Ana Gonzalez, front right, with other members of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Left to right: Novice Margret Uche, Sr. Mary Vong, Sr. Maria Beesing, and Sr. Mary Pat Gallagher. (GSR photo / Colin Evans)
Update from Ana Gonzalez
Novice, Dominican Sisters of Peace
April 4, 2017
In regard to my religious journey, I am so blessed and grateful to NFCRV for all the amazing support!
I am journeying towards the end of my Canonical Novitiate. I am currently a Novice with the Dominican Sisters of Peace, gaining profound insight at the Collaborate Dominican Novitiate (CDN) in St. Louis, MO. I am grateful to the support of the NFCRV, as I am able to dive deep in my religious formation and only have to worry about my foundation! The time allotted during the Canonical Novitiate is a true blessing. During this time, my focus is growing in my spirituality, prayer styles, and personal development. I also take some amazing classes that help me develop my roots as a Dominican and a Catholic Religious Woman.
Overall, The CDN and my canonical novitiate experience exposes me to a versatile Dominican spirituality is grounded in the Four Pillars (prayer, ministry, community, and study). As part of my formation, I am encouraged to live the Four Pillars fully and I am learning to balance them. The insight gained is provided through the novitiate program, our directors, and exposure to our Dominican Family.
My current ministry is to host a book club for women in the Clayton County Jail. The program is part of the initiative launched by Mercy Sister Mary Sharon Schmitz, creator of the Center for Women in Transition in St. Louis. Sister Sharon is a POWER HOUSE and has worked in Prison/Jail ministry for over 30 years!
The book club that I coordinate provides the incarcerated women an opportunity to develop reading and critical thinking skills. The goal is to complement the transition program, which helps the women find a job and be self-sufficient after their release. As part of my ministry I use books with a strong female lead in the hopes that they can see themselves in the strong character. As part of our conversation I do my best to empower the women and remind them that they are loved by God. That they are God's beloved and should be defined by their divine dignity. Some books that we have enjoyed include The Red Tent, The Number One Lady's Detective Agency, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
My ministry with the Clayton County Correctional Facility has been a source of powerful insight and I am very grateful for the grand opportunity to minister with the women, the officers, and staff! I will conclude the book club ministry with my novitiate and will be discerning with my congregation regarding the ministry that I will pursue as part of my apostolic novitiate year.
I feel blessed by having an open community where all are sharing a life changing experience in personal and spiritual growth. The lived experiences, resources and insights gained provide me the affirmation that religious life is full and life-giving. The experiences instill in me a desire to continue in religious life and become a Dominican Sister of Peace!
Much love and peace,
My current ministry is to host a book club for women in the Clayton County Jail.