Wednesday, September 8, 2021

       "BE YOU"...... the beginning of our new journey


     Collaborative Dominican Novitiate 


We are five women who come from different cultures, congregations, ages, and backgrounds, yet we are able to live peacefully together during this intense canonical year at the CDN. A year filled with Faith, Hope, Joy, and Love! Well, at least we've done it for twenty seven days! YAY... we've survived so far! There is hope for peace in this world.  Surprisingly, all three of our last names begin with "BU"! As our journey began to unfold, we embraced "BE YOU" as our theme for this special year.  Please pray for us as we immerse ourselves in Dominican life during this sacred year.

                                               MEET OUR NOVICES

                                                                             Sister Tram Bui

                                                       Dominican Sisters of Peace

Greetings and blessings to each of you as you are reading our first blog. My name is Tram Bui and I am a novice from the Dominican Sisters of Peace. I was born and raised in Viet Nam. I am the second oldest child of nine siblings. I have one older sister, four younger brothers, and three younger sisters.  

In March 1997, my whole family moved to the US to unite with my grandparents and Dad’s side of the family in Daytona Beach, FL. My family then moved to Houston, Texas in 2005 and from there I finished my doctoral degree in Physical Therapy from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock. I love being with nature and gardening. I also find pleasure in cooking, singing, having simple conversations with companions, exercising, taking a walk, playing indoor games or outdoor activities. I will study the Vowed Life class and the Trinity and Mission class at CTU for the coming Fall semester.  

Being with the Dominican family, I feel very much at home and I look forward to continuing to practice, study, and deepen my understanding in the Dominican tradition. I am also excited about living and building our new community with our many diverse cultures and different backgrounds. It is a blessing and a gift from God that I’m able to be here at the CDN.  I am so thankful to God, to my community, friends, and my family.  With God’s grace, I am delighted and eager to be here to start the journey together with my companions Cathy Buchanan and Siobhan Burroughs for this coming year and to deepen my relationship with God. I will continue discerning the call under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and our directors, Sisters Cathy Arnold and Lorraine Reaume. Thank you so much for your support and prayers. Peace and blessings to each of you. 


                                                                    Sister Siobhan Burroughs

                                                  Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa

Trinidad and Tobago is the land of my birth. My life has been significantly shaped by this multi-ethnic, multi-religious twin-island in the Caribbean. I have always believed that all human beings have equal worth and are deserving of respect. Sweet T&T, as we fondly call my country, has also inspired my love for celebrating life, people, the arts, nature and a variety of foods. I have a Masters in Clinical psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology as well as Management Studies. I have worked with children, adolescents as well as adults. I am the first of two girls for my parents and have two brothers and an eight-year-old niece.

The call to religious life was awakened during World Youth Day in Poland in July 2016. I was captivated by the variety of religious orders, representing regions from all over the world. In a grace-filled moment, I told God “Yes”. I later attended a vocations retreat with Sisters from different religious congregations. The Dominican mission to “preach and teach the gospel” resonated deep within me and I discerned that the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa was the best fit for me. 

I was welcomed as a candidate on August 7th 2019. My candidate year was spent in Milwaukee and Trinidad and Tobago. On August 9th 2020, I was received as a novice and began my apostolic novitiate in Trinidad and Tobago. Along this journey, I have studied and served in various ministries (including Sisters Program South; Franciscan Institute; and the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission). After receiving a blessing on August 7th 2021, I entered the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate in Chicago and began my canonical novitiate. I am looking forward to this sacred time where I will learn more about being Dominican and have the opportunity to enter more deeply into prayer, community life, study and ministry.

Many blessings,


                                                                        Sister Cathy Buchanan

                                                      Dominican Sisters of Peace

Hello Sisters, I am very happy to be here at the CDN in Chicago! I want to introduce myself and let you know a little bit about me. I’m from northern New Jersey and until last year, lived there my whole life.  As it is with life, I have experienced many joys, along some challenges as well.  My greatest joys are my 2 nieces, 4 nephews, 2 great-nieces and 7 God-children. I was and am known as a chatty Cathy (a challenge J).  I am outgoing and social with a great sense of humor. I’ve loved helping people through my ministry as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician for the past 32 years. I’ve had wonderful opportunities to serve the people of New Jersey as a Law Enforcement officer for 27 years and before entering the Dominican Sister of Peace, I was blessed to minister in a Catholic parish in Essex County, New Jersey for 5 years as the Coordinator of Liturgy and Adult Formation. One of my passions is as an ESL volunteer tutor and mentor for new immigrants to the U.S. I find so much joy in helping people learn English and walking with them as they study to become citizens. I have been very blessed to be surrounded by people in my life who have accepted me for who I am and for who God created me to be.

