By Sister Rose Ann Schlitt, OP
July 13, 2017, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – “I’m learning the art of listening: to the person I accompany, to God in the person, and to myself!”
“I was deeply moved as I engaged in spiritual companioning and experienced sacred ground.”
“It was such a liberating experience, full of joy and surprises!”
These are a few of comments by 12 cloistered nuns from six monasteries and traditions as they completed four weeks of Introduction to Spiritual Companioning. The course was sponsored by the nine-member spirituality team of the Conference of Religious of the Dominican Republic (CONDOR) and coordinated by Sister Carol Ann Gross, OP, and Dr. Angela Lopez, a lay psychologist.
Visitandines, Franciscan Capuchins, Clarissas, and Discalced Carmelites from across the country gathered in the Carmelite Monastery of St. Teresa of Jesus in Santo Domingo for the month-long course. They came to take instruction and to learn the tools and skills they needed to accompany others in their attentive and personal responses to God.
During the first week, they received an overview of Spiritual Companioning, listening skills, and personality types, and shared their own history of spirituality. The team demonstrated modes of accompaniment, after which the nuns practiced with each other. The week also included follow-up and supervision of the new companions by the coordinating team.
The second week dealt with the area of psychology and personal growth, and a retreat workshop on a review of personal history. Applications of the Exercises of St. Ignatius followed, with models of discernment and specific practices of accompaniment. Special cases such as group accompaniment and areas of affectivity, sexuality, and forgiveness were covered in the fourth week. Throughout the month the nuns delighted in presenting their own monastic traditions and in learning about the traditions of the others.
After the formal course, the team offered follow-up and supervision of the nuns in their settings, as well as group supervision. The group gathered again in May for a personal directed retreat and follow-up in the practice of accompaniment.
“Beginning the course with the contemplatives, we of the team were a little nervous,” Sister Carol said. “We know these women are dedicated to prayer and silence and to God in a very special vocation. But within two days we started to relax and give to them what we had learned from our experience and study while they received us with exemplary openness. We laughed and cried together and we all learned about the presence of God in our lives: contemplatives, laity, priests, and sisters in active congregations. The course has been a gift of grace and growth for all!”
The course, a unique ministry in the Dominican Republic, already has a long history. Sister Ana Feliz, OP, with the support of Sister Nancy Jurecki, OP, launched the program in 2002 as a course in Spiritual Companioning, sponsored by the CONDOR. Sister Carol and Sister Eneida Santiago, OP, were participants.
Others contributed in specific areas of input. Sister Arlene Kosmatka, OP, accompanied the groups with her expertise during the summer courses for several years. This Adrian Dominican-launched ministry in spirituality found fertile ground in the Dominican Republic – and the mission continues!
Top: Students prepare for class. Bottom: The 12 participants represent six monasteries and six traditions.
September 27, 2016, Detroit, Michigan – The words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” now greet visitors to Hope House, a facility of Voices for Earth Justice (VEJ) in Detroit. Those words are inscribed on a Peace Pole installed at VEJ and dedicated on September 18.
The event – held a few days before International Day of Peace on September 21 – also honored Sister Janet Stankowski, OP, during her 50-year Jubilee Year as an Adrian Dominican Sister. The Peace Pole was purchased by Sister Janet’s family and friends in her honor.
Sister Janet co-founded VEJ with Patricia Gillis, an Adrian Dominican Associate, in 2001 out of a need to bring a faith-based perspective to environmental issues. Sister Janet describes the non-profit organization as a “faith-based network whose mission is to pray, educate, and act on behalf of Earth.”
During the dedication ceremony, Rabbi Syme, Imam Muhammad, and Father Phil Paxton, CP, shared thoughts about peace from their respective traditions. Participants recited the Prayer of St. Francis and were blessed by Doris Thunderfeather Allen in a sage blessing ceremony.
Along with Sister Janet, Adrian Dominican Sisters in attendance included Sisters Jeanine Boivin, OP; Pat Benson, OP; Grace Dennis, OP; Annette Desloover, OP; Arlene Kosmatka, OP; Sheila Delaney, OP; Cheryl Liske, OP; and Anneliese Sinnott, OP. Adrian Dominican Associates who attended included Carol Hofer, Patty Gillis, Geri Pleva, Mercedes Fitzsimmons, and Joyce Fruge.
The prayer, “May peace prevail on Earth,” was written in 1955 by the late Msahisa Goi, a Japanese man who sought to spread the desire for peace in people throughout the world. The prayer is written in English and other languages on the four or six sides of the peace pole. Numbering in the tens of thousands, peace poles can be found in 180 countries and on all continents.
Watch a slide show of the Voices for Earth Justice peace pole dedication.