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Adrian Dominicans Help Teach the Art of Spiritual Companioning

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.


Providence Hospital Awarded For Community Wellness Center

March 21, 2016, Torrance, California – Providence Health and Services, Southern California – where Sister Nancy Jurecki, OP, ministers as chief mission integration officer – recently received the Mission Leadership Award for its newly founded Wellness Center in the underserved Los Angeles port neighborhood of Wilmington, California. 

The award recognizes programs and services in the Providence health care system that demonstrate “extraordinary community-focused service.” Some 13 outreach programs were nominated for this award from the five western states served by Providence: Alaska, California, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. 

The Wellness Center brings a range of services to this low-income community: diabetes self-management, summer camps for children, Aztec dance classes, physical activity programs for people of all ages, grief support groups, guidance in health insurance enrollment, and home visit programs to families of newborns. The center opened in late 2014.

“This project required the creativity, hard work, and commitment of many people, and the success is tremendous,” Sister Nancy said. “The Wellness Center exemplifies our core strategy – Creating Healthier Communities, Together – by working with our community partners to identify community needs and collaborate to create solutions.” 

For more information on the Center – and to hear Wilmington residents speak of the impact that the Center has had on their lives, view this video.


 

 

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