USA VICE-PROVINCIAL OPEN ASSEMBLY
Dighton (Massachusetts), 10/12/2023, Sr. Karen Champagne.-
A TIME TO CELEBRATE WHO WE ARE
A TIME TO LET GO
A TIME TO MAKE ROOM FOR OTHERS
With great joy we celebrated at the USA VICE-PROVINCIAL ASSEMBLY from September 29 to October 1, 2023. There were Sisters from all seven Communities present at the Assembly.
It was a time to pray together to share thoughts and feelings. This was also a time to thank God for all that He had done through each one, and together to make the USA Vice-Province what it is today. We were blessed to have the presence of Sr. Joanna Fernandes with us who coordinated and facilitated this weekend. Her gifts and knowledge of our Vice-Province and each sister helped us to fully enter into the experience of celebration and fraternal sharing. We thank Sr. Maria Escayola for sending Sr. Joanna to be with us for this important Assembly as we prepare to join with the Province of Guadalupe.
To mark this moment in our history, and before we become one with the Province of Guadalupe, we created a time capsule that represents all of us at this moment. The time capsule contains symbols which express the mission of each Community, as well as photos and lists of Sisters and Communities.
The Assembly began in the Chapel on Friday, September 29. During the opening prayer, the symbols from each Community were placed in the Chapel near the altar for everyone to see and at the end of the Assembly the items were put in the time capsule and buried near the well in front of the Vice-Provincial House; a replica of the well in Sainville, France. It will be unearthed in twenty-five years. There is a plaque on the well where the time capsule is buried explaining about this time capsule.
During the opening prayer and during the Morning and Evening prayers of the weekend, there was a blessing for each Sister by Sr. Joanna where she read and shared a little about each sister and her life in the Vice-Province, emphasizing her gifts. This was done in groups of six Sisters by Community order and when Sr. Joanna was finished with the sharing all the other Sisters raised their hands and offered a prayer of blessing for the sisters recognized.
After the opening prayer in the Chapel, we had a potluck supper in which we shared each other’s cooking. We especially experienced our internationally by the dishes and food that the Sisters prepared.
Saturday morning began with Morning Prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist. In the first reading of the day from the Prophet Zechariah, an Angel said, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the Lord. Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and they shall be His people and He will dwell among you.” Isn’t this what the Lord has been telling all of us during these months of preparation to join with the Province of Guadalupe?
We then celebrated and shared our history together through storytelling. Each Sister shared a story about her mission or people who may have touched her life or had influenced her during her time in the USA Vice-Province. We learned more about one another on a deeper level and were able to appreciate the gifts and life of each other. It was a real blessing. It was also a moment of gratitude and thanksgiving to the Lord for the many graces He has given us through the life of each other.
Saturday afternoon we celebrated the tangible and fun gifts we received from Sr. Joanna. We then broke into groups to share these gifts with one another while keeping one for ourselves. It was an entertaining time, and yet it was also a time of reflection to acknowledge how we experienced receiving and giving our gifts to one another.
We ended the day with Evening Prayer and a celebratory meal. For recreation we delighted in a pumpkin decorating contest. We each had a partner and decorated our pumpkins. The creativity of each Sister was revealed for all to appreciate.
Sunday morning began with Morning Prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist. The second reading from Philippians 2:1-11 emphasizes that our responsibility as Christians is for us to be an active force which stands together in unity to achieve the communal goal of proclaiming the Kingdom of God through a paradigm of humility which is exemplified by a form of servanthood demonstrated by Christ. For us this is a goal to work toward as we join with the Province of Guadalupe.
During our morning session we reflected on and shared how we were feeling during this time of restructuration to join with the Province of Guadalupe and how we felt as we came closer to this reality.
In the afternoon we met in groups and continued our sharing about how we can acknowledge and deal with our feelings and then we convened again with the entire group. It was also a time of healing. Sisters expressed that they experienced freedom to express without any judgement and an atmosphere of openness by all.
