As a young married mother raising small children, Patricia Dual, now a Dominican Sister of Peace, walked away from the Catholic church for about 11 years. But as her relationship with her husband frayed, "I came back at a low point in my life. I guess I was feeling that my life as defined had to change."
Her return to the church, particularly ties to her local parish, enabled her to build a network of support that ultimately helped her leave the turbulent marriage.
"God brought people into my life to help me heal emotionally," she said.
Around 1995, Dual met Pat Twohill, a St. Mary of the Spring Dominican, when they worked together on the pastoral council for the diocese of Richmond, Virginia, and began to ask questions about Twohill's order.
In one of her many conversations with her new friend, Dual asked: Do you have any African-American sisters in your congregation?
"No," Dual said Twohill told her with a laugh, "but you could be the first."