Preaching with our Lives


Praedicare is a blog about the many ways Dominicans preach with their lives, coordinated by Sister Rebecca Hodge, OP, who serves as the Coordinator of Online Preaching for the Congregation. In addition to written blogs, we will be using a multi-media approach to preaching.

Please click the “Subscribe” button on the right column if you would like to receive these blogs by email.  

 


Hello, I am Sister Rebecca Hodge, OP, and I am delighted to be coordinating the Praedicare blog. I am inviting Sisters and Associates to write a short reflection or record a video reflection, and possibly do a podcast on topics related to the liturgical year, Dominican charism, or current concerns. I hope that the items chosen will enliven, challenge, and possibly transform one’s understanding of faith and action.

For more information, contact me at rebecca_hodge@me.com

Please enjoy the following reflection from Sister Patricia McDonald, OP.



The Intersection of Scripture and Study

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, of God.
2 Timothy 3:16

Scripture gives rise to new thinking. As 2 Timothy 3:16-17 implies … we read, study, ponder, reflect and pray about the deeper meaning of words, thoughts, message, gestures, implications, and corresponding actions. 

We are challenged to make the Scriptural messages come alive! We reflect on our faith and think about what this means personally, professionally, societally, and realistically.

A definition of faith that I reflect upon:

FAITH: Finding Alternative Insight Through Hope (SIFT, McDonald, www.trafford.com, 2004)

In this definition I focus on hope. How do we help others to see, believe, and participate in human togetherness when hopelessness is prevalent in their reality?

What must we do to equalize opportunities for all persons? Scriptures command that we construct acts, actions, rules, regulations, and laws for the betterment of all humanity. By engaging in the art form of study we go to the basics of life for all persons and impart knowledge so as to assist in the creation of equal opportunity for all.

Scripture is designed, taught, and spread to internalize the messages so all have opportunity for growth and development. Through educating others by thought, word, deed, and action we come to new awakenings to make the sacred words come alive. Scripture is designed to be transformative in life, living, and outcome.

STOP, LOOK, LISTEN! “Love God, love your neighbor.”

It doesn’t get any clearer than that. TAG, you’re it!

Contemplate and give to others the fruits of your contemplation!

Sister Patricia McDonald, OP


Detail of a door at Maison St. Dominic, Fanjeaux, France, by Suzie Wong. Used with permission.

(Jeremiah 31:1-7; Responsorial: Jeremiah 31:10, 11-12AB, 13; Matthew 15:21-28)

Today’s readings are fitting as we celebrate the Feast of our Joyful Friar, St. Dominic because they capture both his spirit and his mission.

The first reading calls us to rejoice with festive tambourines and dancing as we celebrate God’s promise of restoration of the people of Israel and, by extension, of the people of Earth today. We can find much darkness and many reasons for concern, but we are called to trust in the God who keeps promises and who will – with our help – restore the fortunes of the people. Dominic dealt with a difficult ministry and powerful heresies, but he remained joyful as he proclaimed the truth of God’s love. We, too, must deal with the challenges of our times and, with the joy of Dominic, dispel the heresies, proclaiming God’s love.

The Gospel reminds us that we are also called to preach through our actions, by bringing healing to the people we encounter. Jesus seems reluctant to cast the demon from the Canaanite woman’s daughter, but the mother gently but cleverly helped him to see that she, too, was worthy of at least the scraps of healing. As Dominicans, we are called to extend healing and compassion to people on the margins – whether they’re immigrants seeking safety in the United States or local people who suffer from poverty or rejection. Let us, like Jesus and like Dominic, sow compassion and service to all who are in need.

Sister Barbara Kelley, OP
Adrian, Michigan

P.S. Stay tuned! We will be releasing reflections on St. Dominic throughout the month of August.


As my final installment of the Praedicare, I share this offering from Sister Suzanne Schreiber, OP one of our Sister artists who is the Coordinator of the recently reopened INAI: A Space Apart, a place adjacent to Weber Center for quiet and meditation, which includes an art gallery. It has been my pleasure to serve as the Preaching Promoter for the last two-and-a-half years and I look forward to seeing where our preaching will take us in the future. 

Sincerely,
Sister Mary Jones, OP


Not all preaching has words. At the INAI art gallery in Adrian, artists preach with paintings, photographs, prints, digital art, ceramics, sculpture, weavings, and fabric art. Sisters, Associates, and artists from southeast Michigan and beyond are invited to show their work; exhibits change every four months.

