Every night at Evening Prayer, we read the names of the deceased sisters in our communities. While I don’t know the stories behind all of the names, I do know that each of these women contributed to building up our congregations. The Grand Rapids Dominicans, the Dominican Sisters of Peace and the Adrian Dominican Sisters would not be who they are today without these women.
|Cartwright Creek, St. Catharine, KY|
In our vowed life class, we talked about the origins of religious women in the United States. All of us in the class brought stories from our own congregation about the pioneer sisters who set off into the West and began to do whatever ministry was needed there, often while having very little for themselves. When we read the names of our deceased sisters at night, I think about these pioneer women.
We talked about our sisters who built great institutions to meet the needs of an immigrant Church in the U.S. These women built up grade schools, high schools, colleges, hospitals and other ministries to meet the needs of the large numbers of immigrants who entered the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While not all of these institutions remain, they helped create the Church as we know it today. When we read the names of our deceased sisters at night, I think about these builder women.
We also talked about sisters who advocated that sisters get the education they needed for ministry before being sent out in mission. In many ways, those of us in formation today owe a large debt to these women who ensured that we would be ready to live religious life and all the challenges, blessings and adventures we will encounter in that life. When we read the names of our deceased sisters, I think about these discerning women.
|St. Catharine Farm and Motherhouse, St. Catharine, KY|
We talked about sisters who have embraced causes of justice, whether the sisters who marched for civil rights or the sisters who today call attention to the cry of the Earth. When we read the names of our deceased sisters, I think about these courageous women.
We celebrated All Saints Day on Tuesday. In the Dominican tradition, we have many wonderful canonized saints, all of whom show us new and different ways of being Dominican today. Yet, on All Saints Day, we remember the countless women and men who lived lives of holiness and who are now rejoicing with God in Heaven. In the Jubilee Hymn for the Dominican Order, there is a line saying, “We praise the Lord with our saints” that reminds me of all the saints whose legacy I stand on. When we read the names of our deceased sisters, I have a privileged glimpse of some of the many holy women who now rejoice with God.