Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Can you feel it? Christmas is here! 

The joyful decorations are everywhere, the scents of delectable treats and meals bring a smile to many and the promise of the Incarnate Word among us is granted by the joyful season of Christmas. It is a time to Rejoice and Be Merry! 

As we celebrate Christmas,  the Dominican Novices, want to share our personal meaning of Christmas in the following section.  We also take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a joyful Christmas Season. May the peace of Christ be with you always!

 Katherine Frazier
I believe that Christmas can be summed up in the word, “Emmanuel,” that is, “God is with us.” Whenever I think about the beauty and mystery of the Incarnation, I am filled with wonder and awe that God chose to walk amongst us.  I am full of gratitude that Jesus shared life with us, his fellow humans, experiencing everything from crying and falling down and scraping his knee to  the joy of laughter an of sharing good jokes with friends.

The Incarnation reminds me that God can understand all of these human experiences—has lived through these experiences—and we can relate to one another because of what God has done.  Best of all, the Mystery of the Incarnation doesn’t end on Christmas, but is something to remember all year, that our God continues to be with us as we live our lives.

May all of you have a very merry Christmas full of many blessings!

Margaret Uche
For me Christmas means a time to prepare and celebrate the birth of Jesus. I do that through prayer and reflections, and remember our brothers and sisters all over the world in my prayers.

It is a time of doing charitable work for the poor and those in need and showing care and concerns for others. It is time of sending Christmas wishes to family, friends, and someone I have not contacted long ago.

And it is a time to spend time with family. I am happy to be spending this Christmas with our Sisters at the motherhouse and with my family and sharing that joy of Christmas.

Ana Gonzalez
I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!! This is my favorite season and it contributed to some of my happiest memories! Christmas has always been extraordinary; a season of rejoicing in community and acknowledging that that Christ is among us!

Growing up, I was always inspired by the generosity embraced as part of this season. I loved when my neighborhood and Sagrado Corazon Church communities came together to hosts Pastorelas and Posadas! Every one pitched in with the reenactment of the journey traveled by Mary and Joseph, the PiƱata and the delicious treats. (Tamales, champurrado, calientito and chocolatito!) Later at home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, my mother would make an elaborate dinner; a special feast which would be enjoyed with family - En Familia!

Christmas gives me abundant joy/comfort in knowing that the Incarnate Word is among us! This season during our liturgical calendar is extraordinary. I pray that the joy and the meaning of this season be with all of us beyond! May we remember and experience Christmas in our hearts and community always!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad a Todos!

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth

Adrian Dominican Motherhouse, Adrian, Michigan
As we approach Christmas, I have the joy of spending some time in Adrian, Michigan. The night after I arrived, a snowstorm came in, dropping around 8 inches of snow. My days since I have returned have been filled with reunions of those I haven’t seen in the last few months and meeting some of the new people around campus.

As I renew friendships and create new relationships, I have been thinking about the Visitation when Mary traveled over the hill country of Judah to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. I resonate with Mary’s decision in the days following Gabriel’s announcement to seek out the support of community. As Mary travels through the hill country, I am aware of the awe and wonder and joy of her new calling, but also of the fear and anxiety that the town of Nazareth would not believe her story or understand what she had experienced when Gabriel came to her. So, Mary set out to visit her cousin, for support and advice and also to seek reassurance that someone else she knew had been through a life-altering event in that same year.

Once Mary comes to the other end of her journey, Elizabeth is overjoyed at her arrival, and she asks, “Who am I that you should come to visit me?” Mary doesn’t respond in any expected way, but instead sings out her joyous Magnificat, “My soul cries out with the greatness of the Lord!” She sings that all that will be expected will be tossed away, and that a new order will come into being, with the lowly taking up positions of greatness, the hungry being fed, and that Israel will be shown mercy by God.
Myself and my Dominican sisters at a reception at the
Moutherhouse, Adrian, Michigan

I love that we visit people during this Christmas season, and that we reconnect with people we might not have seen for some time. I love the process of reaching out and discovering that, even if we haven’t talked in a while, we can still pick up wherever we left off. Yes, there are always uncertainties. Sometimes a Christmas card comes back and I realize I have the wrong address and no way of getting the right one. Sometimes I realize that time has changed myself and the person I am seeing again for the first time in a long time. But sometimes, something unexpected happens, something wonderful, and we can connect on a level neither have been able to do before. Sometimes, if we are very lucky, we realize that God is calling us to go out together to bring the Reign of God a little closer to fruition.

During this year of novitiate, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about transition. We transitioned on our way to the novitiate, and we’ll transition again when we leave. In between, there are many moments when we change and travel through new countryside. I find myself traveling with Mary, right now, looking forward to seeing Elizabeth and the joy of recognizing God’s work in the world in those around me. And I look forward to Christmas, and the recognition that God is with us through it all.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Relationships: the gift of the First Four Months

Blog by Margaret Uche
As this semester ends and we prepare to leave for our motherhouses for Christmas break, we have been reflecting on what we have been about since arriving at the collaborative Dominican Novitiate in mid-August.

In the past 4 months, we have undertaken several different activities where we had the opportunity to meet and experience our Dominican family life. These gatherings
have allowed us to share special moments with them such as stories, meals or just having deep conversations. In our discussions, there were always laughter, warmth and love expressed to each other.