In her quilting and weaving Sister Nancyann Turner, OP, brings together many pieces and many threads. “I have enjoyed creating in various media,” Nancyann said, “but working with fiber and cloth seems to be my home. Experience with both processes speak to my soul of integration and creation, unity out of diversity.”

Gerene Starratt, an Adrian Dominican Associate, exhibited her mini-quilt made of patch pieces. “The diversity of fabric,” she says, “which shows through the cathedral window pattern, embodies the Dominican Enactment, ‘… rooted in the joy of the Gospel, we will embrace and nurture our rich diversity…’ ”

For Sister Janice Holkup, OP, “being an artist is a way of seeing and being in the world. It’s about perception, a way of knowing, and then giving expression to what is perceived.” Art, she says, “often makes visible the invisible realities of our lives. In and through images we can know and grasp the meaning of experiences that might otherwise be missed.” Sister Janice works in mixed media and photography.

As part of the Dominican contemplative tradition, INAI offers a silence and quiet feel within the various spaces: the reading room, meditation space, and art gallery. Visitors come from near and far seeking a time of stillness, away from the busyness and noise of everyday life.

INAI: A Space Apart is part of Weber Retreat and Conference Center.

The Vision of INAI

  • To offer the public a way to share in the charism and spirituality of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
  • To provide quiet spaces for reflection, reading, and prayer.
  • To feature a space for silence and meditation.
  • To offer a gallery space for artists to exhibit work.
  • To foster relationships with artists, with Adrian and the surrounding communities, and with the Siena Heights University community through invitation, celebration and collaboration.
  • To respond, through art and contemplation, to the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ mission of being co-creators of justice and peace, and their commitment to live in right relationship with Earth community.

Dedication

This space is dedicated to the creative spirit of Sisters Barbara Chenicek, OP, and Rita Schiltz, OP, who, for 43 years, on this site created “sacred space,” designing chapels and churches that invited contemplation, reflection, and response to the presence of the Spirit in today’s world.

History of INAI

For more than 40 years INAI has stood as a center for exploration, for contemplation, for the experience of the sacred. In 1973, INAI opened eyes to the power of sacred space, the clarity of light, and the unanticipated beauty of nature.

In the words of its founders, Sisters Barbara and Rita: 

INAI attempts to illuminate, to bring light, to be a quiet but real testimony to the presence of realities beyond our sight, to be a place where our restlessness can, for a moment, come to rest.

INAI attempts to heal and restore our capacity for immediate personal experience and reawaken the reflective possibilities inherent within us: for hope, for meaning, for God.

In 2018, INAI continues with renewed vitality, embodying the original mission of offering a sacred space for reflection, meditation, and art.

Sister Suzanne Schreiber, OP
INAI Coordinator


Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin, OP, sits second from left.

One of the greatest gifts our Sisters who have “retired” from active ministry is the vital work of what we call the ministry of “Prayer and Presence.” Sisters devote time to pray for the needs of the world and specific requests that come from the Office of Development, friends, family, former colleagues, and even complete strangers. Many times, Sisters are asked to share their wisdom from many years of service and leadership with those who are entering into leadership, learning their faith, or who may be struggling. Sometimes people just want to be in the presence of our Sisters. 

One of our Sisters, Jeanne O’Laughlin, OP, is one of many Sisters who minister in prayer and presence. She has been an Adrian Dominican Sister for 73 years, with more than 20 years as President of Barry University in Florida, and many years of serving in Congregation leadership. Sister Jeanne is often asked to share her wisdom on mission, leadership, faith, and life. People at Siena Heights University enjoy taking advantage of Sister Jeanne’s many visits to Michigan. Referred to as “Fireside chats with Sister Jeanne,” she takes time to visit with different departments at Siena Heights University, helping them recognize how each person is called to live the university’s mission in their own unique way. 

The transition to a ministry of prayer and presence is sometimes a challenge for our very active Sisters; however, the gift of this ministry is beyond measure, and for those of us on the receiving end, we can only say, “thank you.”


Gathering for prayer at the Broadview Deportation Center in Broadview, Illinois are, left to right, Sisters Jean Keeley, OP, JoAnn Fleischaker, OP, Noreen George, OP, and Dot Dempsey, OP. Photo courtesy of Sister Jean Keeley.

