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November 22, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – U.S. Dominican Friars, Sisters, Nuns, and Associates gathered at Weber Retreat and Conference Center in Adrian in October for a regional Dominican Preaching Colloquium. The gathering gave members of the Dominican family the opportunity to discuss their call to preach and ways to pass on the preaching mission to the next generation of Dominicans.
The Colloquium included a keynote address by Father Anthony Gittins, CSSp, Professor Emeritus at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and a noted speaker and author. He spoke of “Evangelization in the Mission of Jesus and in our Mission as Church.”
Father Anthony noted that evangelization is not only proclamation of the Gospel but “it’s everything that Jesus does.” As disciples, he said, we are to be “co-missioned into the mission of Jesus, brought down to Earth 2,000 years ago, but needing to be embodied by us here in the 21st Century.” He noted that Jesus did not just proclaim the coming Kingdom of God through his words but primarily through his actions in four ways: encountering people one-on-one; table fellowship, eating with all people, even “tax-collectors and sinners;” foot-washing, offering humble service to all people; and boundary-crossing, cutting through barriers of exclusion and privilege which demean people.
Participants reflected on how they live out Jesus’ four ways of preaching the Good News of God’s love. Father Anthony reminded participants that all of the baptized have the “vocation of discipleship,” yet many parishioners do not have that understanding of their own call.
Finally, he noted that God – not the Church – is the subject of mission. “The mission has the Church,” and God managed well before the Church was established, he said. “The mission has the Dominicans – and before the Dominicans God was happy with the mission. The mission has you and the mission has me. I don’t have the mission – so I can die in peace because God is in charge.”
Ann M. Garrido, DMin, former Professor of Homiletics at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri, presented the results of 20 interviews she had conducted with 10 older Dominicans and 10 newer Dominicans. “Dominicans are all across the board in how they see preaching,” she said, noting that some see their ministry as the preaching while others confine preaching to proclamations from the pulpit.
She saw differences among Dominicans in many areas, and focused much of her time on equipping participants to hold “difficult conversations” with one another on issues in which they disagree. She urged them to still their own “inner voice” during conversations so that they could truly listen and find common ground.
During the Colloquium, participants had the opportunity to get to know one another through meals and social time, to pray together, and to attend Mass together.
Adrian Dominican Sister Sara Fairbanks, OP, one of the organizers, said that global colloquiums have been organized by the Dominican preaching institutes at Aquinas Institute in St. Louis, Missouri; in Cologne, Germany; and in Manila, the Philippines. The first global preaching colloquium for Dominicans was in 2016 in St. Louis. The next was in Manila in 2017, and last year’s colloquium took place in Cologne. Dominicans who attended the global gatherings set in motion the regional gatherings this year in all three areas.
“We’re trying to collaborate as a Dominican family on our preaching mission and talk about the challenges,” Sister Sara said. Participants in each region focused on the particular issues that they face, she explained. “In the United States, there’s a lot of polarization in the Catholic Church and within the Dominican community. How do we think about the future of our preaching mission together as an Order without taking a look at the things that divide us, as well as what unites us? If we don’t have relationships with one another, it’s really hard to collaborate.”
Sister Sara said that Ann’s presentation on “difficult conversations” gave participants some effective tools, ways to “understand where the other party’s coming from and why they hold the position that they do, and to just be more able to talk to each other.”
Collaboration and group sharing was also at the heart of evening communal reflections organized by Sister Sara, in which participants gathered at tables, listened to the Word of God, contemplated in silence, and shared their reflections with one another. “For me, as a planner, I wanted us to experience this idea of communal preaching, where we actually come together as a community and sit in small circles and reflect on the Word together,” she said. “That’s very powerful. Not only are we enriched around the Gospel, around the Word, but we are also enriched by each other and what we’re sharing.”
Sister Sara noted the establishment of Preaching Promoters for each Mission Chapter of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, and their communal service to the Congregation as members of a Preaching Commission.
“I think our Congregation in the past 30 years has more and more identified [ourselves] as preachers – and you preach with your life,” she said. “We have certainly claimed that identity. I think we could do more. We could do a little bit more in terms of relating our justice work with the mission of Jesus.”
The next Global Preaching Colloquium will be in Manila, the Philippines, in 2020.
April 12, 2018, Kampala, Uganda – Cancer patients in Uganda face an uphill battle. Often, by the time they are diagnosed, they are already terminally ill. In addition, Uganda is tragically underserved in the area of health care: only one cancer center in the country and nine nurses per 10,000 people.
Kathleen Shannon Dorcy, an Adrian Dominican Associate and a 35-year oncology nurse, is part of a collaborative effort that hopes to change this situation in Uganda by offering training and support to the country’s nurses.
As one of two nurses travelling to Uganda Kathleen helped lay the foundation for a collaborative effort between the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) and the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI). Kathleen is the Director of Clinical/Nursing Research, Education and Practice for SCCA and staff scientist of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The trip was the most recent step in the collaborative efforts of health care organizations between Seattle and Uganda. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) opened a research, training, and patient care facility in 2015 in Kampala, Uganda, and have engaged with Ugandan medical practice and education at UCI and Makarere University.
Because Uganda has only one cancer care center, patients may travel hundreds of miles to get there – often arriving with advance stage disease requiring chemotherapy, possibly radiation and palliative care, Kathleen said.
During the recent, week-long trip Kathleen and Arlyce Coumar, RN, dedicated time to understanding oncology care in Uganda. “While at the UCI we got to know the nurses and the clinical setting and we met patients and families as well as explored the scope of clinical care offered.” Kathleen explained. While there, Kathleen and Arlyce taught three classes to more than 100 people, celebrated World Cancer Day at the Parliament Plaza in Kampala, and worked with the UCI nurse and medical leadership to identify next steps in the collaborative efforts to improve cancer outcomes.
Kathleen envisions a sustained relationship between SCCA and UCI nurses. She and another nurse-led delegation will be returning to Uganda twice in the next 12 months. In these visits the delegations will work with the National Oncology Nurse Society to set up a curriculum for the UCI nurses. “We want to augment clinical orientation and Oncology competency to create a dedicated Uganda Cancer Nurse Fellowship Program.
The project is based on the World Health Organization imperative urging highly-resourced countries to help under resourced countries to improve health outcomes, Kathleen noted. “Closely observing the UCI staff daily work in such a complex clinical setting, overcoming obstacles like limited water resources, no air-conditioning in temperatures of 90 to 100 degrees, scarce medical supplies, and very ill patients was totally awe inspiring,” she said.
Kathleen attributes prompting of the Holy Spirit – or St. Catherine – with the formal resolve to find ways to address the needs of the UCI nurses and patients. “Somebody had to make it happen,” she said. “We had to take the first step and figure it out. It is an ongoing commitment of reflection, identification of the needs and finding ways to meet immediate needs and development of a strategic long path toward better screening and earlier diagnoses. For us it has been an incredibly exciting yet challenging and humbling journey.”
To read more about the ongoing collaborative work to treat cancer in Uganda, click here.