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.


Sister Susan Olson, Columbus, OH

Sr. Susan Olson, OP

As the Coordinator of the Dominican Sisters of Peace Columbus Motherhouse, Sr. Susan Olson’s daily contact with our elderly Sisters has kept her from in-person ministry. While the impact of the pandemic has weighed on her heart, her vow of poverty does not always allow her to help as many as she would like. The #SistersontheFrontlines grants from The Leadership Collaborative with the cooperation of  Catholic Extension through the generosity of GHR Foundation have given her that opportunity. #CatholicSistersWeek

Sr. Susan used part of her grant to purchase food and personal items, and with the help of Sisters in the Columbus Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, packed 50  backpacks for the homeless community in Columbus.  The backpacks were donated to the United Methodist Church for All People on the South side of Columbus, where they were distributed to those who need assistance.

Sisters Andre Kravec, OP and Mary Jo Knittel, OP, pack bags for the homeless in Columbus, OH.

Sr. Susan’s other ministry is that of a virtual voice instructor for music students. She has a great love of the arts and chose to use part of her grant to assist a graphic artist whose business was suffering during the pandemic with some of her expenses.

“This grant allowed me to offer some support to two populations that are near and dear to my heart.  What I hope has been a hand up for these two groups will be experienced by their good works rippling out to our larger community.”

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Blacklick’s Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center taps into visitors’ connection with nature

Marla K. Kuhlman, ThisWeek group


Although maple-sugaring tours, which allow guests to tap into trees for sap and their inner spirits for reflection, are booked at Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center this month, the organization has a yearlong slate of activities that help provide a link to the natural world.

Miranda Land, Program Manager at Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center, holds a bottle of syrup made from tapping trees at the 160 acre Blacklick Farm.

“Give gifts of peace and joy” is written on a sign at the entrance to the 160-acre center, 987 N. Waggoner Road in Blacklick.

Shepherd’s Corner Ecology Center is a nonprofit outreach of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. It has a mission to invite others to experience the joys and responsibilities of caring for land, life and spirit and inspiring others to become shepherds of creation in their own corners of the world, said Sister Rose Ann Van Buren, Shepherd’s Corner administrator.

“The caring of the land is so important to us and educating to make people understand the importance of the land and animals,” she said.

The sugaring tours are a hobby for the center, said Miranda Land, who became Shepherd’s Corner’s program manager in fall 2017 after being an AmeriCorps volunteer there since September 2016.

“It’s a way to get people connected with the land,” Land said. “With our lives, we’re so busy that we rarely take the time to just be.”

Land said the number of people interested in the tours far exceeds the capacity to host this year because small groups are necessary as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

She suggested anyone interested in booking a tour next season should follow the center on Facebook.

Tree tapping
Led by Land and Dustin McQuade, Shepherd’s Corner land and building manager, each two-hour tour has a capacity for eight participants.

When tapping a tree, McQuade said, he looks where a tree previously was tapped.

“We basically do the 4-6 rule,” he said. “You use your hand. Go 4 inches over on either side of old tap – 4 inches over and 6 inches up or you can go down, too.”

 When drilling into the tree, McQuade said, he uses a 5/16th-inch bit.

Dustin McQuade, land and building manager at Shepherd’s Corner, attaches a collection bag to catch sugar collected from a sugar maple tree.

“That’s the size and that’s the size tap we’re going to use,” he said while tapping trees Feb. 25. “When you drill into the tree, you’re going to drill in with a little bit of an angle up, maybe 10% up. What I do, I put tape on my drill bit so I don’t drill too far. You don’t want to go too far into the tree.”

He said he enjoys the taste of the sap, likening it to Gatorade.

“Some people harvest the sap,” McQuade said. “There’s a lot of nutrients and minerals in it.”

“You can hear the sound change,” McQuade said.  “There’s two systems you can use (to collect sap): the buckets with tubing that comes out or you can use the bag.“

He said he has found the bag system to be the easiest method.

After collecting the sap, the syrup-making process advances to what’s called the Sugar Shack that was constructed from wood on the property.

