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September 30, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – “Our life is a process of awakening. Each of us is precious to God. The wonderful thing that I have witnessed over years of spiritual direction is that God knows each of us intimately and will lead us in ways that we can follow.”
That was the introduction that Sister Patricia Benson, OP, made as she opened her September 23, 2021, spirituality talk, “Awakening Journey with God.” Her presentation was the latest in a series of live streamed talks sponsored by the Spirituality Committee of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Throughout her talk, Sister Pat spoke of how God led her through various stages of her life. After each stage, she paused and posed a question, giving her audience a few minutes to reflect on their answer. “Please look at your relationship with God and Jesus and know that God will work within your personal circumstances and gifts – but sometimes in surprising and maybe challenging ways,” she said.
Sister Pat spoke of her young life and how her views of the world were shaped by those of her family and neighbors – and how her world “got bigger” when she attended Catholic school. Her teen years were marked by the “usual adolescent struggles,” but her view of God was growing, too. “I chose to enter religious life specifically to have time for God in my life,” she said.
She went on to speak of her formation years and the “breath of fresh air and a deeper freedom to think and explore” that came through Vatican II and the Adrian Dominican Congregation’s three-year Chapter of Renewal, which set the stage for sweeping changes in response to Vatican II.
After her undergraduate study, Sister Pat said, she was invited to work towards a master’s degree in either mathematics or theology. “Although since high school I thought I would be a math and science teacher for the rest of my life, this provoked a serious discernment,” leading to her decision to study theology, she said. “Being introduced to the depth and breadth of the Christian tradition with its various schools of thought opened my mind to the reality of theology as faith seeking understanding.”
Sister Pat went on to discuss her developing understanding that humanity is “trashing Earth, God’s beautiful creation,” and that her American lifestyle made her complicit in this destruction. But she concluded with her deeper understanding of God’s forgiveness and unconditional love – and how our understanding of the universe has led to an expanded view of God.
“The Infinite Mystery has had to include a loving, compassionate mystery,” Sister Pat said. “The God who created everything in the universe – perhaps multiverse – loves it and continues to hold it. Paul’s image of the Body of Christ has had to grow to include kinship with all of creation and cosmic dimensions.”
Watch the recording of Sister Pat’s presentation below.
August 10, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – In some popular artwork, St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers, is depicted is walking along a road, carrying his shoes as he sets off on his preaching mission. Yet, the theme for the Dominicans’ Jubilee Year marking the 800th anniversary of his death might seem unlikely to many: “At Table with St. Dominic.”
Sister Patricia Walter, OP, theologian and former Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, spoke about a powerful symbol of St. Dominic’s friendship with his brothers and sisters: the Mascarella table, featured in the earliest depictions of him. Her presentation, “St. Dominic: An Invitation to the Table for All in Friendship,” was live streamed on August 4, 2021, the anniversary of St. Dominic’s death. Her talk was part of a series of monthly presentations sponsored by the Spirituality Committee of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
In her talk, Sister Patricia emphasized St. Dominic’s “deep capacity for friendship,” which scholars said could be one reason the Order of Preachers came into being. In forming the Order, St. Dominic drew help and support not only from nuns and the Friars, but also from benefactors, clerics, individuals, and entire families. “The Order was made up of friends from all walks of life,” Sister Patricia said. “It was and is a holy preaching.”
Pointing to St. Dominic’s capacity for friendship, Sister Patricia reminded listeners that he followed in the footsteps of Jesus himself, who showed his own welcoming sense of friendship when he washed his disciples’ feet on the night of the Last Supper. “Jesus reveals the true goal of his ministry,” Sister Patricia said. “He invites the disciples to move from a domination paradigm to a friendship paradigm,” where all are treated with dignity and love, she said. “In friendship we realize we are one with each other and with God.”
Watch Sister Patricia’s entire presentation below.
Artwork in feature image at top: "St. Dominic and the Sisters" by Helene O'Connor, OP