By Sister Jane Zimmerman, OP

“Affairs are now soul size,” said the poet Christopher Fry. These words ring true in our own time, and they moved the Dominican Midwest Chapter into action. Four years ago we committed ourselves to advocate actively for humane immigration reform; to collaborate with others in this endeavor; and to accompany the immigrant, documented or undocumented, toward a more secure life.

Sister Donna Kustusch, OP, researched and created the proposal for this initiative. She was calling us to be what she called a “Witness Community.” She wrote this as part of a rationale for her proposal:

We know that Dominic’s intuitive creativity was an experiment. He wanted to insert himself, as a member of a community, into the life of the Albigensians so that the community could “preach” by presence, word, and action the Spirit of a loving God. He actually did not know where this intuition would lead. He was answering a creative call of the Spirit. 

Witness Community is an experiment born from our Gospel call to walk as Jesus did. It is a call to live the beatitudes, to see and live the struggles of the poor. It challenges us to live a reflective life together, reflecting on our presence to others and our struggles as strangers in a strange place. It is an attempt to live anew Dominic’s experiment here in the Chicago area, a place rich with our history.

It is largely because of Sister Donna’s commitment and passion for this project that the Immigration Initiative has taken on a life of its own. She was taken from us four months later in July 2013, but is still so much a part of it all!

The 68 Sisters and 37 Associates in our Chapter are each, in some way, involved in the Immigration Initiative: through taking direct action with other organizations; praying and fasting for immigration reform; contacting government representatives; or donating items on the wish lists of hospitality houses. 

In collaboration with the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants (ICDI), several of our Sisters have been praying the rosary early each Friday morning at the Broadview, Illinois, Deportation Center for the detainees being deported and for their families. “Detainees are brought from seven different counties,” Sister Jean Keeley, OP, said. “They are shackled at their hands, feet, and waist as they are herded onto the buses that take them to the airport. The windows on the buses are covered so that they cannot see out.” Volunteers are also present to families who must say good-bye to loved ones.

People who are released from detention and are in transition can stay in one of the two hospitality houses: the Marie Joseph House of Hospitality for women, and the Saint Mary of Częstochowa Hospitality House for men. “I am a presence there,” said Sister Dot Dempsey, OP, a weekend volunteer. “Mostly I stay in the office for phone calls, or I might go to the kitchen/dining room to make myself a cup of tea and talk to whomever is around.”

Our Sisters are also court-watchers. They are joined by university students and people of faith who write their observations while immigration court is in session. These reports and observations are sent to the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) to let the court system know that people are watching and are concerned about their immigrant brothers and sisters.

Many of our Sisters and Associates volunteer and tutor at Aquinas Literacy Center in the McKinley Park neighborhood, Chicago. Created 20 years ago by Sisters Claudia Hinds, OP, and Rosemary Brennan, OP, this nonprofit, community-based center offers free individualized English language instruction, group conversation classes, and group computer classes. The Center is sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

We also collaborate with the Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants, an organization of more than 150 Sisters and Brothers from 137 religious communities. Members are committed to prayer, pastoral care in detention centers, legislative action, and support of separated families. “I attend the monthly meetings of the Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants,” said Sister JoAnn Fleischaker, OP. “I am learning much about immigration issues here on a local and state level.” 

We in the Dominican Midwest Chapter feel that our involvement in this Immigration Initiative is a powerful way of preaching. If St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena were alive in our time, they would be in the thick of it right alongside us!

   
LEFT: Former Aquinas Literacy Center Executive Director and present day tutor Sister Joan Mary, OP, and her student take a short break. RIGHT: Volunteer tutors Sisters Mary Margaret Mannard, OP, Norine Burns, OP, Patricia McKee, OP, and Dot Dempsey, OP, with Bishop Joseph Perry at the twentieth-anniversary celebration of Aquinas Literacy Center, October 2016. Photos courtesy of Aquinas Literacy Center

 



Homeless and Wandering
By Sister Christa Marsik, OP

O God, our loving God, where are you?
We have been driven from our homes,
driven from our lands.
And where shall we go?
Who will welcome us?
Who will love us?

Aleppo no longer wants us.
And she buses us to the other side of her city.
We suffer, waiting,
waiting while the powerful fight for our homes,
and while no one else wants us.

Mosul lies in rubble.
Can we claim her rocks and stones as ours?
The once beautiful ancient churches where
we prayed begging your loving care.
We suffer, waiting,
waiting as ISIS battles other believers
laying waste to our lives and our homeland.

How long, O God, how long?

