Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Thank You For Your Gift

This is it! 

The last blog of the CDN Class of 2016-2017. As we reflect on the challenges, joys, blessings and many life changing experiences, we are reminded that above all these past 10 months were a HUGE gift. We were granted the gift of encounter, meeting friendships that will last a life time, mentors that provided revolutionary insight and so much more! 

Our CDN year was a giant gift. "Thank You For Your Gift."

We take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude for your prayers, support and for the amazing role you, our dear readers and friends, have played in our Novitiate Adventure. 

 As I come to the end of my time at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate, I am aware to the many people who have made this year grace-filled for me. I have so much to be grateful for! I am grateful for the gift of the CDN community, with whom I have shared many deep conversations and many laughs. I am grateful for the Inter Community Novitiate, who has given me so much hope for religious life as we move forward. I am grateful for the many sisters and friends back in Adrian who have sent me so many prayers and much love throughout the year. I am grateful for my parents, sister and brother-in-law who have been unfailing supports for me. I am grateful for the residents of Mary Ryder Home, where I had my ministry this year, for their hospitality and all they have taught me. I am grateful for the faculty and staff at Aquinas Institute, especially Sr. Regina Siegfried, ASC and Ann Garrido for teaching me so much this year, and for my fellow students who accompanied and taught me in the classroom and out of it. I am grateful for the many members of the Dominican family I have encountered this year, whether sisters, friars, nuns, laity and associates. I am grateful for the two fearless leaders of the CDN- Sr. Joye Gros, OP and Sr. Megan McElroy, OP. Finally, but not least, I am grateful for everyone who has read this blog throughout this year. I am infinitely grateful for your prayers and support.

- Sr. Katherine Frazier, Adrian Dominican Sisters

As this canonical novitiate year concludes, I would like to thank all of the Sisters and Associates who have sent me well wishes, cards and for your prayers. Your thoughtfulness and support means a lot to me. I look forward for the next step of my journey into Dominican life with all of you. Please continue to keep me in your prayers and I will keep you in mine.

- Sr. Margaret Uche, Dominican Sisters of Peace

It is hard to believe that our time in St. Louis and at the Collaborate Dominican Novitiate is coming to an end. At our last prayer together, we were asked to share our biggest treasure attained during the year, and as I began to think I could not narrow it down to one. There are many people from our Dominican Family, ministry, ICN, The Aquinas Institute of Theology and the St. Louis Community that will always be treasured in my heart. These individuals embodied and demonstrated God's abundant love, challenged me to grow and empowered the continuation of my discernment to religious life. I must also give a shout out to our Novice Directors, Sr. Joye Gros, O.P. and Sr. Megan McElroy, O.P. for their companionship and powerful mentoring during my life changing year. Looking back to August of 2016, I find it hard to believe the radical changes that I experienced during my time at the CDN. I walk away a different person, with gained insight and continuing my desire to keep growing in God. I conclude by also thanking you, our readers, family, friends and prayer companions for your support. Receive my sincerest gratitude.

-Sr. Ana González, Dominican Sisters of Peace

A delightful tradition of the CDN is to welcome for an orientation the future novices. In the tradition of our predecessors, we had the honor to extend a sisterly welcome to Gina Scaringella (Caldwell Dominican Sisters) and Rhonda Miska (Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa). We enjoyed our time together and will keep Gina and Rhonda in our prayers as they enter the journey of the Canonical Novitiate Year, the CDN experience and the many adventures to come!

In Conclusion....

We leave the CDN and this blog with hearts glowing and our beings eternally grateful.

Thank You and God Bless!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Spread the Message

Blog by Margaret Uche

 We novices just finished armchair lands of Dominic pilgrimage presented by Brian Pierce, OP and Ann Willits, OP. We were joined by Sr. Pelagia from Zimbabwe and novices from the Central and Southern Provinces and their formators. We spent five days learning about the life of Dominic and his preaching days. We learned about Dominic’s trust in the Divine Providence of God through the intercession of Mary, Mother of God.

