As my housemates have previously so eloquently pointed out, a big part of this novitiate year has to do with building community. This isn’t a game played with Legos or Erector Sets. No, this is serious stuff, which at times requires first some individual deconstruction … of past behaviors, of ego, of the false self - things that prevent me from being and becoming the person God intends me to be. As we each are being formed into the fullness of our own being, we are also building our parochial community. We get to know each other. We help each other grow. We become family – not just in a local sense but also within the broader Dominican perspective. In the “rebuilding” of our house, we’ve had to alter the architectural floor plan; we’ve had to expand our living room, add sofas and easy chairs. Let me explain:
When I came to the CDN on August 15, 2013, I really only knew my Dominican Sisters and Brothers of Sinsinawa. I was so proud to have been in the delightful presence of Sr. Mary Ellen O’Grady, who spoke to us so passionately about the importance of collaboration. I was so proud to have been part of the trip to Dominican University in River Forest, IL where Sr. Janet Welsh graced us with extraordinary hospitality and impeccable knowledge of the history of Dominicans in the United States. I was so proud for my fellow novices to get the chance to meet Megan Graves, one of our Associates and a senior at DU.
Others, like Honora Werner, Jim Barnett, Don Goergen, Maria Beesing, Joan Delaplane, David Wright, Ilia Delio, (among many others,) were for me simply the names of Dominican legends residing only in my mind and in books. (I know … Ilia Delio is Franciscan ... but that’s like a kissin’ cousin!) Well, guess what? They arrived at our front door, entered, kicked off their shoes and put up their feet in our living room! They’ve become much more than legends – they’ve become my/our brothers and sisters! We are kin. And that, my friends, is pretty cool! Pure grace.
At a recent Reflection Day, we welcomed into our home and prayer space another legend and Dominican Sister extraordinaire ~ Annie Willits. She came to us in voice, humor, wisdom and spirit through her taped “Coming Home” retreat series and a segment titled, “Thank You For Seeing Me”. She was with us in a very palpable way. We really could ‘see’ her. And while she is a Dominican Sister of Sinsinawa, I have come to understand that in truth she is everyone’s sister. As am I. As are you. We are family. We are kin. Together, we continue to expand our living space; we continue to build God's house!