A good part of our novitiate has been building relationships through encounters with others, through our class at Aquinas, the ICN, the Colloquium, our panel discussions, and other social gatherings.

We have also received some of our Dominican Sisters passing through St. Louis who stayed with us for short time and shared their love, wisdom and support with us.

I am very aware what a gift these 4 months have been so far and that God’s great love has been with us through it all. These experiences have helped me go deeper in my call to religious life and in building relationship with God and others.  

I am grateful to God and all who have prayed and supported us these past months.
I am looking forward to spending Christmas at our motherhouses and enjoying the warmth, welcome, hospitality, and love of our Sisters and family.

I wish everyone a blessed Advent. May we recognize the gifts that God has given us and share them with others and extend the care and concern to others that have been extended to us.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Gentle Actions: Big Imprints

Blog by Ana Gonzalez
As a hopeless idealist I can’t help it: I want Big Change RIGHT NOW!

After reading my daily news feeds, I feel saddened. My heart weights heavy in the updates about Syria, the disrespect for mother earth, undignified poverty, discrimination towards migrants, native Americans, people of color, LGBT, etc.  Some days, I wish I had a magic wand that with a tap would turn hate into compassion; create a desire for a curious understanding.  My idealist magic wand would heal pain, bring peace, end injustice, and fill all with joy.  Let’s not forget, HUGS FOR EVERYONE!  Then reality hits me. I don’t have an idealist magic wand.  I am only one of 7 billion human beings living on Earth.  Reality reminds me that BIG CHANGE is too overwhelmingly colossal for me to embrace. 
Guests to exhibit and artists Sr. Elizabeth Slenker, OP
(Bottom row, third from the right)

While the facts provided by reality create in yours truly an overwhelming anxiety, in prayer a gentle whisper gives me hope!  The peaceful insight evolves to a tender reminder that is offered during the season of advent. The time of Advent invites us to wait for the promise of light while surrounded by shorter, colder and darker days.  The season of expectancy is unassuming in the reassurance of a certain hope offered by Jesus.  During advent I am reminded to the gentle actions that created monumental changes; the acceptance by Mother Mary, the commitment by Joseph, the serene and unpretentious setting for the birth of Jesus.  Advent invites me to fight my desire to make big change, and encourages me to embrace gentle actions. The season also inspires me to find inspiration in the unexpected, and last week my world was motivated by an unforeseen gentle action. 

Last week, Sister Elizabeth Slenker, OP, invited us to a gallery opening showcasing her artwork.  The invitation was surprising to me, as I was not aware that Sister was an artist.  Through Sister’s very tranquil approach, I have to come to know a brilliant baker, a powerful woman that masterfully manages power tools, a creatively crafty preservationist and now a talented painter.

The exhibit opened at The Good Shepherd Gallery in Ferguson, Missouri.  The location of the gallery is at the heart of a community that is still scared by the unrest of 2014. In a very peaceful manner the Good Shepherd Gallery provides a space for peace and understanding.  The creative center features art that speaks to God’s Shepherd values of mercy, reconciliation, individual worth and zeal.  In a community that was torn by racism and segregation, the Good Shepherds gallery is a peaceful center that welcomes exhibits from individual artists and community-based groups as a way to counteract hate and fear. The exhibit opening by Sister Elizabeth was significant, as it help celebrate the first anniversary of the establishment.

While experiencing the artwork at the sublime center, I found a moving experience. In the middle of a community that was known for injustice and discord, Sister Elizabeth was exhibiting gentle artwork that celebrated creation. Through the use of watercolors, the artist captured the unassuming beauty of creation in a harmonious manner.  The exhibit became a prayerful experience and an invitation to seek harmony and peace! The gallery and the exhibit are examples of my personal Advent invitation to embrace gentle actions. The small gestures create a powerful invitation for harmony and peace. 

The exhibit, gallery and season of Advent remind me of the well-known quote by Mahatma Gandi, “be the change you want to see in the world.” While I am only one woman in a large world, I can be what I wish for the world.  In a gentle manner my small actions can be of inspiration and empower a positive change. I will work at embracing the small gentle actions and not be tempted to desire a magic wand that will fix the big problems.  I am reminded to trust in God and the certain hope provided by Jesus.

As I conclude, I want to wish you a peaceful and insightful Advent.  May you be surrounded by gentle actions that positively mark your life! 

* For more information about Shepherding Images Studio & Good Shepherd Gallery or Sister Elizabeth's exhibit please visit

Friday, November 25, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving... and November Highlights

Like many Americans, we had the great joy of gathering last night to express our gratitude to our creator for the many blessings bestowed upon us.  During this time of gratitude, we are mindful of everyone who is so vital to us through support and prayers! 

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, please receive from the community at the CDN our gratitude and sincerest wishes for a peaceful day. We hope that you had a very happy Thanksgiving.  

The Inter Collaborative Novitiate had the insightful opportunity to celebrate the diverse cultural richness of its members as part of October meeting hosted by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Godfrey, IL. During the gathering, the INC group learned about cultural understanding and were able to experience the Indian festival of lights, Diwali, and Dia De Los Muertos. The gathering feature food, music and multicultural understating. 

The delightful sites of autumn and the energy of the supper moon provided the perfect setting for our ICN seminar on centering prayer.  The seminar lead by father William Sheehan, OMI and took place at the beautiful mother house of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in St. Louis, MO.