Dominican Sisters Cabra Dominican Sisters Cabra Tue, 07 Jul 2015 12:03:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 My Vocation Story – Sr. Joan O’Donovan OP Tue, 07 Jul 2015 11:52:49 +0000 Sr. Joan O'DonovanA family story, that I was never too happy to hear repeated, was about my being brought as a small girl to visit a convent. One of the Sisters asked me what I would like to be when I grew up and my reply was “I would like to be a Reverend Mother”! Let me hasten to add that I do not proffer the story as an early indication of a religious vocation, but rather because it suggests, correctly, that convents and sisters were a familiar and positive part of the ambience I grew up in, as were churches and priests, Mass, Benediction, Sodalities, other Church devotions.

In other words, I was lucky enough to grow up at a time in Ireland when for many people God was acknowledged as the ultimate context of life, even though they probably wouldn’t have expressed it in so many words.

I went to school first to the Ursulines in Cork and later, as a boarder, to the Loreto Sisters in Dublin. I remember my school days as happy and in hind-sight I realise that, as well as being well-taught, I learned a great deal about my faith through the example as well as the teaching of the Sisters. Their lives had a certain mystery about them too, which like many other girls, I found intriguing. In fact in many ways they became my role models. Which was, I suppose, why in my final years in school I found myself seriously considering whether I was being called to become a sister myself.

However, when I told my father about it, he was quite adamant that I should go to College first. And so I went to UCC where doing an Arts Degree, making new friends, and being part of various College societies and wider student social life absorbed all my time and energy for the next four years. All thought of religious life faded into the background. After that I had the good fortune to be invited to teach in a newly opened and innovative lay Catholic school and so to begin my professional career in a dynamic setting which I found challenging, absorbing and fulfilling.

Around the same time, my brother, who had entered the Dominican Order some years previously, was ordained. Attending his Ordination and his First Mass were very happy and significant family events. In the succeeding months I found myself, possibly because questioned by my brother’s life and values, beginning to revisit my own attraction to religious life. But not only was I very happy in my job but I had just begun a 2-year Master’s degree course in French. This gave me a further reason for deferring the decision I now knew had to be made. When I did finally face it, it took me a further two years of indecision before I finally applied to be admitted to the Congregation of the Irish Dominican Sisters and was accepted. This Dominican Congregation, in contrast to the two congregations with which I was familiar, was almost completely unknown to me.

That was in July. There were still three months of inner churning, where I lurched from making necessary preparations to enjoying, what I saw as for the last time, a hill-climbing  holiday with friends, and visits to places I thought I would never see again. I have a vivid memory of free-wheeling one day down a long hill enjoying, though with a certain sadness, the wind in my face and the sense of utter freedom. Yet the inner call remained insistent.

It was altogether unexpected then on the day we entered the Novitiate and all the goodbyes were over and my family had departed for Cork that my immediate sense in this unknown place among so many strangers was of total peace of mind. It was not so much an experience of being confirmed in the choice I had made with so much difficulty,  as a sense of having landed in the way of life that God had chosen for me without my realising it.

Although like everybody else I have had my share of major and minor crises and of dark times of suffering, I have never even for a single moment doubted that I was in the place where I belonged. Sixty years later I am still amazed at having the good fortune to belong to the Dominican Order.

There followed three years of initiation into the particular way of following Christ shaped by St. Dominic our founder, which is summed up in one of the mottos of the Order as: “To praise, to bless, to preach.” So from the first day we new arrivals learned the meaning of “To praise” by being absorbed actively into the community liturgy, singing with them the praises of God in the Eucharist and the Divine Office, and in class being instructed in the Scriptures, in particular the psalms, as well as in the chanting and singing of the Gregorian Chant. (In those days the Office was recited or sung in Latin). I found this all most enriching. I grew to love it and continue to be sustained by it as a sharing in the prayer of Christ with the whole Church.

In the same way we learned by the way daily life was organised that “To bless” meant in practice putting others, and first of all the community before oneself, being “time-tabled” rather than organising one’s own time, for example, and more demanding still, learning to love one’s neighbour as oneself. A life-long work, for sure, but for us young people living with others of our own age and in our first fervour, it did not seem too difficult.