I studied and received my degrees from Caldwell University, Seton Hall University and the Immaculate Conception Seminary and School of Theology at Seton Hall. I am a lifelong learner and I thank God that I’ve had many opportunities to put the gift of my education to use in many ministries. I spent my candidacy year at the House of Welcome in New Haven, Connecticut ministering at Albertus Magnus College as the Coordinator of their Health Clinic. I had an amazingly supportive community in New Haven who helped me to navigate living into community and religious life. I pray this year at the CDN will be a time of God’s grace and blessings as I move forward into the vocation that God had planned for me. Peace & Prayers to all of you!

                                           MEET OUR DIRECTORS 


                                                                       Lorraine Reaume, OP

                                                     Dominican Sisters of Adrian

I am a Dominican Sister of Adrian, originally from Toronto, Canada. I am happy to be starting my fourth year with the CDN and 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 am grateful to be able to walk with women on that same journey.

My undergraduate degrees are a BA in English and Psychology (University of Waterloo) and a B.Ed. (Lakehead University). I also have an MDiv and an MA in Theology from Catholic Theological Union. I have a certificate in Spiritual Direction, have completed the Collaborative Leadership Development Program, and have also done the ForMission program offered by the Religious Formation Conference.  

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 discern and discover how God is calling them to life and particularly appreciate the opportunity to share life with people of many places and cultures.

Favorite quote, "All shall be well…for there is a force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go." Julian of Norwich


                                                                      Sister Cathy Arnold, OP

                                                     Dominican Sisters of Peace 

As we begin another year at the CDN, I feel grateful to live in a community with women from different cultures, diverse backgrounds, and many gifts.  I am also hopeful that with proper precautions to prevent getting or spreading the corona virus, the novices have opportunities to experience more in-person meetings with members of our Dominican family and in our religious life circles.  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 in relationship building and working on 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 completion of the Religious Formation Conference ForMission program. My final project ForMission involved developing and leading an Intercultural Living mini-workshop with our Sisters and Associates. Since then I have also completed the Collaborative Leadership Development Program sponsored by LCWR.  In the past, I participated in a Peace Ambassador Training program and helped coordinate a Leadership for Peace program for college age students.  I have ministered in special education, high school education, and from 2007 to 2018, I served as a vocation minister and then as Coordinator of Formation for the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Walking with women in formation is a gift, a privilege, and a sacred task as they and we discern how the Spirit is working in the discernment of becoming Dominican. For fun, I enjoy baking bread (learning how to make it gluten free now!), walking, reading, biking, gardening, and sharing time with Dominican Sisters, friends and family.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Return to Ordinary Time

Our final weeks at the CDN coincide with the end of the Easter season and the church’s return to Ordinary Time. That seems fitting. Our canonical novitiate year has been anything but the usual. Upon arriving at the CDN last August, we novices stepped out of our ordinary routines and entered an extra-ordinary time, for extra prayer, reflection, and integration. This year, we journeyed into the wilderness of our own hearts to internalize the vows and the charism to which we are committing our lives. We experienced the paschal mystery, both on a macro scale as the entire human family experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, and on a micro scale, as we sought to take on the mind and heart of Christ and become a new creation.

Taizé Prayer Around the Cross in our House Chapel
Now this extraordinary novitiate year is drawing to a close. Like the disciples in Sunday’s Gospel (Matt. 28: 16-20), we’ve been up on the mountaintop with Jesus, and we’re about to be sent down and out on mission. So, it’s also fitting that on our final Sunday together, the church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Trinity. As Fr Dan Horan reminded us earlier this year, our Trinitarian God has a heart for relationship. The mystery of the Trinity reveals that God is a loving communion between persons. Because we are created in God’s likeness, we too are made for communion. Particularly as vowed religious, Pope Francis tells us, we are called to become experts in communion – an image of the Trinity.

