By Sr. Karen, O.P.
We Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois, met in General Chapter during Easter Week this year. We are called into this body of the whole every five years to elect leadership and to evaluate how we live and share the Dominican charism entrusted to us and our institutions. Past Chapters have made us painfully aware of the wound of racism. They have also highlighted our interconnectedness in the web of creation and our responsibility to live sustainably. Building on these efforts, this year’s Chapter examined our Identity, Mission, and Relationships.
The words Pro Mundi Vita, for the Life of the World, Por la Vida del Mundo, were our mantra. They come from the mosaic behind the altar in our Motherhouse chapel. There the Dominican saints are gathered around the crucifix. At the feet of Jesus, these words proclaim Christ’s unitive love as the strength and grace for our own vowed living as Dominican women today.
We came together at our Motherhouse on April 22, 2019 after months of preparation. Active participants and delegates were seated around 22 tables. We were from the United States and Peru. We spoke plainly about the joys and challenges of religious life at this time in history.
Each day, four of us gathered the feedback from individual table groups. Our task was to distill these responses into a mandate for final approval by the Chapter. This was a daunting challenge. We began by reading the table responses aloud, noting common themes from the 22 groups. From these themes we formulated statements. The statements were then organized around the three-step process of Liberation Theology: (context / identity / action) or (see / judge / act).
Very often, the Sisters expressed their responses as prayerful desires and hopes for us, both as individuals and as Congregation moving forward together. Therefore it seemed especially fitting to structure our statement as a prayer. The final draft of the English version retains several Spanish phrases that more fully express an idea than their English counterparts. At the end of our deliberations, the prayer/mandate received enthusiastic and unanimous approval from the Chapter body.
Prayer is performative language; we believe that praying these words can help us live in awareness that pulls us forward. Since returning to our ministries, we have shared our prayer with others. Hospice patients, parishioners, youth, coworkers, and students have been deeply moved by it. Some suggested we share the prayer more broadly. We offer it here in hopes it also speaks to you.
A Prayer for the Life of the World
Holy Mystery, ever ancient, ever new,
we the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, come before you
aware of our interconnectedness in the cosmos
and in solidarity with the rostros concretos* of the marginalized.
We come with deep gratitude for our common call.
Draw us into communion with you and all creation.
Living with intentional awareness and openness to change,
we seek to expand the expression of our vows,
inviting others to walk with us in sharing our charism.
Free our hearts to recognize and attend to Christ in hidden and unexpected places.
We renounce our participation in the sin of racism
and reject the societal barriers created by the misuse of power.
Through our contemplation, transform us to listen deeply
to one another and to the brokenness of the world.
Bless our efforts to be the holy preaching.
Christ, You are expansive.
We journey in that truth, offering our testimonio de vida.
*Rostros concretos literally means “specific faces.” But the Spanish concept more broadly includes any oppressive situation relegating people or creation to the margins.
Sr. Joanne Delahanty, OP Hna. Mila Diaz Solano, OP
Sr. Karen Freund, OP Sr. Rose Miriam Schulte,OP