On April 22, Sr. Esther Calderon was honored by Prison Chaplains in Tucson, AZ. At an appreciation dinner for Prison Volunteers, Sr. Esther was awarded a 25-Year Volunteer Appreciation Pin and other special gifts. Sister serves as a volunteer at Casa Alitas, a diocesan shelter for migrants released by ICE, and at the Eloy ICS Detention Center in Eloy, AZ.
The celebration was belated since this is actually Sr. Esther’s 27th year of service, but the 2021 luncheon was canceled due to COVID.
In the photos below, Sr. Esther is shown with the Senior Chaplain, the Volunteer Coordinator for Catholic Volunteers, and other members of the Ministry team, as well as Sr. Rachel Sena.
Notice anything new about the Dominican Sisters of Peace, private pages website? Log in and you will see the new web page featuring the Archives! We listened and now we have a dedicated area for the Dominican Sister of Peace Archives. You can find all the information that you need and want to know about the archives in one place … just click here. This page is based on feedback from the survey that the archive’s staff conducted in March.
The survey was included in the newsletter and was open for responses from March 10, 2023, to March 18, 2023. The nine-question survey collected demographic information, names, and emails. The survey was voluntary. Thirty-five respondents provided information and feedback on how they are currently using the archive and what improvements they would like to see to increase use.
The findings indicated that 31.4% of the respondents were located in Columbus, Ohio. 42.9 % did not know that they could visit the archive to look at house annals, photos, or information about specific missions. 68.6 % did not know that they can use archival materials for writing reflections, homilies, and presentations. 42 % would like to see historical presentations virtually and/or live-streamed.
An oral history project has been under consideration by archival staff and based on the survey results we will need to provide additional information about the project. Only 25.7 % of the respondents stated that they would be willing to share their oral history with volunteers to record. 54.3 % of respondents stated that they may be willing to share their stories. Some of the additional feedback suggested that efforts should be made to interview older sisters of former communities who are aged 87 and older. Many wanted to know more about the project before committing to participate. Others wanted to know if they could review the recordings after the interview to make sure it focused on what they wanted to share. This feedback has provided archival staff with some of the concerns about the proposed project.
Some of the other suggestions included making the archive culture more user-friendly for “ordinary” people versus being reserved for scholars doing research. It was also suggested that there be a committee of sisters who would give the archive staff ideas and insight from their perspective. Others wanted to be able to send in requests for information for their current research while others wanted to know how the archives can be accessed by those who don’t live near an archive. One of the sisters requested information on the connection between Georgia O’Keefe and the sisters who ministered in New Mexico.
Outreach was another area where the sisters offered more suggestions. Additional suggestions included: “Visit the Archives Day” with small group visits at designated time slots, “Did You Know” stories, sharing monthly events and presentations with advance notice, and a tour of the archives with an explanation of what items are in the archives. Some wanted published lists of what can and cannot be used for research and restored access to the files of the deceased. Another suggestion was to increase outreach to local areas and media and the development of displays would provide information to the community about the sisters.
Based on the survey feedback, some of the new features on the webpage include an “Ask an Archivist” section, the oral history project, virtual exhibits, the Archive’s hours, and a calendar of events.
The work of the Holy Spirit is sometimes compared to the wind. Jesus, himself, made this comparison in today’s gospel speaking to Nicodemus. He says, “ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sounds it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes… so it is with everyone who is born of the spirit.”
What do the Spirit of God and the wind have in common? Why the comparison? Both are invisible. The wind and the breath of life can’t be seen, yet bring about and sustain life.
As a health and PE teacher, I taught CPR to my students in the hope that someday, if needed, they could administer the “ breath of life”. That actually happened. On Christmas Eve, one of my student’s fathers collapsed while putting up the Christmas tree. He was not breathing and had no pulse. His daughter began CPR and was able to bring back life to her father. A medical procedure or an act of the Spirit? Or both?
Have we or a loved one, or a friend ever “ run out of breath”? In need of life-giving wind? Has the Holy Spirit entered us with spiritual life? Has it ever saved us, physically or spiritually? Or both.
Like the wind, the invisible Holy Spirit worked in ways that are unseen to the human eye but possibly felt by the human soul, if, we but recognize it?
Where does the wind take us? We may have planned our life journey but the wind, the Holy Spirit made us go in another direction, perhaps several times.
We experienced the power of the wind last week when the strength of it tore down trees here at the Elms and in our neighborhood, resulting in electricity outages for hours.
Just as the wind moves ships, empowers engines, drives windmills, and deposes pollution from and around the earth, its power is immense.
The Holy Spirit appeared on Pentecost and released power strong enough to transform the disciples into mighty forces with the courage to go and preach in many tongues.
Wind is an adequate word to describe the Power of the Holy Spirit, change happens when the wind blows, and where this spirit moves in this manner, it supplies supernatural energy. It empowers us to do what we could NOT do on our own.
Pope Francis is quoted as saying, “ the Holy Spirit alone, gives us strength to change the history of our attitude, to change the history of our lives, to change our belonging”.
