About 130 Dominican Sisters from 17 different U.S.-based congregations gathered in Columbus at Ohio Dominican University from July 27-30, 2023, to explore new ways of engaging their future together. Eleven participants attended virtually.
The group included women from the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States. Sisters, all under 70 years of age, ranged from those beginning their novitiate to those who have been members for decades. Clearly evident among all was a passion to preach the Gospel message that brings life to the world through their lives and actions.
“Together, the Sisters created a brave space nurtured by their rich diversity. As Dominican Women, they dared to speak the truth that was burning in their hearts and minds. Dreaming and finding pathways to “Creating our Future Today” in concrete ways and with radical hope,” said DSC Director Xiomara Méndez Hernández, OP.
Sisters attending the encuentro, “Creating our Future Today,” explored ways to support vowed Dominican life into the future with new ways of collaborating and relating. Participants have been preparing for this gathering for the past year through regular virtual gatherings.
Throughout the year, Sisters have been engaged in a process of Contemplative Inquiry facilitated by Sherryl White, CSJ. Drawing upon the strengths of communal dialogue, Sisters have been taking the time to examine foundational Dominican values, consider their existing realities, and risk the challenge of imagining preferred futures. Grounded in these shared conversations, they came prepared to define more clearly their role in advancing the Dominican mission into the future.
The foundational questions that guided their deliberations were: (a) What role can we play in evolving Dominican life/mission to meet the needs of the future? and (b) What can we do better together than alone?
As a result of communal discernment that included prayer, discussion, and personal reflection on the two foundational questions, Sisters surfaced the following areas of engagement and worked to identify beginning courses of action:
- Dominican Spirituality and Theological Formation: update for 21st century
- Creation/Climate Change: see with the eyes of Earth
- Cross Cultural Competency Skills / Interculturality: address conflict through the Pascal Mystery
- Unifying Models of Organization: form a task force to study and lead DSC into discernment
- Vocations: collaborate more and share the workload and presence for greater witness
- Youth: make a preferential option for the young and build on existing efforts for outreach
- Bridging Polarization: work on a process with restorative practice
Next steps include calling on volunteers to plan and implement actions, establishing a timeline for unifying models of organization, refining the recommendations with sub-committees, sharing them with the whole cohort in the fall zoom session and presenting progress in motion to the Dominican Sisters Conference Annual Leaders Meeting in October.