Dominican Life | USA

free email update

Being Domincan

Collaborative Dominican

How To

Links Friars

Links Sisters

Links: Laity

Links: Nuns

Collaborative Dominican Novitiate

The Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (CDN) was established in 1988 by 15 Dominican Congregations. We now embrace 22 Congregations.

Our purpose is to create a canonical Dominican novitiate experience for women to promote the Dominican charism and help shape the future of life in the Dominican family. We live each day anchored by the four pillars of Dominican life: Prayer, Community, Study and Ministry.

Prayer: Our prayers are personal and communal; we join in the one voice of the Body of Christ, and pray as individuals each with her own truth. Our prayer lives are enhanced weekly with a day of silent reflection, either guided by the directors or left open for each of the novices to explore her own spiritual self and for discernment. We begin our reflection days with Morning Prayer and Mass with our Central Province brothers at the Dominican Priory. We have the opportunity to experience a diversity of prayers with our multicultural Intercommunity Novitiate (ICN) sisters and brothers. We pray the Liturgy of the Hours together and Mass is celebrated weekly in our own house chapel.

We were privileged to attend a Centering Prayer Workshop with Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O. followed up by a day of instruction and practice with Fr. Jim Deegan, one of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) Directors. Saint Louis offers a tremendous diversity of liturgies in many languages, cultural contexts and theological world views. We attend Mass together, individually, and in pairs and groups. All the novices have the opportunity for regular, individual spiritual direction.

Community: We are blessed with a diversity of talents and preferences. Weekly community meetings and active interim communications help us cooperate, support each other, work and play together and share community meals. Our ICN Brothers and Sisters are part of our extended Community. The OMI Brothers hosted a Halloween Party, a cultural first for novices from Zambia, Haiti, and Pakistan. We were honored to help our Pakistani Loretto Novices prepare a simple rice and lentil meal that raised more than $3000 to send home to support Pakistani earthquake relief efforts.

As a group, we have rehabilitated our small yard, painted and organized a new library, cleaned our alley, and started a composting project. Our Community outings have ranged from a boat ride along the Mississippi, trips to Forest Park and its many museums, a Cardinals baseball game in the old Busch Stadium, a quilt show in Saint Charles, Saint Louis Symphony performances, as well as visits with our many Dominican sisters in Saint Louis. Many of the novices attended the School of Americas demonstration at Fort Benning, Georgia with Director, Sister Katie McGrail.

Study: This diverse group takes a variety of courses at Aquinas Institute of Theology. Individual courses include: Moral Theology, Foundations of Spirituality, Liturgy, Grief Counseling, and the Old Testament Prophets. Sister Joan Delaplane, OP (Adrian) generously shared her great gifts and passion for preaching in an all day preaching workshop for us.

The first semester ICN Program focused on self-knowledge and awareness issues, liturgical themes and theological reflection. Michael Crosby, OFMCap, author of several books including, Can Religious Life be Prophetic? was a recent speaker. The novices are unanimous in our enthusiasm for an excellent course, The History of Religious Life in the United States taught by Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC. We presented our own Congregational histories (including an appearance by Saint Catherine of Siena, portrayed by Director, Sister Pat Hanvey), and learned about the very diverse congregations represented by our ICN sisters. We look forward to more class opportunities second semester.

Ministry: The canonical year does not focus on ministry, but we are privileged to serve in a number of ways. We support the many outreach and educational programs at Saint Vincent de Paul Parish in downtown Saint Louis. Two novices participate in a weekly discussion group at a local county prison, preparing the women for success upon release. Two novices team teach 6th and 7th grade religion classes at a Catholic middle school. St Vincent’s active and essential work feeding the homeless and poor makes kitchen cleaning and support a demanding ministry. We all tutor in the after-school “Learning Club” for kindergarteners through 8th graders. Sister Flor has started a youth group for Hispanic young people in Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. Sister Mary uses her musical gifts in the Pius V Parish choir.