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College Preaching in Action Conference
Forms The Next Generation of Preachers

BLAUVELT, NY June 18, 2009--During the week of May 19th,  37 students from Dominican universities and colleges or colleges with a Dominican presence, gathered at Dominican College in Blauvelt, NY for the Seventh National “Preaching in Action” Conference.

This year’s conference was exciting for two reasons. First and foremost these young people 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 thatWord come alive bringing life to themselves and others.

The participants were introduced to an array of presenters representing the various US congregations and provinces in the Order. They were given the opportunity to express their own preaching through art, dance, drama and music. More importantly, they were encouraged to embrace their own Christian mission of preaching the Good News to all they encounter.

Secondly, students who had previously been participants of this conference and are now members of Dominican Young Adults USA, came back as adult mentors for their respective schools. Their presence helped to realize the dream of building the bridge between college life and adult life for our Dominican students. The transfer of leadership from Dominican adult mentors to Dominican Young Adult mentors was wonderful to see. Our hope is that more schools will use this model for future conferences.

The conference began with a brief history of St. Dominic and the Order complete with an array of Dominican songs. You could feel the Dominican Spirit in the air! A presentation depicting “Dominicans through the Ages” welcomed some of our Dominican Saints to the conference: Mary of Magadala, Dominic, Catherine of Siena, Antonio de Montessino and Martin de Porres.

One of our sisters from Iraq, Aman Mansoor, OP spoke about the lives of the Iraqi sisters and their own call to preach. Joe Kilikevice, OP (St. Albert) highlighted the Interfaith Mission of the Order by introducing the students to dance and song from a variety of different faiths. Margaret Galiardi, OP (Amityville) and Margaret Mayce, OP (Amityville) our NGO representative to the United Nations, combined to give an in-depth look at The New Cosmology viewed through the eyes of the Dominican Call to Justice documents and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

After a day in New York City touring and taking in the sights, the students were ready to put their preaching into action. They spent the next day in immersion sites ministering to the poor of the Bronx at POTS, the children of migrant workers in Goshen, caring for the earth at the Empowerment Center, ministering to the elderly at Dowling Gardens and helping provide food and other goods to the less fortunate of the city at People to People. Their only comment was “I wish we could go to more than one site.”

Sara Fairbanks, OP (Adrian) concluded the week’s presentations by calling the participants to cultivate the Art of Preaching. She gave the students some practical suggestions about  pulpit preaching, accentuating the need for contemplative prayer and the practice of Lectio Divina to assist them in preparing their preaching.

Nancy Murray, OP, (Adrian) Barbara Schwarz, OP, (Amityville) Sara Fairbanks, OP, Diane Capuano, OP (Amityville) and Jennifer Schaaf presented additional breakout sessions on Drama, Mandalas,  Liturgical Dance, and Prayer Services Preparation.

The students also prepared morning and evening prayers.  They used their creativity, musical talents and giftedness of voice to lead the entire group in prayer. The students love this part of the conference and are happy to recreate it on their own campuses. At the closing liturgy each student presented her/his individual action plan which is a vehicle for incorporating what was learned at the conference into their own lives and the life of their campus. It was moving to witness each student making a commitment to continue the “Holy Preaching.”

Each then received the Dominican Cross and commissioned to go forth and preach the “Good News” to their fellow students. These young people felt part of our Dominican Family and will forever be connected. Wherever they go, whether it be California, Illinois, Ohio, 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 again be held at Dominican College in Blauvelt from May 25-30, 2010. We look forward to the formation of another great group
of young preachers!

The participating schools 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; Siena Heights University, MI; St. Louis University, MO; St. Joseph’s College, NY; St. Thomas Aquinas College, NY and Tulane University, LA.