As we return to Ordinary Time and prepare to depart from the CDN, we hear Jesus telling us, “Go and make disciples of all the nations,” teaching and preaching and inviting those we encounter into a life of communion with God and each other. Such a Great Commission can seem daunting. To reassure us, Jesus first says, “All power on heaven and earth has been given to me.” As women in the church, we are keenly aware of how easily power can be abused and misused to dominate people. But the power of which Jesus speaks is meant to empower the church to continue God’s mission. God the Creator has given all power to Jesus, who then shares that power with us through the gift of the Spirit. I think there are three aspects of that power that we have witnessed this year, and which we are called to carry forth as we come down from the mountain.
First, Jesus receives from God the power to give life, and he shares that power with us. I think of the story we heard from Sister Mary Lou, a Maryknoll Missioner who ministered in Hong Kong to refugees from mainland China. Years later, traveling through Adrian, MI, she stopped at a Chinese restaurant. When the chef heard she was a Maryknoll Sister, he came out to say that his family had been among those refugees who survived on the care and noodles provided by Sisters like MaryLou. Thanking her, he said the Maryknoll Sisters saved his life and his family. Through Jesus, we have the power to give life to one another.

From left to right: Maryknoll Sr Gloria, SVD seminarian David, Faithmary, 
Maryknoll Sr MaryLou & Annie
Second, Jesus shares the power of unconditional love, a love that is stronger than death. I think of my mom, Sally Killian, who used to say that she found something to love in every one of her patients. As a physician, she believed that love is stronger than any disease and the suffering it brings. Even now, six years since she passed, my family continues to know the power of her unconditional love for us. We all are called to love one another with that same powerful love that comes from God.

Annie's Dad, TJ, comes to visit

Finally, Jesus shares with us the power to forgive. I think of the homicide prayer vigils we attended on the last Saturday of every month, where we gathered with Catholic Sisters and friends to remember the victims as well as the perpetrators of violence here in Chicago, to pray for healing, and to commit ourselves to the work of peace-building. Jesus entrusts to us his empowering ministry of reconciliation.
The power to give life, to love without condition, to forgive and reconcile – this is the power with which Jesus sends us forth. Looking back on this year at the CDN, I thank God to have experienced a life-giving, loving and forgiving community among the directors and novices. Now we go our separate ways, knowing that we remain united in the love of Christ, who promises to be with us always – even in Ordinary Time.

Outing to Indiana Dunes State Park

Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Impact of gratitude in rebirth

'You springs bless the Lord. Sea and rivers bless the Lord [1].' The universe has taught me the language of gratitude during my novitiate years. It is hard to believe though that the canonical year is coming to an end. I tend to believe that our state of the whole being as we come to the end, is the same as the energetic lake waves on the beach of Siena Retreat Center hitting the shore and the flourishing celery in spring; alive, nourished, rooted, reenergized, and singing the Magnificat of gratitude to all that has been and looking forward with faith and hope to all that is to come. There are so many edifying lessons that Mother Earth can teach us if we just stop and gaze.

Siena Retreat Center beach, Racine WI (Lake Michigan)

As I had previously written on the celery’s resilience[2], I am excited to let you know that it has survived the bitter winter snow. Like the celery, the ability to bounce back to life comes with gratitude which realizes the presence and action of God within us and in the world around us all the time. If we can hold on to this spirit of gratitude and make it a daily practice and lifestyle, it can help rewire our brains to be more positive, thus elevate our immunity, increase our enthusiasm in work, improve sleep and increase our long life. Pope Francis had this to say about gratitude, “Above all, let us not forget to thank: if we are bearers of gratitude, the world itself will become better, even if only a little bit, but that is enough to transmit a bit of hope” [3]. This says to me that I can make the world around me better by showing and living a life of gratitude that in turn instills hope.


Celery in Spring
Celery in winter
  We are invited to be people of gratitude, not because our lives are a bed of roses, but because even in the tensions of our everyday life the Spirit within us moves us and strengthens us to forge ahead. Mary the Mother of God, sang her Magnificat even in her state of not knowing what her yes implied. She believed in her own dreaming track, her inner ability to navigate through the unknown. She let it out in her song. The song of gratitude sounds sweeter in circumstances where grace touches us without any warning. An invitation for me to constantly acknowledge the abundance of God's grace in my life.
When the ten lepers were healed, only one went back to express gratitude to Jesus, and he was a Samaritan [4]. I only stand out as far as this passage is concerned when I appreciate what I have become because of the help I have received from others in the community and ministry. I stand out not because I am the best but because I connect with the life-giver Himself. We are called to give thanks in all circumstances; "for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us" [5].
May the universe teach us its love for gratitude, for gratitude attracts abundance. We give gratitude for everything taking place in our favor and show gratitude that the unseen forces of nature are working on our dreams. Gratitude will help raise our vibrations and brings us into harmony with the energy of the Universe. Gratitude can immediately transform all areas of our life. In season and out of the season, like the celery and lake waves, we rejoice and give thanks. We are a people carved out of gratitude and thank you is our song.

