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On Saturday, December 14, 2019, the Dominican Sisters of Houston and the Dominican Family gathered for their annual Advent Prayer and Brunch. Sister Mary Jean Olsovsky led us in Prayer.

Anna Sklut, Director of Campus Ministry at St. Agnes Academy, preached at the prayer service.  She began by reminding us that Advent is a time of darkness and waiting that seems to be match the darkness of our world today.  This creates a feeling of internal dissonance, dwelling in the darkness in our world while in anticipation of the celebration of the Christmas season.  Anna reflected:

 “There is no rush, just a steady insistence that something IS coming. We cannot rush through this period of waiting. We cannot pretend there is no darkness. We cannot turn away from the hardship and struggle in our world, we cannot ignore the work to be done.  But neither can we get lost in the darkness or forget about the light that is to come: As Isaiah says, ‘Strengthen the hands that are feeble, / make firm the knees that are weak / say to those whose hearts are frightened: / be strong, fear not!’ (Isaiah 35:3-4) This has to be a whole-community effort.  And, I believe that it is in our communal efforts that we ‘will see the glory of the Lord / the splendor of our God.’ (Isaiah 35:2) As we await Christ’s coming as a babe at Christmas, AND while we await the second coming, you and I have an opportunity to build the kingdom here and now.”

 Following Anna’s preaching, Sister Donna Pollard presented the Pauline Gannon Award to Claire Warner.  Mother Pauline Gannon was the 2nd prioress of the community after they settled in Texas.  She served for 33 years.  She was a visionary who moved the sisters from Galveston to the growing port city of Houston in 1926.  Recognizing that the sisters needed to be educated if they were to be educators, she opened Newman Hall in Austin where the sisters attended the University of Texas.  The award is given each year to someone who exemplifies her spirit of service and dedication. 

Claire has been a volunteer with the sisters for nine years.  She visits our sisters who require skilled nursing care and reside at St. Dominic’s Village.  She provides manicures and pedicures along with individualized prayer booklets. However, even more so than these loving acts, are her presence, smile, open heart and listening ear that endear her to those she visits. In accepting her award, Claire encouraged us “to do just a little bit more for our elderly.  And it doesn’t take much, because every action makes a difference… a smile, a hug, a simple acknowledgement.”

 As with most Dominican celebrations, the morning celebration concluded with food and drink.

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