Today in the Catholic world, we commemorate the life of Saint Dominic de Guzman, who is most notably famous for being the Founder of the Dominican Order. If you want to know more about Saint Dominic, I would encourage you to read my article titled, Saint Dominic – The Hound of the Hounds.
For today’s memorial, I want to focus my attention on a Dominican order that is very close to my own heart, an order of religious sisters that over years have been present in my life periodically and in line with God’s will. The order is – the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Although I have written about them in the past, I thought I would return to them since I haven’t written on them in some time. And since today is the memorial of St. Dominic, I found today a most fitting time.
My first encounter with the Sisters of Mary was at St. Mary’s Catholic High School in Phoenix, Arizona during the 2005-2006 school year. They chose St. Mary’s as the high school where they wanted to begin their mission work here in the Diocese of Phoenix (they also teach at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School). For many years in this diocese, religious sisters in habits were as scarce some endangered species, but that all changed with the arrival of Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted in 2003. From the moment the Sisters of Mary were present on campus (Sr. Mary David, Sr. John Paul, and Sr. Mary Magdalene), the lives of the not only the students, but also the faculty began to change. Although some at first resisted the radical display of holiness and love, the Sisters of Mary have become a steadfast order in the culture of St. Mary’s Catholic High School. Their presence has encouraged students and faculty to discern religious life and the priesthood.
Below is a picture from the Summer of 2008, with my friends Michael and Laura (Michael is the Founder of StoryStrong) and Sister John Paul. The picture was taken after her Declaration of Final Vows at the Motherhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
My second encounter with the Sisters of Mary was at St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School in Austin, Texas. I remember applying to teach Theology at the high school in the Summer of 2010, just after finishing a course work at Franciscan University of Steubenville, and before I took my comprehensive exams. As I began to do some research on the school, I found to my surprise that the order that I became so fond of in Arizona also taught at this newly founded Catholic high school in the middle of Texas. I took it as a positive affirmation from the Lord that this could be the place I would first teach after attaining my Masters in Theology.
Again, as it was at St. Mary’s, there was a display of radical holiness for the Eucharist and all things Catholic. Their very presence made you think of Jesus Christ every day. I will never forget Sr. Mary Elizabeth – she had this really advanced degree in Biomedical Engineering or something of the sorts. Something my simple mind would never be able to grasp. I will never forget the laughter the students would give me when they would come to my class after hers. They couldn’t believe a religious sister would create work and tests that were so difficult. Just writing these words makes me chuckle. As it was in Phoenix, their presence has encouraged students to discern religious life and the priesthood. I know of at least three, maybe four girls from Savio that are now discerning with the order.
Even though I am no longer teaching with the Sisters of Mary, their loving encounter with the Lord and His Presence in the Holy Eucharist continues to have an effect on me. Through their different social media pages and their website, I follow along with the things going on in the order. If you don’t know the order, I would encourage you to get to know them, follow them, and even donate financially, if you have the means to do so.
To conclude today’s reflection, I leave with you some of words I just wrote this week in an email to Sisters in the Arizona Mission. To this day, there remains a very brotherly/sisterly love (philas in Greek) that I have towards this very special religious order –
The Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist have been such a huge part of my teaching really from the beginning of my career in the classroom. And although I am not in the classroom any longer, you all play a huge part in the things I do and promote on my website/blog…I always found your order to be a comfort for me, first at St. Mary’s and then at St. Dominic Savio in Austin. The elder sisters were close to my age and we all had a fondness for Pope St. John Paul II. Thank you for your witness to Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church.
In the end, we should give praise and thanksgiving to Jesus Christ for raising up the man we know as St. Dominic de Guzman. Over 800 years later, the world still has individuals answering the call to be Hounds of the Gospel message.
Saint Dominic…Pray for Us.