The closing prayer was a time of reconciliation, thanksgiving and sending forth. We had a reconciliation service which concluded with the sign of peace. A most significant ritual of the weekend was having the four Provincials, past and present, Sr. Joanna Fernandes, Sr. Marina Mejia, Sr. Vimala Vadakumpadan and Sr. Marta Inés Toro each pour a carafe of blessed water into the holy water font representing the symbol of our coming together, unity and blessing. At the end of the prayer each Sister came forth, blessed herself with the holy water from the font, and processed outside to the well to bury the time capsule singing “Companions on the Journey”.
Outside the Vice-Provincial House, we had a prayer to honor all those Sisters who had enabled us to arrive to this moment. Each one of us are human time capsules carrying the legacy of all of us and all our Sisters from the initial foundation in the USA forward through time. We hope to pass on to our future Sisters a prayerful, joyful and loving Community, willing to take risks and to continue living the Charism of Blessed Marie Poussepin wherever we are; a community of prayer which goes out to the poor, marginalized and needy. The time capsule was sealed and buried. To conclude this ritual, we blessed each other’s hands with the sign of the cross with oil from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to embrace our becoming one with the Province of Guadalupe to form the Province of Our Lady of the Americas.
The Annual Global Celebration
of Youth and Young Adults.
On Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
On November 19, 2022
Brownsville (Texas), Sr. Claudia Lorena Redondo, December 2, 2022.
On Saturday, November 19, we celebrated World Youth Day at San Felipe de Jesus Parish in Brownsville, Texas.
Youth and United with Christ group started in 2019 at San Felipe de Jesus Parish with Sister Sindi Bardales as our youth ministry leader. Over the years, some of the members of the group have gone to other cities to study at colleges or universities, at the same time, more young people have joined the group.
I, Avril Solis, and Karyme Martinez have been in the group from the beginning. Throughout the years, we have contributed so much to our church. We have helped organized many retreats, posadas, living stations of the cross and other plays. This year, we have Sister Claudia Redondo as our youth ministry leader, and we were able to celebrate the Annual Global Celebration of Youth. Father Manuel Razo pastor of the Parish, Father Brian Strassburger SJ, and Father Louie Hotop SJ helped us to organize the celebration. We invited all the youth from our parish to celebrate the beauty of being young and united with Christ.
This year, we began the celebration of the Eucharist which was presided over by Fr. Louie Hotop, SJ. In his homily he pointed out to us that if we are followers of Jesus, we should ask ourselves what kind of person he was. He was kind and generous, compassionate towards the poor and toward sinners. He was patient, understanding, and loving. He also showed his anger at times, especially when he encountered injustices. He was courageous and chose the path of humility and servant leadership. This is the king that we follow, not someone who uses power to control or manipulate others, but someone who through gentleness, compassion, and service to the poor gives us an example of what it means to be a child of God. We follow the King of Heaven, not the king of earth. Let us have the courage to imitate the ways of Jesus, our true and only King.
After the inspirational homily, we recited a prayer with all the youth. The members of the youth group made a banner with a significant phrase that Pope Francis proposed for the 37th World Youth Day, 2022-2023: "Mary arose and went with haste" (Lk 1:39). They also, participated in singing in the choirs, serving as lectors, ushers, and Eucharistic Ministers. Alongside the celebration of the Eucharist, we had a gathering at the parish hall with some activities and fellowship. As youth came in, they were invited to decorate the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and attached it to the banner of the event.
In attendance were over thirty youths who joined in. Fr. Brian Strassburger, SJ, introduced The Global Celebration of Young People and gave a brief history of the celebration. Afterward, we watched a video of Pope Francis, offering a message of hope and encouragement to the young people. This introduction was followed by a game called, “Bridges and Beavers”. We invited all the youth to get on their feet and join in the game that had everyone running around and laughing.