Oh, how we need the supernatural wind of the Holy Spirit right now!!
A few years ago I reflected on the Sunday Gospel that told the post-resurrection story of Thomas, who did not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Of course, he gets his reputation as a DoubtingThomas because of that incident.
And as we all know, a week later, Thomas is there when Jesus appears and he invites Thomas to touch his wounds as proof he is alive. Thomas proclaims his belief saying, “My Lord and my God.”
I have a new insight about Thomas because of the television series The Chosen. I highly recommend you catch it if you can— just download the Angel Studio app and watch it for free. There are three seasons so far. This is the telling of the story of Jesus more through the lens of his relationships with other people than directly through Jesus himself. Many episodes are about the growing cohort of people who come to believe him to be the Messiah. It’s more often their stories of coming to belief.
It turns out that in one episode Thomas is a caterer and he and his partner Rema prepare all of the food and drink and such for the wedding feast at Cana. He is fastidious, methodical, and is a bit of a challenge to Rema who is anxious to get to Cana to set everything up. Most of all he’s a bit of a worry wart, obsessing that he has plenty of food to supply this wedding. I think of him as a nervous accountant. He is a witness to Jesus’s miracle of the wine at Cana, and he is mystified by how this actually happened because, of course, he was in charge of the wine steward, a subcontractor for the wedding. Thomas just couldn’t figure out how Jesus was able to supply all this extra wine that was so wonderful. So he is left happy for the outcome, but mostly puzzled.
I can understand why Thomas is baffled by this miracle of the wine. It stands to reason, by virtue of his personality, that he would have a hard time believing that Jesus multiplied the wine, let alone that he rose from the dead. It’s this bent of personality that strikes me because Thomas didn’t so much doubt— in our contemporary way of doubting —as he was being skeptical. I think for Thomas it just didn’t add up and he was someone who calculated all the time. How many of this and how much of that do we need for the wedding?
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” This is what condemns Thomas to his undeserved reputation — that he needed to see in order to believe. Thus, for 2000 years his fate is sealed by a moment when he actually asked a legitimate question. How many times have you said, “I’ll believe it when I see it”?
Sometimes we are like Thomas I would wager. There is so much of the world that is unbelievable, things just baffle us. It’s not really disbelief— it’s more like being mystified by things we cannot understand. Think of the latest pictures from the James Webb telescope. It’s hard to believe that what we see is what scientists say it is. And if by bent of personality, science remains a mystery to you then is it really that you doubt the scientists? Or are you just awestruck?
Maybe that’s it. Thomas was awestruck. It wasn’t doubt, it was his God-given personality that made him a skeptic, a bean counter. He probably would be a CPA today, but I think he would come to believe and say, “My Lord and my God,” just the same.
So let’s be a little kinder and not so quick to judge people who are skeptical because by bent of their personality they’re practical. Let’s give some slack to those who seem a little pie-in-the-sky, because by bent of personality they are dreamers. We all can come to belief in our own way.
During the Easter season, we hear in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus’ command to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” A daunting task and a core scripture for the Order of Preachers. Pope Honorius III, as he approved the Order, wrote “[God] who never ceases to make the Church fruitful through new offspring… wishes to make these modern times [the thirteenth century] the equal of former days [the first Christian centuries] and to spread the Catholic faith. So, he inspired you [Dominicans] with a holy desire to embrace poverty, profess the regular life and commit yourselves to the proclamation of the word of God, preaching everywhere the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”1 Here we are 800 years later. How do we make these modern times the equal of former days as we to proclaim the Gospel to every creature?
In some ways, preaching is like Dominic’s time – men go up to a pulpit and share their words of wisdom with their congregations during Mass. This is the traditional understanding of preaching. But it’s so much more today. In some religious orders and in their motherhouse chapels, sisters proclaim the Gospel message from a woman’s perspective. There is online audio and video preaching by men and women – lay, professed, and ordained. Blogs and podcasts proliferate providing yet more insights into the scriptures. I wonder if sometime in the future, we won’t have AI Chatbot sermons. (A chatbot is software that simulates human-like conversations with users via chat. AI means artificial intelligence.) Will computer software provide better insights than humans into God’s good news?
The word ‘preach’ comes from the Latin praedicare meaning, “To proclaim publicly.” Words can be powerful, but the most powerful form of preaching is with our lives. What better way to proclaim publicly than to witness to the Gospel truth of Jesus than by demonstrating how we welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, forgive the hurtful, comfort the afflicted, respect all life – human and nature. Not many of us will ever preach from a pulpit but each day, we can give true witness to the love of Jesus Christ for each creature.
Do you feel called to preach the Gospel with your life as a Dominican Sister? Why not contact us to begin a conversation or consider attending our 5-day Mission for Peace prayer and service immersion program at our Motherhouse in Akron, Ohio, from June 2 to June 6, 2023.
Check out word.op.org for daily preaching by Dominican women and men.
1Quote about Honorius comes from Romanus Cessario, OP “The Grace St. Dominic Brings to the World: A Fresh Look at Dominican Spirituality. Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 15(2):84-100.