Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Night of Celebration

On Wednesday, February 21, the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) in St. Louis marked its 30th anniversary. An evening of memories, song, and prayer at Aquinas Institute of Theology commemorated the occasion. This was an evening long in the making, scheduled to coincide with the three-day annual meeting of the CDN board of directors. This year’s CDN community—
co-directors Sisters Joye Gros (Dominican Sisters of Peace) and Megan McElroy (Grand Rapids), and novices Rhonda (Sinisinawa) and I (Caldwell) were delighted to welcome board members, the Dominican family, the Aquinas community, and friends to this memorable celebration.
Rev. John Pitzer and Sr. Susan Olson, OP
The evening’s masterful vocalists were Dominican Sister of Peace (and CDN graduate) Sister Susan Olson and the Reverend John Pitzer, with Hamilton Gutierrez on piano. The concert featured prayerful compositions by members of the Dominican family, with several opportunities for the audience to join in song. After Sister Joye Gros had welcomed everyone, Sister Mary Ann Nelson (Sinsinawa), a founding mother of the CDN, shared reflections on the birthing of this collaborative venture, a dream of almost 20 founding Dominican congregations.

Directors - past, present, and future
 Sisters Connie Kelly (Hope), Lorraine Reaume (Adrian), and Cathy Arnold (Peace) offered reflections on their own years as CDN novices. They spoke of growth and learning, challenges, fun, and, especially, the treasured relationships that the sisters formed during the canonical year. In many cases, these relationships have endured through the years. As Sister Susan Olson introduced the song “It’s Mornings Like This,” she relayed the deep bond shared with her CDN sisters.
Novices -  past and present
The night provided a chance to thank Sister Elizabeth Slenker (Sparkill) for her many years of care for the CDN house. Thanks to Sister Elizabeth, the house is in better condition now than on the day it was purchased! At the end of the evening, co-director Sister Megan McElroy offered words of thanks. As a surprise, board member and liaison Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma (Springfield) presented Sisters Megan and Joye with personal notes written by members of the board to thank these dedicated sisters for their eight years of formation ministry.

The cake was a fitting tribute...
The program concluded in a powerful spirit of prayer, with the singing of the Dominican Blessing (Marchionda, OP). Refreshments afterwards included an array of cookies baked mostly by Rhonda, though she did receive some help from our InterCommunity Novice friends and from yours truly!
...and so were Rhondas cookies!

Heartfelt thanks to all who joined us to celebrate the gift of collaborative intercongregation formation of Dominican women. With hope, we look to a future of promise—promise born of joyful trust in the One who calls us to preach the gospel of love!