"if the only prayer you said in your whole life was 'thank you', that would suffice." - Meister Eckhart


1 Daniel 3: 77-79
4Luke 17:11-19
5 Thessalonians 5:18

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Praise Be to Our Gardening God

We at the CDN are rejoicing in the new life of Easter. Flowers bloom in the yard, trees bud with leaves, seedlings germinate and sprout. What’s more, we are now fully vaccinated and can widen our social interactions (within CDC guidelines, of course). To celebrate, we drove down to visit our Dominican Sisters in Springfield, IL. We were greeted by Sr. Elyse Marie Ramirez, who is teaching our Contemporary Issues in Consecrated Life course. What a delight to see her in person rather than on Zoom! Elyse showed us around the beautiful motherhouse grounds and pointed out the flower beds she’s been tending. 

Visiting with Springfield Dominicans Sisters Georgiana and Elyse


Our final destination was Jubilee Farm, the congregation’s Center for Ecology and Spirituality. Founded in 2000, the farm extends over 164 acres of grassy pasture, woods, and wetlands. It’s home to a vegetable garden, apple orchard, chickens and llamas, as well as a Creative Arts Center. We stayed overnight at La Casa, enjoying the hospitality of Sisters Sharon Zayac, Anita Cleary, and Rose Mary Riley. Friday morning dawned sunny and warm – a gorgeous day to spend roaming the land. Volunteers have helped with ecological restoration by planting native Illinois grasses and wildflowers. Their labors now bear fruit in an abundance of green and growing things.

Woodlands at Jubilee Farm


Sharon welcomed us and offered a stimulating reflection exercise. In addition to viewing the landscape, she invited us to spend time listening, eyes closed, to the soundscape of the environment. Notice the sounds of Earth (wind blowing, water bubbling), of living beings (trees whispering, birds chirping), and of human activity (my own breathing). Walking the trails took me over wooded hills, across grassy valleys, around ponds, along the creek, and by the apple orchard. The beauty around me, the new growth, the bird song – all filled my heart with peace and delight.


Trees in bloom and the pond fed by natural springs at Jubilee Farm


As I walked the prayer labyrinth, winding my way toward the center, I imagined Mary Magdalene in the garden on Easter morning, searching for Jesus. In John’s Resurrection narrative, the garden where Jesus is buried recalls the scene in Genesis 2:

The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and placed there the human being whom God had formed (v. 8). Out of the ground the Lord God made grow every tree that was delightful to look at and good for food (v. 9). The Lord God then took the human being and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it (v. 15).


I love this image of God planting the first garden and making trees grow to give delight and nourishment for all creatures. The garden, a figure for our planet Earth, is humanity’s home, the place where God has settled us. God formed us of Earth, and our purpose on Earth is to be co-cultivators with God. We are made to be caregivers for creation.


In John’s Gospel, Mary Magdalene arrives on Easter morning in the garden of the New Creation. Here she encounters the Risen Christ, the true gardener who restores us to right relationship with God. We see in Jesus that God delights in giving life. Our Creator invites us to heal and bind up wounds, including the harm done to Earth. We are called to help in repairing what has been lost or destroyed, so as to share in God’s work of recreation.

Bridge over the Creek at Jubilee Farm


Looking around at the trees on Jubilee Farm, I thought of all the living creatures, from migratory birds and squirrels to tiny microorganisms, that find sustenance among their branches and roots. They delight in the trees as I do. Together we give thanks and praise to our Gardening God.


As a lifelong city dweller, I have much to learn about our mission to cultivate and care for Earth. I’m grateful to the Sisters at Jubilee Farm and all in our Dominican family who labor in the field of ecojustice and care for creation. They preach the goodness of creation with great joy. 

Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 12, 2021

Happy Easter from the CDN!

Christ is Risen, Alleluia! A photo chronicle of Holy Week, the Triduum, and Easter Sunday at the CDN.

