Friday, October 28, 2016

October Highlights

October was filled with so many treats! As an added bonus during the month we learned a few tricks or techniques for our personal and spiritual growth!  Among the various insights provided to the Collaborative Dominican Community was the opportunity to experience our global Dominican family, grow in relation with our community and the continued invitation to go deeper in our relationship and reliance on God.  

As we conclude our October blog we hope that your month has also been blessed with many memorable experiences.  May this October conclude with many more treats than tricks! 

We had the opportunity to join the Dominican Sisters Conference meeting in St. Louis.  It was wonderful to get to spend time some of the admirable women who are members of the leadership from the various congregations that are part of DSC!  For more information about DSC, please visit

During October 10 – 14, 2016 St. Louis, Missouri was the gathering place for Dominican Nuns, Brothers, Sisters and Laity from all over the world as part of the celebration of the 800 anniversary of the Dominican Order. The jubilee celebration was hosted by the Aquinas Institute of Theology in collaboration with the Dominicans at the Institute for Pastoral Homiletics in Germany and the Institute for Preaching in the Philippines. 

The event included various presentation addressing the Dominican essence and service to our world. The keynote presentation was given by Father Bruno Cadore, OP, Master of the Dominican Presentation and featured presentations included Sr. Sara Boehmer, OP Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Bethany, Theologian and Economist from Waldniel, Germany and Dr. Mary Erika Bolanos, Dominican laywoman and Professor of Theology at the University of Santo Tomas from Manila, Philippines. The event and gathering was a wonderful opportunity to encounter our global Dominican Family!

We had the great privilege to be joined by Sister Honora Werner, OP.  During our conversation, Sister Honora shared the story behind the making of our prayer book, Dominican Praise.

As part of our Dominican formation our directors bring together members of our Dominican Family during a panel discussion.  These events allow us the opportunity to have an in-depth look at the Four Pillars and what they mean to the Dominican essence.  During the month of October we counted with the insight from Dominican Sisters Elyse Marie Ramirez, and  Maureen Geary as well as Dominican Bothers Harry Byrne and Lorenzo Laorden.  Our distinguished guest provided detailed information on the topic of community and its important role! 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Diverse Family called to ENCOUNTER

Blog by Ana Gonzalez
Encounter: (v) To meet someone unexpectedly; to unexpectedly be faced with or experience (something hostile or difficult).

(n) An unexpected or casual meeting with someone or something; a confrontation or unpleasant struggle. (Source: Oxford Dictionary)

I absolutely LOVE family gatherings! Regardless of the setting, there is something blissful about getting together; seeing loving faces, receiving hugs, sharing news/ updates, sharing stories over a meal,  and entering deep conversation.

As a candidate with the Dominica Sisters of Peace, I was overcome with the same familial joy every time the sisters would gather for regional celebrations, mission group meetings and our large congregational gatherings. In the middle of thoughtful discussion, there were always abundant smiles, warm embraces and genuine concern and love for each other. These gatherings allowed me to share sincere moments with diverse women who had a varied assortment of experiences, backgrounds and profound insight. In coming together, the heterogeneous became a single Dominican family.  Very similar to a delicious dish, everyone contributed a different ingredient to culminate in a rich flavorful meal.

Now as a novice, led by our directors, during the past two months Margaret, Katherine and I, embarked in diverse activities where we had the opportunity to meet and experience our amazing Dominican Sisters as part of our Collaborate Dominican Novitiate.  We met sisters in Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois. At all of our visits we have received with a HUGE family love and with amazing hospitality. We became the recipients of abundant love and encouragement.

In the visits and our interactive meetings I am recurrently blown away by the passionate commitment our sisters contribute to making our world a better place.  The intimate gatherings fill me with admiration and inspiration by the passion, strength, expertise, talent and so much more that is put forth by each Dominican Sister. I keep telling myself, “in a near future, I want to be just like her…, and her…, and her…!”

I was barely able to contain myself on October 8, when the CDN was invited to join for mass and dinner the Leadership Teams participating at the Dominican Sisters Conference (DSC) meeting in St. Louis. The occasion brought me the great joy of seeing my Dominican Sisters of Peace leadership team. In addition, I was granted the honor to be able to meet the leadership teams responsible for empowering, facilitating and supporting the work done by our Dominican Sisters. I was bemused by sharing mass and dinner with women who I perceive as absolute Rock Stars!

The conclusion of the DSC meeting felt to me as a joyful family gathering. The hall was filled with smiles, stories and allowed me opportunity to get to speak with several participants. All gave me a valued insight to the rich diversity shared by the Dominican Sisters.  The different congregational missions that inspired the diverse DSC members follow the same Dominican Charism and celebrate being member of the Order of Preachers. It was here were I was introduced to a word that would become the theme to my week-ENCOUNTER .

