Orientation to CDN 2020-21

The canonical novitiate year is a time for listening. Each novice listens intently to discover who God is calling her to become. This sacred year invites us to follow Jesus more closely by adopting the way of Saint Dominic de Guzman (1170-1221) and his early companions. Jesus fulfilled his mission to announce the Reign of God by calling together disciples who would form a new family of sisters and brothers. Like Jesus, Dominic thought community was key to evangelizing. He founded the Dominican family to carry on the mission of apostolic preaching. Our congregations of Dominican and Maryknoll Sisters belong to this global family.


Names and Logos of our Congregations in the House Chapel


We three novices have been at the CDN for nearly a month now. The initial orientation introduced us to the goals and structure of the canonical year. At the heart of everything is contemplation. Opening ourselves to God’s presence, we embrace the Dominican motto, “To contemplate and share the fruits of one’s contemplation.” Through the practice of centering prayer, we learn to adopt a contemplative stance in all we do throughout the day. One of our weekly “reflection days” focused on contemplative living. Our orientation also included a presentation on communal prayer, the liturgy of the hours, and our Dominican Praise prayer book. 


Tabernacle in our House Chapel: “Be still and know that I AM.”


Dominic’s study of Jesus’ life inspired his vision for the Order of Preachers. Dominic valued study for the sake of the preaching mission, so Dominicans commit to life-long learning. We study God’s self-revelation through sacred scripture and creation. We study the history of the Dominican family and its charism (the particular gift of the Spirit entrusted to the Order): preaching. Dominic’s mission began when he saw a need to preach the goodness of God’s creation; at the time, some were teaching that the material world was evil. Dominicans carry on his legacy by contemplating the beauty of creation, which reveals God’s life-giving presence, and working for ecojustice. At the CDN’s new home in Hyde Park, Chicago, walks along the shore of Lake Michigan nourish an appetite for beauty. We care for a little corner of creation by tending the fledgling garden we planted in the side lot of our new home.


Cathy and Faithmary have worked hard to tidy up the side yard for gardening.


Dominic believed that we preach the Good News by the way we live. Our life in community is meant to be a sign of our unity in Christ, even as we respect the uniqueness of each Sister. To embody this spirit of unity and solidarity, we seek to learn more about ourselves and develop skills for healthy community living. During orientation each Sister shared something of her family values and cultural background. Living in community, of course, involves creating a home together, so we spent a few afternoons exploring the neighborhood, setting up the library, and gardening.


Amanda, Faithmary, and Annie biked the Lakefront Trail toward downtown Chicago for a picnic lunch and selfie.


Community living is the context in which Dominican preaching takes root and flourishes. We preached to each other by sharing our vocation stories – sacred stories of how God has acted in each Sister’s life, drawing her to religious life in a particular congregation. It was beautiful to hear the unique way each of us was called to choose this life and how each can identify something in her journey that resonates with being Dominican and Maryknoll. 


One important piece of wisdom we have inherited from Dominic: respond to the needs of the times. This canonical year begins in the midst of a global pandemic. Our classes and presentations and InterCommunity Novitiate gatherings are all meeting virtually. As chaos engulfs the world in which we live, we seek the inner peace and freedom that comes from total trust in God. May this sacred time deepen that trust in all our hearts.

Plants we potted with soil from each of our motherhouses during the opening ritual