I learned that Dominic after praying for a sign from Mother of God, saw on the night of July 22, 1206, on the hill of Fanjeaux, overlooking the town of Prouille, what appeared to be a globe of fire descending upon a shrine of Our Lady. It is called the Sign from Our Lady (or Sign of God), “Seignadou” occurred again the next two nights. Dominic understood that he was to establish a monastery of nuns at Prouille. Many heretics were converted including the women who entered the convent.

In another account, Dominic in one of his visions was taken into heaven to the throne of God with the Blessed Virgin at his right. Looking around he saw other Orders but none of his brethren, but God assured him that his Order has been entrusted to His Mother. Mary then opened her arms and to Dominic’s relief, there was Dominicans under her cloak.
I am reminded that the vision of Dominic continues with me. As a novice of the Dominicans to place the same trust in God through Mary, Our Mother with the same love and reverence for her. I was also reminded in my own journey that God has chosen me by name, I am called to follow the vision, carry the torch, the way may be long, dark, unsure, yet as Dominic, I am made strong because God’s Spirit is guiding me and God’s gifts will unfold me under Our Mother Mary’s mantle. That it was through God’s grace and the intercession Mother Mary the answers to prayers of so many people has strengthened me during this canonical year. I am very grateful for those who prayed for me as this canonical year comes to an end.
May we continue to shine that torch started by Dominic which he carried by the way he lived his life and bore witness and pass it onto others.

The month of May has been called the month of Mary by the Church.
This month we also celebrate 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima.
The message of Fatima is a message that is important for me and you today as well.
Our Lord promises to be with us till the end of the world. He continues to work through His mother Mary. She has appeared in so many countries with the message of peace, hope, and love. Her requests for us to pray the Rosary daily for peace, for conversion of hearts, and make reparation for offenses against Jesus and Mary still is needed for us today.
On May 13, 2017, Catholics all over the world stood on streets to pray public square Rosary in honor of Our Lady of Fatima and continue to spread the message that it is only through prayer and intercession of Mary could we bring peace and healing into the world. I was unable to join the rally but I can help spread the message by praying those intentions. We can see that we still live in troubled time, on the positive side, we can pray that through Our Blessed Mother, Mary’s guidance and constant intercession our needs are being made known in many ways in our prayers. She is our refuge, our comfort in the midst of life’s struggles. Please join me in praying for some of the intentions in honor of Our Blessed Mother, Mary as we celebrate this first centennial.
I pray for the end of wars in war torn countries and that they may know peace, I pray that Our lady will touch the hearts of those who cause violent acts and that they be converted, may she continues to protect the Church, the mystical body of her son and grant her many graces. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Caught in the Snow Storm

As I write this blog, St. Louis is GORGEOUS! We have balmy 80 Fahrenheit Degree weather, the spring sun is radiant and the sweet scents of blooming blossoms greet those that walk through the streets.  The memory of the bitterly frigid winter is behind us, replaced by the colors /allergies of spring and the fast approaching promise of a hot summer.  

Dominican Sisters of Peace - Eld Street in New Haven, CT
I invite you, dear reader, to travel back to the month of March with me.  I have been carrying the deep desire to write on a memorable experience that while simple, provided me a deep lesson. As a reminder, on March 12, you CDN Novices embarked on our East Coast Pilgrimage of our Dominican Sister Congregations and Motherhouses.  On the time period of eight days we traveled over 3,000 miles, 14 visits, six states, were the recipients of so much love by our sisters and rejoiced in our Dominican Heritage. 

We planned thoroughly a detail itinerary and revised it many times until it was perfect. We even planned a “fun” day in NYC where we would visit the site of the first Dominican Convent in Brooklyn, wave to Lady Liberty, pay our respects at Ground Zero, sing a song from the hit musical Hamilton at Alexander’s Hamilton’s resting place, visit with our Sisters in NYC and conclude at St. Patrick’s Cathedral!  We looked at the best and fastest subway routes, calculated expenses, a lunch stop at China Town.  The planned day was going to be perfect, fast paced and AMAZING.

