In a time of uncertainty, at a scale we haven’t seen in our lifetimes, people across the world are changing behaviors to protect the lives of vulnerable people around them. COVID19 will be the defining experience for this generation.
We are living through this experience together while remaining physically distant from one another, yet the need for human connection remains. One option is to use video conference software to create a virtual gathering space. Using that technology, the Springfield Dominican Sisters created The Community Room, a virtual space for Springfield Dominican associates and sisters to gather.
The Community Room was created shortly after the stay-at-home-order for Illinois was issued by Governor J.B. Pritzker and the group has met several times in March and April and will continue to meet throughout May, or as long as the stay-at-home-order is in place.
The Community Room participants have found meaningful connection through the experience during this challenging time. Several Associates wanted to share their experiences.
Dave Sanders, Springfield Dominican Associate
Dave Sanders was in need of seeing the friendly faces and smiles of Sisters and Associates he knew. Dave was overjoyed when the session started, "I felt an immediate warm and special connection with the Dominican Sisters’ community that I am blessed to be part of."
Sanders talked about the virtual event on April 29 and its relevance in the age of the COVID—19 virus in his breakout group. He found strength in the discussions about St. Catherine of Siena and her work in Siena during the summer of 1374 when the plague was devastating the city.
Sanders went on, "St. Catherine fearlessly dedicated herself and rallied others to help those who were sick with the plague. One third of the city’s people died." Dave was moved by her courage and calling to sit at the bedsides of the sick. "Thinking of her trust in the Lord helped me move beyond my fears. Thinking about her faith in God’s protection inspired me to face the current virus crisis with more faith."
Sanders felt the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena event was special because of the people in his breakout group. They talked about how the lockdown and virus crisis gave them a pause in their lives. They agreed that this was a time to reflect on the important things in life. Sanders asked, "What was God trying to tell us?"
"[W]e have to live by faith and not fear."
~ Dave Sanders, Springfield Dominican Associate
The group talked about challenges in isolation and the hopeful possibility that our culture could be changed for better. Sanders said, "I raised the issue of fear and it was nice to hear all agree that we have to live by faith and not fear. Being with those in our community of faith, even virtually, reaffirmed my own faith."
Sanders concluded, "During this crisis I have been asking God to increase my faith. I think my participation in these events was God’s hand at work, helping me grow stronger in faith.
Yes, these events are a wonderful blessing.”
"Our love for each other energizes and encourages us to become the loving part of our creation. We are One."
~ Mary Kay Bolser, Springfield Dominican Associate
Judy Troxell, Springfield Dominican Associate
Judy titled her reflection, "Does a Body good!" She shared what is was like to be part of the April 29 virtual gathering.
“Developing and nurturing connections, like we did today in the virtual Community Room, does that and more!
We shared grace-filled moments experienced in this time of pandemic, recognizing by breath, by body, by spirit, we are all one. And, on this Feast of Catherine of Sienna, we reflected upon her love of God and love of all that God loves, pausing to unite our hearts in the journey of those who fight the virus on the front line, those restricted from visiting the sick or saying goodbye to the dead, those struggling in their home, on the street or in their mind as the isolation and uncertainty of this pandemic continues to unfold.
As today's virtual gathering concluded, we were renewed in mind and spirit, faith and friendship, as the Body of Christ to be bread for others in this world. That, does a Body good!”
Dietgard Hunsley, Springfield Dominican Associate
“I really looked forward to the Community Room gathering. I moved from Vandalia a month ago, partly because I wanted to be able to get more involved in some of the issues the Sisters have themselves invested in. Well, I moved just when the stay-at-home-order came into effect. I have been able to connect with the Sisters at Cor Unum via Zoom, telephone, and Facebook for Sunday evening prayer. ...[I]'m certainly grateful that they are making this available."
Dietgard is taking the first steps to be more invocled with Sister Marcelline Koch on the Justice Committee. It is something very dear to her heart. She is also getting invloved with the Enos Community Garden with the help of Sister Clare Fichtner. Hunsley was energized about the virtual gathering, "I would love to be able to contribute something to honor or "natural" world, creation.”
Mary Kay Bolser, Springfield Dominican Associate
“I did so enjoy the Community Room gathering with our sisters. I felt that we needed each other, to be part of each other's lives, especially during these times of social distancing and sheltering in place. We are all about being the light in the darkness of these times. The energy of this light comes from glow of common life, a life of warm welcomes and of inclusiveness. Our love for each other energizes and encourages us to become the loving part of our creation. We are One.”
If you are an Springfield Dominican Associate and would like to attend the next Community Room virtual gathering, look for an invitation via email for more information on how to sign up.
If you would like to lean more about the Springfield Dominican Associates, visit the Associates page.