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.