CDN celebrates 25th anniversary

From left: Sisters Adele Langa (Adrian), Alexa Chipman (San Rafael), Megan McElroy (CDN co-director), Jennifer Schaaf (Blauvelt), Joye Gros (CDN co-director), Renee Asmar (Sparkill).
From left: Sisters Adele Langa (Adrian), Alexa Chipman (San Rafael), Megan McElroy (CDN co-director), Jennifer Schaaf (Blauvelt), Joye Gros (CDN co-director), Renee Asmar (Sparkill).

Collaborative Dominican Novitiate
CDN celebrates 25th anniversary

Over the weekend of Jan. 31–Feb. 3, the Board of Directors of the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) and the Congregation Formation Representatives (CFRs) came together for their annual meeting.

The Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) is a joint effort by congregations of women religious in the Dominican Order to provide its members in initial formation with an experience of the larger Dominican Family. The CDN experience lasts for a span of 10 months, beginning in August until the end of June. Currently, there are four novices participating in the program: Sisters Adela-Iuliana Langa (Adrian), Alexa Chipman (San Rafael), Jennifer Schaaf (Blauvelt) and Renee Jacqueline Hala Asmar (Sparkill).

On Friday evening, a celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the CDN was held at Aquinas Institute. Board members and CFRs were joined by members of the Dominican Family, the Inter-Community Novitiate, the Aquinas Community and others who have been affiliated with the novitiate in Saint Louis. Led by the current novices and directors, they prayed Evening Prayer in the Aquinas Chapel.

In preaching on the Gospel parable of the mustard seed, Sister Adela said of the sisters who have helped to create the CDN:

“Today we celebrate 25 years of laboring in the fields of mission. Side by side. No fences. No walls. We celebrate ordinary lives that have been growing branches in God’s kingdom. In 1987 formation directors and sisters in leadership from 19 congregations of Dominican women came together to start plowing in the fields of collaboration. They dared to imagine that a nationwide collaboration in the formation of canonical novices was not only possible but also worth pursuing.”

Following Evening Prayer, there was a dessert reception where old connections were rekindled and new connections were made. “Just as we did 25 years ago, we continue to collaborate this weekend. Although the risks and challenges may be different today, we continue to look beyond ourselves for the sake of mission, for the sake of the preaching of the gospel, for the sake of the future of the Dominican Family. And, how fitting it is to celebrate with our brothers and sisters and friends here in St. Louis who have partnered with us along the way in this endeavor. How good it is!” said Sister Mary Ann Nelson, OP (Sinsinawa), one of the founders of the CDN.

Earlier in the day, the novices presented their experience of the novitiate to the CDN Board and CFRs. In their presentation, they included hopes for the future including more theological study for women of the Order and presentations on religious life from diverse members of the Order, both in age and ethnicity, which will complement the diversity of women entering religious life today. Living in intentional communities with peers throughout formation, interacting with young members of the Order internationally, using technology as a means of preaching and participating in vocation outreach were all desires expressed by novices as they move into the future.

The CDN Board meetings with CFRs continued throughout Saturday, culminating in a Eucharistic Celebration with Fr. Don Goergen, OP presiding.

In her reflection, Sister Jenn shared:

“For 25 years, women have come to the CDN to deepen their Dominican identity in response to God’s call, so that whatever may happen, they can continue carrying out the mission of Jesus, the mission of St. Dominic and the mission of their founders and foundresses. As we celebrate the success of these 25 years of collaboration, I’m wondering where we are being called now—individually and communally. Keep listening to God’s call, whether it is very direct, or comes from other religious, family and friends. God continues to call us as we face the challenges of the world today.”

Sister Renee led the congregation in song as Sister Alexa facilitated the presentation of the gifts through her dance. “After spending the weekend in St. Louis with our novices, other members of the Dominican Family, and friends, I am energized for the future. The Collaborative Dominican Novitiate is a blessing for all of us,” said Sister Mary Ann Collins, OP (Blauvelt).

For more information about the Common Dominican Novitiate, visit their web site.