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Dominican College Students Learn What it Means to Be Preachers

table groupMIAMI SHORES, FL ---June 9, 2008-- From May 22-25, 35 students from 11 Dominican Universities/Colleges or colleges with a Dominican presence gathered at Barry University, for the Sixth National Preaching in Action Conference. 

They came together to learn about the Dominican charism of preaching and how that charism can be incorporated into their own lives.  They were taught how the Word of God is vital to the life of all Dominicans and were introduced to a variety of ways they can make that Word come alive and bring life to themselves and others.  The participants were introduced to an array of speakers and presenters representing the various congregations and provinces in the Order.  They were given the opportunity to experience themselves as preachers using the mediums of art, dance, drama, and music.  More importantly they were encouraged to fulfill their own Christian mission of preaching the Good News to all they encounter. 

College Preaching ConferenceThe conference began with activities which allowed all the participants to get to know each other on a deeper level.  This was followed by a brief history of Dominic and the Order complete with an array of Dominican songs.  There was definitely a Dominican Spirit in the air.  A presentation depicting Dominicans through the Ages welcomed some of our Dominican Saints to the conference. St. Mary Magdalene (MaDonna Thelen), St. Dominic (Patrick Spedale), St. Catherine of Siena (Sr. Nancy Murray), Anton de Montecino, (Fr. Jim Barnett), St. Martin de Porres (Br. Herman Johnson), and Sr. Diana Momeka, as herself,a contemporary Dominican from Iraq. Diane lives and studies in Adrian, MI.

All spoke about their lives and their own call to preach in the early years of the Order.  Joe Kilikevice, OP highlighted the Interfaith Mission of the Order by introducing the students to dance and song from a variety of different faiths.  Eileen Gannon, OP, our Dominican NGO representative at the United Nations, spoke to the students about her position and then joined Sister Diana in a presentation on the situation in Iraq.  It was a very moving experience for the students and one that prompted much conversation far into the night.

Margaret Galiardi, OP gave a presentation on The New Cosmology and continued it at a nature preserve.  The students were given time to spend alone with God in nature and to feel the connectedness of all creation.  Sara Fairbanks, OP concluded the week’s presentations by calling the participants to “cultivate the Art of Preaching.” She gave the students some instruction on the do’s and don’ts of pulpit preaching accentuating the need for contemplative prayer to assist them in speaking the truth to their audience.  Nancy Murray, OP, Barbara Schwarz, OP, Sara Fairbanks, OP, MaDonna Thelen and Mary Fran Fleishacker, OP presented additional break out sessions on preaching through the arts using acting, pencil drawing to create mandalas, liturgical dance, and taize prayer.

liturgyDuring the week the students were given opportunities to use their creativity, musical talents and giftedness of voice to prepare the prayer services which are vital to the conference schedule. The creativity was a wonderful thing to behold and the singing voices were a welcomed sound throughout the entire campus.  At the closing liturgy each student was commissioned to go forth and preach the Good News to their fellow students.  Each college student presented their individual action plan which is a vehicle for incorporating what they learned at the conference into their own lives and the life of their college campus.  It was moving to witness each student making a commitment to continuing the Holy Preaching. 

The participating universities/colleges included Barry University, FL; Caldwell College, NJ; Dominican College, NY; Dominican University, CA; Dominican University, IL; Edgewood College, WI; Molloy College, NY; Ohio Dominican University, OH; Purdue University, IN; Siena Heights University, MI; St. Louis University, MO; and Tulane University, LA. 

With the Dominican spirit firmly planted in their hearts, these young people prepared to leave the conference.  They now are part of our Dominican Family and will forever be connected.  Wherever they go, whether it be California, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Louisiana, Florida, New Jersey, Missouri, or New York they will be preachers of God’s love, God’s peace and God’s justice for all!  Next year’s conference will be held at Dominican College in Blauvelt from May 19-24.  We look forward to another great group of young people.

Gina Fleming, OP (Amityville)