We invite readers to send short stories about the ways in which their lives have been personally blessed by the life and work of priests and religious in our diocese.
By Karina Fabian
Sister Doris Faber believes there is a divine spark in every person and has dedicated her life to helping people draw out those sparks and fan them into flames of faith.
Sister Faber joined the Grand Rapids Dominicans in 1955 and took final vows in 1959, when she received her degree in English from Aquinas College. She taught English and Latin in various high schools in Michigan before taking a two-year term as director for the community. As she traveled, giving retreats and homilies as director, she found herself drawn to the idea of parish ministry.
“It was early in Vatican II, and my work put me in touch with parishes that were not implementing its ideas. I also saw a need for religious education. I asked to go to parishes where I could help,” she said.
She worked with parishes and campus ministries in New Mexico, Arkansas, South Carolina, Idaho and West Virginia. In addition to working in religious education and RCIA programs, she helped introduce new ideas like lay lectors and eucharistic ministers. Having grown up on a farm as the youngest child of 12, she knew the importance of working together and enjoyed the opportunity to apply that knowledge by helping parishioners become more actively involved in worship.
The college ministries gave her some freedom to work other projects during the summer. She has studied Scripture in Jordan, Israel and Rome, volunteered in the Appalachians, worked with troubled teens in Detroit, ministered to migrant workers in Michigan and helped run ecumenical Bible Camps.
She came to Christ the King Parish in Missoula in 2001, where she works in faith formation, RCIA, sacramental preparation and pastoral ministry.
She’s also started a prison ministry, a calling she says has sprung from her working with troubled teens and from the experience of having three of her fellow Dominicans imprisoned for vandalizing a nuclear missile site as a protest against war. It awakened her to the fact that not all people in prison are hard-bitten criminals.
“Many are poor, come from homes with abuse, or didn’t have the opportunities most of us have. They are in there for writing bad checks, getting caught up in drugs, protests and other ‘small’ crimes.” She believes that through prison ministry, she and others can help these people draw out their divine spark and transform their lives.
Sister Doris finds her own divine spark renewed by the beauty of nature. “Nature is God’s cathedral. It speaks so strongly of the goodness and ministry of God,” she said.
Part of her joy in being Dominican, she said, is that she has traveled the world, and has enjoyed God’s many natural cathedrals. In Montana, she hikes the trails in her area weekly with a group of women, and she skis, bikes, swims and does other sports.
Published in The Montana Catholic, Vol. 21, No. 1, January 21, 2005.