I grew up on a farm in Illinois, the eldest of five children. I attended Edgewood College in Madison as a freshman and fell in love with the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, whom I joined in 1962.I am grateful for the priority put on education by the Dominican Order, supporting me in gaining an undergraduate degree in English from Edgewood and two Master’s degrees: one in Communication Arts from the University of Notre Dame and one in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University in Chicago.
My ministries have included elementary and secondary school teaching, initial membership ministry, and campus ministry at four diverse campuses, the most recent being my 21-year service at my alma mater. I have lived significant years of my adult life in the states of Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania.
In 2005,I decided to apply to the Spiritual Guidance Training Program at the Siena Center in Racine, WI. At the same time, I pulled back to half-time campus ministry at Edgewood in order to give quality time to the study and beginning to offer spiritual guidance. In 2006, two colleagues and I began Wisdom’s Well, which has supported our dream to engage in spiritual guidance with individual adults and plan programs together for the spiritual growth of adults. For myself, besides community and workplace, family and friends are of great value.
A significant experience with extended family recently was a delightful weeklong trip to Ireland with twenty siblings and first cousins and their spouses. Life is rich and full!
I see life now more in the context of the Universe Story, which leads me to profound gratitude for all the gifts of creation. I feel a greater sense of responsibility to live justly and simply, study important issues, and encourage others to join me in those efforts, widening the circle of compassion to care for Earth.
I have also been opened to a new understanding of Jesus (via Borg, Nolan, and others) and want to learn more and help bring that to others who seek deeper understanding because of their love for and commitment to Jesus. I really want to “keep an eye on Jesus” and not be distracted from that.
What gifts for spiritual guidance do I recognize in myself?
I have an active inner life, fed by my innate desire for God and my community life, stimulated often by small and larger gatherings of our Dominican Sisters and Associates. So prayer, study, and spiritual reading are a regular part of my life, which enable me to bring some understanding to those whom I guide.
Besides this essential gift, I believe I offer these gifts:
- Comfort with silence
- Compassion, sometimes sharing tears
- Suspension of judgment
- Immersion in what’s going on in the world, yet ability not to get mired in that but keep a “wider view”
- Ability to stay focused and assist the seeker to do the same
- Peacefulness, balance, a contemplative spirit
Maureen McDonnell OP