|Blog by Katherine Frazier|
I’m sorry that this post has been delayed, but we might have been having too much fun at the Jubilee Colloquium on Preaching last week! We had the opportunity to hear the keynote speeches from Fr. Bruno Cadoré, O.P., Sr. Sara Boehmer, O.P., and Mary Erika Bolaños, Ph.D. We also were privileged to meet Dominican friars, sisters, nuns and laity from all over the world.
One of the graces of this year has been to come to know the Order of Preachers through events, such as this Colloquium, and through meeting many of the members of the Order. Yet, we have also been invited to reflect upon our own congregations and the call that led us to join that particular congregation. A couple of weeks ago, for our Vowed Life class, we were asked to share a metaphor about our own congregation, and I would like to share mine with you.
I find many similarities between the Adrian Dominican Sisters and a symphony, and specifically, I compare it to Anton Dvorak’s 9th Symphony, often known as The New World Symphony. If you’ve never heard Dvorak’s 9th, or if you haven’t heard it in a long time, I encourage you to seek it out, since it is a beautiful piece of music. Like all symphonies, the New World Symphony is a product of its time, the Late Romantic Period in classical music. Likewise, the Adrian Dominican Sisters are also tied to this particular time. St. Joseph Hospital was founded in Adrian, Michigan in 1884, but the sisters recognized that the needs were calling them to found St. Joseph Academy in 1896. Now, Adrian Dominican Sisters are engaged in ministries all around the United States, from Henderson, Nevada to Miami Shores, Florida and in the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and Norway. Although we are playing the same score, if you will, of preaching the Gospel in our words and actions, the way the music is played is expressed differently. You could say that instead of playing on classical instruments, we are now playing on electric guitars and drum sets!
Another comparison between Dvorak’s New World Symphony and the Adrian Dominican Sisters is that Dvorak used a wide array of cultural influences in his music, drawing on Czech folk music, African American Spirituals and even Native American music. Likewise, the Adrian Dominican Sisters are culturally diverse. However, although Dvorak ties together many influences, he never directly “quotes” any piece of music from those influences. Instead, Dvorak’s music becomes a melting pot of music, just like America, and, just like the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Although the sisters come from many different backgrounds, there is a unity in discovering that everyone shares a common charism.
Symphonies use many different instruments, and each of the musicians has spent years of training
learning how to play his or her specific instrument. Sometimes, that instrument isn’t heard in a particular piece of music, and sometimes that instrument is only used for one particular movement in a symphony. Sometimes a particular instrument has a moment to shine in a solo. Yet, each of the instruments is necessary for the orchestra as a whole to play its entire repertoire of music. Each of the Adrian Dominican Sisters brings her own gifts and talents to the congregation, and each sister is necessary to carry out the mission.
Although one symphony comes to an end, another is always ready to be written. Although there are many examples of classical symphonies out there, that doesn’t mean that a composer must be constrained to a form used by Beethoven, Brahms or Dvorak, and composers can use different symphonic forms to explore the themes in their heads. Composers have introduced new instruments to the orchestra, like Mozart with the Clarinet Concerto in A Major, when they heard a sound that brought something new and interesting to the orchestra. There are many new sounds waiting out there, and they will write new music.