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July 26, 2018, St. Catharine, Kentucky – Dominican temporary professed Sisters are diverse in culture and nationality, but hold in common their search for their identity as women religious, living out that reality in the Dominican tradition.
That was one of the findings of Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, an Adrian Dominican Sister in temporary profession, who attended the fourth annual Gathering of Dominican Women: Temporary Professed Sisters and their Companions. The event, which drew 25 participants, was held July 1-4, 2018, at St. Catharine, Kentucky, site of the former Motherhouse of the Kentucky Dominican Sisters – now part of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Participants included 14 temporary professed Dominican Sisters from nine congregations.
Sister Marilín attended the gathering along with two other Adrian Dominican Sisters: Sister Patricia Walter, OP, her companion on the continuing formation journey, and Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, who will begin her position as Co-director of the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate in St. Louis, Missouri. Temporary professed Sisters have made their first profession of vows, their initial commitment to religious life, and are still discerning the call to their final, or perpetual, profession of vows.
Sister Marilín, who served on the planning committee for the event, said her hope in planning the weekend was that participants “would deepen our connections, our relationships with each other; that we would have opportunities to have fun together, as well as to have meaningful conversations and sharing that help us to continue to say that ‘yes’ every day.”
Each day began and ended with prayer, planned and led by the various congregations. The gathering also included a talk by guest speaker Sister Gloria Marie Jones, OP, a Mission San Jose Dominican Sister, on the Dominican Futuring Project, a collaborative effort between Dominicans in the United States and Africa. The schedule also included times for temporary professed and companions to meet in their respective groups and come together again to share the fruits of their meetings.
The temporary professed also discussed ways to maintain their connections, including designated, private social media that would keep Sisters connected even after they professed their perpetual vows. The annual meeting would continue to focus on temporary professed Sisters and their companions.
Even the shared free time offered participants the opportunity to deepen their connections. Sister Marilín noted that one evening focused on Dominican Jeopardy, in which questions focused on Dominican history, the lands of St. Dominic, and Dominican saints. “We were revisiting our Dominican history, and so there’s a sense of reverencing the past and honoring the present – and then being excited about the future,” she said.
The informal time together also gave the Sisters the opportunity to come to know each other. “In the evenings we just gathered around and shared our challenges in a very sincere and honest way, listening to each other but also sharing our own lived wisdom and challenges.”
Both Sisters Marilín and Pat were impressed by the diversity of the group – with participants representing U.S. Dominican Congregations but coming originally from diverse nations, including Korea, Indonesia, Hungary, the Philippines, Mexico, and Peru.
“It was rich,” Sister Marilín said. “We’re becoming much more of an international body. We’re joined by our Dominican charism and our Dominican way of life.”
“It was good just to meet the women and get a sense of the diversity of the multi-culturality, which really is our future, and to hear what the [temporary professed Sisters’] concerns were, what their challenges were,” Sister Pat said.
Adding to the sense of diversity was the presence of the Maryknoll Sisters, members of the Dominican family who serve primarily as missionaries outside of their home countries. The presence of the Maryknoll Sisters was a “great gift,” Sister Pat said. “They leave their home country and they won’t come back to it except to visit. They know they’ll be sent to other countries. We’re all missionaries, but they witness far more profoundly what it means to be itinerant.” Itinerancy, the willingness to change to a new ministry and a new location for the sake of the mission, is an integral part of Dominican spirituality.
Sister Pat, who recently took on her new role in formation as companion to the temporary professed Adrian Dominican Sisters, said the gathering was “very helpful for multiple reasons. I really appreciated meeting the women in temporary vows and was reinvigorated and refreshed by their commitment to the charism and by their passion, their zeal, their enthusiasm.” As companion and formator, Sister Pat will continue to walk with Sister Marilín and Sister Katherine Frazier, who will make her First Profession of Vows on August 5, 2018. “I’m delighted to continue being a conversation partner – another person to talk to them and provide continuity from the perspective of formation.”
She also came away from the gathering with a renewed sense of hope for religious life and for the Dominican Order. “My takeaway is that the Dominican family has a future,” she said. “The charism still speaks to women….It gives me hope for a future beyond my life.”
Temporary Professed Dominican Sisters and their Companions in formation gathered July 1-4, 2018, at St. Catharine, Kentucky.