Standing Rock,
yes, you do stand as a symbol,
a symbol of the lands that were once ours,
the lands out of which we were driven,
driven into boundary reserves so that the powerful
could claim these lands as their own.
We suffer, waiting,
waiting for those in charge to know their greed
and grant us our natural rights.

Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras,
beautiful jewels of the South.
We no longer feel safe in you, our lands.
Our lives are in jeopardy, stolen from us by the greedy.
Our families are separated, kidnapped, killed.
Where can we go? Who will welcome us?
We suffer, waiting,
waiting while the wealthy take our lives, our money
and leave us poor without sustenance.
Oh God, where are you?

“No wonder the prophet weeps yet—
We begin again but not innocent…

And we feebly watch for you and wait.
Teach us how to weep while we wait,
and how to hope while we weep,
and how to care while we hope.”

~ From “Teach Us How To Weep” in Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann


Water’s Lament
By Sister Pat Benson, OP

Oh God, Creator of the Universe, 
You who energized the flowing forth of all that we know,
Giver of the waters of life, 
hear the silent cry of your water through this voice.

Thank you for the process of evolution that emerged water on Earth.
Thank you for the emergence of life in the waters and its crawling onto land.
Thank you for emerging human consciousness and creativity.
Thank you for millennia of mutually enhancing relationship 
with the rest of creation, our sister and brother creatures.

Now, we, your people, use our intelligence creatively but often blindly.
We cause all bodies of water to cry out in anguish.
We deprive people and animals of clean life-giving water.
Because of our disconnected lifestyle we are complicit in this agony.

Aquifers, underground seas of pure water,
once deep and full, now suffering from human plunder,
become shallow.
Their empty voices cry out due to our technological expertise.

Rivers and the tumbling streams that feed them,
flowing clean and sparkling clear for eons,
carving incredibly deep gorges or meandering in meadows,
bring hydration to all creatures living near.
Rivers now drained for human use along the way, 
raise their dry voice before they reach the sea.

Lakes, expanses of water shimmering in the sun,
Frozen in the cold, sooth the spirit in a gaze.
Watching civilization grow cities on their shores,
and providing millions with water, 
lakes now raise their crusty voices 
polluted with chemicals, drugs, and waste debris.

Lakes, our agricultural endeavors drinking their water for growth,
pay the price of our unthinking practices 
as excess fertilizer and pathogens flow back.  
Their bountiful capacity overdrawn for our wants, 
lakes speak with cracked voices from their dry beds, 
a fraction of their former selves.

Glaciers, shimmering sheer cliffs of blue-white ice, frozen for centuries,
(with ice caps, 98% of Earth’s fresh water)
now victims of anthropogenic global warming, calve or melt. 
Their voices roar as they crack and fall, or slip silently into oblivion.

Seas, salty water encircling the globe, 
house abundant ecosystems of life.
Seas suffer as human beings deplete them of their bounty,
Employ practices that harm their inhabitants, 
And pollute their waters with waste. 
Their rolling cry brushes all shores.

Creator God, help us!
Help your human children emerge into new awareness 
of our responsibility for our “home”.  
Foster in us the “reverence for all” that Jesus modeled. 
Help us to raise our voices to protect our waters, 
and all who depend on them, especially those who are poor,
for their own sake and for future generations.

God, 
Self-giving Love, 
Holy Mystery, 
You are the Source of all that is.  
Your creative Spirit is ever-present with us, desiring to lead and guide us.  
Help us open our hearts and minds to your invitations 
always trusting that You will show us the way.



Lamentation
By Sister Susie Kresse, OP

O my soul, I cry unto God, 
Absent from my being.
Grieve for the violence
And suffering of the world
Affecting so many marginalized
And hurting people.

O absent God,
Show your mercy and compassion.
Provide shelter for the homeless,
Food for the hungry,
Health for the sick,
Peace for the dying.
Show us ways to provide for those in need.

Help our government:
Congress and Supreme Court.
Help President Trump be open to your grace;
Give him humility and appreciation for the gifts of others.

Preserve us from fear and anxiety….
Let us see your face.



Paradox
By Sister Marilyn Barnett, OP


Polar caps that vanish and melt,

Great oceans rise and creep.

African cracked and barren lands,

Our golf links green and neat.


Global warming cynics dismiss,

Reality’s urgent prayer

Religious leaders weep and mourn

their unoccupied churches bare.


Racial skirmishes erupt and grow 

Reasonable dialogue lost.