After wearing ourselves out, we watched a video with the theme song for World Youth Day 2023 which will take place in Portugal. We concluded our celebration by enjoying pizza and donuts. Overall, it was a fun and energizing event for the youth of the parish. An event of coming together to share our faith and strengthen the faith of our youth and the adults of tomorrow who will lead our church.
Youth Group Leaders.
Young and United with Christ.
PERPETUAL VOWS OF
SISTER GLENDA LETICIA ORTIZ PALACIOS
October 9, 2022 was a day of great joy in Dighton and in the Vice-Province of the United States. In our beautiful Chapel of the Vice-Provincial House, we celebrated the final commitment of Sr. Glenda Leticia Ortiz Palacios. For many Sisters it was a reminder of something that has not happened here for several years.
Father Paul Canuel's homily and the singing, both in English and in Spanish, spoke to us of our internationality, our interculturality and our commitment to be wherever the Church calls us and our brothers and sisters need us. Glenda Leticia was born in Olanchito, Honduras on July 10, 1973. She lived her early years there, acquired her education, and was very committed to her parish. Glenda joined a religious Congregation where she lived for several years. However, she left because she didn't feel that she was called to live in that Congregation. She returned to her hometown, and after ten years, having fully lived her lay commitment and her mission as a teacher and school principal, she joined our Congregation in Honduras on October 14, 2016.
The Dominican charism and the spirituality of Marie Poussepin gave meaning to Glenda’s life and prepared her for her commitment to religious life in our Congregation. After three years of probation, Glenda made her first profession on October 13, 2019.
Sr. Glenda Leticia has lived different community and missionary experiences in Honduras and in the United States. Her mission experiences have been at the educational level, as well as in Parish Ministry, and in the spiritual animation of Laudato Si groups. She is currently in Dighton, practicing her English before leaving for her new mission in Brownsville, Texas, where she will integrate herself into the Community, will continue studying English and will collaborate in the mission with immigrants.
Sister Martha Ines Escobar.
FAMILIES OF HOSPICE PATIENTS IN DIGHTON
On Saturday, October 22, 2022, we opened our Chapel and facility to the families of Hospice patients and the Staff of the Hospice Agency of Fall River, Massachusetts; there were 60 people who came. It is part of our mission as Dominican Sisters of the Presentation at the Vice-Provincial Community, in Dighton, to be welcoming and hospitable to those wishing to use our House and beautiful property.
This group comes yearly to Dighton in order to have a non-denominational memorial service for their loved ones who have passed from this life during the past year. Due to the pandemic, it has been several years since we have had the privilege of having this event.
A meaningful ritual is having the loved ones of the persons who have died let free a beautiful butterfly into the open sky. This begets many tears to everyone’s eyes. One may also notice a family member breathe a sigh of letting go or of an expression of peacefulness on their faces.
There is also a time for meeting each other in a less formal moment while enjoying some refreshments. All our guests are happy to meet the Sisters and some of us know some of the families and staff of the Hospice Agency. We, Dominican Sisters, offer our prayers to all the Hospice patients who have died, their loved ones, as well as the staff.
Sr. Karen Champagne.
WE ARE ALL MIGRANTS
Our Community of three Sisters is geographically located at the last point, from west to east, of the long border between the United States and Mexico; 3,169 Km. In U.S. territory, Brownsville, TX., and in Mexican territory, Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Ecclesially we belong to the Diocese of Brownsville.
Aware that we are all migrants, together with a group of lay people, most of them are faithful women from the parish of San Felipe de Jesus in Brownsville, with whom each week we share the Word: "we feel called by the Lord to comfort the sorrows and needs of so many of our sisters and brothers who pass through this point in search of a better opportunity to live with their families with dignity."
