At visioning sessions held May 15 -16, the Cohort drew upon prophetic writings and inspiration from contemporary consultants, psychologists, poets, and composers to review where the journey has taken us in the past year and consider our next steps. In breakout sessions we reflected on major dynamics that are shaping our worldview and began to articulate hopes and dreams for vowed Dominican life and mission now and into the future. Five areas of interest emerged in these discussions: community building within the wider Dominican family; ministry and service (especially preaching, promoting healing within the institutional Church, and care for creation); deepening relationships within the Cohort and beyond; fostering Dominican spirituality; and promoting values for life-giving communities.
Several thought-provoking questions also emerged. How can we find out about individual needs of the members so we can better support one another and our congregations in practical ways? How can we break down the discrepancy between our own needs for support and the needs of the times? How can we free our sisters to go to other places when the needs of our congregations continue to take precedence? What is our preferred future? What is our unimagined future? How are we going to move forward together? How can we equip the younger/newer members to live fully into their identity as Dominicans? We continue to wonder how we can better honor our generational and cultural diversity. One group suggested forming a “Ruth and Naomi” affinity group blending the wisdom of younger and older members using a spiritual companioning model.
We notice a growing number of Dominicans ministering in the United States who are first- or second-generation in the United States or living and working here on visas. As we consider our diverse cultural backgrounds and our current geographical locations, we feel a growing sense of how important it is for us to be together in person to build a sense of mutuality and community. Some members are eager to begin living in communities as Dominicans USA now. Discussions about building inter-congregational communities and inter-charism communities included experimenting with dual membership and dropping canonical identities to live as members of one big international order in order to make the charism and life more visible.
The team is taking these questions and suggestions to heart while working on a budget for next year. We are planning for more team building, leadership training, visioning zooms, and an in-person Cohort event in the summer of 2023. In the coming months we will be reaching out to congregational leadership for help with Spanish translation of materials and will budget for live interpretation for bilingual meetings next year.
Our ongoing projects are going well. Affinity groups are convening regularly, growing in popularity and are self-managed. We are looking for a way to share the richness of their conversations with the broader family. The Dominican Sisters database will be ready to access later this summer! About 160 surveys have come back already. We are a little over half-way there and we encourage those who received surveys but have not yet filled them out to submit them soon. Contact Joanne Caniglia at email@example.com if you run into any problems with the process.
We communicate monthly with all members of the DSC on our progress and collaborate weekly with the members of the Cohort on developing projects. Pat Magee, our FLT liaison to the DSC, meets monthly with Mary Ellen O’Grady, and the team meets quarterly with Mary Ellen and Anne Lythgoe to coordinate Cohort visioning with the futuring work of congregational leadership. We are looking into ways to increase our online presence and link to other Dominican websites to share information about the Cohort and affinity group conversations. Our goal is to generate creative ways for the Cohort to grow together spiritually and experientially, to develop an integrated vision for the future of Dominican Order in the United States, and to share opportunities for community building and collaborative ministries.
Pat Magee (Hope), Lorraine Reaume (Adrian), Kathleen Tait (Springfield), Mai-dung Nguyen (Peace), Donna Moses (Mission San Jose), and Carol Dempsey (Caldwell)