For Dominican Sister of Hope Connie Kelly, OP, living intentionally, communally, and kindly are all connected. Although she grew up in a big family that had quiet dinners (“There was a rule that, at the dinner table, you didn’t speak unless you were called on,” Sister Connie shares), Sister Connie now deeply values sharing.
In fact, it’s one of her favorite things about being a Catholic Sister. After entering the Dominican Sisters, Sister Connie learned to open up and share, both at dinner and elsewhere.
“I just loved being together, sharing the life together, praying together,” Sister Connie says. “You might
have had the worst day in school [teaching] but, when you came home and you sat there at the table, the next thing you knew, you were laughing hysterically with everyone.”
No doubt, laughter is great, and sharing it is even better. Yet, Sister Connie says that there are opportunities all around us to be intentional and connect with others, even for those of us who don’t live in intentional communities. In fact, engaging with others will always help us grow and blossom, oftentimes by reflecting truths within ourselves.
The first step, of course, is actually connecting. Sister Connie is the (unofficial!) technology guru of the Dominican Sisters of Hope, but she is the first one to renounce it in favor of quality connections. “We need to throw away all our technology!” Sister Connie laughs.
“People have to want to be together. You can’t force anybody to do it. You have to want to be open. In some cases, you have to want to be a part of prayer. You have to share your life a little. You don’t have to share everything, but you have to share a lot. And you have to want to do service.”
When asked why she thinks service is important, Sister Connie’s answer is quick. To be clear, service isn’t restricted to serving at a soup kitchen or holding a fundraiser bake sale. There are countless ways to serve everyday, including many small acts of kindness that are quite simple. Indeed, lending a quick helping hand can be an act of service. A spontaneous, but heartfelt, connection can be a prayer.
With that in mind, our entire spirituality transforms. It becomes more appealing to live intentionally and kindly, if only because there are so many chances to do it.
“In our call as Christians, as Catholics, as people, we should be able to help one another without being asked to do it,” Sister Connie shares. “If you see someone walking down the street and you see them struggling with their bags, get your backside down there and help the person, because that’s the way we should be for one another.”
However, Sister Connie notes that these opportunities aren’t always easy to spot, and they certainly aren’t always encouraged.
“Our society teaches us differently,” Sister Connie continues. “I think it’s important that we’re there for one another, no matter what.”