Sunday, September 23, 2018

Becoming A Dominican & Becoming Dominican

During my time in campus ministry with the Newman Center at UC San Diego, Fr. John Paul Forté, OP, planted a mustard seed that took root in my heart with a single comment, “You would make a great Dominican.” To be honest, I had no idea what that meant at the time and was close to dismissing it altogether, but I was curious about what he saw in me to make such a comment. As I witnessed the Dominican Friars living and serving together, I gradually surrendered to the clarity of a deep desire and calling to a life of study, community, prayer, and ministry. Through this clarity, I began to see in myself what Fr. John Paul had seen first, and it was profound presence of God’s love that compelled me to contemplative action in pursuit of truth. Years later when I entered the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose as a candidate, I had begun my first official step to becoming a Dominican. I still had no idea what that meant, at least not completely, but with the start of formation, I learned that I was not alone in this life-long discovery.
We are women of the Word, uniquely individual,
who choose to walk together, consciously growing from I to We to One.
~ from the 25th General Chapter Direction Statement, Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose
When I entered the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, my congregation changed as I changed through transition and formation. When I became a Dominican novice, the Dominican family changed as I changed through growth into the charism. In fact, religious life changes as each individual is called into it. This mutual change is as true for me and for future generations as it was true for Saint Dominic and for those who have gone before us. I began my candidacy with a call to become a Dominican, and I continued to the novitiate with a hope to become Dominican. As my formation prepares me to make vows, I am growing deeper into the understanding of how I belong to my congregation, to the Dominican family, and to the world as a religious sister. 
I shared a moment with Sr. Rolande after we preached our first homily that we prepared for our Preaching class at Aquinas with Fr. Greg Heille, OP. She asked me, “So we are preachers now?” To this, I responded, “Yes, but when will we learn to be missionaries?” We both laughed, and it was in our laughter that we acknowledged a thirst to learn about how each of us live out the spirit of Saint Dominic. Even in our Vowed Life class with Sr. Juliet Mousseau, RSCJ, we are exploring the various ways in which different religious congregations emerged and lived out their vows – how the vows were lived out in the past, how they are lived out now, and how they may be lived out in the future as new understandings and needs arise. What a privilege it has been to be immersed in a collaborative experience that allows us to share our charism among and beyond our community and that connects us to all congregations through a collective mission to serve God and to meet the needs of the world. The future of religious life is collaboration. I may not have a complete idea of what that means, but at this moment, I have a glimpse of what that may look like. I truly believe that the vision of collaboration starts now, with a pursuit to strengthen relationships with my sisters and brothers in the Dominican family as well as to establish relationships with my sisters and brothers in the whole of religious life. This is no easy task and requires the transforming presence of each and every one of us – as a preacher, a missionary, or any other facet of Saint Dominic’s spirit that abides in us.
As a young woman pursuing religious life, I have been asked many times how I feel about all the changes and uncertainties of the future not only for my congregation but also for all religious congregations. My response is one of gratitude and of hope. I am grateful for our pioneer sisters, our foundresses, and our sisters before us who, in their own time, in their own way, and in their own part of the world, have laid the foundation to continue the spirit of Saint Dominic during periods of great change and uncertainty. I am hopeful that, by their example and by the grace of God, I too can contribute to the growth of this same spirit. I was not the first to face these changes and uncertainties in religious life, and I will not be the last.
Until next time, we continue to pray for each other so that we may find or create new ways of being a Dominican and of being Dominican.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Finding Joy in Our Busy Schedule

Friday is a day of reflection for our CDN community. We spend most of this day in quiet contemplation to reflect on our experiences that connect us to God and to each other. For myself, I had a chance to reflect on where I found my joy during a busy schedule at the CDN.
I am so grateful that we had the opportunity this past week to hear from two speakers. Sister Maria Hughes, ASC, presented to the Inter-Community Novitiate (ICN) about “Living in a Discerning Way,” and Sister Juliet Mousseau, RSCJ, spoke about “Finding Joy in a Fearful World.” One of the topics from Sister Maria’s talk was about being “Mind Full” versus “Mindful.” She explained to us the concept of having a mind that is full and how we are challenged to be mindful when our minds are full. The same concept was brought up during Sister Juliet’s talk when she introduced a few ways to live a joyful life. With those thoughts in mind, I came to ask myself, “How can I find the presence of God even during a busy day?”
I have heard from previous novices who shared with me that, although the novitiate year at the CDN is challenging, it is a wonderful year! A month has passed since I have been here. We have had a full month of activities including taking classes, doing house chores, meeting our novice peers at the ICN, joining the Dominican Friars for mass and prayers at the Priory, and traveling to Kentucky.

During our busy days, we find time to share and hear about each other’s culture, especially during our meals or free time. My fellow novices brought their instruments to the CDN. Sr. Rolande taught us to sing the “Our Father” while she played the drums and Sr. Kieu played the guitar. We are not only sharing prayers, study, and community life at the CDN but also expanding our community relationship with the student brothers when we meet them at the Priory or at Aquinas. I am so grateful to meet the Dominican Friars with whom we can share the same charism in the Dominican Family. I am also grateful to be walking the same path with a multi-cultural group of novices in the ICN who bring and share the experiences of their own formation journey. There is a total of 20 novices (and 13 directors) from different religious congregations participating in the ICN, who come from the US, Canada, Vietnam, Congo, Zambia, Kenya, Philippines, Mexico, and Honduras.
Just last week, we had the opportunity to go on a long-distance trip to visit St. Catharine Motherhouse in Kentucky. We felt so welcomed by the Sisters of Peace, and we were touched when we heard them say, “We are so glad that you all are here with us this weekend.” There, we learned the history of St. Catharine Convent and St. Rose Priory, where the Dominicans first arrived in the US. We were especially happy to meet the discernment group who were at St. Catharine for a retreat that same weekend. We had opportunities to talk and play games with the discerners, and it was a joy to meet women who have started looking for God’s voice in their lives.
Finally, I am thankful for God’s grace through your support and prayers and for those who are journeying with us as a community to help us to find the presence of God within us.
Please keep us in your prayers as we open our hearts to discern God’s call with joy.

Sunday, September 9, 2018


A Swahili proverb says Nyota nzuri huonekana asubuhi, which means a good day is visible in the morning. We have come together as Dominican novices and are happy to bring with us our lives, experiences, richness, talents and vulnerability. This was symbolized by our profound opening ritual. We had our soil from our mother houses, we put it in one common pot, and we planted some flowers in that pot. Could we all reflect and consider the meaning and the value of soil in our cultures? We will obviously discover that soil and people are bound to each other in many ways. We brought that richness of our individual soil, combining it to form a richer soil for our roots to grow together.

Standing on this rich soil, we are the young plants in that pot, and we need to be watered regularly. The Congregational Formation Representatives (CFR) embodied our congregations in that ritual. We are very much aware that our whole Dominican family is watering these plants to keep them alive. We are very thankful for your support, especially all the congregations participating in the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate: Adrian, Amityville, Blauvelt, Caldwell, Grand Rapids, Hope, Houston, Mission San Jose, Maryknoll, Oakford, Peace, Racine, San Rafael, Sinsinawa, Sparkill, Springfield, and Tacoma.

As you might have seen in our pictures, after one month, our life together has settled into a very nice rhythm: classes at Aquinas, Inter-Congregational Novitiate, Reflection every Friday, touching base with our directors every Thursday, visiting ministry sites, taking turns with cooking and leading prayer, and time for fun too!!! We have visited the famous Gateway Arch and went up and down. We went to the Botanical Gardens and have attended two Festivals so far. Not to forget our long trip to Kentucky where we met with our Sisters of Peace, and we were very grateful for their warm welcome. Never miss a visit to the Shaker Village while in Kentucky! There, you will have an opportunity of shaking your body while singing in a Shaker style!!

