Springfield Dominicans Join International Collaboration
How do we pass on the Dominican charism at this critical moment in our history?
How do we create new, relevant expressions of the Dominican charism to ensure its ongoing vitality through the formation of the present and future generations of sisters and lay partners?
Houston, Texas—Dominican sisters and lay partners from the United States, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Kenya engaged in energetic dialogue and creative planning in response to these questions during a three-day conversation.
The participants included educators, theologians, formators, charism animators, associate directors, the Dominican Association of Secondary Schools (DASS), the Dominican Youth Movement (DYM) and members of the Africa-based Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart.
Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, prioress general of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Ill., serves on the visioning team for the project, though she was unable to attend this meeting.
The dialogue focused on the relevance and communication of the Dominican charism in our current context.
The energy, commitment, vision, and diverse backgrounds and cultures of the participants provided a rich experience of Dominican charism in action and set the direction for the work of the Charism Initiative.
Charism Initiative Focus
Three actions shape the Initiative:
- Creation of user-friendly online learning modules on themes of the Dominican charism.
- Gathering and distributing resources that support charism education and planning to all Dominicans.
- Two justice initiatives led by Dominicans on the North American and African continents. The North Americans will draw from the Order's tradition of truth-seeking through conversation, or disputatio. Dominicans from the three African nations will lead a study of Laudato Si, Pope Francis' encyclical on care for Earth, "our common home." to promote sound ecological practices related to small farms and gardens.
Teams of participants will develop the modules around seven themes:
- The Life, Spirit, and Mission of St. Dominic
- Dominican Prayer: to Praise, to Bless, to Preach
- The Call to Preach
- The Call to Truth
- The Call to Action
- Our Global Dominican Family
- The Legacy of St. Dominic
The group hopes to release four modules in the first year and three in the second year of the project. U.S. and African Planning Team members are directing the work. Sister Kamfwa Mutale, Congregational Prioress of the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, and the (U.S.) Dominican Sisters Conference Executive Committee are overseeing the Initiative.
Sisters and lay partners interested in serving as editors, artists, planners, as well as those able to assist with resource work are invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Dominican Charism Initiative grew out of the collaborative planning project Futuring Dominican Charism for Mission: Sisters and Lay Partners Together funded by the GHR Foundation.
Beginning in 2017, the collaborative planning project brought together 604 sisters and lay partners in the US and Africa. Regional Discernment Circles studied emerging insights and recommended significant areas for action.
Further study and discernment by Visioning Teams in the US and Africa resulted in the proposed implementation plan calling for the three areas of action. Participants in the Visioning meetings included 24 Dominican Sisters and laity, including Springfield Dominican Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP.