protective gear, Sisters took to their sewing machines. Sr. Mai-Dung Nguyen, living temporarily with her elderly parents during quarantine, sewed and donated more than 2,000 masks. Each mask was
accompanied by a special prayer, and the entire family helped with the project. (1)

In Oxford, MI, our St. Mary’s Retreat House was closing when Sr. Rita Birzer, in true Dominican fashion, saw the needs of the day changing around her. Much of the Retreat House furniture, bedding and personal protective gear was donated to a temporary facility to house COVID-19 patients.

Rising Youth, an initiative of our anti-violence project in Columbus, OH, supplied back to school bags to students at
Whitehall-Yearling High School. This is the first year of our mentoring program at the school.

Sister Joanne Caniglia and the Sisters in our Akron, OH, Motherhouse created math and science lessons that could be done at home, and 300 projects a week were distributed to women’s homeless shelters and food centers. Associate Connie Dubick, who volunteers with the King Kennedy Community Center in Akron, helped manage the distribution of the packets.

People of color were exceptionally hard hit by the virus and the economic downturn that accompanied quarantine. At the Peace Center, Sisters Suzanne Brauer, Pat Thomas and Ceal Warner took to the streets of New Orleans, masked and socially distanced, to take food to elderly neighbors and offer a friendly face.

Our Sisters at the Columbus, OH, Motherhouse, along with the Martin de Porres Center and the Dominican Learning Center, packed weekly bags of food, educational activities, and personal protective gear for members of the local Latinx community.
In rural Kansas, Sisters Janice Thome and Roserita Weber have obtained donations to help their neighbors maintain their homes. Many of them are economic refugees.

Sr. Ellen Coates, a health professional in the second year of her novitiate, is working as a contact tracer at the Ohio State University in Columbus to help reduce the spread of the virus on campus and in the local community.

In Niskayuna, NY, Sr. Sue Zemgulis at the Dominican Retreat Center is launching a spiritual sanctuary for seniors, persons with disabilities and 12-step group members, caring for the needs of heart and soul.

Our vocations team has continued to minister to those who hear God’s call. Our virtual vocation events have helped to bring two new candidates, Cathy Buchanan and Tram Bui, to the Congregation. Sr. Phuong Vu professed her temporary vows on
December 8, 2020.

This year has been like no other, and like so many, the Dominican Sisters of Peace have found new ways to serve. Your support – your prayers and your gifts – are vital to our ability to continue the work of St. Dominic: to preach the Gospel of peace through our words, our deeds, and our lives.

With your help, we continue to serve the people of God.  Thank you for your year-end donation.

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