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.


 

Why does the Democratic Republic of Congo Need our Prayers?

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP, Justice Promoter

Several weeks ago, I had an opportunity to sit down with a young man from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).   As you know, this second Annual Dominican Month of Peace is focusing on the DRC which is struggling with war, violence, displacement, and, recently, Ebola.  Theo is a husband and father to two baby girls. I first met him when he came to the Dominican Learning Center to see about getting ESL classes for a group of men and women from the DRC who were worshipping at a local Catholic church.  The primary language in the DRC is French and they wanted to learn English.

Theo explained to me that the nation has experienced political insecurity for many decades.  The current president, Joseph Kabila, agreed to step down as president at the end of 2016 but then reneged.  This has resulted in much violence as protestors demand the elections.  Last December, the Roman Catholic bishops, supported by a coalition of civil groups, called for peaceful demonstrations after Sunday Mass. The government refused permits for the demonstrations yet more than 160 churches in many parts of the country participated in the call. Police responded with teargas, rubber bullets, and, in some cases, live ammunition.  Parishioners of St. Dominic’s Parish in Kinshasa (capital city), run by the Dominican friars, were fired upon in the church grounds and even inside the church. One friar was shot in the face with a rubber bullet.  Elections are now planned for the end of this month.

The DNC is a country of great natural wealth that is the cause of much of the current conflict.  In the eastern portion, the resources are being fought over by both internal and external forces. Corporations are encouraging this discontent because they are able to get the minerals more cheaply. This is also resulting in environmental disasters such as poaching, water pollution, deforestation, and mining. The Government had to shut down the Virunga National Park, Africa’s oldest national park, when two British tourists were kidnapped and six park rangers were killed in April.

Now, in the northern part of the country, there is an outbreak of Ebola. More than 419 cases have been reported and 240 have died.  Treatment is complicated by violence against the aid workers who are trying to bury those infected.  Burial customs are in conflict with the need to isolate those who have died because they are still contagious.  Recently, the World Health Organization announced some success with some experimental treatments it is using to stem this deadly disease.

The DRC has the largest displaced population in Africa with more than 4.49 million internally displaced persons, including 2.7 million children.  Chronic instability and conflict are the primary causes of this displacement but poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation which lead to natural hazards such as floods also contribute to the displacement. Local ethnic divisions are used and abused by armed groups and the military, coupled with corruption and the illegal exploitation of mineral resources, mean the violence continues.  There is also competition for other natural resources, such as fishing grounds and arable land causing local insurgencies and conflict.  Theo told me of one village where the villagers were forced to flee to the forest to survive.

So you can see how much violence has touched the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Let us keep them in our prayers and hope that with a fair and peaceful election and sufficient care, some peace may again come to this land.

 

 

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

LOVE THE WORLD AS NO ONE HAS THOUGHT TO LOVE IT

(Title adapted from Rainer Marie Rilke)

Not long ago in human memory, Aldo Leopold was in the adrenalin rush of his career.  Tasked with getting a mountain in tip-top shape for deer hunting, he wondered if killing off the wolf would make for a hunters’ paradise.  One afternoon, watching a young pack welcome an old wolf “with a melee of wagging tails and playful maulings,” he saw the mother wolf die. “We never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack….When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down.  We reached her in time to watch a fierce green fire die in her eyes….I realized then that there was something new in those eyes, known only to her and to the mountain….seeing her and the green fire die I sensed that neither she nor the mountain would agree with [my] view.”

Blog By Sr. Barbara Harrington, OP

Beholding the cascading destruction of his “over the top” zeal, Aldo Leopold came into communion with the mountain.  Embedded in deep time, mountain intelligence reverberated freshly within Leopold’s awakening. Over population of one species becomes a defoliated mountain, “the starved bones of the hoped-for herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of dead sage….”

This is more than a cautionary tale.  Don’t you see the possibility of new love stories? Where previously, killing off the enemy seemed good enough for the “happily ever after” effect, Leopold developed the land ethic by “thinking like a mountain”. The climate crisis now urges the unfolding of a planetary ethic.