Until next week, please remember to pray for us as we keep you in our hearts always.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Life Through a Camera _ August 2018

Transition is hard, but the camera can still capture our smiles. After the first three weeks, our life together is beginning to settle into a rhythm that is less overwhelming than when we first began. Here's a glimpse into the highlights of our journey so far!

Gathering Together

We come together as individuals from different congregations in the CDN. 
We are welcomed as novices for all congregations in the CDN. 


Planting a New Community

Three novices with soil from their own motherhouses. 
Three different plants. 
One planter box. 
Even in this heat, they are still alive.

Exploring St. Louis 

Things you must do when in St. Louis: 
Visit the Gateway Arch
Go to the Botanical Gardens
Attend the Festivals (not all of them... there's way too many)

Preparing for Study at Aquinas

There are many events at Aquinas Institute of Theology. 
Before classes began, there was orientation.
Before orientation, there was Dominican Day led by Sr. Ann Willits, OP, of Sinsinawa. 
We are meeting so many sisters and brothers from the Dominican Family.

Until next time...
please remember to pray for us
as we will remember to take pictures.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Introducing Our New Community

The Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) is a joint effort by the sisters in the Dominican Order in the USA to provide its members in initial formation with an experience of the larger Dominican Family. Each year a new group of novices comes together to create its own unique experience of community with fresh spirit, abundant gifts, and eagerness to grow in the Dominican tradition. This year, we especially welcome the Maryknoll Sisters of Saint Dominic who have brought their missionary spirit into this venture. 

In addition to the prayers for our novices, we ask special prayers for our new co-directors who begin their own journey in accompanying our novices on this sacred path of discernment. 

Meet the Novices 

Sr. Phuong Vu
Dominican Sisters of Peace

I was born in Vietnam and migrated to Chicago with my family in 1989. I graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology with a BS in Chemical Engineering and then moved to Dallas, Texas, where I worked for telecommunication companies until 2016. Despite many changes in my life, I was always involved with religious ministries. I taught catechism, sang in choirs, and participated in prayer groups at local churches. These activities deepened my faith and my desire to share God's love with others. After a few years of discernment, I gathered my courage and became a candidate with the Dominican Sisters of Peace in 2016. I spent my candidacy years at the House of Welcome in New Haven, Connecticut, where I continued to discern my calling to be a Dominican Sister of Peace. I am so grateful for the prayers, encouragement, and support that I received during my candidacy years. I look forward to this next step of discernment and being with the Dominican family.

Sr. Rolande Pendeza Kahindo
Maryknoll Sisters of Saint Dominic

I was born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, Zaire, or Belgian Congo). I have seven siblings, and I am the second born and eldest sister. I hold a bachelor's degree in Education from Tangaza College, a Constituency of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. I first met the Maryknoll Sisters in 2014 when I was working as a teacher in Dodoma, Tanzania, with the Jesuit Fathers. I was attracted to the sisters because of their simplicity of life, their missionary spirit of crossing borders to meet those living on the margins, and their willingness to go to remote areas and share life with the poor according to one's giftedness. I had my first year of integration and acculturation in Chicago where I lived in community and continued to learn about the Maryknoll spirituality while taking classes from CTU (Catholic Theological Union) for my personal growth. I volunteered at Saint Thomas the Apostle Parish as a minister of care, where I was happy to bring the Eucharistic Jesus to the homebound. I also volunteered in a food pantry at Saint James Parish. I am very grateful for the love, support, and prayers from the Maryknoll Sisters, my family, friends, and the whole Dominican family. 

Sr. Maria Kieu Tran 
Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose

Born in Vietnam and entered the US at the age of one, I was raised in Modesto, California, as the middle of seven children. I graduated from the University of California San Diego with a Bachelor's in Human Biology, and it was there that I first encountered and fell in love with the Dominican charism through campus ministry at the Newman Center. When I was seeking to begin discernment, God guided me to the sisters at Mission San Jose, who quickly became my model of how to live a life that embodies the words of their preaching. My ministerial experiences include liturgical ministry in both the Vietnamese and English communities, youth ministry, Confirmation catechist, and Children's Liturgy of the Word. Before entrance, I worked as an administrative assistant at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Modesto, assigned with the tasks of baptism and marriage preparation, funeral liturgy planning, and coordinating the Safe Environment program. My hope for this coming year is to listen even deeper to the Father's call, to encounter Christ daily in others and in myself, and to give witness to the Holy Spirit.

Meet the Co-Directors

Sr. Lorraine Reaume, OP
Dominican Sisters of Adrian

I am excited to be able to minister on behalf of the many Dominican congregations that make up the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate. My own CDN experience in 1998-1999 grounded me in the Dominican Family and gave me a solid identity as a Dominican. I look forward to walking with women on that same journey and to broadening our intercultural experience together. I am originally from Toronto, Canada, and so, like our novices this year, am also an immigrant. My undergraduate degrees are a BA in English and Psychology (University of Waterloo) and a BEd (Lakehead University). I have an MDiv and an MA in Theology from Catholic Theological Union. I have a certificate in Spiritual Direction and have completed the Collaborative Leadership Development Program. I am in the middle of the Religious Formation Conference ForMission program. Before religious life, I was a teacher and then a Lay Missionary in Bolivia. I also co-coordinated the Lay Mission Program for Scarboro Missions for four years. In religious life, I have served as a Campus Minister at Siena Heights University, as a Pastoral Associate with a focus on Hispanic Ministry in both Anchorage, AK, and Detroit, MI, and as Formation Director. I love to walk with others as they discover how God is calling them to life.

Sr. Cathy Arnold, OP
Dominican Sisters of Peace

I am happy to accept this ministry, and I hope to help provide a nurturing and life-giving environment in the CDN community. I participated in the CDN as a novice from 2000 to 2001 and have many wonderful and, yes, some challenging memories, which helped me to grow more deeply into Dominican life, especially relationships and social justice issues. My educational background includes a BS in chemistry from Marietta College, an MA in theological studies from the University of Dayton, and most recently a certificate of completion of the Religious Formation Conference ForMission program. My final project for ForMission involved developing and leading an Intercultural Living mini-workshop with our Sisters and Associates. I have also participated more informally in a Peace Ambassador Training program and have helped coordinate a Leadership for Peace program for college age students. In my past, I have ministered in special education and high school education. From 2017 to 2018, I ministered first as a vocation minister and then as Coordinator of Formation of my congregation. Walking with women in formation is a gift, privilege, and a sacred task as they and we discern how the Spirit is working in us. In addition to ministry, I enjoy baking bread, walking, reading, biking, gardening, and watching movies.

Monday, August 13, 2018

ARRIVED... but to be settled

2018 - 2019 
- pictured from left to right -
Sr. Lorraine (Adrian), Sr. Maria Kieu (Mission San Jose), 
Sr. Phuong (Peace), Sr. Rolande (Maryknoll), Sr. Cathy (Peace)


We have arrived. We have been welcomed. We have only just started the process of settling in. As we begin our time together, we take a contemplative moment to encounter each other on our shared path of discernment and to celebrate this new community in gratitude for the presence and cultural diversity of each member. Knowing that the coming days are full of transition and orientation, we invite you to pray for us and with us

During this sacred time, we are making our introductions to a new life in community with each other, and we look forward to sharing those introductions with you in the following days.  

 Image result for together we pray

Ever present God, 
we thank you for the call to mission 
as Dominican women. 

Deepen in us our discipleship
in the Word of God. 
Empower us to contemplate
the Word of God in prayer, 
integrate it within every aspect of our life, 
and preach it to the world. 

Continue to bless us with new members
who have a passion for your Word
and the prophetic courage
to preach it to others. 

Shower your graces upon those
in the initial process of becoming Dominican, 
especially those sharing life and mission
in the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate. 

We ask this through the intercession 
of our holy father Dominic,
our sister Catherine, 
and our Maryknoll foundress Mother Mary Joseph.