The teaching of the formation community both by their example and by their class work was my first initiation into what it is for Dominicans “To preach.” Then after those first three years I was back to the field of education myself and had my first experience of the particular quality of Dominican education as a member of a very creative staff of sisters and lay teachers. I was constantly surprised by their readiness to try out new ideas such as taking part in pilot schemes for curriculum development, and by their ability to draw out the potential of their students by their respect and trust in them.

After some years I became involved in other expressions of the Dominican preaching charism, first as member of a formation team privileged to help young women discern and test their own call to religious life, and later as member of the Council of the Congregation where I had the opportunity of visiting our sisters working in other parts of the world, and of being introduced by them to different contexts and experiences of Church in South Africa, Argentina, Lisbon and Louisiana as well as in Ireland.

My last preaching ministry was a return to teaching, this time to adults, in an Institute founded by a Dominican Friar whose vision it was to put together the insights of modern psychology and the insights of the great religious traditions. I was part of a team made up of Dominican brothers and sisters, lay men and women. As teachers, guides and therapists we worked with the many people who found being introduced to this particular map of the person through a reflective methodology helpful in making sense of their lives in the rapidly changing Ireland of today. It was for me a profound experience of Dominican preaching.

The words of T.S.Eliot: “In my end is my beginning” come to mind when I reflect on my experience of living out the call “To praise, to bless, to preach” in old age. In some ways with the falling away of outer ministries, the mission area is more and more the local community with all the joys, challenges and difficulties that this entails as we struggle to become together a community of holy preaching. Yet we never cease being called to bear witness to God’s compassion for the world and opportunities to do so in our daily comings and goings keep taking me by surprise.

I am grateful to be part of a community where the example of others in their fidelity to the praising of God in the liturgy, and to the blessing of each other in community, encourage me to keep going, and, more importantly, to keep remembering the truth I glimpsed on the day I entered: I am of God’s making, not my own. St. Paul puts it so much better than I can: “We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he meant us to live it.” (Eph. 2:10)


Sr Joan O’Donovan OP

]]> 0
Discovering God in a New Story – Retreat on 5-10 July, An Tairseach, Wicklow Thu, 02 Jul 2015 10:15:43 +0000 DSCN5910This retreat will focus on the New Story as revealed by modern science, and how it relates to our Christian faith tradition. There will be two input sessions each day, with opportunities for prayerful reflection on the content of the lectures and their faith implications. There will also be opportunities for shared reflection on the content of the lectures.

Directed by Mark McDonnell CFC and Pauline Mc Grath OP

For more information click An Tairseach, Dominican Farm and Ecology Centre

]]> 0
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (5th July) Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:31:42 +0000 WA2_080

The readings of today give us an insight into the sufferings of the prophet.  Ezekiel was called and sent as a youth into exile in Babylon, aged 25 years.  He was sent as a priest and a prophet to 4,600 Jews who were taken into captivity by the Babylonian army.  The vocation of a prophet is to keep the faith alive in those to whom the prophet is sent in times of rejection, defiance, rebellion and darkness.  Our world today contains parallels to that of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel’s name means “God is my strength”.  No doubt this is where he got his strength to encourage and challenge the Jews in their time of darkness and pain of exile, far away from home, without any of their home comforts such as a Temple or a synagogue or friends.  He managed to keep the flame of Faith alive by answering his call of loving service to others and helping wherever he could.

Psalm 122 recalls the faithfulness of all who seek God until God shows us his mercy. In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul shares his weakness with us in Chapter 12 which allowed him to recognise his dependence on Christ, on God- not his own power and gifts but God’s power working through him.

He tells us that he is happy to share his sufferings with us for “when Paul is weak, then he is strong”.  Suffering and pain are as much an expression of the Divine as joy is.  When suffering, my ego is not in control and so my real Self shines through my pain. Once accepted, suffering and pain cease when we find a meaning such as sacrifice.  Wisdom integrates suffering into compassion, tolerance and caring, empowering me to move towards others with the energy of true love.  Suffering and  love are inseparable.  Paul knew this too well as he had his share of suffering and pain throughout his life of loving service to the early Church.

