Every day an email containing a litany of prayer needs arrives in the inboxes of every Springfield Dominican Sister and associate in the world. These requests pour in regularly at Sacred Heart Convent in Springfield—motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters and home to nearly 100 sisters. Eventually all these requests, collected from the four winds by Dominican Sisters near and far, land on the desk of Sister Colette Barker, whom we’ve given the light-hearted title “prayer central director.” (She’s really secretary to the prioress of Sacred Heart Convent.)
In her nearly 60 years of professed Dominican life, Sister Colette has had many ministries, all of which she’s enjoyed. “If you push me I’ll tell you that my very favorite ministry was Rosary High School in my hometown of Aurora [Ill.] because I loved interacting with the girls and their parents, in the office and at sporting events.
“In truth, I’ve never been on a mission that hasn’t brought me some joy, opportunity for growth, and wonderful new friendships,” she says. Sister Colette has also been an elementary school teacher and principal and, for one 6-year term, subprioress at Sacred Heart Convent.
She says being the collector and disseminator of prayer requests, as simple a task as it is, has been a boost to her own prayer life. “Every day I see the needs of so many people hungry for healing, and in need of consolation regarding the burden of their personal, professional, or family lives. How could that not call me to open my heart to the needs of the world? When we hurt, are scared or uncertain of our future, aren’t all of us looking for reassurance and support? That’s what our prayer ministry is for hundreds of people every year. I love that I’m part of the prayer pipeline that makes it happen.
“One of the rewarding things about this ministry is hearing from people who feel that our prayers have assisted them or their loved ones with healing, recovery, or insight for the path forward in their lives,” said Sister Colette.” It happens often that we hear messages of gratitude for our prayer efforts.”
Want to know more about how prayer works? Sister Mary Jean Traeger, OP, talks about that here.