Monday, August 27, 2012

Introducing the 2012-13 Dominican Novices

Adela-Iuliana Langa
Dominican Sisters of Adrian, MI

Place of Birth: Romania
Education: Bachelor of Arts in French and English; Master of Arts in English
Previous Ministry: Working with women coming out of prison

After meeting one of our sisters on a Megabus ride, I continued visiting Adrian for a couple of years before I decided to explore religious life. At first I was intrigued by how much I had in common with these women, especially in their commitment to social justice and prayerful living. But as an immigrant it was not easy to enter the process of discernment. While I had been in the U.S. for several years and had started to feel at home, the call to religious life was another invitation to leave the familiar and trust that the journey would bring me to a life-giving place. I now think of discernment itself as a source of nourishment, one that continues to enrich my life and draws me deeper in my commitment to follow Jesus Christ.  My hope for the year is that we will grow roots in God and stay open to that which unfolds as our calling.

Alexa Chipman
Dominican Sisters of San Rafael

Place of Birth: California
Education: Bachelor of Fine Art
Previous Ministry: Web Editor at San Domenico School

While there were many factors that led me to consider religious life, what actively started my research into practically pursuing it came through reading a history book by W.H. Lewis (C.S. Lewis’ brother). As a side note while discussing education, he mentioned a convent of nuns that had a belief which clashed with the prevailing theology of the king of France. Together their voice was so powerful that he felt threatened enough to send the army in to disband the convent at arrow point. The only way the king could silence the women was to separate them, and that impressed me—I remember crying out, “Oh! If only we had that today!” It did not take long before I realized we do still have that in the religious women of modern times. I began several years of researching different ways of living in community and after talking with nuns and sisters from all over the world I realized the cloister was not a good fit for me. I wanted to find women who were compassionate yet strong and willing to stand up for the truth while being open to preaching in keeping with our era. I found them in the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael.

Jennifer (Jenn) Schaaf
Sisters of St. Dominic, Blauvelt, NY

Place of Birth: Washington State
Education: Bachelor of Music Education;
Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry
Previous Ministry: Director of Communications,
Sisters of St. Dominic, Blauvelt, NY

I first encountered the Dominicans at the University of Portland. My undergraduate dean and two of my graduate professors were Dominican Sisters—all from different Congregations in the East. At the time, religious life wasn’t something I was considering.  I was focused on teaching and school work, singing in my church choir, shopping and spending time with friends. The closest I had come to religious life was singing songs from the soundtrack of The Sound of Music with my roommates. Who didn’t want to be Fraulein Maria? However, what I saw in the women at the University of Portland resonated with my own life. These were bright women, fully engaged in Church life, but not afraid to question the Church either. They were passionate about bringing about peace and justice in a way that was both gentle and strong. In doing volunteer work with Dominicans in Chicago, then working in Campus Ministry at Ohio Dominican, I continued to find the same qualities in other Dominican women from across the country. I am grateful for finding a home among the Dominican Sisters in Blauvelt and look forward to continuing the Dominican journey with my sisters.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A New Year, A New Group of Novices

Dear Friends, 

We will soon be giving you a longer introduction to ourselves, but wanted to give an account of our initial time together at the Novitiate. 

On August 16th, we arrived with our Congregational Formation Representative (CFRs) to the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN). We were greeted by the Directors, Joye Gros (Peace) and Megan McElroy (Grand Rapids). As a community, we will be living together for ten months. We are settled into our rooms and have, for the most part, unpacked our bags, boxes and books for the year. 

The past few days have been a time of getting to know the other novices, our Directors and the CFRs from the other Congregations. We have had time to meet with the Directors, learn more about the expectations of the year, formulate our goals and see some of the neighborhood. We were treated to a meal with home-grown ingredients brought in from San Rafael and a fruit crisp courtesy of Sparkill. We have experienced praying morning prayer from Dominican Praise and contemplative “Visio Divina” for evening prayer. 

During our last morning with the CFRs, we took part in a ritual of transfer. Each novice brought soil from her home Motherhouse, which was ritually mingled together in a flowerpot. The novices then planted a seedling, which was watered by the CFRs, symbolizing their care and nourishment in our growth. Then, the CFRs individually blessed the novices and handed them over to the care of the Directors. Bricks were placed in the chapel with the names of each of our home Congregations. It was a touching send-off, knowing that we are starting a new community here, but with the prayer and support of the many Sisters in our home Congregations. 

...and Watering
Transfer to the Directors
Following the departure of our CFRs, we continued with more orientation which included everything from where the extra paper towels are kept to rules about technology and suggestions of spiritual directors. This is a year of building community and growing in contemplation, while studying more about vowed life. However, it won’t be without fun - which we had a chance to experience at the Festival of the Little Hills in historic St. Charles, MO, as we enjoyed a street art fair and dinner out together. 

We want you to know that we all appreciate your prayers and will be praying for you during this year.

From Left to Right:  Adela, Renee, Alexa, Jenn

With Love,

Your Dominican Novices:  Adela Langa (Adrian), Jenn Schaaf (Blauvelt), Alexa Chipman (San Rafael)