The gospel of Mark tells us about Jesus’ homecoming which should have been a happy one but unfortunately was marked by rejection and suffering because of the lack of faith of his own people.  They were astonished by his teaching in the synagogue, amazed at his learning but questioned his authority and lineage.  The Nazarines had no faith in Jesus so he could work no miracles there because of their lack of faith. Both Ezekiel and Jesus were rejected because their message challenges the status quo and seeks to restore the balance and equality ignored by those with wealth and power.  Jesus’ life can demand too much for some of us to fully live his life.  Jesus’ top priorities were trust and service of neighbour.  He challenges us in this gospel to ask ourselves the following questions:WA2_080A

  1. How do I handle rejection in my own daily life?
  2. Am I accepting of all those I come in contact with daily or do I favour some over others?

Our call is alive and active today as it was in the time of the Prophets.

Consider  your response now in 2015.

 Sr. Dympna Travers OP

]]> 0
Dominican Family Day June 27th, 2015 Tue, 30 Jun 2015 10:55:45 +0000 Dominican Family Day 27 June

Fr. Liam Walsh OP and Sr. Elizabeth Cotter IBVM

On June 27th 2015 we had our Dominican Family Day in Tallaght Priory.  This day is planned and organised by Dominican Associates of Great Britain and Ireland.  It was a remarkable turn out of just over 100 people.

The day consisted of prayer, two talks, celebration of the Eucharist, lunch and time for chat over a cup of coffee.

Our two speakers and their topics were: “Dominic: Government, Spirituality and Freedom”, given by Fr. Liam Walsh OP and “A Response – Dominic: Government, Spirituality and Freedom”, given by Sr. Elizabeth Cotter IBVM.

Click here for full content of talks: Fr. Liam Walsh OP – Talk on Dominic:Government, Spirituality and Freedom

Sr Elizabeth Cotter’s Response to talk by Fr. Liam Walsh OP


May we continue to encourage each other to come together to pray, study, and be in community so that we may nourish one another to preach Christ’s message of hope in our world.

Sr. Edel Murphy OP

]]> 0
My Vocation Story – Sr. Aedris Coates OP Mon, 29 Jun 2015 09:08:59 +0000 sr aedris coates.jpg 11

Sr Aedris Coates OP

“Each one is different but each one has received an invitation from Jesus.”

When I was 12 years of age, I was travelling with my mother and my two sisters and two brothers in a train from Durban to Pietermaritzburg (Natal, South Africa). A thought or voice came to me “When I pass here again I will be a nun.” I was quiet for a time and then I forgot about it.

In Maritzburg, I attended a Convent school of the Sisters of the Holy Family, first as a day pupil and then as a boarder. The teachers were excellent and so was our religious formation. We attended daily Mass in the Parish Church, which was opposite the school, and could pray in the Sisters’ Chapel in the afternoons. A Praesidium of the Legion of Mary was begun by Ruby Roberts, who had travelled from Kenya, where she was working with Edel Quinn. The meetings each week and the work we were given deepened my prayer life, but I had no thoughts of “being a nun.”

My family returned to Ireland in mid-year 1944 and it was decided that I would go to the Dominican School in Wicklow. It was like entering another world and I was the ‘alien.’  I spoke with a South African accent, my hair was bleached from the sun and the girls in my class knew very little about the war raging in Europe and parts of Africa and Asia from where I had come.  The Sisters were more understanding and they were my teachers. One Sister in particular, who was in charge of the boarders, was deeply understanding of how I was feeling and the difficulties I had in adjusting to school life.  She was Sister Marcoline Lawler and she became my lifelong friend.

My three years in Wicklow was my real ‘novitiate’ where I came to know and love Jesus Christ. The religious formation was an integral part of our education and quite intensive: daily Mass, rosary and Benediction, retreats, study of the gospels and the Church and spiritual reading. By the time it came for me to leave school, my secret wish was to give my life to God. Would it be possible for me to enter religious life with the Dominicans? My family was returning to Singapore, I had no family in Ireland and I still felt a stranger in an unknown land. The Dominicans were willing to receive me, and my parents reluctantly allowed me to go my way (I had just turned eighteen years of age). It was the first and only time I saw my Father cry when he said goodbye to me. The years in the novitiate were not happy ones. Life was austere, restrictive and sometimes bewildering. I was very lonely for my family who were so far away. There were many things I would have liked to share with them.

