Saturday, September 16, 2017

Beginnings - by Gina Scaringella

A month has passed since Rhonda and I arrived at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN), and what a full month it has been! In August, we traveled to Ruma, Illinois, to see the eclipse. Next, we were off to Kentucky to see the “Holy Land,” where so much history of US women’s religious life resides. And we have just returned from Springfield, where we visited the Motherhouse, the Lincoln Museum and Library, and Jubilee Farm. We welcomed a panel of guests to dialogue with us about prayer, heard more about prayer from Fr. Don Goergen, OP, and even talked about prayer earlier this week during a house meeting. Yes, prayer, one of the four pillars of Dominican life, is essential enough to warrant discussion at a house meeting that also featured such practical topics as the calendar for the next two months and which sisters have an AAA membership! It can be tempting for busy novices like Rhonda and me to put personal prayer on the back burner when homework, classes, house chores, ministry, communal meals, communal prayer, travel, house meetings, and other commitments fill our days. But for us at the CDN, as for all who hope to live and preach the Gospel, personal prayer is indispensable. Time and again, we are called to know (and to live!) this truth. A primary purpose of this year is to grow in our lives of prayer, so that prayer will become the bedrock of the rest of our lives.

Rhonda and I have both begun our ministries—she as a teaching assistant at Marian Middle School, and I as an English-language tutor for a young immigrant woman. We've begun classes at Aquinas Institute. Both our Vowed Life class and Foundations of Preaching class have inspired dinner-table conversation and reflection on life, relationships, and ministry.
We've met our novice peers and their directors at the Inter-Community Novitiate (ICN), a carefully designed collaboration of various orders and congregations who come together weekly to share the formation journey. We’ve heard that ICN has been a highlight for previous novices, and we look forward to walking the path of discernment with this new community.

This blog entry, which lists only some of our many activities, demonstrates the fullness of our days. But our days are not the only things that are full! Our mailboxes (literal and electronic) are full, thanks to our sisters at home as well as family and friends. Because of your faithfulness, our hearts are full, too. We thank you, we hold you in prayer, and we send our love!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Received and Sent!

              Sister Gina and I were “received” as novices in our respective Dominican home congregations last week before the Feast of St Dominic.  At the Caldwell motherhouse, Gina preached on John’s account of Jesus post-Resurrection appearance to Mary Magdalen, then affirmed her desire to continue the journey of discernment with that community.  At evening prayer at the Sinsinawa Mound, I requested the opportunity to explore the questions: “Is the truth of my life the Dominican story?  Is vowed life as a Sinsinawa Dominican Sister the truest expression of God’s call?”  
  In being received as novices, Gina and I officially became “sisters” (though we admit we are still not accustomed to answering to “Sister” yet!) amid many hugs and more than a few tears and an outpouring of loving support.  Thus began Gina’s and my “canonical novitiate” – a period described in the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate Handbook as an “experience of Dominican community life, prayer, study, ministry, exposure to and practice of the charism of preaching and personal growth. 
The Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) was birthed by Sisters from many Dominican congregations around the United States who sought to give their newer members a richer formation experience and connection to the larger Dominican family.  Gina and I are the most recent in a long line of Dominican novices from various congregations over three decades who have spent this year in St Louis to live in community with other novices and with novice directors at the CDN.  At the CDN, novices dive head first into Dominican life, participate in an inter-community novitiate with women and men novices from different communities, study at the Aquinas Institute, deepen our lives of prayer, and intensively discern God’s call. 
After being received as novices, last Friday, we were “sent” to the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate – Gina via an early-morning flight from Newark, and me along the highways of Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri – fueled by the prayers and blessings our sisters had offered us and accompanied by our respective candidate directors.  We were sent from our home congregations with full suitcases and full hearts – bringing with us both practical items like clothing and school supplies, as well as tender memories of sisters, friends, family, and colleagues that we have left behind in order to whole-heartedly begin this new chapter of life at the CDN. 
Though this is our first time in our Dominican lives of being “sent” by our communities, God willing, it will not be our last.  Itinerancy is a hallmark of Dominican apostolic life – reflecting the desire to respond to the demands of the gospel and the signs of the times.  The word “sent” appears in the Sinsinawa Dominican Constitutions eleven times.  The Constitutions challenge us “to be ready to be called and sent in the spirit of Father Samuel,” the founder of the Sinsinawa Dominican congregation.  As Gina and I are discovering, this willingness to be “sent” requires a deep trust in God and a detachment from all that is beloved and familiar in order to step into a new place and a new moment.   
Our home-making in this new place has meant many things.  Along with our novice directors Sister Joye Gros (Dominican Sisters of Peace) and Megan McElroy (Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters), we have begun to develop a daily rhythm of shared prayer.  We’ve shared our respective vocation stories and the surprising and beautiful ways that God has brought each of us to where we currently are.  Of course, we have attended to (and will continue to attend to) the many logistics of common life like the nitty gritty of how to share cars, distribute house responsibilities, and care for this beautiful (yet large and old!) house that we share.  We’ve unpacked our boxes and suitcases and begun to hang photos on the bedroom walls.  Perhaps most importantly, we have shared our hopes and dreams with one another about this community that we are building, knowing that community life itself is a part of Dominican mission and a witness to a largely individualistic society and a fractured world. 
Received with love and joy by our congregations and sent to the CDN to deepen our discernment journey, we are excited and hopeful (and, okay, maybe a little bit overwhelmed, if we are being totally honest!).  To our sisters, friends, family, and colleagues who have been a part of our sending – please know we carry you in our hearts.  To the congregations that created and sustain the CDN – please know of our gratitude for your courage and vision in creating this home.  We invite all of you to join us here on CDN blog as we share weekly some of our adventures in discerning vowed life as Dominican sisters. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Thank You For Your Gift