Every week on Tuesday we prepare lunch with these women to take to the families who are in Matamoros; here they wait in camps or shelters for months or years while they wait for the opportunity to be called to a hearing to start or continue their asylum process; or in desperation, they jump across the border risking their lives. Some find informal jobs where they can earn something to survive. Many of them come in families to the place where they are given lunch, this day they can save the expense. We have seen women who arrive pregnant, here some of their children are born and take their first steps; others are forced to return to their country. They value our presence, and feel the confidence to share; they appreciate and enjoy what we can offer them.
Two days a week we receive groups of children and young people of both sexes at the parish. They come from the detention centers, where the age to be in these centers are from 10 to 18 years old. They are held in these centers while they go through a process of searching for the person they want to reach; they could be a family member or just some acquaintances. Once the person is located, a research is made of the conditions in which he/she is to receive someone else and the possibilities of taking care of his/her needs. If a person is not able or does not want to receive them, a sponsor is found for them and if no one can be found to take care of them, they are returned to their country. In the centers the kids are always guarded; there, they are provided with food, clothing, study, recreation, sports, rest, medical service and also the attention to the faith they profess is favored. Because of this we are able to have on Wednesdays a religious service with them.
This time is an encounter with the Lord, we prepared prayers and a space in which they relate with God from their cultural, family and personal expressions; they are very moving and enriching moments of faith experience. On Sundays they participate in the ordinary masses in which the parish community attends during the morning, the groups vary from 20 to 50 kids in each mass. At 3:00 p.m. a mass is celebrated only for migrant children and youth, the participation can also vary from 60 to 120 from different detention centers. Both on Wednesday and Sunday after the religious service and the Eucharist we offer time for confession, listening or some other needs that they express; after this we have a moment of sharing the food, we try to give them a taste of what the young people want and that they have not tasted for a long time.
Both the families in Matamoros and the young people and children who come to the parish express in words and in their faces the faith that animates them and the joy they feel when they find a place where they are welcome, listened to and nourished by brothers and sisters who offer them the space to feel at home as members of a great family of the children of God. We have many intentions to present every day to the Lord: the life of every young person, every parent, every new life that is born on foreign soil, because this is what the laws of peoples and nations say... With thankfulness we make our own the words of St. Paul: "I thank Him who has strengthened me, our Lord Jesus Christ, for having counted me worthy of trust in placing me at His service." (I Tim. 1:12).
In the Community of Guaimaca, Honduras, we rejoice as we celebrate the fidelity of God to Sr. María Idelgar Ceballos Galeano in her 60 years of Consecrated Life.
Sister Maria Idelgar, we thank God for having you as a treasure that does not run out, a leafy tree that continues to bear abundant fruit. Your sixty years of consecrated life challenges us in the inviolable fidelity of the gift of YES.
You are a woman of integrity. You invite us to contemplate in the window of daily life, the light of goodness reflected in the service of Charity. Your serenity and love of life is a lighted lamp of Christ's reflection that calms the hunger and thirst of those who need to recover their physical and spiritual health.
Those of us who have had the opportunity to share with you have discovered that for you there is no such thing as disposable, everything serves for good, everything can be transformed. You have boundless energies that make you capable of healing illnesses and giving relief to those who need it.
You are the religious, the sister, the doctor, who cures the ailments of the people. Your determination in gratuitous service gives you the authority to overcome any obstacle. You have a source of positive energy that makes life regenerate. Your goodness is so great that you are able to transform your own weakness into medicine to bring relief.
In a few words: "you are the Sister who always puts love first" be it in your successes or failures.
Your sixty years speak of God's will in you. Fidelity, commitment, delicacy in understanding human beings in their fragility, fraternity, communion, simplicity, determination and courage in your joyful surrender. Your search for God in human beings and nature makes you resilient.
Today as a Congregation we celebrate the gift of your life and vocation to the service of the Church, in the exercise of Charity.
Happy 60 years of consecrated life, Sister María Idelgar Ceballos Galeano, and may there be many more.
Sr. Marie Marthe Placius.