All was not darkness! Sister Mary John of Gorcom was one of our ‘teachers’ and introduced us to the Divine Office, the Prayer of the Church, and my love for the Psalms began then. She also led us through Scripture, Church History, the great artists and their paintings, the constellations and, later on, Latin. From time to time, she would give us news of the outside world: we had no access to newspapers or radio. There were nine of us and she contrived to make our lives as normal as possible.

I made First Profession and, after one more year in the novitiate house, we were assigned out to a community. It was like being released from prison and joy of joys, I was sent to my beloved Wicklow! Once again, I had access to books, newspapers and radio, and to very enjoyable conversations at ‘recreation’ time. We lived a very full and ‘rich’ religious life. As well as the daily hours of community prayer, there were times for private prayer and spiritual reading. We had wonderful ten-day retreats from very good Dominican preachers and, during the year, we had local confessors who gave excellent spiritual direction.

After studying for a degree and diploma in education, I returned once more to the community in Wicklow and to the work of teaching. This was the late 1950’s. I began to feel a sense of uneasiness about the religious life and I expressed it to a Sister as stagnation. Something had to change and it did! A newly-elected Prioress General asked for volunteers to go to Alabama in the USA. I, and several other Sisters, volunteered. In fact, none of us were sent to Alabama, but to other communities in Ireland and South Africa and I was sent to Portugal. This was in 1962, when the Vatican Council II began in Rome and the Spirit of change was everywhere.

I have been in Portugal for 45 years and it is now my religious home and country. Our community life is prayerful, joyful and lively. We take an active part in the life of the people, the Church, and the Dominican Family, and have opportunities for being truly a Community of Holy Preaching.

By the way, I did pass through the Valley of a Thousand Hills again! I was attending a Leadership Conference in South Africa and travelled from Durban to Maritzburg, but this time, by coach along a wide motorway with the hills in the distance.


Sr Aedris Coates OP

]]> 0
Pope Francis’ climate change encyclical Thu, 25 Jun 2015 13:10:34 +0000 earth picture for sr francis articlePope Francis’ first encyclical “Laudato Si: On the Care of our Common Home” is focused on the idea of ‘integral ecology’, connecting care of the natural world with justice for the poorest and most vulnerable people. Only by radically ‘reshaping our relationships with God, with our neighbours and with the natural world, he says, can we hope to tackle the threats facing our planet today. Science, he insists, is the best tool by which we can listen to the cry of the earth, while dialogue and education are the two keys that can “help us to escape the spiral of self-destruction which currently engulfs us”.

At the heart of the Pope’s reflection is the question: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” The answers he suggests call for profound changes to political, economic, cultural and social systems as well as to our individual lifestyles.

(Vatican Radio)


]]> 0 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (28th June) Thu, 25 Jun 2015 08:50:51 +0000 She desperately wanted to get better, this woman afflicted with the hemorrhages. She had already exhausted her financial resources on many doctors, and it had made no difference. She was still ill, but she did not succumb. She had heard about Jesus, and now he had arrived at her side of the lake, right in her neighbourhood. Although she was ritually unclean, she moved herself on into that crowd, for she had a certainty that if she could touch the hem of Jesus’ garment she would be cured. And it happened, not as she hoped, but as she knew it would.

This woman was persistent. She had a cause, a purpose, and she risked her money, and she risked ridicule and rejection in order to pursue her purpose. We meet her type in the Canaanite woman and in the woman who struggled with the unjust judge. Like these women, this sickly woman of today’s story was one who might have been considered among the powerless. However, like these other women, she took the God given power within her and used it to achieve her purpose.

SCALESOne aspect of this story is the strong faith and tenacity shown by the woman. In that she is without a doubt a model from whom we can all learn. However, there is another issue that the community was dealing with then, an issue that has not been resolved in most Christian churches today, that of the equal role of women. That unnamed woman is all women in the Christian community. That unnamed woman is all women of any creed that assigns her a second class role. That unnamed woman is all people discriminated against for any reason.  That woman is a challenge to all the systems, religious and social, that speak ‘equal’, but act ‘discrimination’.

