Sunday, January 27, 2019

BACK FOR THE SECOND HALF OF OUR CANONICAL YEAR!


Dear brothers, sisters and friends,


Since January 62019 we have been here in Saint Louis to begin our second half of our program. It was after a one month Christmas break in which we went back to our respective communities. It was another great time to reconnect to our communities and we happened to all go to our mother houses.
Upon arrival here in our CDN community, we immediately entered into our busy program in the middle of a very cold winter: pursuing our studies at Aquinas Institute, even though we only each took one class because we have more studies   in the house. We continue with our ministry of learning and helping the young girls during their religion class at Marian Middle School. 


Every Wednesday we have been having our Inter-Congregational Novitiate on different topics. Next week we will have a quite intense week on Psycho/Sexual Development.  We have also been having some reflections and discussion on Religious life special topics with our dear Sister Elyse OP. Among the classes we are having in the house with our directors is the story and life of Saint Dominic. It is a good opportunity for us to learn about Dominican Spirituality. The book which has served us for our study so far is entitled Saint Dominic: The Story of a Preaching Friar by Donald J. Goergen OP.  Allow us to share with you some of our simple insights and outstanding points which stayed with us in these Dominican Life seminars.  In our discussions, we took one chapter after another, and these are the questions which led us.

What attracted or challenged you in this chapter? What did you resist and why? What questions did this chapter evoke in you? Answer for you? How does this reading affect your discernment of Dominican Religious Life?

In our study and discussions we learned about how the Order started, expanded and the Dominican spirituality portrayed by the life and history of Saint Dominic. However, we came to understand that the Dominican way of life is deeply rooted in the Gospel itself and not in Saint Dominic. In his simplicity he just wanted to be seen as one of the brethren, a simple itinerant and contemplative preacher. He was able to be both deeply contemplative and deeply active. He was a man of prayer with a mission, a contemplative mission. It was a call for us to evaluate how we are able to balance our interior and exterior life, our busy active schedule and our prayer life, and how do we allow our contemplation which boils inside us to boil over?

In this article, we cannot go without mentioning our resistance to mendicancy as lived by Saint Dominic. We had a long conversation on mendicancy and how it is still lived in some ways and not necessarily like during Saint Dominic’s time. We came to the realization that many of our congregations depend on donations from people of good will and that may be our form of mendicancy today.

‘’Mendicancy and voluntary poverty were at the heart of Dominic’s evangelical strategy.’’ He told his brethren, ‘’ Have charity, preserve humility and possess voluntary poverty.’’
The above statement from Saint Dominic answered some questions on our previous discussion in relation to material poverty. The question was how do we really live poverty when we seem to have what we need? Our response is to make choices for simplicity, despite knowing that we have much. In addition to that, we came to a clearer understanding of our ministry of preaching. We are not an order of homilists but an order of preachers. Preaching is broader, as it involves our witness of living the gospel values by our deeds.  Giving homilies is just one part of it. This can be understood as the using of words when necessary.

All in all, we need to remember that DOMINIC WAS AN ASCETIC WHO ENJOYED HIS WINE; we are also having time to enjoy our 'wine' here despite our busy schedule. Time has not been on our side, it has been our greatest enemy but we have been managing it. This winter season though very cold, we are not missing its beauty. We celebrate birthdays for a full week for those who want it! We create time for games, without forgetting our free and special cooking!
Dear sisters, brothers, and friends, our knowledge and understanding about Dominican spirituality may still be limited in various ways.  As always, we count on your support and help as we continue learning and growing as Dominicans.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas!

 Chuc Mung 
Giang Sinh! 

Joyeux Noel!



Nakutakia
 Krismasi Njema!




From the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate 
     Phuong, Rolande, Cathy, and Lorraine
















Sunday, November 18, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving !



Thanksgiving Day is the time to remind one another of the many reasons to be grateful. As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks and rejoice in the Lord who has blessed each of us with so much and in so many ways. Also, I am reminded that the word thanksgiving is composed of two words “thanks” and giving.” Through the Holiday of Thanksgiving we are reminded to give thanks, and to give.

Early this month, on November 1st, the ICN “Inter Community Novitiate” gathered to celebrate “All Saints’ Day” in honor of all the saints, known and unknown. Ten days later, at the CDN, we celebrated the birthday of Sister Cathy, one of the co-directors. She shared with us that, at every celebration for each decade of her life, she took a moment to reflect on all the graces that she had received in the last decade.





Through our classes at Aquinas, the ICN, our panel discussions, and other social gatherings, I have been building intimacy in my relationship with God, and through encounters with others. These gatherings have allowed me to share special moments such as stories, meals or just having deep conversations. In our discussions, we always experience laughter, warmth and love.






Now, I pause for a few moments to take time to pray, reflect on my life and give thanks. I give thanks for the graces of God, for the gifts of my family, for the friends and for my loved ones.  Especially, I give thanks for my co-directors and co-novice at the CDN, the novices and novice directors at the ICN, and for those who have been a part of my life, sharing their faith and lives with me during this novitiate year. I am thankful to God and to all who have prayed and supported us these past months in various ways. 


In the spirit of Thanksgiving, please receive from the community at the CDN our gratitude and warmest wishes for a peaceful day. We hope that you have a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving.


























































































































































































































































































Sunday, November 4, 2018

OUR HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN


                                                              
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hat made special our Halloween celebration was the carving and exchange of pumpkins among our intercommunity novitiate congregations. We carved our pumpkins and exchanged them.  The pumpkin we received as a community was carved by the Daughters of Charity.  For me, its meaning and the way it appears, reminds me of the meaning of the life of Jesus given to us through love, and which we share with our beloved departed. 

The bright light which we see through the pumpkin is itself a symbol of resurrection.






May we always see life, love, light and hope in our Halloween,
All Saints, and
All Souls Celebrations.

Monday, October 22, 2018

To Be A Novice

All of the novices in the Inter Community Novitiate (ICN) recently came together to participate in the planning and preparation for a mass celebrated during one of our meetings. The entire process was mainly devoted to celebrating our cultural diversity, and we had an explosion of willingness to share and to learn from each other, especially as we discerned how to pray within our preferred worshiping styles. I must admit that we even surprised ourselves with how well we came together since most of the preparation was done separately then brought together in a single hour, which certainly required trust among all of us. We brought items (cloths, statues, flags, etc.) that represented our culture, using it to create the environment in front of the altar. We sang the Gloria in Bemba, the language of indigenous people of Zambia. We represented seven different languages (English, Spanish, Vietnamese, French, Tonga, Mandarin, and Tagalog) in the readings and intercessions. We celebrated through dance during the offertory with a song in Swahili. We did all this in a spirit of prayer, of ministry, and of joy. It truly was an intercultural image of being Church – in fact, it was our own way of being a witness to the mission of God.


Every time we gather for the ICN, we take part in a shared path of formation through a spirit of community and of study. We share our charism as the novices from each congregation in the ICN are given an opportunity to present their congregational history and mission. We share at table with good food, good company, fun conversations, and much laughter. We share our stories and experiences as we engage in discussion on the topics of personal and communal discernment, Enneagram types, transition and the movement to our true self, communication skills in community and in our congregational charism, communal theological reflection in a parabolic mode (using the lens of the parables), and the journey to interculturality for Jesus, for us, and for our congregations. Each topic has challenged us and encouraged us as we walk this sacred journey to personal and communal growth. Yes, our ICN days are quite full, and there are more topics to come that will continue to challenge us (and hopefully encourage us) to go even deeper into awareness, freedom, and growth.


