Friday, March 14, 2008

Dominicans turn heads in Sydney

Photo via Roman Catholic Vocations

~from CNS. I spent the past weekend with a couple of the Sisters from Nashville. The wind was blowing so hard that I teased one of them about becoming a flying nun. I got sand in my eyes as an answer.....
Everywhere they go in Sydney, the three Dominican nuns from Tennessee keep turning heads. Dressed in their distinctive white habits and black and white veils, the sisters stand out in the crowd.

At Sydney Harbor, where the tourists fix their cameras on the iconic Opera House and bridge, the arrival of Sisters Anna Wray, Mary Rachel Capets and Mary Madeline Todd gets everybody's viewfinders swinging in their direction.

The reaction of local residents in Belmore, the multicultural suburb where they are staying, is similar. The Vietnamese baker and his wife tell them of the kindness of Catholic nuns to war orphans in their homeland. The older people in the street stop to reminisce about the nuns who taught them at school. The "hijab"-wearing Muslim women, at first surprised at the sight of the nuns' veils, smile broadly with the recognition of the love of a common God.

"You're making our neighborhood a different place," the Lebanese shopkeeper told them. And when his customers ask if he has seen the strange new nuns about, the shopkeeper boasts: "Yes, of course! They are my friends!"

The nuns are in Sydney at the invitation of Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher, World Youth Day 2008 coordinator and fellow Dominican. Normally they would be at home teaching, but their motherhouse in Nashville has sent delegations to assist with preparations for each World Youth Day since Denver was the host city in 1993.

"It's part of our apostolic mission to spread God's love to the youth of the world," said Sister Anna, 28, noting that as Dominicans their lives are balanced between "contemplation and action."

"Wherever we are, we live by our values. Our founder Dominic was about taking God's word into the world and influencing people. We have a capacity to be adaptive, you could say. We know that people won't listen to us unless we are clearly living what we preach," she said.

A colleague at the Sydney Archdiocese describes the three as a "breath of fresh air about the place."
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Anonymous said...

Actually, the Nashville Dominicans are not NUNS but Sisters! Unfortunately, Australia is the only continent that doesn't have a monastery of Dominican Nuns. It's our hope and prayer that WYD will bring about a renewal of vocations to make this possible.

Argent said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for clarifying. It's unfortunate that the CNS reporter (working for a Catholic publication!) would make that error. Where was the editor?

There is something mesmerizing about the Nashville Dominican Sisters. Every time I've been around them and observed young people's reaction, I would say that it's been sheer wonder. The joy they exude is infectious.

I join you in your prayers that the young people God is calling may hear and respond to the call.