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Volunteers gather for retreat in Grand Rapids

By Erica Greil, Assistant Director, DVUSA

As the 2011 service year comes to a close, the Dominican Volunteers met in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in June to reflect and prepare themselves for the year ahead. The theme of the retreat was “Movement and Transitions” as our volunteers prepared to leave their ministries and begin their next adventure.

Many Dominican sisters helped on this journey. Sister Mary Navarre, OP (Grand Rapids) gave the history of the Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters and a tour of Marywood, the retreat facility and motherhouse. Two lucky volunteers won scarves from the Chimbote, Peru mission of the sisters for locating the old Holy Rosary cross in the halls of Marywood. Sister Mary Sue Kennedy, OP (Adrian), executive director of the Dominican Sisters Conference, presented on the Dominican Family today, showing how widespread the mission and family is throughout the United States. Sister Kathi Sleziak, OP (Grand Rapids), Sister Mary Kay Oosdyke, OP (Grand Rapids), David Lincoln (Grand Rapids Associate Coordinator) and Karen Sabourin, OPL (President of Dominican Laity, Central Province) presented a panel about opportunities to stay connected with the Dominican family after the year of service has been completed, which was a great exposure to the associate and laity programs.

The reflective sessions were facilitated by Sister Diane Zerfas, OP (Grand Rapids), who introduced the Lectio Divina form of prayer, using the practice of lectio (reading), meditatio (meditation), oratio (prayer), and contemplatio (contemplation). The subjects included everything from a passage from Jeremiah (29:11-13) to affirming each other‘s experiences by ruminating on the word or phrase that stood out when each shared their story. In keeping with the theme of movement, each day was capped by walking prayer through the grounds, yoga with guided reflection, or a walk through the labyrinth.

Other highlights included a pool party thrown by program alumna Colleen Olson (serving in 1996-97) and a trip to the Grand Rapids Arts Festival. The retreat ended with the volunteers being recognized at mass before the Grand Rapids congregation with personal words from Sister Nathalie Meyer, OP, prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids. To the entire congregation and those sisters who supported volunteers this year, we appreciate your hospitality and welcome!

And where will the volunteers be next year to continue the Holy Preaching? Kelly Allen, who served at Blessed Sacrament Youth Center and St. Agatha’s Parish in Chicago, will be a Vincentian volunteer at Earthlinks, an eco-justice center in Denver, Colorado. Michelle Calvert, who served at the International Community School in Atlanta, is pursuing a Masters in Education at Northwestern University in Chicago. Rachel DeBruin, who spent two years serving as the work study coordinator at Immaculate Conception Academy in San Francisco, has been hired full-time at the school. Lisa Hayes, who served at Immaculate Conception Academy in San Francisco as database manager, is planning on serving internationally in Latin America. Annie Hussey, who served at WomanCraft in Chicago, will be joining a green fair-trade company, Global Handmade Hope, as their marketing and outreach coordinator. Kristin Johnson, who served at Immaculate Conception Academy in San Francisco in their marketing and outreach department, will be participating in City Year in San Antonio.

We will also be welcoming 14 new Dominican Volunteers in August through orientation in Maryknoll, New York. They will be serving across the country in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Racine, Atlanta, New Orleans, and New York, including three new communities with friars from the Western, Southern, and Central Provinces.

For more information about Dominican Volunteers USA, visit www.dvusa.org or e-mail info@dvusa.org.