She knew that touching Jesus would make a difference. Yet, she approached surreptitiously, not because she feared being shunned by Jesus, but because of the people surrounding him. The woman received more than physical healing that day. She received power that went out from Jesus. Then Jesus, knowing that his power had gone out to someone, sought her out. She came forward, trembling, and told her whole story. Then she received the gift of peace, a gift bestowed on the disciples in many of the resurrection scenes.

This woman stands as a model in the gospel for anyone who knows discrimination. She did not wait for laws to change, but by taking the resources of her God given gifts and her finance, she moved tirelessly forward towards the justice of equality. That justice she found in Jesus. That same justice anyone should expect to find in all those who consider themselves followers of Jesus. She calls each of us out of her own story to put our God given resources at the service of equality and justice, so that all may be able to receive that power of Jesus, go their way in peace and continue the effort on behalf of someone else.


            Elizabeth Ferguson, OP

]]> 0
Latest news from Iraq from Sister Diana Momeka OP Wed, 24 Jun 2015 12:56:02 +0000 On 13 May 2015, Sr Diana, OP spoke to the US House of Representatives on the Situation in IraqSr. Diane

Read full article from Order of Preachers Newsletter
]]> 0
Stop Trafficking! – Anti-Human Trafficking Newsletter Mon, 22 Jun 2015 10:29:14 +0000 Stop Trafficking is dedicated exclusively to fostering an exchange of information among religious congregations, their friends and collaborating organizations, working to eliminate all forms of trafficking of human beings.Capture

Click below for the latest issue of Stop Trafficking

The June Edition of Stop Trafficking

]]> 0
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (21st June) Wed, 17 Jun 2015 09:02:16 +0000 Most of us have experienced storms in our lives. We know the fear, the danger and the damage. Wind, rain, sand, floods, all have the power to batter, disrupt, tear up and destroy. The physical storms of nature are apt images for the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual upheavals that beset one’s life.

Today’s scriptures present us with such images, and the main players in the stories are in the midst of their own tempests.  Job’s life has been overturned by the storms of loss, death and disease. While Job ultimately remains faithful, he does his fair share of complaining to God and questioning why he, such a just and upright person, should be suffering such a fate. In that he can be our brother companion.

12th Sunday ReadingGod addresses Job right in the midst of the storm. God does not offer words of consolation, but takes Job through a cosmic vision where he can come to understand that all does not revolve around him. In his small corner of creation, Job had viewed himself as highly significant – the just and prosperous man, who took his place of honor at the city gates, offering his wisdom and his judgment to others. Now God’s whirlwind cosmic excursion helps Job realize that there is a wider, wilder and more magnificent universe than he had ever imagined. A more important lesson Job learns is that he is not the center of this universe, and he is not in control. All creation is in God’s ‘hands’, and in the little snippet of God’s speech offered today, we learn that it is God who sets the boundaries. So Job learns one of the toughest lessons of life, God’s saying, “Move out of the way, I’ve got this one.”

In the Gospel story the disciples are dealing with their storm. In comparison to Job’s it doesn’t seem much, but for their reality it was dangerous and life threatening. They feared for their lives. On the other hand, Jesus slept peacefully on a cushion of confidence that God was in charge. This is something that Job hadn’t understood and the disciples didn’t understand either. When they woke Jesus up, he addressed the elements, and perhaps also the disciples of then and now, with the words: “Quiet! Be still!” Then came a great calm, not just in the elements, but in the people. And the disciples were filled with awe.

At the time this gospel was written, this little story was very significant. The community was in the midst of storms far greater than the squall on the lake. They were in the storms of persecution and war. Could the little community of the faithful survive such things? Was the boat of their faith in Jesus about to splinter apart under such pressure? Where was Jesus? Asleep, dead? Then the vision of the resurrected Jesus came to them. “Quiet! Be still! Move out of the way, I’ve got this one!” They are filled with awe and begin to realize that Jesus is even more than they ever thought he was. The one with power over such cosmic forces surely has control in the little turmoils of the human condition.

We are not all taken on a cosmic trip like Job, nor are we witness to such powerful control of nature like the disciples. However, scientific advances can assist us. A visit to can take us on a cosmic tour. Here we can recover our awe and gratitude at life, and relearn that the temporary awful situations we encounter are as passing storms, in an awesome reality of God’s cosmic care and love.


Elizabeth Ferguson, OP

]]> 0