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International Dominican Youth Movement
Dominican Young Adults gather in Bogota, Colombia

By Gina Fleming, OP

From as far away as Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, and the United States, Dominican Young Adults, friars, sisters and laity gathered for the 12th International Dominican Youth Movement in Bogota, Colombia, in July. The theme of this year’s conference was “Soy Yo En Persona!” LC 24,39.” Twenty-five countries were represented at the meeting.

Representing Dominican Young Adults from the United States were Sean Mundy, DYA president, Chicago, Illinois; Lyamar Rodriguez, DYA formation chair; Kevin Sullivan, DYA past president and member of the International Commission; Sister Diane Capuano, campus minister, Molloy College; Andy Abberton and Michael Malinowski, co-presidents of the DYA Molloy College chapter; Sister Gina Fleming, director, DYA USA, Amityville, New York), Sisters Mary Soher, OP (Adrian) and Jenn Schaaf, OP (Blauvelt), DYA associate directors; and Sister Lenore Toscano, OP (Amityville).

The conference began with liturgy welcoming all the participants to Colombia. Following this was the “Parade of Nations.” That same evening, the young adults attended Mass with the Portugese Dominican friars, which was followed by dinner and dancing. Dominican sisters from the area, as well as nuns from the local monastery also welcomed the young adults and joined in the festivities.

The second and third days were focused on presentations and small group discussions. Fr. Carlos Vargas, OP from Colombia made a presentation on the theme of the conference speaking about the importance of the individual person and the struggle for human dignity for the “least amongst us.” Fr. Jorge Solano, OP from Colombia spoke of the need for all to live in solidarity. The next sessions were devoted to pre-theological reflection before going on mission to the people. “How shall we preach?” was the theme of these conversations. The question being, what can be said to people who live in dire poverty? The sharing in these sessions was incredibly powerful. The main point taken in by all was “presence.”

Then it was time to go out and be with the people. What a powerful experience. We visited a mission begun 40 years ago by four German Dominican sisters. This “Oasis” in the middle of such poverty included a school building (which housed a preschool, kindergarten, elementary and high school), a medical center, convent and chapel. From there we went straight up (and I do mean straight up) for about a mile into the mountains to meet with the children, young parents, and elderly of this impoverished town. These people had nothing, yet they had found their treasure—their families and their faith—and that was indeed where their hearts were. They gave us so much more than we could ever have given them. Their joy, happiness, and sense of hope was a great “preaching” to all of us.

As the week went on, other presenters addressed the group including Fr. Carlos the co-promoter of Justice and Peace for the Dominican Order, a representative from Dominican Volunteers International, and a member of the Dominican Laity who introduced the possibility of an International Formation program for all youth involved in the movement as well as an opportunity for advanced study through the “DOMUNI” project which is connected to the curia in Rome.

A highlight of the week was a visit from the Master of the Order, Fr. Bruno Cadore. Fr. Bruno spent two hours in a question-and-answer session with the young adults, listening to their questions and suggestions about how they would like to participate as part of the Dominican Family.

Prayer was an essential component of this gathering. Each day, groups from different continents prepared and presided at morning prayer, meal prayers and liturgy. In addition, liturgy was celebrated every other day with prayers recited in Spanish, Portugese, French, and of course English It was wonderful to see language and cultural barriers disappear as hearts were opened during prayer and being presence to one another.

From the first day of the gathering, as groups waited for each other to arrive, a Dominican spirit of hospitality prevailed. During breaks and at meals short phrases and sign language transcended any language obstacle. Smiles and laughter could be seen everywhere as we helped each other understand each other.

Following this gathering, two representatives from each of the countries met to continue to work of IDYM in a more formalized manner. They reflected on the realities in their own countries as well as the past few years of the movement. In their discussions goals were set to help unify the youth movement amongst participating countries in an effort to support each other and grow over the next years. 

Our own DYA-USA president, Sean Mundy, and formation chair Lyamar Rodriguez were both elected to the International Commission. Sean stated, "I am humbled by this selection and this overall experience. I now understand the whole movement better than I did before, and can appreciate how youth in other countries are striving to ‘Preach the Gospel’ in their daily lives.” Lyamar stated, “I think the USA has gained a lot from this experience, and I think that it will aid in our growth—both as a group and personally—in the coming years."

Gina Fleming, OP (Amityville) is co-director of the National College Preaching Conference and the promoter of youth for the Dominican Sisters of Amityville, New York.