Schisms deepen, lies, deceit

hope wanes at great cost.


Darken prison bars conceal

the young and old who wait

Judicial systems clogged with tape,

appeals that decide their fate.


Why oh God are you in hiding?

Why can’t we see your face?

When will your justice rule and guide

over our human race.


You are our hope in times of trouble

You, the savior of all.

Give us the strength to trust in you

When all else seems to fall.



Why I Weep: A Lament
Election Day 2016
By Sister Kathryn Cliatt, OP

The people have spoken
and their words are filled with venom and hate.

The people have spoken
and neighbors tremble in their homes
in fear of being driven from the land.

The people have spoken
and lovers of earth
are terrified that treasures of the “Beautiful Blue Planet”
will be sold to the highest bidder.

The people have spoken
and the poor and vulnerable
anticipate the loss of access to health care
are crippled by the certainty of being trapped in slums of poverty
dread friends and loved ones being needlessly murdered in the streets.

The people have spoken
and women experience the oppression of the glass ceiling being lowered
of all claims to equality being lost, 
of being owned again.

The people have spoken
and African Americans reel from flashbacks of history
of physical, mental and spiritual abuse
of life having no value
of slavery.

My God, my God, how can you forgive us?

Our loving God waits patiently for us to turn our hearts and minds to the Divine loving touch of healing, transforming – so that

our hatred becomes love
our vengeance becomes forgiveness
our enemy becomes our friend
our Earth becomes our Mother
all creatures become our brothers/sisters of creation.

Our God will never abandon us.


Sister Rebecca Hodge, OP

 


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LINKS

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Recent Posts

  • The Intersection of Scripture and Study Posted 3 weeks ago
    Hello, I am Sister Rebecca Hodge, OP, and I am delighted to be coordinating the Praedicare blog. I am inviting Sisters and Associates to write a short reflection or record a video reflection, and possibly do a podcast on topics related to the liturgical year, Dominican charism, or current ...
  • Feast of St. Dominic Posted 2 months ago
    ...
  • Not All Preaching Has Words Posted 5 months ago
    As my final installment of the Praedicare, I share this offering from Sister Suzanne Schreiber, OP one of our Sister artists who is the Coordinator of the recently reopened INAI: A Space Apart, a place adjacent to Weber Center for quiet and meditation, which includes an art gallery. It ...
  • Prayer and Presence Posted 8 months ago
    Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin, OP, sits second from left. One of the greatest gifts our Sisters who have “retired” from active ministry is the vital work of what we call the ministry of “Prayer and Presence.” Sisters devote time to pray for the needs of the world and specific requests that ...
  • Preaching with Our Lives Posted last year
    ...
  • Homeless and Wandering Posted last year
    Homeless and Wandering By Sister Christa Marsik, OP O God, our loving God, where are you? We have been driven from our homes, driven from our lands. And where shall we go? Who will welcome us? Who will love us? Aleppo no longer wants us. And she buses us to the other side of her city. We suffer, ...
  • Water’s Lament Posted last year
    Water’s Lament By Sister Pat Benson, OP Oh God, Creator of the Universe,  You who energized the flowing forth of all that we know, Giver of the waters of life,  hear the silent cry of your water through this voice. Thank you for the process of evolution that emerged water on Earth. Thank you for the ...
  • Lamentation Posted last year
    Lamentation By Sister Susie Kresse, OP O my soul, I cry unto God,  Absent from my being. Grieve for the violence And suffering of the world Affecting so many marginalized And hurting people. O absent God, Show your mercy and compassion. Provide shelter for the homeless, Food for the hungry, Health for the sick, Peace for the dying. Show us ways to provide ...
  • Paradox Posted last year
    Paradox By Sister Marilyn Barnett, OP Polar caps that vanish and melt, Great oceans rise and creep. African cracked and barren lands, Our golf links green and neat. Global warming cynics dismiss, Reality’s urgent prayer Religious leaders weep and mourn their unoccupied churches bare. Racial skirmishes erupt and grow  Reasonable dialogue lost. Schisms deepen, lies, deceit hope wanes at great cost. Darken prison ...
  • Why I Weep: A Lament Posted last year
    Why I Weep: A Lament Election Day 2016 By Sister Kathryn Cliatt, OP The people have spoken and their words are filled with venom and hate. The people have spoken and neighbors tremble in their homes in fear of being driven from the land. The people have spoken and lovers of earth are terrified that treasures of the “Beautiful ...
Read More »