This is it! 

The last blog of the CDN Class of 2016-2017. As we reflect on the challenges, joys, blessings and many life changing experiences, we are reminded that above all these past 10 months were a HUGE gift. We were granted the gift of encounter, meeting friendships that will last a life time, mentors that provided revolutionary insight and so much more! 

Our CDN year was a giant gift. "Thank You For Your Gift."

We take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for your prayers, support and for the amazing role you, our dear readers and friends, have played in our Novitiate Adventure. 

 As I come to the end of my time at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate, I am aware to the many people who have made this year grace-filled for me. I have so much to be grateful for! I am grateful for the gift of the CDN community, with whom I have shared many deep conversations and many laughs. I am grateful for the Inter Community Novitiate, who has given me so much hope for religious life as we move forward. I am grateful for the many sisters and friends back in Adrian who have sent me so many prayers and much love throughout the year. I am grateful for my parents, sister and brother-in-law who have been unfailing supports for me. I am grateful for the residents of Mary Ryder Home, where I had my ministry this year, for their hospitality and all they have taught me. I am grateful for the faculty and staff at Aquinas Institute, especially Sr. Regina Siegfried, ASC and Ann Garrido for teaching me so much this year, and for my fellow students who accompanied and taught me in the classroom and out of it. I am grateful for the many members of the Dominican family I have encountered this year, whether sisters, friars, nuns, laity and associates. I am grateful for the two fearless leaders of the CDN- Sr. Joye Gros, OP and Sr. Megan McElroy, OP. Finally, but not least, I am grateful for everyone who has read this blog throughout this year. I am infinitely grateful for your prayers and support.

- Sr. Katherine Frazier, Adrian Dominican Sisters

As this canonical novitiate year concludes, I would like to thank all of the Sisters and Associates who have sent me well wishes, cards and for your prayers. Your thoughtfulness and support means a lot to me. I look forward for the next step of my journey into Dominican life with all of you. Please continue to keep me in your prayers and I will keep you in mine.

- Sr. Margaret Uche, Dominican Sisters of Peace

It is hard to believe that our time in St. Louis and at the Collaborate Dominican Novitiate is coming to an end. At our last prayer together, we were asked to share our biggest treasure attained during the year, and as I began to think I could not narrow it down to one. There are many people from our Dominican Family, ministry, ICN, The Aquinas Institute of Theology and the St. Louis Community that will always be treasured in my heart. These individuals embodied and demonstrated God's abundant love, challenged me to grow and empowered the continuation of my discernment to religious life. I must also give a shout out to our Novice Directors, Sr. Joye Gros, O.P. and Sr. Megan McElroy, O.P. for their companionship and powerful mentoring during my life changing year. Looking back to August of 2016, I find it hard to believe the radical changes that I experienced during my time at the CDN. I walk away a different person, with gained insight and continuing my desire to keep growing in God. I conclude by also thanking you, our readers, family, friends and prayer companions for your support. Receive my sincerest gratitude.

-Sr. Ana González, Dominican Sisters of Peace

A delightful tradition of the CDN is to welcome for an orientation the future novices. In the tradition of our predecessors, we had the honor to extend a sisterly welcome to Gina Scaringella (Caldwell Dominican Sisters) and Rhonda Miska (Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa). We enjoyed our time together and will keep Gina and Rhonda in our prayers as they enter the journey of the Canonical Novitiate Year, the CDN experience and the many adventures to come!

In Conclusion....

We leave the CDN and this blog with hearts glowing and our beings eternally grateful.

Thank You and God Bless!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Spread the Message

Blog by Margaret Uche

 We novices just finished armchair lands of Dominic pilgrimage presented by Brian Pierce, OP and Ann Willits, OP. We were joined by Sr. Pelagia from Zimbabwe and novices from the Central and Southern Provinces and their formators. We spent five days learning about the life of Dominic and his preaching days. We learned about Dominic’s trust in the Divine Providence of God through the intercession of Mary, Mother of God.

I learned that Dominic after praying for a sign from Mother of God, saw on the night of July 22, 1206, on the hill of Fanjeaux, overlooking the town of Prouille, what appeared to be a globe of fire descending upon a shrine of Our Lady. It is called the Sign from Our Lady (or Sign of God), “Seignadou” occurred again the next two nights. Dominic understood that he was to establish a monastery of nuns at Prouille. Many heretics were converted including the women who entered the convent.

In another account, Dominic in one of his visions was taken into heaven to the throne of God with the Blessed Virgin at his right. Looking around he saw other Orders but none of his brethren, but God assured him that his Order has been entrusted to His Mother. Mary then opened her arms and to Dominic’s relief, there was Dominicans under her cloak.
I am reminded that the vision of Dominic continues with me. As a novice of the Dominicans to place the same trust in God through Mary, Our Mother with the same love and reverence for her. I was also reminded in my own journey that God has chosen me by name, I am called to follow the vision, carry the torch, the way may be long, dark, unsure, yet as Dominic, I am made strong because God’s Spirit is guiding me and God’s gifts will unfold me under Our Mother Mary’s mantle. That it was through God’s grace and the intercession Mother Mary the answers to prayers of so many people has strengthened me during this canonical year. I am very grateful for those who prayed for me as this canonical year comes to an end.
May we continue to shine that torch started by Dominic which he carried by the way he lived his life and bore witness and pass it onto others.

The month of May has been called the month of Mary by the Church.
This month we also celebrate 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima.
The message of Fatima is a message that is important for me and you today as well.
Our Lord promises to be with us till the end of the world. He continues to work through His mother Mary. She has appeared in so many countries with the message of peace, hope, and love. Her requests for us to pray the Rosary daily for peace, for conversion of hearts, and make reparation for offenses against Jesus and Mary still is needed for us today.
On May 13, 2017, Catholics all over the world stood on streets to pray public square Rosary in honor of Our Lady of Fatima and continue to spread the message that it is only through prayer and intercession of Mary could we bring peace and healing into the world. I was unable to join the rally but I can help spread the message by praying those intentions. We can see that we still live in troubled time, on the positive side, we can pray that through Our Blessed Mother, Mary’s guidance and constant intercession our needs are being made known in many ways in our prayers. She is our refuge, our comfort in the midst of life’s struggles. Please join me in praying for some of the intentions in honor of Our Blessed Mother, Mary as we celebrate this first centennial.
I pray for the end of wars in war torn countries and that they may know peace, I pray that Our lady will touch the hearts of those who cause violent acts and that they be converted, may she continues to protect the Church, the mystical body of her son and grant her many graces. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us who have recourse to thee!