Sr. Joan making pies during the snow storm!
I was in LOVE with our plan in its fullness!  I was also determined that were going to follow the plan in its entirety.  As a young university student, my amazing public relations professor would remind me to NEVER fall in love with a plan, slogan or campaign. The reasoning for her advice is based on the notion that once you are in love with an idea, it is hard to discover other options or even embrace flexibility if things don’t turn out as projected.  I had forgotten the advice given to me as a student. I was focused and determined.  I chose to ignore the threat of snow hovering over our trip.  The weather forecast was not favorable.  Forecasts keep mentioning a “nor'easter” or lovingly referred in the East Coast as savage snow storms that paralyze communities, yet I was going to stick to plan!

The start of our trip was AMAZING! We visited with our sisters in Columbus and Akron.  Our trip continued to Caldwell where we received as VIP’s and learned all about the stunning Denver of the East. Following we were warmly welcomed at the origins of the Regensburg Tree, Amityville.  Then we arrived at the beautiful Dominican Sisters of Peace House of Welcome in New Haven, CT. The following day we had a dynamic day at the United Nations with Sr. Margaret Mayce, OP, NGO in Special Consultative Status at the United Nations Dominican Leadership Conference and several Dominican Sisters from Dominican Sisters International.  Everything was going according to plan and we even had some gorgeous sunny days at the start of our trip.  Then the dark clouds show up, Doppler radar warnings are everywhere, closures began to be announced, yet I was sure the day was going to be OK and we would be able to enjoy NYC.

Sr, Bea and Sr. Katherine enjoying a sweet treat!
On March 14, I work up at 5:00 a.m., opened the window and saw a winter wonderland! Over a foot of snow had covered New Haven, CT and the snow was not stopping. I was very mad! My perfect plan was RUINED, or so I thought.  After morning prayers and my personal prayer I realized that the journey was long and I was tired!  I surrendered to the fact that I could not travel and payed attention to my body, I was drained!  The community in New Haven, was wonderful! They were very supportive, allowed us to rest and both Katherine and Sr. Joan baked delicious pies!  I was bummed that my plan did not work out, but things turned out better! We rested, enjoyed our sisters in New Haven and ate pie!

I am reminded of the brave German nuns who arrived from Regensburg, Germany at the invitation of a monsignor from Pennsylvania, whom never showed up to receive them.  In the face of challenge and adversity, they discerned and heard a call to minister in the unknown, uncomfortable and unpredictable in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn.  Out of their discernment, they gather strength in their reliance on God to amazing results.  Out of that original group of German nuns, 11 Dynamic Dominican Congregations branched in the United States creating countless founded ministries, various colleges and universities, hospitals, and ministering all over the world and preaching God to many!

The Amazing Dominican Sisters at Lincoln St.| New Haven, CT
Their legacy continues and survives in US! I am also reminded of the countless stories of challenge and adversity of our foundresses and various Dominican Congregations. There have been various points where adversity or the clouds of snow showed up, challenged everything and gave birth to new opportunities.  ONLY Through deep trust in God and blind faith the challenges are surpassed and something new is born!

As I continue to journey religious life I am reminded not to fall in love with an idea. Instead be open to God’s plan. While there might be a projected snow storm, God does not abandon us and is always working. We must rely on God, discern and gather strength from our foundresses and Dominican Foremothers.   Most importantly, I pray that we all are open to be instruments of God and not get in the way of God’s plan because we fell in love with an idea. I pray that we may be open to the voice of God when we get caught up in future snow storms. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Spring Highlights

As we begin this edition of our blog, where we highlight special happenings throughout our Spring, we want to begin by wishing all Dominicans, Preachers, Truth Seekers, Catherine's and our very own Katherine a very Happy Feast of Catherine of Siena!
In addition to the Dominican Feast, we are continuing the celebration of Easter. On behalf of the CDN, receive our warmest wishes!  May the HOPE of the Resurrection be with you always! 
Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen Indeed! 

We had the grand delight gained from the deep insight attained from our Dominican Family during our conversation regarding the vow of poverty! Our gratitude is extended to Father Don Goergen, O.P and Brother Vincent Davila, O.P., as well as Dominican Sisters of Springfield Beth Murphy, O.P, Loyola Miller, O.P and Sister Habiba Bihnam Toma, O.P. Dominican Sisters of Catherine of Siena in Iraq. 

