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.   


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Life Through A Camera _ September 2018

We are definitely creating memories together whether on the road or at home. Here's a glimpse of how we continue to build our community life!

Traveling to Kentucky


We were welcomed to St. Catharine Motherhouse by our Sisters of Peace.
We explored their farm and took home enough beef to last us the whole year.


 What else did we do? 
Walked through the Shaker Village (they didn't smile in pictures)
Prayed with the monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani and visited Thomas Merton's grave
Learned Dominican history at St. Rose Priory Church


Having Too Much Fun


Crokinole = a Canadian board game
By the end of the year, we may be good enough to compete in a professional tournament.


Balloon Glow = grounded hot air balloons + night time + all lit up at the same time

St. Louis Cardinals versus L.A. Dodgers
There was one among us who couldn't wear red because she is from California... (Dodgers won!)


Inter Community Novitiate


We really wanted to take a group picture so we took one as it was beginning to rain. 
We seem to like each other.


We are novices from: 
Adorers of the Blood of Christ
Collaborative Dominican Novitiate
Congregation of Mary, Queen of the World
Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul
Oblates of Mary Immaculate
Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Houston
Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio
Sisters of Mercy
Sisters of Providence


Until next time...
remember us in your prayer
as we remember to take pictures to share.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Becoming A Dominican & Becoming Dominican


During my time in campus ministry with the Newman Center at UC San Diego, Fr. John Paul Forté, OP, planted a mustard seed that took root in my heart with a single comment, “You would make a great Dominican.” To be honest, I had no idea what that meant at the time and was close to dismissing it altogether, but I was curious about what he saw in me to make such a comment. As I witnessed the Dominican Friars living and serving together, I gradually surrendered to the clarity of a deep desire and calling to a life of study, community, prayer, and ministry. Through this clarity, I began to see in myself what Fr. John Paul had seen first, and it was a profound presence of God’s love that compelled me to contemplative action in pursuit of truth. Years later when I entered the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose as a candidate, I had begun my first official step to becoming a Dominican. I still had no idea what that meant, at least not completely, but with the start of formation, I learned that I was not alone in this life-long discovery.
We are women of the Word, uniquely individual,
who choose to walk together, consciously growing from I to We to One.
~ from the 25th General Chapter Direction Statement, Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose
When I entered the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, my congregation changed as I changed through transition and formation. When I became a Dominican novice, the Dominican family changed as I changed through growth into the charism. In fact, religious life changes as each individual is called into it. This mutual change is as true for me and for future generations as it was true for Saint Dominic and for those who have gone before us. I began my candidacy with a call to become a Dominican, and I continued to the novitiate with a hope to become Dominican. As my formation prepares me to make vows, I am growing deeper into the understanding of how I belong to my congregation, to the Dominican family, and to the world as a religious sister. 
I shared a moment with Sr. Rolande after we preached our first homily that we prepared for our Preaching class at Aquinas with Fr. Greg Heille, OP. She asked me, “So we are preachers now?” To this, I responded, “Yes, but when will we learn to be missionaries?” We both laughed, and it was in our laughter that we acknowledged a thirst to learn about how each of us live out the spirit of Saint Dominic. Even in our Vowed Life class with Sr. Juliet Mousseau, RSCJ, we are exploring the various ways in which different religious congregations emerged and lived out their vows – how the vows were lived out in the past, how they are lived out now, and how they may be lived out in the future as new understandings and needs arise. What a privilege it has been to be immersed in a collaborative experience that allows us to share our charism among and beyond our community and that connects us to all congregations through a collective mission to serve God and to meet the needs of the world. The future of religious life is collaboration. I may not have a complete idea of what that means, but at this moment, I have a glimpse of what that may look like. I truly believe that the vision of collaboration starts now, with a pursuit to strengthen relationships with my sisters and brothers in the Dominican family as well as to establish relationships with my sisters and brothers in the whole of religious life. This is no easy task and requires the transforming presence of each and every one of us – as a preacher, a missionary, or any other facet of Saint Dominic’s spirit that abides in us.
As a young woman pursuing religious life, I have been asked many times how I feel about all the changes and uncertainties of the future not only for my congregation but also for all religious congregations. My response is one of gratitude and of hope. I am grateful for our pioneer sisters, our foundresses, and our sisters before us who, in their own time, in their own way, and in their own part of the world, have laid the foundation to continue the spirit of Saint Dominic during periods of great change and uncertainty. I am hopeful that, by their example and by the grace of God, I too can contribute to the growth of this same spirit. I was not the first to face these changes and uncertainties in religious life, and I will not be the last.
Until next time, we continue to pray for each other so that we may find or create new ways of being a Dominican and of being Dominican.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Finding Joy in Our Busy Schedule

Friday is a day of reflection for our CDN community. We spend most of this day in quiet contemplation to reflect on our experiences that connect us to God and to each other. For myself, I had a chance to reflect on where I found my joy during a busy schedule at the CDN.
I am so grateful that we had the opportunity this past week to hear from two speakers. Sister Maria Hughes, ASC, presented to the Inter-Community Novitiate (ICN) about “Living in a Discerning Way,” and Sister Juliet Mousseau, RSCJ, spoke about “Finding Joy in a Fearful World.” One of the topics from Sister Maria’s talk was about being “Mind Full” versus “Mindful.” She explained to us the concept of having a mind that is full and how we are challenged to be mindful when our minds are full. The same concept was brought up during Sister Juliet’s talk when she introduced a few ways to live a joyful life. With those thoughts in mind, I came to ask myself, “How can I find the presence of God even during a busy day?”
I have heard from previous novices who shared with me that, although the novitiate year at the CDN is challenging, it is a wonderful year! A month has passed since I have been here. We have had a full month of activities including taking classes, doing house chores, meeting our novice peers at the ICN, joining the Dominican Friars for mass and prayers at the Priory, and traveling to Kentucky.


