When the Dominican Sisters of Houston met for their Chapter of Affairs and Elections in January, we were joined by Sr. Catherine Bertrand, SSND as facilitator, who consistently reminded us “to never speak least of what matters most” and Amy Mc Frederick, OP, as liturgist. We began with an overview of our June and September Chapter meetings where we listened to other voices by asking the question “What is being asked of the Dominican Sisters of Houston as they live into the future?”
What we heard was an affirmation of our ministries in Houston, Texas, and beyond. As we discussed the comments that came to us from others we were able to summarize them as follows:
We are asked through collaboration and networking to find ways to pass on the Dominican Charism (living authentic Dominican life – the four pillars, etc.) and to provide awareness and education around climate change and related justice issues.
We are challenged to witness to the Gospel through continued involvement in justice issues, being advocates for the voiceless and offering ministry of presence.
We are moved to continue to support Dominican Ministries with personnel, finances, and other resources as long as we are able, and it responds to a need. We support our Sisters wherever they are engaged in ministry.
We are encouraged to continue to share our space(s) as a place(s) of welcome, hospitality, and prayer.
On Saturday, members of the Houston Dominican Family joined the conversation as we moved to where to focus our time and energies for the next six years in light of what we heard. Pope Francis’ call to listen to the cry of the poor and the cry of Earth also entered into the conversations as the terms Care of Creation, Care of All Creation, Care of God’s Creation and Integral Ecology surfaced as the focus.
On Sunday, the sisters spent more time with these terms. As a result the following Focus statement was adopted:
In light of our Mission Statement and what we have heard from each other, as well as from voices beyond our own, and grounded in a contemplative way of living and being, we, the Dominican Sisters of Houston, commit ourselves to FOCUS our efforts, energy, and resources for the next six years on Integral Ecology. This is the lens through which we will assess our decision-making and our actions as individuals, as a congregation, and in partnership with others.
“We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach. It must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the (E)arth and the cry of the poor.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si, paragraph 49)
Now it was time to move to elections of the leadership team. On Monday, Sr. Donna Pollard, O.P. was elected Prioress, Sr. Mary Jean Olsovsky, O.P. was elected Vicaress, and Sr. Kitty Carter, O.P. was elected Councilor.