Monday, August 27, 2007

Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind...

Luke 14: 13

So, it's been a little over a week since I became a second year novice - an apostolic novice... re-entering the life of ministry as a Marianist Sister. Viewing the world, relationships and the "work" I've been given to do through the lens of the Marianist charism and living as Mary... bringing Christ to the world as Mary did/does. That's the "objective" of this second year. It's going back to the active life, but changed somehow or in a different way.

How's it going so far? So far, so good, I suppose. It's a little strange, in all honesty, to see my calendar so full again. After a year of not really having much on my calendar at all... it's strange to see meetings, retreats, work etc. taking up the white space of the calendar I carry. There's a part of me that's really excited to be reaching this phase - as you may recall from my previous post. Then there's a bit of trepidation... will I be able to maintain balance?? That's a big question for me right now...

Another big question and my prayer for this phase of life is, "God, what is the call? What are the needs of our world that are not being met and how are you calling me to put my gifts at the service of these needs??"

As you may know, a majority of my time this semester is focused on issues of social justice... in many different ways, but still most revolving around living out Catholic Social Teaching (still called the best kept secret of the Catholic Church?). This is relatively new territory for me. So, I imagine that I'll learn a lot this semester... especially about poverty, homelessness, immigration, and unfair social systems. Hence, the quote at the top of the post from today's Gospel...

Now, the way I see it, God wouldn't present me with the opportunity to grow in this way unless the intent is for me to use what I learn in some capacity in the future. While not trying to "live in the future," I'm trying to be aware of God's call through each experience and encounter.

Last weekend I was blessed to attend a retreat entitled "Journey to Justice" organized by the Dayton area's Weavers of Justice and the Archdiocesan Catholic Social Action office. What a retreat! I won't go into all the details, but it was eye-opening for me. We had presentations by a campus minister for peace and justice from the University of Dayton, a Scripture scholar who is new to the Dayton area and teaches at Wright State (religious studies?), and the director of a home for homeless men trying to get back on their feet. We also had talks given by 3 homeless men who live in the shelter.

I feel that I can't just have these experiences and leave unchanged. There is a call. There is a path towards which God is trying to guide me. Pray that I might be patient in the unfolding, but also that I might have the courage to follow where God leads.

Many blessings to all who read this!!!

Sr. N

Friday, August 17, 2007

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose under Heaven.
Turn, Turn, Turn - The Birds
(Adapted from Ecclesiastes 3)

Feeling musical today... I guess that's the case almost everyday. Some days it seems that I awake ready to greet the day with song and every situation in the day brings to mind a song - sometimes a ballad, sometimes praise & worship music, many times a song from the 80s...

At this particular moment it seems that Turn, Turn, Turn is a good song. As you may know, I'm in the last 5 days of my canonical year... about to embark on the next phase of the journey called formation. It is a time for reflection. Today's readings (Fri. Aug. 17) are particularly appropriate for my reflections. In the first reading Joshua recounts for the people all the good God has done for them - how faithful God has been. The responsorial psalm has an ongoing refrain, "God's mercy endures forever" and it also recounts all the ways God is faithful. Then the Gospel is about faithfulness in relationships... Faithfulness.

God is faithful. These next few days, as I prepare to put into practice all that God has revealed to me in the past year, it is good to reflect on God's goodness... faithfulness... steadfast love.

There is, indeed, a time for everything under Heaven. There's a time for reflection... a time to ponder. That's what retreats, meditative prayer, and canonical novitiate are for. Then there's a time for action... a time for putting one's relationship with God into practical activity - ministry... social justice work... the next step in formation...

It's been a full year. Really, it's been a full summer... all in the same "pondering" spirit, though. So, what lies ahead??? I'm glad you asked! ;)

Next week I jump back into a more apostolic mode. Sr. Laura, my formation director while here in Dayton, says that it's the time for me to put into practice what I've studied and prayed about all year. That's good perspective....

First, I'll be working 12-15 hours a week with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Catholic Social Action Office here in Dayton ( I'm excited about that because I believe there's a lot more for me to learn in terms of social justice issues/causes/possible solutions and because it will allow me to learn more about Dayton in general. On Wednesday evening I will start a class at the FitzCenter for Leadership in Community here at UD ( That course has students working with a local neighborhood association and local government on projects for improvement. That should prove to be a stretch for me, but the skills developed and lessons learned will be transferable no matter what the future holds. I'll also be working with the students at UD who want to make a public commitment as Lay Marianists. I'll be helping with their formation. Lastly, I will go back to working with one of my passions... Marianist LIFE. Marianist LIFE is an immersion in Marianist community building and leadership for high school students (

But, now is not the time to think too much about what's ahead. Now is the time to pray, reflect and bring a little closure to a year well-spent. Otherwise, the coming months will be too overwhelming!