Our Easter Triduum was very special with our Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters. The serenity and peace of The Mound, created the perfect spiritual atmosphere to contemplate on The Paschal Mystery and the passion and joy shared by the Dominicans Sisters was contagious and lead to an exciting celebration of The Resurrection! Thank you Sisters for your warm welcome and amazing hospitality! You made our Triduum an unforgettable one. 

We had a dynamic group of Dominicans join us for a candid discussion on the vow of obedience. From the bottom of our hearts, we are very grateful to Father Greg Heille, O.P., Br. Samuel Hakeem, O.P., Sr.Sr. Susan Leslie, O.P.(Dominican Sisters of Peace), Sr. Kathleen Tuite, O.P. (Dominican Sisters of Caldwell) and Sr. Mary Jones, O.P. (Adrian Dominican Sisters.) Thank you for your time, sharing and insight on the vow!

One week, over 3,000 miles, and countless memories! We had a wonderful experience visiting the various Dominican Sisters in the East Coast! Following is a video with our scrapbook from our journey. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Jesus Is Still Feeding Us Today

An Easter Message from the Collaborate Dominican Novitiate. Please let me know what you think in the comment section!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Discipleship: Fan into a Flame, don’t Blow it out

Blog by Margaret Uche
We just had a workshop at our intercommunity novitiate on the theology of mission with Tony Gittins, CSSp.
We spent two days learning about discipleship. We were asked the question of the meaning of discipleship. I learned that discipleship is God’s mission shared with Jesus Christ as His follower. In order to be a disciple I have to first encounter or be called by God. And I can not love until that encounter and then I have to answer the call. The aim, he said, is to become a teacher for others.

I was reminded that I must listen and learn God’s words. I must be willing to be out of place, to be different, to be out of my comfort-zone, to become a stranger because Jesus was treated the same way. There is a disturbing quality about the urgency of Jesus call to be His disciple, it shakes the foundation, that one called who wants a quiet life is bound to resist. I learned mission has me not the other way around. I will find myself where I will not want to go, but it is not my control, it blows me where it will.

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ means encountering others. It is through the Power of the Holy Spirit that I can go out there encounter others not by coercion or force but my own willingness to be servant to others and thereby announce the Good News of Jesus Christ to the community.

I was reminded of my ministry experience at a school where I encounter adolescent youths of different ages
and backgrounds. It has been such a rewarding experience to be of service to them during my weekly
ministry. I have been encouraged to discover the qualities and witness to the gifts each brings. I feel that the students appreciate my presence and the help I provide. Just being there for them and doing whatever I can to help them has been a joy for me.

In second Timothy (2 Tim 1:6), we hear St. Paul say that discipleship comes with hardships but I must stir into flame that gift God has given me. Jesus is telling me that to be His disciple, I must do it with courage, crossing the boundaries, taking risk, and touching others life. As one in religious life, I am to be a witness to the Risen Christ in the world.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Journey of Faith

Blog by Margaret Uche
We novices have just returned from our Dominican Spring Break tour of Dominican congregations in Akron, Ohio, Caldwell, NJ, Amityville, NY, New Haven, CT, A day at United Nations side events, Cloister convent in Guildford, CT, Hope, Maryknoll, Blauvelt, Sparkill, and Adrian, Michigan.
What an enlightening and inspiring experience. I have gained more knowledge and better understanding of the rich Dominican heritage. I was touched by the warm welcome, generosity, and hospitality extended to us by our Sisters we visited. I had the opportunity to learn more deeply about the history of each congregation, enjoyed meals, prayers, and conversations with members of our Dominican family.

I was challenged by the Sisters who were so brave and courageous to set out in faith from various countries to answer God’s call to minister and educate the children, and to care for the suffering and the marginalized with such love and compassion. These brave Sisters sacrificed everything and answered the call faithfully and tended to the needs of the church. They faced all kinds of difficulties, yet they did not let it stop them, instead they trusted in Divine Providence and came together as a family. These Sisters have encouraged and inspired me in my own journey to religious life. I am very grateful to all our Dominican Sisters! I am very proud and happy to be part of the Dominican family.

