Sunday, September 26, 2010

Typical Day

Enjoyment of a daily life that is punctuated by regular periods of communal prayer is characteristic of a Dominican Sister of Mission San Jose. Early in the morning (between 4:00 and 6:00am) we have individual routines. We drink coffee or have a light breakfast. We pray, do spiritual reading or journal. We jog, walk, do yoga, aerobics, swim or do some other kind of physical exercise. We read the newspaper, listen to the radio or the television to become informed about the news of the day. It is customary for us not to talk much during these hours except to greet each other to be polite. This is to keep a prayerful quiet atmosphere in community in the early morning.

Each community sets a prayer schedule that works best with the ministry schedules of the sisters in that community. Generally morning prayer (liturgy of the hours sung chorally) is prayed between 6:00 and 7:00 am. followed by Eucharist. Then we eat breakfast together and converse about something we read, our activities, events in the parish or other news of the day. After breakfast we go to our various ministries. We sometimes each lunch together and sometimes not depending on the ministry and the other events going on. Typically evening prayer (between 5:00 and 6:00 pm) is liturgy of the hours sung chorally. Our prayers in common usually happen in the convent chapel.

We celebrate all the major feasts and solemnities of the Church as well as all the Dominican feasts. After evening prayer we gather together for dinner and conversation. After dinner we spend time in community with our sisters. We do not have formal recreation, but we do recreate in a variety of ways, by watching movies, reading books, playing cards or other games, doing handcrafts or art, practicing music, exercising or going out for a walk. Usually after 8:00 it is quiet again. It is a fairly regular schedule, but sometimes we change it to accommodates special events. In the summer we have a more relaxed schedule to allow vacation time or visiting with family for extended periods. I like the gentle rhythm of our life. It makes for a well-balanced and healthy daily life. We are not bound by a strict rule to keep to what is scheduled, but we abide by it voluntarily as we are able.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Harvest Moon

Tonight the nights will begin to get longer and the Harvest Moon will be there to greet us and remind us that even though there will be longer periods of darkness, the moon and stars are there to keep us from losing our way. I love the Harvest Moon. It is always so much larger and prettier than usual. I'm not sure why that is. I know it has something to do with the fact that it appears lower on the horizon and the atmosphere has some interesting effect on the reds and blues in the light.

I love the autumn sky the best because my old friend Orion, the hunter is always visible with his broad shoulders hovering over us. Also tonight Jupiter will be very visible near the moon shining brightly all night long. I read that this is the only time in our lifetime we will be able to see Jupiter and moon together all night long. Cassiopeia (the Queen) will also be in the northern sky (above Polaris, the North Star) and in the northwest before dawn. She is easy to find because she is shaped like a big letter W or M if you are looking at her upside down. To add to the excitement in the autumn sky this year, Comet Hartley 2 possibly 2010’s brightest comet should be bright enough to see with binoculars by now. It may be visible to the unaided eye by October. Shine on Harvest Moon!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


In our communities we have a role called Prioress, which means "first among equals." The Prioress is not exactly in charge because our Dominican life is not ordered that way. We are a democratic community. The community as a whole makes all the important decisions, but the Prioresses help that to happen.

The main responsibility of Prioress is to act as the spiritual leader and ensure that the community as a whole is spiritually unified and functioning in a positive way for the common good. This year I have been appointed to serve as Prioress for a community of 27 sisters together with my Assistant Prioress, our Health Care Coordinator, a Treasurer and two Community Councilors.

Being Prioress is a way of caring for and about people and using my gifts in building community. It is a challenge because a lot of little things come up all day long needing my consideration and advice. I'm working on adjusting my balance of community, prayer, ministry and study and am grateful to have great mentors and sisters who help me keep a sense of humor.
Despite the challenges, I think this new responsibility might just be my "cup of tea".

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Common Life

The past month I've taken a break for all my online pursuits to tend other relationships in real time and build community with my sisters at Saint Joseph Priory. Every year our Congregation begins anew in August or September forming community with the sisters assigned to a particular Priory or Convent that is near where they have been commissioned in a variety of ministries. This year I am doing that at Saint Joseph Priory at our Motherhouse in Fremont. Since I entered in 1997 I have lived in eight of our communities, each of them very different from each other. Each community has its own personality and its own history. The Priory is a community of 27 sisters. It is the largest of our 30 communities in the United States, Mexico, Germany and Guatemala.

When I was a postulant (now we call them candidates), I lived at Immaculate Conception Priory in San Francisco and taught at Saint James School in the Mission District. Then I moved to Siena Community, our novitiate house in Mission San Jose. After profession I was sent to Immaculate Conception Convent, a smaller convent that we used to own near San Francisco to finish my doctoral studies at the University of San Francisco and teach at Immaculate Conception Academy. Then I moved to convent in Warm Springs dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe and served as project manager for the relocation of 52 of our sisters in St. Martins and St. Josephs prior to the renovation of the chapel and care center. After that I served for two years as admissions director and college counselor at Saint Elizabeth High School and lived at Saint Elizabeth Convent. I was a lecturer at Saint Mary's College and Santa Clara University when I lived at Saint Simon's Convent in Los Altos. I lived and taught for a short period at Santa Teresita in Los Angeles before arriving at my present assignment as Director of Information Technology and Prioress of Saint Joseph Priory in Fremont.

We have a few sisters who live alone in an apartment for the sake of ministry or are caring for an aging parent, but all our sisters are affiliated with a community. Our community life sustains us spiritually and keeps us centered in the relational life that is the heart of Christ's preaching. We believe like our founder Saint Dominic that community is the preaching. We challenge each other to be loving, authentic, compassionate, well-balanced and generous. Every one of my sisters is an inspiration to me in her daily human striving for Jesus, the way, the truth and the life. I love what we call our Common Life. There is always someone home to exchange ideas with if you want to talk, and people will leave you alone if you just want some peace and quiet. We have many celebrations and deep discussions about life, the universe and everthing of interest. I have come to realize that even though they are truly humble and would never point this out themselves, I live with some of the most well-read, well-educated women in the world. My sisters are women who make a difference in people's lives, laboring quietly and praying constantly to make the world a better place.