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Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP, is the United Nations representative for the Dominican Sisters Conference. At the UN, she focuses on world issues important to Dominicans, such as homelessness, the rights of women and girls, protection of the Amazon region, and the digital divide. Her work involves connecting with the wider Dominican Family, whose members serve on every continent and work with local people so as to understand issues from the viewpoint of those most affected by the issues.
This Random Nun Clip is brought to you by one of our sponsors, the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
I'm Sister Maxine, and my guest is Sister Durstyne Farnan. representative to the United Nations for the Dominican Sisters Conference, an organization of Dominicans across the country. At the UN, where the world's nations work together on global problems and solutions, Sister Durstyne--or Sister Dusty, as she is known--gives voice to the Dominican perspective on issues such as homelessness, the rights of women and girls, and the impact of mining and deforestation in the Amazon region. Sister Dusty, when you talk about the different cultural backgrounds and different geographies, of course you know, as an Adrian Dominican, the Dominican family is pretty much everywhere around the globe, isn't it?
Yes, we're in 120 countries in the world.
What is the spirit that makes you a family--a Dominican family?
Well, several years ago, one of the master generals of the order began to use the term Dominican family. And I think what it was, was to try to connect us to one another around the globe. And so we have within the order a lot of laity--probably that's the largest group of Dominicans in the in the order, are laity. And then we have the friars, and then we have the sisters and the nuns. Now, many congregations in the United States have associates as well. So these are all people who identify with the charism. And so the term "family" just seemed like a natural way to identify who we were together, rather than who we were separately, so that we would begin to do our work together. And then, as you may know, during the time I was International Justice Promoter for the North American Dominicans, we had the 2003 invasion of Iraq. And then we coined a phrase from the Master General of the order at the time--who was Timothy Radcliffe--said to us, "What are you Dominicans in the United States going to do about this?" And then we began to explore the whole concept of family. And the next thing we adopted was we have family in Iraq. And now we know we have family all over the world. And that's a way in which we connected with our Dominican Sisters there, particularly from 2003 to 2015.
When you talk about the Dominican family, and the spirit of that if you were to describe the Dominican charism--and I know there's a lot of different ways to talk about charism--how would you describe that?
Well, very simply, the word "veritas" or "truth" is probably the most important thing about Dominicans. And we are preachers. And that means no matter what our ministry is, we are to be about the gospel, preaching it or teaching it. Living it. And sharing it with others that we meet. The word for us, "veritas," which is "truth," is extremely important to Dominicans. You might say Dominicans are fanatics about words, not only the gospel word, but words! And therefore it's important for us to seek the truth. And that means that we really study, and that's a big part of our charism as well: to study events, people, places, issues, in a way that we're always trying to see, is there another side to the truth of this story, or this experience, or this happening in the world? So for Dominicans, it's really the search for truth. And that takes a certain amount of humility, actually, to search for truth, because, you know, I might be wrong. And so therefore, how do we then search together for what really is true in whatever situation we're looking at?
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This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.