I am blessed to belong to this company of novices. We are novices still discovering our identities in religious life and in our own congregations – still discovering how to live our call to religious life and how to do so through our congregational charism and mission. With so much work ahead of us, at least we have discovered each other as companions on this formation journey. We have discovered the blessing of cultural diversity, the value of collaboration, and the support of friendship in the family of religious women and men.
Until next time, please pray for us and all novices around the world. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

MEET THE YOUNG PREACHERS!


We are very privileged to be reflecting about our call to preach as Dominicans and most importantly as baptized Christians. 

At the beginning of our Preaching class at Aquinas, we were given an assignment to write a paragraph and share with others about our preaching vocation. I believe, that as a baptized person, I am called to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to others. This is a call from Jesus himself when he says in the scriptures, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20). 

While reflecting on this call, I have come to realize that my missionary and preaching vocation are intertwined. One of my classmates shared this: “I see myself as one who has known God in Jesus Christ and has been transformed by his love, and who seeks to help others to encounter God in a similar way that they may be converted even as I am being converted. I find that the Dominican motto, ‘To contemplate and to share with others the fruits of contemplation’ constantly explains and enriches this identity for me.”

We are constantly reminded by Fr. Gregory Heille, OP, about how we, as preachers, are growing as good proclaimers of the Word in our communities and how we are proclaiming the scriptures in ways which communicate the Word of God meaningfully to the listeners. We are learning that one of the most important approaches to proclaiming the Word effectively is pausing and phrasing at the natural and logical places.  There is a meaning which is conveyed while pausing. For instance, are we aware that these two sentences below (Luke 23:23) have completely two different meanings which can raise some theological concerns?

Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."

Jesus answered him, "Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise."

If the reader uses the comma as the place for pausing, we will discover that the sentence has two different meanings. Hence, as proclaimers of the Word, we have to bear in mind that we are mediators of meaning to the listeners. We can’t go without mentioning other elements like voicing and clarity of diction from the reader. They also carry a lot of meanings.
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All in all, as young preachers, we are still struggling in our preparations for preaching especially when it comes to considering this puzzle: ‘’WHAT, SO WHAT, AND NOW WHAT?’’  We are convinced that, as we are being trained as preachers of the Word, we are also being trained to preach with our daily actions.


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Growing Together in the Dominican Family

As part of the novitiate experience, novices visit Dominican Congregations in the United States to learn more about the communities.

Last week, we went to visit the Dominican Sisters of Springfield Illinois at their Motherhouse. We also had a day of reflection with Sister Sharon  Zayac who taught us about the Universe story. The Sisters embraced us with open arms and made us feel like family. I was so moved when I heard the Sisters tell us, “You are our novices, you are all welcome to visit us anytime here.” The Sisters invited us to pray, have meals with them, and gave us a tour of their house. I felt very close and connected. I came to understand more about the relationship with our other Dominican Congregations as a family, and how we support each other, especially the novices at the CDN.


I am so grateful to receive the love from the Springfield Sisters, and this reminds me how I want to live in the CDN as a family during my novitiate year. It also reminds me of the image I saw at Jubilee Farm with big trees providing shade for plants and flowers, and the flowers and plants needing shade to grow. All the big trees, plants, wild flowers, and native flowers are growing together to make the field beautiful.

Two months ago, each Novice took the soil from the ground of her Motherhouse and planted the three different plants into one large planter as a living symbol of this new beginning for our CDN community. Now the plants are in the same soil, receive the same water, lean in the same way toward the same sun.
Look at the planter today. Although they are different, they still grow, and survive! Our lives as novices in the CDN are like the plants in the planter in the way we lean together to walk in the path of becoming a Dominican.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers. I am deeply grateful for your prayers and support; we hold you in our hearts and prayers. 


Healing the Whole


“Let us be united,
Let us speak in harmony;
Let our minds apprehend alike.
Common be our prayer;
Common be the end of our assembly;
Common be our resolution;
Common be our deliberations.
Alike be our feelings,
Unified be our hearts;
Common be our intentions;
Perfect be our unity”

            From The Rig Veda, Earth prayers from around the World.