He said it takes about an hour to boil 45 gallons of sap.

Land said it takes 40 to 43 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.

“It depends on the sugar content,” she said. “We tap, and Dustin and I collect, boil it down and finish it off.”

In 2011, McQuade said, the center processed 28 gallons of syrup.

“It’s the most I’ve done,” he said. “We did 100 taps that year.”

Land said temperatures are a main factor when it comes to harvesting sap.

“You need below-freezing temperatures at night that creates a vacuum in the tree so sap flows,” she said. “We’re usually wrapping up in March.”

Kayla Long of Columbus, a sophomore environmental-policy major from Ohio State University, tapped trees for the first time Feb. 25.

“It’s really a cool thing to be part of,” she said. “It’s easier than I expected.”

Long said she volunteers at the center when she can.

“I started volunteering with gardening, anything they needed help with,” she said.

Meditation trails
The center holds other activities that are open to the public throughout the year.

Beginning in April, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays, guests may tour the property for a suggested donation of $2 per person.

Anyone planning to visit should call 614-866-4302 or email

Visitors may walk meditation trails or two labyrinths.

“We have a whole series of meditation trails that are reflections on the land,” Van Buren said. “It’s a guided walk for visitors with stations.”

Each station offers something for the mind, body and spirit, according to the center’s website,

Each station has a sign with theme-centered facts, reflections and suggested activities, according to the website.

The Capitol Square Rotary provided funding, labor and assistance with the stations, and students from Upper Arlington High School also helped plan each site, according to the website.

Van Buren said the two labyrinths on the property are meant to provide peace, insight, comfort, healing, energy and connection.

The website describes it this way: “Walking this circular path provides a time of quiet and meditation and reminds us of our life journey with its twists and turns.”

Farm Fresh 5K
In 2020 and before, the center had been home to a garden, with the purpose to “grow to donate,” Land said.

Food has been donated to Gahanna Residents In Need and the Bishop Griffin Resource Center, serving residents in east and southeast Columbus, according to Land.

“We would donate as much as we could,” she said. “Food insecurity is a big thing.”

For this year, Land said, the center is partnering with Johnstown’s From Scratch Farm.

“We will still be donating,” she said. “It’s important to help small producers.”

Shepherd’s Corner also will hold its 15th annual Farm Fresh 5K, a hybrid all-terrain run/walk, June 10-12, with proceeds benefiting the center and its initiative to donate fresh produce to those in need.

Over the past 20 years, Shepherd’s Corner has donated 32,830 pounds of naturally grown produce to local food pantries, according to the center’s website.

To form a team, email Marguerite Chandler at or register online at

Van Buren said she hopes visitors to Shepherd’s Corner feel welcomed by staff members and by the land and that they have a sense of the commitment of the Dominican Sisters of Peace to care for creation, to understand that Earth is our common home and that all of us have a responsibility to protect it not only for today but also for future generations.

Your Gift Helps us Care for our Common Home.

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Catholic Sister Helps Native American Families Struggling With Food Insecurity



Living in the heat of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona are the indigenous people of Tohono O’odham Nation. Families on the reservation reside in near-isolation. Long, winding dirt roads lead to homes with no street address. Travelers often have to create their own roads in order to find their destination.

In such a vast and remote location, food insecurity is a major issue. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the problem, resulting in many deaths, including elders.

More than 11,000 members, about 85 percent of the reservation’s population, are Catholic. About 40 villages have a church or chapel and the majority have Mass only once per month.

Through their strong faith, the Tohono O’odham rise to confront challenging situations. Prayers to address hunger were answered by Sr. Rachel Sena, a Dominican Sister of Peace serving San Xavier del Bac Mission in the Diocese of Tucson. Her ministry reaches the Tohono O’odham Nation in the Sonoran Desert.

A shining sister in the desert

Looking to help amidst the pandemic, Sr. Sena applied to Sisters on the Frontlines, an initiative which aims to give $1,000 to 1,000 women religious to help those most adversely affected by the pandemic. After receiving a grant from the program, Sr. Sena worked to help those who are struggling to put food on the table. She purchased 20 $50 gift cards for reservation families to use from two local grocery stores.

