Prayer for the Iraqi Dominican Sisters’ General Chapter

Join us in praying with and for them July 1-10.

The sisters will elect a new prioress general and make important decisions about their life and ministry.
Their prayer: “We search for you and long to see your face—the face of compassion and mercy.”


On July 1 the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Sienna in Iraq begin General Chapter, a periodic event for all Dominican congregations to discuss the things that matter most: life in community, prayer, study, and the preaching mission of the Order.

You can join Dominican women and men around the world who have promised to pray with the sisters this prayer written by the Iraqi sisters and translated to English from the original Aramaic. During chapter they will elect a new prioress general and make important decisions about their life together and their ministry.

Chapter is an important moment in the life of every religious community. When your community is displaced from home and serving tens of thousands of people who are suffering the consequences of dangerous geopolitical realities, it becomes an even more crucial moment to call on the Holy Spirit.

Please join us in this prayer for and with them. Feel free to print and share this widely.

Our congregation has been in relationship with our Iraqi Dominican Sisters since 2001. We’ve hosted members of the community in the U.S. and several of us have traveled to Iraq on multiple occasions.

Thank you for your prayer and concern for our Dominican Sisters.


Use our secure donation page to support the Iraqi Dominican Sisters.

Learn more:

WGLT interview with Sister Marcelline Koch, OP, after her 2014 trip to Iraq.

WBEZ Worldview interview with Sister Beth Murphy, OP, and Iraqi-American Rihab Mousa, October 27, 2014

WBEZ Worldview interview with Sister Beth Murphy, OP, and Iraqi-Ammerican Rihab Mousa, August 8, 2014, two days after the Iraqi Christian exodus from the villages of Nineveh Plain


Celebrate God’s Faithfulness!

845 Years of 2016 JubilariansLoving Service by our 2016 Jubilee Class!

Please join us in honoring our sisters who celebrate milestones in their journeys with God. These 16 women have dedicated a total of  845 years in service of God and God’s people.

You can see their photos and leave a message for the sisters at our Facebook photo album, Our Sisters Celebrate God’s Faithfulness, or read more in-depth biographies on page 23 of the Catholic Times jubilee issue.



Renewing our Appreciation for the Sacred Heart

Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

This beautiful, comforting feast includes wonderful Mass readings, and LOTS of interesting art—not all of which I appreciate, I must admit. I’ve never been much of a fan of this image of Jesus as art, but it still touches me deeply because it speaks to me of the love and care I experienced in my family home.

Artistic sensibilities aside, I have grown to appreciate the richness of this feast. Did you know:

  • St. Catherine of Siena, our Dominican Sister, was among the first mystics to experience God’s love and communicate it in the imagery of the heart.
  • The feast is always celebrated 19 days after Pentecost, the Friday after the Feast of Body and Blood of Jesus.
  • It was popularized by St. Margaret Mary Alocoque (1647-1690)
  • The Jesuit anthropologist and mystic, Father Teilhard de Chardin, had a deep personal devotion to the Sacred Heart. He wrote “It is in the Sacred Heart that the conjunction of the Divine and the cosmic has taken place . . . There lies the power that, from the beginning, has attracted me and conquered me . . . All the later development of my interior life has been nothing other than the evolution of that seed.”
  • Franciscan Sister Illia Delio, a scientist and theologian, recognizes the role Father de Chardin’s devotion to the Sacred Heart played in the development of his theology and his conviction “that Christ is the center of the universe, the form of the universe, and the goal to which this evolutionary universe is directed.” Christ in Evolution., p. 75.

Recently I spoke with one of my Peruvian Dominican sisters about the Sacred Heart devotion. Hermana Elizabeth Castro Cruz is trained in communications and is a pastoral minister in a remote region of the Peruvian Andes where she and one other sister serve the needs of the people in 30 pueblos. I told her that for many Catholics in the U.S. this feast is meaningless. “That is what happens when we stop looking,” she said.

Is it time to look again?

This author makes the case that doing so is right in line with Pope Frances’ emphasis on the Mercy of God.

And this one provides a look at how Father de Chardin’s personal litany to the Sacred Heart, the writings of John the Evangelist, St. Paul, and Thomas Aquinas can give us a fresh appreciation of what, if we stop looking, might seem like just another tired devotion of our grandparent’s generation.

Maybe it’s time for us to re-imagine how this old feast might renew and inspire new generations of Catholics.

On a lighter note, here is a fun story about how a beloved old statue of the Sacred Heart landed in the  Sacred Heart Convent courtyard.

The Sacred Heart Statue and the Stuff of Legends

Learn how this statue of the Sacred Heart found its way to Sacred Heart Convent more than 100 years ago!

This statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ornamented the front porch of the Our Saviour Parish rectory in Jacksonville until 1903. In the late 1800s Sister Mary Agnes McGuire and several other Dominican Sisters of Springfield were invited by the pastor, Father Crowe, to tour the new rectory. The sisters admired the statue, so, for his amusement, Father Crowe told the sisters he’d give it to anyone who could move it.

As the story goes, one-by-one the sisters tried and failed to move the statue. Then Sister M. Agnes  said “Love renders everything light,” wrapped her arms around the statue, and easily shifted it on the pedestal.

Presumably everyone had a good laugh and the sisters went home to Springfield.

In the spring of 1903 the sisters’ new chapel (at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Convent) was ready for dedication. Just days before the ceremony a heavy crate arrived at the convent labeled “To Sister Mary Agnes from Father Crowe.” Only when the opened crate revealed the coveted statue from Jacksonville did Sister Mary Agnes recall the incident on the rectory porch years before.

The statue remained on its pedestal in front of the old Sacred Heart Chapel until the chapel was razed in 1993. It’s been in the courtyard of the present-day motherhouse ever since. Though a bit weather-worn, it is still much-loved as a touch-stone to our earliest foundations.

Learn more about Catholic devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.