Many blessings on all who read this!
Sr. N

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Drink deeply from the well-spring of prayer,
else the journey will be too long...
A thought from my personal prayer

I can hardly believe that summer is almost over! Where have the months gone?? The close of this summer is different for me. In a little over a week, I will complete my first year of novitiate and transition into a new phase...

The second year of novitiate differs depending on the religious congregation. For me it means a return to ministry... not full time, but ministry nonetheless. And to tell you the truth, I couldn't be more excited about that!

The challenge in these last few days of first year is to stay in the present and not allow myself to get "caught up" in what's going to happen. You see, it's difficult for me sometimes to stay in the "now." I like looking ahead, planning, etc. Sometimes that's a gift. However, sometimes I completely miss the grace that God is showering on me now.

For the next several days the above quote is my "mantra" of sorts. As God prepares me to re-enter the world of ministry, it is essential that I drink deeply from the prayer that has become so much a part of my first year of novitiate. Otherwise, the journey will indeed prove to be too long.

Tonight, I'm keeping this post short. I foresee some very long posts in the near future... I'm sure I'll want to share with you what my second year will involve.

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand
and caught him, and said to him,
"O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
Matthew 14:31

This past weekend (Friday July 27 - Monday July 30) I joined the Marianist brothers for a bi-annual gathering called "Look, Listen and Lounge." It is a gathering for people in formation with the Marianists, but also for those who are seriously considering entering the Marianist vowed life. It was not exactly a retreat... although we did pray together and had 1 or 2 sessions each day. It was more of a weekend just to relax and get to know one another in an informal and fun atmosphere. It took place at the Marianist retreat house on Governor's Island.

Quick explanation of Governor's Island...
In the early 20th century one of Ohio's governors left his property to the Marianist brothers and priests at the University of Dayton. The property just happens to be one of the small islands in a chain of islands in Indian Lake (a large man-made lake about 2 hours north of Dayton).

Anyway, we had many late night card games, swimming, boating, tubing, a bonfire complete with s'mores and roasted hotdogs... When the Marianists get together, I suppose one could say that we have a good time.

On the serious side, however, there were 3 sessions... I was asked a few weeks ago to give the one on Sunday evening. I spoke about my discernment journey and where I am right now. I used the story of Jesus walking on water and calling Peter out of the boat as the frame for telling my story.

I won't go into everything I talked about, but I want to share with you a few of the reflections. I shared with everyone that stepping out of the "boat" and into religious life wasn't a huge difficulty for me and that at the beginning if I stayed focused on God and the grace of the present moment, I was fine. However, at times during this past year there have been moments of doubt or questioning... "Can I really do this? Will anyone else join? What does the future hold and will I be able to cope?" and other such questions...

During each of those questioning moments I have asked for help... and that help has typically come through the people around me. I told the group how difficult the year would have been had it not been for "my brothers"... the men in formation with the Marianist brothers/priests. We have been each other's support. Also, my intercommunity novitiate group was immensely helpful... as well as the sisters in community.

If I were to write a book about the brothers & priests in the Society of Mary, I would entitle it Truly My Brothers because that's who they've been for me. I didn't grow up with brothers... but God has seen fit to bless me with 100s of them now!

After the talk I gave everyone a copy of the Scripture passage along with 4 questions for reflection. I asked them for what is Jesus calling them out of their boat, how do they feel about that, what support do they need to take that step and keep going, and who has been supportive for them in their own discernment journey. Then they had time for one-on-one conversations.

It was good. Reflecting on how I've come to be where I am on this journey was good for me. It was also good to articulate it verbally. I've realized that each day is filled with God's grace... that I can't "do this" of my own will/effort... that a helping hand from Jesus often comes through the people around me... and just because there are winds that toss the boat, it doesn't mean Jesus isn't there attempting to walk on water with me.

My friend Brandon, who is a 1st year novice with the SM, took pictures from the weekend. Here are a few:

Many blessings to all who read this!
Sr. N