Adaptive measures to climate disruption are the talk of the moment. Widely touted plans preserving comforts for the humanly privileged, but not by any count creating the greatest good for the greatest number may be akin to “We never knew heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf.” The ethical challenge now upon us is to bring to light that which is hidden: to think like a planet.

Reimagining how we are to live as Earthlings is undoubtedly a stretch.  But it is also raw necessity: noticing the sparrow who falls; the civilizations crumbing; the mother hen, with tenderness gathering blind destructive powers under her wing. Thinking like our planet infuses gospel stories with new vigor.

The prairie, the plains, forests, deserts, the waters, estuaries, the night sky, emerging cultures of food and place are no longer used as backdrops to buttress communion with the Divine; they become what we are to contemplate.  Absorbing their revelatory pulse widens our stunted identities. These are Earth communities -some severe, some sweet, all verbs, voices, summoning us, stirring faith, spawning a felt possibility of humans re-inhabiting Earth. Streaming through the pores of our skin are ecotones of new psalms; praises we never knew that we knew reweave our ruptured selves with the land, our holy mother. Humility rouses us to participate actively, reverently as sacramental beings. There is nothing not kin in this sacramental revelation.  An inner climate change indeed.

The eye of fierce green fire welcomes the vista of moral virtues developing in response to climate chaos: gratitude to those who photosynthesize; reciprocity, choosing to invest our love in healing relationships with each other and with the land; self-restraint through ecological practices building communities of peace and economies protecting the abundance and variety of other lives; intergenerational justice transforming our “too-much” fear into legacies of reverence; moral courage creating a world beyond war. (KDMoore and RKimmerer)

In the vast immediacies of our moment leaps a new ethic of planetary affection. Midwife like a planet, no matter the cost, no matter the outcome.

Posted in Just Reflecting, News

The Power of Small and Big Kindnesses

Blog by Sister Amy McFrederick

The other day someone posted an Advent calendar of Small Kindnesses on Facebook, suggesting it as a possible Advent daily project until Christmas. I appreciate things like this that can help me be intentional about doing kind acts. And you never know just how powerful a small kindness can be in the life of another. To download this Advent calendar, click here.

On Nov. 16 CBS ran a story by Steve Hartman about John Metzler who still keeps the letter written by a girl in the sixth grade over 45 years ago. He was a 23-year-old Army helicopter sniper in the Vietnam War, and didn’t know the girl.

The letter arrived on Christmas Day 1970 and it simply read in part, “Dear Serviceman, I want to give my sincere thanks for going over to war to fight for us. The class hopes you will be able to come home.” – Donna Caye. That simple letter, John said, got him through the Vietnam War.

Because he had such deadly job in such a thankless war, that little girl’s note mattered. Obviously, it could have gone to any soldier. But John took it very personally. “Fact is I think it means more today than it did when I got it,” John said. It’s because she said thank you.

It was just a small kindness, but with power beyond that small girl’s imagination.

I personally have mixed feelings about expressing my gratitude to persons who have or are serving in foreign wars. On the one hand I AM deeply grateful to anyone willing to risk his/her life to defend our country and keep all of us safe—even though I’m not really clear against what we are being defended or kept safe.

On the other hand, I am deeply troubled that our national and international leaders keep choosing to sacrifice the lives and limbs of countless men and women in ‘forever’ wars that they and we know cannot be won–like Vietnam and Afghanistan. It makes me wonder: do we really need to be defended or kept safe from ‘forces’ that require sacrificing our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters in wars that leaders perpetuate rather than have to admit failure and put an end to it?

Buckminster Fuller, an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor and futurist, wrote: “It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a matter of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry.”

What if, instead of training and sending people to war, a portion of our defense budget were diverted to train them instead for this work of conversion? It would certainly be a big kindness for humanity, with power to transform all life on Earth in ways beyond our current imagination!

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Searching for Answers in Jesus’ Life and Teachings

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

I remember in my senior year of undergraduate college
browsing through the library shelves searching for an author or a title that
resonated with me for writing my Senior Thesis.  As a serious student, majoring in Religion and
Philosophy, with burning questions about God and Jesus, I was determined to
find the
book that would satisfy my thirst for knowledge and give me answers to my
searching questions.

