Collaborative Dominican Novitiate: ‘Dominican Family Relationship Days’

Submitted by Cathy Arnold, OP (CDN Co-Director)

Novices from the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate and the Dominican Central and Southern Provinces met together, May 19-22, in St. Louis to experience Dominican Family relationships. Led by Sisters Ann Willits, Christin Tomy (both Sinsinawa) and Friars Don Goergen, Samuel Hakeem (both Central Province), the novices, a novice-to-be, one of our Dominican Sisters from Zimbabwe, and directors enjoyed stories, input, prayer, and sharing. Laughter filled the room as we introduced ourselves with two truths and a lie.

Our speakers shared insights and history about the Dominican family and asked the questions: Where does the notion of a Dominican family come from, and how is it understood? What does family mean and what does it mean to be part of a family? What gifts does family bring? What challenges? What are the realities we face in being brothers and sisters to each other, in being brothers to our brothers and sisters to our sisters? The leaders also shared experiences of how they sustain their Dominican vocations with life, love, and energy. A delicious Lebanese meal prepared by our leaders, and a tornado warning during the meal highlighted our time together. 

The participants shared these reflections: 

“The Dominican Family workshop with the CDN was a beautiful reminder of the diversity of both people and vision which makes all Dominican groups adaptable to the needs of the Gospel.” – Br. Dominick Jean, novice, St. Albert the Great Province

“(We were together) learning how to live the Dominican family spirit in unity and friendship as brothers and sisters.” – Sr. Rolande Pendeza Kahindo, novice, Maryknoll

“These few days were a truly grace-filled time spent with my Dominican family. I will ponder the discussions and questions that were raised, and I look forward to developing my relationships with the Dominicans across the family.” – Br. Andrew Martin del Valle, novice, St. Martin de Porres Province

“This opportunity opened the doors to dimensions of Dominican life I’d never thought of or experienced before, and left me excited and inspired about the future of the Dominican Order/family and my place within it.” – Ellen Coates, novice-to-be for 2019-2020, Dominican Sisters of Peace

“I now understand more deeply about the ways of the Dominican family. Last week, a group of Friars and Sisters gathered to pray and share Dominican life experiences at the CDN and Priory. We also chatted with one other throughout mealtimes and entertainment. Dominican family is the place where I can find love, joy, and support. I am so grateful to be a part of Dominican family.” – Sr Phuong Vu, novice, Dominican Sisters of Peace

“As a Dominican family we are glued by the Holy Spirit, which calls us to forgiveness and love of one another. Collaboration is nothing if it’s not focused on relationship and we need to be vulnerable and empty in order for us to be filled. This was a moment of encounter and of experiencing the goodness of God in one another.” – Sr Hilda Chanyau OP, Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Zimbabwe