On their tour of Dominican Communities on the East Coast, the five Chicago-based Dominican Novices spent the evening with the Dominican Sisters of Hope. The sisters shared prayer, laughter, stories of ministry and community, New York-style pizza, and, of course, a healthy dose of hope.

Among the sisters present was Sister Veronica Miller, OP, who entered the Dominican Sisters at Mariandale over 60 years ago. She reminisced with the sisters about entering on these grounds, pointing toward the house where she did her novitiate. She also bonded with the novices over her nursing ministry.

Nearly forty years ago, Dominican Sister of Hope Connie Kelly, OP was on her own cross-country Collaborative Dominican Novitiate tour. She and her peers traveled to congregations around the country on a 31-day journey.

Now, Sister Connie says that having the opportunity to host the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate was “exciting.” When one of the sisters present mentioned that she “couldn’t miss meeting our novices,” Sister Connie beamed.

“There was a lot of life in the room,” she said. “They’re all of our novices. With them, we’re able to share the hope of the future of the Dominican order here in the United States.”

Below, the novices share their experiences of meeting the national Dominican family.

Read the novices’ full bios and reflections on the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate Blog.

 

Sister Angela Tran – Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose

For Sister Angela Tran, a novice with the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, this trip has deepened her appreciation of and relationship with the broader Dominican family. A Certified Nurse Assistant who was born in Saigon, Southern Vietnam, Sister Angela ministered during her candidacy at St. Dorothy Catholic Church in Glendora, CA, and Partnership for Re-Entry Program (PREP) in Los Angeles, CA. “They both were life-enriching experiences for me, to learn to let the Spirit intervene in all that I offer others,” she wrote.

Sister Angela said that this trip has been “a wonderful opportunity.”

“It gives me Hope to know that we are so loved and supported by our Dominican Sisters across the country!” she said.

Sister Terri Schell – Dominican Sisters of Peace

Sister Terri Schell, a novice with the Dominican Sisters of Peace, said that “it was important to visit as many communities as [they] could on this trip.” Seeking the divine in nature and community has led her from the foothills and beaches of North Carolina, to the evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest US, and eventually to religious life with the Dominican Sisters of Peace. While at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, she began learning the language of the earth and her creatures through an Environmental Science and Biology degree. Environmental Education became her focus and that led her to a series of rich work experiences with science camps, sea turtle conservation, aquarium education, and eventually to Catholic camps and parish ministry with the Archdiocese of Seattle.

“We want to give this trip and each congregation the honor of quality time, to really enjoy time with the sisters,” she said. “This is about building connections, bridge building. It’s our work to do.”

Sister Julie Rambin – Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa

Sister Julie Rambin, a novice with the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, has worked in a local hospital as a registered nurse in cardiac care. 

“Discernment has been an interesting journey,” she wrote on the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate blog. “I spent much of 2020 caring for Covid ICU patients, and being present at so many deaths changed me. I experienced God’s life-giving presence in the midst of illness, isolation and terrible suffering. I started to pray more regularly and think about what my life would mean. I began to believe that God was inviting me to live religious life in community with others while continuing to work in health care.”

Now, she’s excited about spending the next few weeks widening her knowledge of Dominican communities in the U.S. “It’s been good to see places we’ve only heard about and to hear stories of other sisters and congregations,” she said.

Sister Shingai Chigwedere – Dominican Sisters of Peace

Sister Shingai Chigwedere, a novice with the Dominican Sisters of Peace, is a native of  Zimbabwe. She eventually transitioned from corporate to church ministry working for an Archdiocese in human resources. During her candidacy, she ministered in the Dominican Mission office at our founded institution, Albertus Magnus College.

“It’s wonderful being able to meet the broader Dominican family,” she said. “They have shown us expressions of hope and support. I feel very loved.”

Sister Paula Danforth – Dominican Sisters of Peace

Sister Paula Danforth, a novice with the Dominican Sisters of Peace, is an accountant by training (Castleton University in Castleton, Vermont). She has also worked at Slate Valley Unified Union School District in the Superintendent’s finance office, served as a volunteer with a PATH therapy horse program in Belmont, Vermont, and worked at Albertus Magnus College in the finance office. Noting that the East Coast tour has just begun, she’s looking forward to the rest of the trip!

“My hope going forward is that all of the sisters will be as wonderful as the two congregations we’ve visited so far!” she said. “They’ve both been really wonderful to us.”