After many agonizing weeks of combing through books in the
religion and philosophy section of the library stacks, I discovered a trilogy
of works combined into one book by John Knox. 
This trilogy was entitled Jesus
Lord and Christ
and included these three titles:  The Man Christ Jesus, Christ the
Lord
and On the Meaning of Christ. What delighted me about this book was that it easy to read and
understand, with language that spoke to my intellectual interests at the
time. 

What I explored ultimately
in my thesis was the question of how the historical Jesus relates to the Christ
of faith based on John Knox’s writings. 
I still have this thesis as the writing of it was significant in my
faith journey.  The question of Who
was this man Jesus?
intrigued me and was at the core of my searching.  This question still offers moments of
reflection, but my ponderings now take me from an intellectual search to a contemplative
quest for understanding the life and teachings of Jesus.

So, who was this man Jesus?  What in his life and teachings is the most powerful message to us?  Of his life, I find that Jesus’ work with the marginalized (the poor, the hungry, the disenfranchised, the sick, the imprisoned) is both an example and challenge for how we are to live individually and communally.  It is in helping the marginalized where we can find Jesus and experience a transformation of heart and mind. Being with the marginalized teaches us not just humility but also about having faith and hope,despite our circumstances.

We are told in Matthew 25:35-36 that Jesus can be found in the marginalized:  “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” And then later, in verse 40 of this same chapter, we hear Jesus’ words “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”  So,when we are looking for Jesus, it is to the marginalized where we will find him.

Of Jesus’ teachings, two Scripture passages communicate to me Jesus’ message for how we are to live our life:

“Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth. It is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Love never comes to an end.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

“You shall love the Lord your God with all
your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
 The second is this: ‘You shall love
your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
” Mark 12: 30-31

Love is clearly the
central message in Jesus’ teachings. 
Story after story in Scripture, we hear and see how Jesus’ actions
spring from a place of love.  From the
story of the women caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) to the story of the
‘sinful’ woman who bathes Jesus’ feet with her tears
(Luke 7:36-50), Jesus conveys a
message of forgiveness, compassion, and love for the person.  By his example, Jesus teaches us to live a
life free of condemnation and judgement. 
We do not see Jesus burdened with guilt or tormented with
second-guessing his actions because he is grounded in God’s love.  It is this trust and belief in God’s love
that empowers him to minister to so many and to advocate for justice for all
people.  And when  Jesus needed to be refueled with this love or
to understand the path he was called to follow, he went away to a quiet place
to pray.

And so we pray that
in our search for answers to life’s struggles that we turn to Jesus’ life and
teachings for answers and take time to pray and listen to God’s unfolding
message of love to us.

Are you searching
for answers to what to do with your life? Why not consider exploring the
religious life as a Dominican Sister of Peace? 
Come and be the feet and hands of Jesus. 
Our Vocation Ministers are
happy to walk with you as you seek to answer God’s call in your life.

Posted in God Calling??, News

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

How often have you said to someone or has someone said to
you: “I cannot thank you enough”? Why not? What’s stopping you? Usually we say
it when someone has gone above and beyond in doing us a favor or a donation. So
our humble thanks seems lacking somehow but we say thank you anyway.

But who are the people in your neck of the woods who need to
hear thank you again and again and again for the simplest of reasons? I am
thinking of our garbage collectors…does anyone ever just say thank you for
doing a job that needs to be done? How about the people who clean up the
highways, those folks out there with garbage bags and picks picking up our
trash…I know some times they are inmates from the local hoosegow but does that
make them less useful?

What our police and fire personnel? Teachers? Mail carriers?
The grocery baggers at the store—I know that at Kroger’s in Gahanna they
usually want to take your cart out for you and load your cars if you wish;
don’t think they get extra pay for this but how about “I can’t thank you
enough”s?

Of course, all of these thoughts are surrounding Thanksgiving Day, but “thank you” never takes a holiday!

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word