Life in this faith community on the border has many challenges. Residents face serious problems including high rates of suicide, gang activity, rising unemployment and drug trafficking.

Sr. Sena wanted to help as many people as she could. Now, she has made a difference in the lives of 20 families in need:

They never asked for assistance, because they trust in God’s Providence. I am grateful that your gift brought smiles of gratitude.”

The Tohono O’odham Nation’s land base is nearly 5,000 square miles and straddles the United States-Mexico border west of Tucson. The size of Connecticut, it is the third largest Indian reservation in the country. It has one small town, Sells, which is the capital, and about 70 villages.

Navigating the long reservation roads, Sr. Sena delivered food gift cards. Each family is grateful and sends blessings of thanks to those that made this possible.

Sr. Sena is thankful she could help put meals on the table for Tohono O’odham families during the pandemic:

The Catholic Extension grant was an act of mercy and a refreshing drink from the wells of hope.”

Thank you to our donors for providing food to struggling Native Americans in the Diocese of Tucson. As the pandemic continues, so does the Sisters on the Frontlines initiative. Contributions bring relief, joy and renewed faith to those so adversely affected.

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Sisterhood is Powerful: Dreaming about a Future Together

Anne Lythgoe, OP (Peace)
President, Dominican Sisters Conference

February 17, 2021 — What do you imagine the future will be?  What will Dominican Life and Mission look like in five years? Ten years? Twenty? Can you imagine that far out in time?

Dominican sisters, both leaders and members, have been coalescing around these questions for some time now, and a new energy and direction is rising up around them.

Building on the evolutionary path of Dominican Women Afire, the Dominican Sisterhood Futuring Task Force has been hard at work since October of 2018, to gather the energy of our sisters under 70 and provide a forum in which they can talk together and explore their own visions of the future. It used the Visitation relationship of Elizabeth and Mary to make visible the relationship between older members (Elizabeths) who can offer guidance and encouragement to the younger members (Marys) as they bring to birth the Gospel in new ways. The Task Force is a sub-committee of the Dominican Sisters Conference and Sr. Pat Twohill is a member of the sub-committee.

An extensive survey of Marys (sisters under 70) in US congregations revealed a strong energy for collaboration, for a need for itinerancy, a willingness to dream, and lots of excitement about moving forward.  So what are Marys dreaming about? We want to know, we want to engage younger members in the kind of substantive, realistic conversations that will give voice to their vision and support for its implementation.

A new under 70 core committee is being called forth to play a vital leadership role in animating the future of our Dominican Sisterhood.   We look to this committee to offer the kind of leadership and commitment needed to bring to birth a new way of being Dominican together, a new way to live the life and mission we all share.

This is a moment of empowerment. It is a call to gather the women who will lead and live Dominican Life well beyond the present time.  Who knows where it will lead? But there is serious and committed energy around making concrete and committed steps toward a future together.

In a practical way, and as a beginning, the committee will coordinate newly forming affinity groups on a number of topics ranging from anti-racism to environmental justice and to intercommunity living.  A new database of members under 70 will help connect sisters across congregational boundaries and help foster an understanding of each other, what they are interested in, how they see their own future together.

Many sisters across congregations are ready to move toward a new “something” together. What does this look like, especially in light of the demographic realities of the 19 congregations of Dominicans in the US who are getting smaller and some closer to completion? What are our Marys moving toward?

The work of the DSC Task Force has prepared the soil for new concrete ways for Marys to not only relate to one another, but also to move into a shared vision for the future. Our hope is that a strong core committee can provide the leadership and animation needed to empower our sisterhood.

Truly, sisterhood is powerful — we have seen it in our founding sisters, in their courage and commitment to create something new.  Something new is indeed being created now, who will be a part of it? What will they create? How will they live Dominican life and mission together? The time is now and the urgency is now. Watch this space as this new energy comes to life. And support members under 70 in their visions and hopes for the future.

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