The joyful occurrence was also a great introduction to the marvelous experience that was ahead in the following days.

The following week, starting on Monday, October 10 the DCN had the grand opportunity to participate in the Global Dominican Colloquium.  The event was hosted as part of the 800th anniversary of the Dominican Order and was organized through the collaboration of the Aquinas Institute of Theology, the Institute for Pastoral Homiletics in Germany and the Institute for Preaching in the Philippines.  

St. Louis, Missouri became the setting for the coming together of Dominican Nuns, Brothers, Apostolic Sisters and Laity from all over the world, and I along with my DCN sisters were a part of this Dominican Jubilee! I kept telling myself, “be still my heart,” and “keep it together woman,” due to being overfilled with a sentiment of awe from being able to participate in the happening. 

The word encounter made the appearance again as part of the keynote presentation by the Master of the Dominican Order Brother Bruno Cadore, O.P.  In his message I heard a call to all Dominicans to embrace Encounter; one where the interaction is beyond superficial, to the profound. We were invited to experience personal interaction; where by taking the time to go deep both parties can be unexpectedly benefited.  

The encounter can be initiated by a difficult circumstance. It is through our Dominican preaching that we are encouraged to become a community of preaching with the world, those in the peripheries and one another.  Hence, we are charged to take the challenge, go deep in dialog, prayer, thought and action, so that we can have a respectful understanding that leads to mutual respect. Through the encounter recommended by Bother Bruno, the Dominican family is urged to be a community of shared friendship.  In my understanding from the keynote speech, if we don’t build the compassionate love for one another within our communities, we will not be able to set the world on fire with our preaching.  The encounter must be a conscious and deliberate action, and it needs starts in our communities, one person at a time.  

The days that followed, I was truly amazed and inspired by the vision shared as part of the insightful presentations and breakout session.  I had the opportunity to hear a seminar by Sister Terry Rickard, O.P., and Executive Director of RENEW International on the importance of encounter in forming everyday preachers as part of the small Christian communities.   Sister Sara Boehmer, O.P., Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Bethany in Waldniel, Germany gave a powerful presentation on how Apostolic Sisters Tame the Dragon through Preaching.  The last presentation I was able to experience was by Dr. May Erika Loanos, Dominican laywoman and professor of theology at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines.  The information put forward by the presenters highlighted the rich diversity of our Dominican Family. Each member and congregation, inspired by the Dominican charism, preaches to our world in different forms and empowers our world.  A challenge is issued when the diversity is seen as difference.  The speakers indicated that we must embrace encounter; to build our familial love and celebrate our varied gifts in order to collaborate in unison to our preaching.  

As part of my Dominican Collaborate Novitiate experience, I am very grateful for the opportunity of getting to know the Dominican Family in a holistic way. The days of October 8 – 14 left a profound imprint in my heart.  My gained lesson is that ONLY through the encounter, we can respectfully listen to each other, dive into a deeper relationship. Encounter is an invitation to go beyond the surface or the disagreement into an intimate relationship.  At the end of the encounter the unexpected occurs! While at the end of the encounter the different viewpoints might not concur, both parties walk away with an understanding and gained respect. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Reflection Through Metaphor

Blog by Katherine Frazier
Hello again!

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.
Novices with Brother Bruno Cadoré, Master of the Dominican Order

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Rosary is a Dominican Tradition

Blog by Margaret Uche
This week we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Rosary! The Rosary is a Dominican heritage of which we should be proud of, and a tradition recognized in the Church.

The tradition tells us that our Blessed Mother gave the Rosary to St. Dominic.  He then seriously asked God for a solution to the Albigensian heresy. Story has it that he used the Rosary to defeat the heresy that plagued his time.

On October 7, 1571 Dominicans began celebrating the feast honoring Our Lady of the Rosary.

Pope Pius the V, during a battle between Christian and Turkish forces in the gulf of Lepanto on October 7, 1571 asked our Blessed Mother to protect the Catholic lands and requested that Catholics to pray the Rosary. The ensuing Christian Victory was attributed to Our Lady of the Rosary.

In 1572 the pope allowed some celebrations of Our Lady of Victory on the first Sunday in October. Later in 1573 the feast was changed to Our Lady of the Rosary, and in 1716 the feast became a worldwide celebration.

Personally, I have experienced the treasures hidden in the Rosary and have received many graces. Among the things I have learned, when we pray the Rosary we are creating crowns and wreaths of heavenly roses which we place on the head of our Blessed Mother.

On many occasions when all seems so difficult, it was my trust in our Blessed Mother and her intercessions that helped me overcome great obstacles.

This week I celebrate this Dominican heritage, one which I am proud of.  I am inspired by Father Dominic and the other great Dominicans who trusted in the Divine Providence. Through their love of our Blessed Mother they taught us to love and glorify her son Jesus.