 This week the church honors St. Joseph who also answered the call of God with courage, sacrifice, and love. He was chosen by God to be the protector and supporter of Jesus and Mary. He safe guarded the honor of Mary. He teaches me how to dedicate myself and to respond to the Will of God and that God will be with me through all the trials and challenges. Although he suffered in several ways, he responded faithfully and did as the Angel of the Lord commanded him as we hear in the Gospels of Matthew.
He suffered and faced difficulties when the Angel warned him to flee to Egypt because of the threat of King Herod and he obeyed and protected Mary and Jesus. After Mary, it was St. Joseph who suffered most for Jesus when they lost him in the temple for three days.
His life was continues act of faith, humility, and obedience.
As a novice in my own journey to religious life, I was inspired by the stories of our brave Dominican Sisters who listened to the Holy Spirit and answered the call.
St. Joseph also reminds me to be open to God’s call to use me to do His Will.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Living into Lent

Our chapel has been decorated beautifully for Lent.
            With the arrival of Lent, I’ve had the invitation to ask how this season is a time to deepen my relationship with God and with my community. On Friday, during our day of reflection, we were each given clay and the instructions to play and to see what the clay itself might be asking to make. I found myself building up a clay pot and reflecting on how I was creating a vessel that was waiting to be filled, and how that is an appropriate image with which to begin Lent. During this time, we’re asked to empty ourselves of distractions and bad habits, little and big things, in order to create more room for God to fill the spaces within us. My pot isn’t perfect, but then again neither am I, and the lumps and fingerprints are part of the creation process that remind me that I am still being shaped by God’s fingers.

            We had the opportunity to share our creations that night by candlelight. As a community, we decided to set aside a Friday evening when we’d fast from electricity, so we wouldn’t be using lights or other electronic devises. We sat around the living room, and I felt in awe of the beauty of that moment. During that gathering, the details were hard to make out, and we had to improvise by shining a flashlight on our creations like a spotlight. When we were finished, we sat talking in the candlelight catching up with one another. The evening was a reminder to me about how meaningful it is to have a discussion face to face without distractions of television or other devices.

            I love electricity as much as the next person, but I gained by letting go of it for a night. Like the pot I had made earlier, I had created a hollow space in me that is normally filled by doing work on my computer or reading a book. And God reached in and filled the space.

The pot I made for our day of reflection.
            On the Third Sunday of Lent, Gospel is the story of the Woman at the Well, whom Jesus meets in Samaria. The Samaritan woman desperately wanted to be filled up, and has looked all over to find ways to fill up that space, only to be left still filling empty. When Jesus declares that he will give the Samaritan woman Living Water, that he is in fact the Living Water, the woman immediately responds, knowing that she is gaining something she has desired about for a very long time: that the vessel created by God will finally be filled with God. As I move forward into Lent, and learn to live more deeply during this Lenten season, I find myself longing for Living Water that will fill up the space within my created being. I may have strange lumps, and I certainly have the marks of God’s fingerprints all over me, but when I am filled with Living Water, then all of my being takes on beauty and meaning. I will be living out the life I have been created to embrace.

Friday, February 24, 2017

February Highlights

February is officially coming to its end! This year it started with the threat from Punxsutawney Phil of six more weeks of cold weather.  In the lovely city of St. Louis, the month of February concludes with the initial sights of spring, the blooming of beautiful flowers like jonquils and crocuses and the last day of month ends with the festive Mardi Gras.

During the shortest month of the year, we experienced amazing insight regarding our vows of celibacy, poverty and psychosexual development. It has been an intense month with various invitations to go within and continue our spiritual and personal growth.

Following are some of the highlights of the month! 

We had the great opportunity to enjoy a delightful meal and intimate conversation with members of our Dominican family! We are very grateful to Br. Charlie Bouchard and Br. Carl Joseph Paustian along with the dynamic insight of Dominican Sisters of Sparkill Sr. Paulette Patritti and Sr. Mary Jane Bookstaver. 

February provided some very intense ICN speakers and insights! While the majority of our time was focused on our internal work, we did have a few moments to celebrate our comradery and friendship.