During our busy days, we find time to share and hear about each other’s culture, especially during our meals or free time. My fellow novices brought their instruments to the CDN. Sr. Rolande taught us to sing the “Our Father” while she played the drums and Sr. Kieu played the guitar. We are not only sharing prayers, study, and community life at the CDN but also expanding our community relationship with the student brothers when we meet them at the Priory or at Aquinas. I am so grateful to meet the Dominican Friars with whom we can share the same charism in the Dominican Family. I am also grateful to be walking the same path with a multi-cultural group of novices in the ICN who bring and share the experiences of their own formation journey. There is a total of 20 novices (and 13 directors) from different religious congregations participating in the ICN, who come from the US, Canada, Vietnam, Congo, Zambia, Kenya, Philippines, Mexico, and Honduras.
Just last week, we had the opportunity to go on a long-distance trip to visit St. Catharine Motherhouse in Kentucky. We felt so welcomed by the Sisters of Peace, and we were touched when we heard them say, “We are so glad that you all are here with us this weekend.” There, we learned the history of St. Catharine Convent and St. Rose Priory, where the Dominicans first arrived in the US. We were especially happy to meet the discernment group who were at St. Catharine for a retreat that same weekend. We had opportunities to talk and play games with the discerners, and it was a joy to meet women who have started looking for God’s voice in their lives.
Finally, I am thankful for God’s grace through your support and prayers and for those who are journeying with us as a community to help us to find the presence of God within us.
Please keep us in your prayers as we open our hearts to discern God’s call with joy.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

EVERY DAY IS A NEW BEGINNING


A Swahili proverb says Nyota nzuri huonekana asubuhi, which means a good day is visible in the morning. We have come together as Dominican novices and are happy to bring with us our lives, experiences, richness, talents and vulnerability. This was symbolized by our profound opening ritual. We had our soil from our mother houses, we put it in one common pot, and we planted some flowers in that pot. Could we all reflect and consider the meaning and the value of soil in our cultures? We will obviously discover that soil and people are bound to each other in many ways. We brought that richness of our individual soil, combining it to form a richer soil for our roots to grow together.




Standing on this rich soil, we are the young plants in that pot, and we need to be watered regularly. The Congregational Formation Representatives (CFR) embodied our congregations in that ritual. We are very much aware that our whole Dominican family is watering these plants to keep them alive. We are very thankful for your support, especially all the congregations participating in the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate: Adrian, Amityville, Blauvelt, Caldwell, Grand Rapids, Hope, Houston, Mission San Jose, Maryknoll, Oakford, Peace, Racine, San Rafael, Sinsinawa, Sparkill, Springfield, and Tacoma.

As you might have seen in our pictures, after one month, our life together has settled into a very nice rhythm: classes at Aquinas, Inter-Congregational Novitiate, Reflection every Friday, touching base with our directors every Thursday, visiting ministry sites, taking turns with cooking and leading prayer, and time for fun too!!! We have visited the famous Gateway Arch and went up and down. We went to the Botanical Gardens and have attended two Festivals so far. Not to forget our long trip to Kentucky where we met with our Sisters of Peace, and we were very grateful for their warm welcome. Never miss a visit to the Shaker Village while in Kentucky! There, you will have an opportunity of shaking your body while singing in a Shaker style!!

Until next week, please remember to pray for us as we keep you in our hearts always.


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Life Through a Camera _ August 2018

Transition is hard, but the camera can still capture our smiles. After the first three weeks, our life together is beginning to settle into a rhythm that is less overwhelming than when we first began. Here's a glimpse into the highlights of our journey so far!

Gathering Together


We come together as individuals from different congregations in the CDN. 
We are welcomed as novices for all congregations in the CDN. 

 

Planting a New Community


Three novices with soil from their own motherhouses. 
Three different plants. 
One planter box. 
Water.  
Even in this heat, they are still alive.


Exploring St. Louis 


Things you must do when in St. Louis: 
Visit the Gateway Arch
Go to the Botanical Gardens
Attend the Festivals (not all of them... there's way too many)
 

Preparing for Study at Aquinas


There are many events at Aquinas Institute of Theology. 
Before classes began, there was orientation.
Before orientation, there was Dominican Day led by Sr. Ann Willits, OP, of Sinsinawa. 
We are meeting so many sisters and brothers from the Dominican Family.



Until next time...
please remember to pray for us
as we will remember to take pictures.