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Finding God in Nashville

January 24, 2013 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Events, General

Finding God in Nashville


Countless souls have been blessed and encouraged to heaven by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (also known as the “Nashville Dominicans”). Several weeks ago, I had the profound honor of briefly joining them in their mission by providing a number of talks and question and answer sessions on the spiritual life for the parents of Overbrook, their elementary school.

My first talk – to the women – was on the deep well of wisdom that the Doctors of the Church provide in their teachings on the path of union Nashville IMG_6850with God. Later, during the men’s retreat, my two talks focused on developing a transformational relationship with God, and understanding the various stages of spiritual growth, from spiritual infancy to maturity. Our discussion included an exceptional priest, Fr. Michael Kelly, and the insightful retreat leader, Brother John Ignatius.

In between the talks, I was able to meet many of the delightfully joyful sisters over meals, prayer, a historical tour and Mass in their stunning chapel. Among the black and white robes of light was the principal of Overbrook school, Sister Mary Gertrude – a sister with strong leadership skills, and a holy drive that daily reveals the light and love of God to her children and families – and Sister Catherine Marie, who provided an energetic tour of the history of the Dominicans in Nashville.

Though I’ve had the opportunity to be in Rome, where sisters in habits of all kinds scurry about everywhere, I have never been in a place with so many sisters at once. Their chapel is no small house of worship; it was almost completely filled with those of their order and the
approximately 40 young women attending a vocational discernment retreat.

Nashville Dominicans Oratory_AThe entire experience was beautiful, from end to end.

There are a number of loud and negative voices in the Church today that seemingly cannot see beyond the problems we face. So often they are the same people who say that they don't hear God or experience him in their lives. Oh, what they could learn from these sisters.

But how can one person see God at work and another see nothing? How can one person see good and another only evil? The answer lies in seeing with the eyes of faith. The eyes of faith are hopeful because they detect even the smallest stirrings of the Holy Spirit in others. They see the slightest inclinations toward God, the sharp beams of light that break through even the most troubled souls. They see God because they believe He is there to be seen – and they delight at His appearance.

Those in darkness are there because they have not been taught to see God at work – or because they focus on the waves of their circumstances rather than grasp the hand of God reaching out to rescue them. The Dominican Sisters are the hand of God in a small corner of the world in Tennessee – a small corner that imbues the limitless hope of God into Birmingham, Baltimore, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Denver, New Orleans, St. Louis, St. Paul and Minneapolis, Vancouver, Washington D.C., Houston, Sydney, Arlington, Charleston, Joliet, Knoxville, Lafayette, Memphis, Nashville, Providence, Richmond and Rome. And into this retreat speaker who was renewed in optimism and joy this past week.

If your hope for the Church ever dims, it might be time to visit the Dominicans of St. Cecilia. I have no doubt that you will come away with new life and faith that will revive your sight and enable you to see the light of God again – no matter where you look.

PS: If you would like to learn more about the talks and retreats we provide, click here.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • claudiavolkman

    What a beautiful, inspiring post, Dan!

  • Jeanette

    Thank you, Dan, for this lovely post. I can relate to your experience with Sisters. I have the pleasure of volunteering with the Sisters of Life in their Toronto Mission (originating from New York) and I learn so much about love from them…love of God and love of others as they minister to vulnerable single pregnant women and their familites. They are truly an inspiration to me and I thank God for them. Priests and religious are a beacon of light in this world today which point us in the right direction.

  • Matt Shurtliff

    Great post dan. I used to live in a parish in the St. Louis area that the “Nashville Domincans” were residents. They had a great positive influence on the pastor, the students of the school, and their parents.

  • ElePat

    had the sincere privilege of attending Aquinas College and being among these
    blessed Sisters for two years … what glorious memories! I was in a very mixed
    up place personally during that time; however, no matter what had happened, as
    I walked through the doors, heard the laughs and saw the beauty of these lovely
    Sisters, all was right at that time. They taught me so, so much, which still resonates
    today in my life. I thank God for the glimpse I was given into the beautiful,
    holy life they lead … it changed my life for the better! God bless them for
    their purity and goodness. God bless you for writing about them and sharing
    your experience with others!

  • Judy Watson

    I have daughter who is a Nashville Dominican and one who works for them.  I can attest to all that you say.  How blessed our family is!

  • judeen

     our sisters are the power of prayer… I did not know women can go to the nuns to stay for protection or deserment..  how I would of loved to know this when I was young.. I probably would of become 1 … secrets of our faith… no known , seen and so very important….  as a bible group, we got to visit cloister nuns… 2 came out and talked about thier life.. we asked them many spiritual questions ,, and the depth was so amazing… how we longed to visit more… to seek God is not experest in our faith ..or how to repent of our sins humbly and ask God forgiveneness… to unite with God and see God work all around us.. each paish should have a nun or monk come and speak about how to have faith and unite with God… old testement talks about this all the time… it is our sin that brings on the silence.. and suffering.. and how to turn things around… if you noticed all the bishops went to confession last meeting in oct.. I think it was.. since then there has been so many things come up for rights of the unborn. and not fund planned parent hood… it is so easy.. yet we dont do it

  • Peg

    The timing of this post is amazing. I’ve recently been checking out the Dominican Sisters, and was looking for additional information. Last night I found the attached link on the Dominican Sisters of Mary (well worth the time to view it), and today I find your post! Hmmmm …

    The only downfall I see is that they have a very young cut-off for vocations 🙁

    Still, they’re amazing!

  • Peg

    Oops, I forgot to add the link …

  • Becky Ward

    Thanks for the pictures!!! They really help me to gain a fuller appreciation of what you are saying!

  • Ian_Fell

    We are richly blessed to have five of the Dominican Sisters living in the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption in Port Coquitlam, B.C. Their joy is infectious. Their presence has greatly enhanced the spiritual life of our parish. Everyone who encounters them sees joyful signs of God’s active presence in our community. He is so good!

  • abcmore

    What a beautiful description of these Brides of Christ! Altho I have never met one of these sisters, I first heard of them thru the excellent novel for teens – “A Philadelphia Catholic in King James Court” by Martin de Porres Kennedy. I read it with my son (several times!) about 5 years ago. The story centers around a 17 year old boy whose father has died and the boy struggles to learn to explain his faith. Great story – impressive without being “preachy”. Easy read – great for families and teens – obviously I can’t recommend it enough!

    Also, my niece is a soon to be (July) permanently professed sister of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. The 5 foundresses of this order are originally from the Nashville Dominicans. We love them all! And yes, we are very blessed!

  • LizEst

    I’ve not encountered them…but, they sound like a wonderful order, and blessed, too!

  • Beautiful Pictures, Dan.  Yes, it is always a moving experience when you find yourself for the first time among the “Brides of Christ”.  They are the “Intercessors” for our fallen humanity.

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