Susan Van Trieste currently lives in community with House of Connections and ministers with Visitation Catholic School.
Kurt Vonnegut once asked this question; “What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”
After attending our Mid-Year retreat just a few short weeks ago, I realized that I was not alone in the continual quest of asking myself, “What am I going to be when I grow up?!” I feel that many of the current Dominican Volunteers are still on their quest to find out the answer to this question. I feel like I may never truly find out. Even though I am realizing that my passion lies within teaching, I still have a lot of growing, and admittedly a lot of growing up to do. But I’m coming to terns with that. I live and work with truly fantastic women, and a few men. They all serve as an inspiration because of the passion that they have for the ministries in which they have dedicated their lives to.
I think the biggest inspirations of all are the two sisters that I live in community with, Sr. Bernadine Karge, OP and Sr. Marilyn Derr, OP. Both women have served as guiding lights in trying to find where my passion lies. Sr. Bernadine, for example, is a retired immigration lawyer. However, I’m using the term “retired” very loosely. She has such a genuine passion for helping others and making sure that their rights and needs are met. Even though she technically is retired, she still continues to volunteer her time and fight for the rights of the men, women, and children who are denied citizenship to the United States. Her adamant fervor for seeing justice met, motivates me to find where my love for something in this world and to see it through.
And let’s not forget Sr. Marilyn. She works at The Learning Center, teaching adults math and reading, preparing for them to get their GED’s. Her knowledge alone about teaching and school systems have helped me to realize that I too want to continue this path towards becoming a teacher. When I think about how I want to someday feel about my future career I think back to a conversation that Marilyn, Katri, and myself recently had. Katri had asked us “If you could live anywhere in the world, without worrying about money, where would you go?” Without hesitation, I said Italy because, come on, Italy. Marilyn however replied, “I would stay in Chicago so that I can continue to work with adults to get their high school diploma equivalencies.” This has really stayed with me because when I responded I didn’t even think about a job. I thought, “Oh man! I can see the Vatican, Rome, Pisa, Trieste, Milan vineyards galore!” But Marilyn’s passion spoke before impulse. It made me realize that when you find something that you love, nothing else matters. I think that’s why I believe that I still have a lot of growing up to do. My need to wander and explore is more palpable than anything else. However, my amazing community is making me realize that I have time to figure these things out. It is okay to be confused and not know. Everything will fall together as God has intended it to.
Living in community is more than just being in the same house, occasionally sharing a meal, and praying together. It’s about sharing our experiences and challenging each other to grow in our ministries, with each other, in our own personal lives, and in so many more different aspects. The people we share community with motivate and encourage us to do our very best. And I think Dorothy Day summed it up the best when she said,
“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”
|Susan and her community pose for a Christmas Card|