Sunday, April 15, 2018

Dominican family visiting – Spring Break and Holy Week travels

              Easter greetings from the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate!  The month of March found Gina and me in true Dominican itinerancy mode as we hit the road for Spring Break and then again for Triduum.  While some past novices have done a whirlwind East Coast tour of motherhouses during spring break, we decided this was a bit too ambitious for us – which turned out to be a good choice as the Northeast got hit by a big snowstorm that week!   Gina and I spent ten days with the Springfield Dominican Sisters, sharing prayer, meals and fun as well as doing service during the week.  Both Gina and I met Springfield sisters who knew sisters from our respective congregations (Caldwell and Sinsinawa).  Another highlight of the week was spending time with the Dominican nuns in Springfield.  Their postulant Emily and I realized we had met two years before at a “Dubuque’s Got Sisters” weekend – we were delighted to be reunited and find that our respective discernment journeys had brought us both into the Dominican family!  The sisters and nuns were all very gracious and hospitable.  
An embrace from Sister Pauletta (Springfield) in Regina Coeli.

                Gina served in campus ministry at Sacred Heart Griffin high school, getting to know the school staff and assisting with special events like a Lenten Stations of the Cross prayer service and a special Mass.  Sacred Heart Griffin students also joined us at the motherhouse for vespers, dinner and games Thursday of that week – there was lots of laughter in the dining room as groups of sisters and students played Pictionary and MadGab.  
Stations of the Cross at Sacred Heart Griffin High School

                I served at Jubilee Farm Center For Ecology and Spirituality, pruning wisteria, planting seeds, and spring cleaning in the greenhouse.  Since the CDN house is located in St Louis’ busy, urban Central West End, I very much enjoyed being out in a beautiful rural spot.  I also enjoyed doing physical work and getting my hands dirty since I spend much of my time in chapels and libraries! The marigolds I planted on Monday morning had sprouted by Thursday morning – a delightful sign of spring and new life.
The beginning of a marigold in the Jubilee Farm greenhouse!

                The Wednesday of Holy Week we traveled eight hours from St Louis to Grand Rapids motherhouse in Michigan to join the community there for the Triduum liturgies.  As in Springfield, the sisters in Grand Rapids were warm and welcoming and very glad to have us with them.  We had heard from many others that Triduum at Grand Rapids was beautiful and we certainly found that to be the case. We also each enjoyed some quiet and contemplative time during the holiest days of the year of moving through the Paschal mystery - a much-appreciated break in our usual busy schedule of classes, chores, homework, and meetings.
Washing the feet of my co-novice Gina on Holy Thursday

While the weather was good when we departed Grand Rapids after Easter dinner, an “April Fool” snowstorm in central Illinois slowed down our return trip.  Thankfully, the Springfield sisters were willing to offer last-minute overnight hospitality for the four of us - two weeks after Gina and I had departed from our Spring Break stay! 
                Our recent travels served as a reminder that - though we are Caldwell and Sinsinawa novices respectively – we are truly everyone’s novices and warmly embraced by our larger family of Dominican sisters with whom we share life and mission.