About 130 Dominican Sisters from 17 different U.S.-based congregations gathered in Columbus at Ohio Dominican University from June 27-30, 2023, to explore new ways of engaging their future together. Twelve participants attended virtually.
The group included women from the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and the United States. Sisters, all under 70 years of age, ranged from those beginning their novitiate to those who have been members for decades. Clearly evident among all was a passion to preach the Gospel message that brings life to the world through their lives and actions.
Sisters attending “Creating our Future Today” explored ways to support vowed Dominican life into the future with new ways of collaborating and relating. Participants have been preparing for this gathering for the past year through regular virtual gatherings.
Throughout the year, sisters have been engaged in a process of Contemplative Inquiry facilitated by Sherryl White, CSJ. Drawing upon the strengths of communal dialogue, sisters have been taking the time to examine foundational Dominican values, consider their existing realities, and and risk the challenge of imagining preferred futures. Grounded in these shared conversations, they came prepared to define more clearly their role in advancing the Dominican mission into the future.
The foundational questions that guided their deliberations were: (a) What role can we play in evolving Dominican life/mission to meet the needs of the future? and (b) What can we do better together than alone?
As a result of communal discernment that included prayer, discussion, and personal reflection on the two foundational questions, sisters surfaced the following areas of engagement and worked to identify beginning courses of action:
- Dominican Spirituality and Theological Formation: update for 21st century
- Creation/Climate Change: see with the eyes of Earth
- Cross Cultural Competency Skills / Interculturality: address conflict through the Pascal Mystery
- Unifying Models of Organization: form a task force to study and lead DSC into discernment
- Vocations: collaborate more and share the workload and presence for greater witness
- Youth: make a preferential option for the young and build on existing efforts for outreach
- Bridging Polarization: work on a process with restorative practice
Dominican Sisters of Hope Pat Magee, Diane Trotta, and Connie Kelly were in attendance. Sister Pat Magee, OP, who is on the Dominican Futuring Leadership Team, called leading this initiative with the other sisters across the country in this cohort a “privilege.”
“We stand on the shoulders of so many sisters who have gone before us, she said. “We share in the same commitment to Dominican Life and Mission both now, and as it evolves into the future.”
For Sister Diane Trotta, OP, the gathering was a manifestation of hope.
“The Futuring DSC gathering brings great Hope to the USA Dominican Order because it witnessed to our zeal and strength,” Sister Diane said. “This was evident through our contemplative prayer, discussions and commitment to move forward together, here and around the world.”
Next steps include calling on volunteers to plan and implement actions, establishing a timeline for unifying models of organization, refining the recommendations with sub-committees, sharing them with the whole cohort in the fall zoom session and presenting progress in motion to the DSC in October.
More photos from the gathering are below: