Strategies for Reading the Bible: Peacemaking in a Post-Truth World

Dominicans Host March 18th Workshop with Leading Girardian Theologian

Paul Nuechterlein

Paul Nuechterlein

Springfield, Ill.—One of the most sought-after pastoral theologians in the U.S. currently integrating the work of the eminent Catholic philosopher René Girard into his preaching and pastoral ministry will offer a seminar at Sacred Heart Convent on March 18 2017. Here is a secure online registration form.

Paul Neuchterlein, a Lutheran pastor and Girard scholar, will help engaged Christians grow in their ability to pray with the Bible and apply its lessons as they seek spiritual growth and a more just world.

Nuechterlein, retired after thirty years of parish ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, now devotes himself full-time to Gospel justice. He has a special interest in dismantling systemic racism. He is the owner and publisher of, a rich resource for preachers and all followers of Jesus.

FB Event Regis_NuechtNoted Christian author and teacher Brian D. McLaren has said, “Paul Nuechterlein has helped me more than anyone else to read the Scriptures in light of Girard’s groundbreaking work. I’d encourage anyone and everyone to seize an opportunity to learn with Paul.”

This one-day seminar hosted by the Dominican Sisters of Springfield is an introduction to the impact of Girard’s mimetic theory—one of the 20th Century’s most important innovations—from one of its most important thinkers.


Rene Girard

At the time of Girard’s death in 2015 Bishop Robert Barron of the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles wrote, “There are some thinkers that offer intriguing ideas and proposals, and there is a tiny handful of thinkers that manage to shake your world. Girard was in this second camp.”

Mimetic theory—the recognition that human beings and human cultures develop through the imitation of others’ desires—is increasingly making its impact in multiple disciplines including sociology, economics, and anthropology as well as theology. Catholic theologians like the late Jesuit Raymund Schwager and former Dominican James Alison are among the most prominent Catholic Girardian theologians. Reformed tradition scholars of note include Gil Bailie, Michael Kirwan, and James Warren.

The registration fee for Strategies for Reading the Bible is $40.00 before March 1; after $50. The option to request a box lunch for $10 is also available. Visit the event page to register. For more information contact Sister Beth Murphy, OP, or 217-787-0481.

Sister To All

In honor of the Sister To All Campaign to tell the stories of Sisters across the United States, we would like to share with you four of our featured sisters in ministry.

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A Friend to Prisoners and a Sister to All

Sister Regina Marie Bernet, OP


For decades the Dominican Sisters of Springfield have engaged in ministry to women and men in prison in the United States and in Peru. Sister Regina Marie Bernet, OP (Order of Preachers, the official name of the Dominicans) continues that tradition. While many of her classmates from Sacred Heart Academy graduating class of [1954?] retired long ago, Sister Regina Marie continues her ministry, bringing the gifts of self-knowledge, forgiveness, and reconciliation to women and men who are incarcerated. She travels weekly to prisons in Decatur and Lincoln, Ill., providing art therapy and teaching contemplative prayer practice. Twice a year she also leads weekend retreats at the Jacksonville Correctional Facility. One of her favorite encounters was with a young man named Fernando who asked for time with her one-on-one to share his story. Fernando shared many stories about the offenses he committed, many much worse than the one that sent him to prison. “Fernando told me he didn’t have a grandmother growing up,” Sister Regina Marie said. “He asked me ‘Would you be my grandma?’ I told him I’d be happy to be his foster grandmother. I don’t see him any more but I remember to pray for him every day.”

Doris_IMG_4108_web-SisterToAllGod’s Traveling Companion and a Sister to All

Hermana Doris Terrel Jiménez, OP

In the midst of last spring’s celebration of fifty years of presence in Peru, the Dominican Sisters of Springfield rejoiced in the rite of perpetual profession of vows of Hermana Doris Terrel Jimenez, OP. (Hermana is the Spanish word for sister.) “God shows us his love by taking us to sacred places to be with Him,” Hermana Doris says. She recalls her discernment of this journey with God, saying that by “letting God be God in my life” she was able to say yes to God’s call Hermana Doris is a student at the Padre Tezza School of Nursing in Lima preparing for a new ministry of healing among the poor and marginalized in Lima’s pueblos jovenes. She says it was the Dominican pillars of prayer, study, preaching, and common life that drew her to the Order of Preachers (the official name of the Dominicans) and why she remains.

Sister Barbara Ann Bogenschutz, OP_DSC03724_web_STA

A Helping Hand for the Weary and a Sister to All

Sister Barbara Ann Bogenschutz, OP


“The greatest blessing and challenges in this ministry are the same,” says Springfield Dominican Sister Barbara Ann Bogenschutz, OP (Order of Preachers, the official name for the Dominicans). “I never known what the day will hold, and I am never lacking in ‘that-was-a-first’ experiences.” Sister Barbara Ann has spent most of the last 15 years of her ministry in Native American communities. Since 2012 she has walked the holy ground of the Oglala Sioux at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. She ministers to all the people on the reservation regardless of their religious affiliation, often accompanying families at the death of loved ones, resolving home heating problems, distributing food, or sharing Holy Communion. “Eucharist continues in many ways all week long,” she says, “And when I arrive where I am going, I always find God is already there.”


A Peaceful Presence and a Sister to All

Sister Samuella Volk, OP


Hospitality is a virtue that the heart recognizes in an instant, especially if that heart has encountered Springfield Dominican Sister Samuella Volk, OP (Order of Preachers, the official name for the Dominicans). Whether the guests are her own Dominican sisters and associates, or executives from one of the sisters’ sponsored institutions, Sister Samuella helps them feel at home instantly with her warm attention to their needs at Siena Hall on the campus of Dominican Sisters of Springfield Sacred Heart Convent. In her previous life Sister Samuella taught primary school students in Illinois and Minnesota. She left an indelible mark of the Spirit on the hearts of many of them, if her former student Billy Menor is to be believed. “Ever since I had Sister Samuella in first grade I’ve had a warm spot in my heart for women religious,” the Jesuit novice said. “I really think that the witness of Sister Samuella’s life, the way she lived the joy, was an influence on my own religious vocation.”


“Talk about giving your life to God”—A story of friendship, service, and call














Sister M. Trinita shares her friendship with Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill, the two sisters whose murder in Mississippi last week has shocked the nation.

Yesterday afternoon I called Sister Mary Trinita at the community health clinic she’s run for twenty years in Jackson, Miss., wondering if she knew the two sisters who were murdered last week in the nearby town of Durant. The details of the sisters’ deaths are available elsewhere. Here I want to share Sister Trinita’s testimony, and offer a challenge.

“Hi Trinita, you’re answering the phone,” I said, stating the obvious.

“Just walked in the door. I was at the memorial. At the cathedral. It was beautiful. Not an empty place in the church.”

It shouldn’t have surprised me that she would know Sister Margaret Held and Sister Paula Merrill. Durant is in the Jackson diocese just sixty miles from Jackson, the place Sister Trinita has called home for her entire religious life, and all three sisters in the business of caring for the poor in one of the poorest states in the union.

What I didn’t realize was that they were good friends who enjoyed the time they could steal to visit, share a good meal, and laugh. “I last saw them in April,” Sister Trinita recalled. “They’d come to Jackson to shop and we went out to lunch. We talked and enjoyed reminiscing.”

“They lived the Gospel. Talk about giving your life to God. They proved that they did.”

What I didn’t realize was Sister Margaret and Sister Trinita’s friendship began 21 years ago when they studied together to become nurse practitioners. They shared the weekly three-hour drives back and forth between Jackson and the campus in Columbus, Miss. “Margaret was feisty,” Sister Trinita said. There was a soft chuckle; I waited for the story.

“Once we drove through a storm to make it to class on time,” Sister Trinita explained. The teacher walked in late and announced that the inclement weather meant she was not prepared for class. “Sister Margaret stood up and spoke her mind: ‘We drove through snow and ice to be here and we are prepared for class. Don’t tell us you are not prepared for class!’”

I asked what she’d like our friends to know about Margaret and Paula.

“They lived the Gospel. Talk about giving your life to God,” she mused, “They proved that they did. They would do anything for anyone at any time. They were lovable, and I loved them.”

What I wasn’t prepared to hear was the normalcy with which Sister Trinita considered her friends’ deaths. She told me that on Thursday she received a call at the clinic from one of our sisters who thought of her when she heard the news and called to make sure she was okay.

“It wasn’t me this time. I assured her I was okay but shaken by the news.” That’s what she said. It wasn’t me. This time.

The people of Holmes County, Mississippi, are now wondering who will come to take Sister Margaret’s and Sister Paula’s place.

I asked her if she worried about potential violence in her ministry at St. Dominic’s clinic. “I think about it once in a while,” she admitted. “It could—and does—happen anywhere.” She rattled off a list of incidents she recalled.

“I’m careful, but I don’t let it bother me; otherwise it might keep me from doing what I need to do.”

Sister Kelly Moline, OP, professes her first vows into the hands of Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, prioress general, with the assistance of Sister Elyse Marie Ramirez, OP, formation director for the Dominican Sisters of Springfield.

Young women like Sister Kelly Moline, OP, are choosing to give their lives to God. Last August 7 Sister Kelly professed her first vows into the hands of Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, prioress general, with the assistance of Sister Elyse Marie Ramirez, OP, formation director for the Dominican Sisters of Springfield. Watch Sister Kelly’s profession mass here.

This, from a woman who three weeks ago was home in Springfield with her community celebrating the three sisters she lives with in Jackson who marked 60 years of consecrated religious profession. A woman who has served in Mississippi since before I was born. This week, this sister of mine buried two friends who were killed in the midst of their ministry and went back to work at her clinic in Jackson.

The people of Holmes County, Mississippi, are now wondering who will come to take Sister Margaret’s and Sister Paula’s place. As Mississippi columnist Sid Salter wrote, “The role these sisters played in the lives of the poor and the sick in Holmes County will be assumed by . . .whom? When the faith-based ministries that politicians like to talk about are targeted, just who takes up that slack?

“Because remarkable souls like these innocent, dedicated women don’t choose to come to rural Mississippi every day.”

Mr. Salter’s point, I believe, is that Sister Margaret and Sister Paula, and My sister, Trinita, are filling a need that so often our governments fail to meet.

My point is, where are the Catholic sisters to stand in the gap?

We have seven remarkable Springfield Dominican Sisters serving at St. Dominic in Jackson, all but one of whom are nearing retirement, and I’m on the downside of my fifth decade.

Who will take their places?

Will a young woman you know? Will you? Will you “Talk about giving your life to God”?

We’d be so happy to hear from you, and to help you discern whether God is calling you to serve him as a Dominican Sister, either in Jackson or in any one of many other challenging, life-giving ministries.

For more information about becoming a Dominican Sister of Springfield, call Sister Teresa Marron, OP, at 217-787-0481 or contact us here.


Learning In Our Schools and more in JUST Words Vol. 16 No. 1

The new JUST Words is here!


Vol. 16 No. 1 (winter 2015-2016)

We hope you enjoy this issue filled with exciting changes & wonderful news!
Click here or on the picture above to view.

Inside this issue:
Learning In Our Schools | p. 3
Relationship and Community Organizing | p. 8
How Disciples Learn | p. 14
…and More!

Did you miss an issue?  Visit our publication library at here or contact to receive printed copies of back issues.


JUST Words is a publication that shares the mission and ministries of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois.  It is published three times per year and is available in print or digital edition, free of charge to friends, family and supporters of the Springfield Dominicans.