By Colette Parker, OPA and Director of Associates for the Dominican Sisters of Peace
Wilca Sauveterre is committed to living a life led by the Holy Spirit.
“I want to be an instrument of peace and justice in my community who shares the love of God, preaches a risen Christ, and acts according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said Sauveterre, of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. “I answered the call to preach the Gospel as an Associate because I want to do the things that God wants me to do. Being part of the Dominican family and living the Dominican charism has enriched my life.”
Sauveterre is one of 46 men and women who made formal commitments in 2018 as Associates of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. As Associates, these Christian men and women have chosen to share in and live out the preaching charism of the Dominican Sisters of Peace by striving to live a life of peace-making wherever they are and in everything they do.
Jim Layden, of Columbus, OH, said he initially felt a connection to the congregation more than a decade ago when he began developing relationships with some of the Sisters as an employee at Ohio Dominican University.
“I was struck by the Sisters’ unceasing dedication to living the Gospel message. I have always admired their strength and commitment to meeting the needs of others,” Layden said. “Although I already felt a connection to the congregation, the discernment process really brought the charism alive in me.”
Before Associates make an initial two-year commitment, they journey through a discernment process, which typically takes a year. The process generally includes prayer, study of a guidebook, relationship building, and a discernment retreat. Each Associate Candidate is companioned by a Sister and/or Associate.
Like Layden, Marlene Kasama, of Bardstown, KY, was drawn to the community of Dominican Sisters of Peace via her relationships with Sisters at the Motherhouse in St. Catharine, where she works.
“I grew to love the Sisters. As we talked, I realized we had the same values and the same commitment to the planet and social justice. We shared a love of life and a love of God,” Kasama said. “I was already hooked when I started the discernment process. The more I discerned, the more I grew in my Dominican spirituality. My life is richer now because I am an Associate in a community that is so full of love.”
It was the love expressed by Sisters in Colorado that motivated Victoria Ortega to seek more information about becoming an Associate. Ortega, of Denver, said the care that she received while mourning the loss of her father produced a desire to learn more about the congregation.
“I was moved by the patience and care that they showed me, but I was also touched by the care they showed for one another,” Ortega said. “I wanted to be a part of them. I wanted to be connected to them.
“During the discernment process, as our relationships developed and grew, I experienced community. This is my community now. I am surrounded and supported by women, and men, who are tackling some difficult issues – human trafficking, immigration, poverty, racism, gun violence, care for our earth,” Ortega continued. “How could you not want to be part of that?”
Ortega, Kasama, Layden, and Sauveterre all agree that being an Associate means living a life that is dedicated to building a more peaceful world.
“Our Dominican spirituality is a part of who we are,” Sauveterre said. “Our four pillars – prayer, study, community, and ministry – are our source of strength as we share God’s word through our actions and lives.”
There are nearly 700 Associates of the Dominican Sisters of Peace worldwide. The 2018 class included one Associate in Puerto Rico; four in Louisiana; six in Kentucky; five in Kansas; four in Tennessee; one in North Carolina; four in Michigan; and 21 in Ohio.