Final Friday of Lent

Fish Fry

Taizé Prayer in our House Chapel

Maundy Thursday

Delivering Cinnamon Rolls to our new Neighbors, Franciscan Sisters Julia and Sharon

Good Friday

Praying Stations of the Cross at Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica

Holy Saturday

Decorating Pysanky Eggs (with gratitude to Kathy Flynn, OP)

Easter Sunday

Enjoying the Sunshine at Busse Woods with Maryknoll candidate Kirsten

Signs of New Life and Easter Joy

Saturday, April 3, 2021

A gift freely given - JOY

What is one thing that this past year has taught you? What is your learning experience? Fr. Donald Goergen, OP asked these questions as he gave a virtual retreat to Adrian Sisters, in which we participated.

Photo of a banner in the Basilica 
of Mary Our Lady of Sorrows
As I thought about the questions, the word joy flooded my mind. That surprised me since I could not see how joy could speak to me so strongly in these times of uncertainty in the world.

Reflecting on that, I realize that true joy is that which comes from following our Divine and having the Divine as a constant companion, and not only taking joy as a feeling based on happenings. This is God's invitation to me during my canonical year under the pandemic. I spend 18 to 20 hours of the day in the house, meeting people on screen and getting virtual hugs, following up on updates about the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and many other Covid-19 waves that continue to hit the world, listening to talks on racial injustices and following the updates of the current shootings, watching wakes and funeral services of our sisters at the motherhouse… how do I still find joy in the midst of all this? 

As a Christian I am reminded that joy is not an emotion or a good feeling, it is a gift of the Divine. God brings joy in our lives that circumstances cannot take away from us. This joy that is gifted to us through the Holy Spirit, transcends all circumstances; pandemic, the pain of loss, natural calamities, and all injustices. It is an internal joy fed to our hearts by the wellspring of joy the Father has toward us. We can experience joy amid trials and tribulations because we have genuine faith that this life is not all there is.

Mother Mary Joseph our foundress (Maryknoll Sisters) poses to me as a model of Joy. She spoke about 'our spirit of joy' as a great aspect of community living. In one of her conferences, she said, "I think it is the cause of our joy that dominates the life of every Maryknoll Sister - union with God. We can't talk about it. It's a thing that is too deep, too real; it touches the hidden wells of our hearts ..... "', 'MMJ  July 16, 1937  Chapter Meeting - Cloister'. Food for thought indeed!

Paul in his epistle of joy to the Philippians inspires me, more so, since he penned it while still in prison awaiting trial. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice”, Philippians 4:4. Paul had joy amid imprisonment. So what was the source of his joy? Perhaps his intimate relationship with God, and certainty of His love for him.

I am reminded that this foundational joy does not just happen. It is a process. I need patience to grow in it as I learn to know God better and better during and after this ‘canonical-pandemic’ year. This Joy empowers and gives me the ability to move forward even when things are tough. God’s grace through the Holy Spirit enables me to discover this real deep-seated joy that touches my innermost being, leads me forth, and gives courage, it penetrates through all odds. “To be full of joy,”  Pope Francis said, “is the experience of the highest consolation when the Lord makes us understand that this is something different from being cheerful, positive, bright...”

Jump for Joy- Mary, and Elizabeth on canvas

He who promises this joy is faithful. This joy is real and never in short supply, Jesus does not go without it, It is freely given. Let joy draw us, replace our situations and lift our spirit as it lifted Mary’s Spirit in her Song of Praise as she sang “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior”. The kind of joy that flowed from Mary’s greeting to Elizabeth released profound energy of the Spirit which produces a vibration and a wave of joy that then spreads out “from generation to generation.”

There can never be a better time than the Easter season, to celebrate the joy that is brought by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Looking at our situation, in the middle of the pandemic, it is much easier relating to the sufferings of Christ in Lent than feeling the joy of Easter. Even as we are experiencing the scourge of the covid-19, God has never stopped showing us his goodness and love. 

The victory of his resurrection gives hope to a world that is tormented by despair. Jesus is our true joy, a joy that comes from his bruises and pierced side. Our joy is not shallow but comes from faith. We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song! [Pope John Paul ll:1986].

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Last Week of Winter

We at the CDN marked the last week of winter in Chicago by celebrating Pi Day, St Patrick's, and early signs of spring. Blessings on the rest of your Lenten season as we prepare for Holy Week!

Cathy baked a delicious apple pie for Pi Day (3.14)

Sunday Meal in Community

Happy St Patrick's Day Selfie

Annie's first attempt at Irish soda bread

Early Spring Flowers Burst into Bloom
Ready for Easter Morning!