By Barbara Kelley, OP
July 1, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – The campuses of Siena Heights University and the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse were a beehive of energy, joy, and community June 25-30, 2019, as 76 students and their mentors from 18 Dominican High Schools participated in the 21st Annual Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference.
“I’ve been very fortunate to meet a lot of other people and I’ve become very welcomed into this Dominican community,” said Grace Rado, a student from Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois. “I’ve found that there are a lot of other young people who are on the same path and we’re all learning to walk in God’s light and to preach.”
That is the intention of the preaching conference, which forms students from Dominican high schools in the Dominican spirituality of preaching – not just from the pulpit, but through their lives. The conference is structured to teach the student the various ways that Dominicans preach – and to encourage them to bring what they learn at the conference back to their schools. Participants also plan and participate in prayer services, get to know one another at meals, and discuss the day’s events each night with specially organized home groups.
The students first learned to preach in the Dominican tradition – from the lips of St. Dominic, Patrick Spedale, a mentor for St. Pius X High School in Houston, St. Martin de Porres, Brother Herman Johnson, OP, of the St. Martin de Porres (Southern) Province; and St. Catherine of Siena, Sister Nancy Murray, OP, Adrian, whose full-time ministry is to portray St. Catherine of Siena during programs throughout the world. The opening sessions also included a morning keynote address by Michael Petro, teacher and Dean of Students at Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School in Oregon, Ohio and an afternoon talk, “The Interfaith Mission of the Order,” by Brother Joe Kilikevice, OP, of the St. Albert the Great (Central) Province.
In later sessions, students studied the signs of the times through sessions on social justice issues: immigration, by Father Brendan Curran, OP, St. Albert the Great; racism, Sister Marcelline Koch, OP, Springfield; persons with disabilities, Mark Butler, a Springfield Associate; and human trafficking, Sister Roberta Miller, OP, Peace. They spent a full day learning to preach in action through service at agencies in the Adrian area.
On the last full day of the conference, students attended workshops by Dominican artists to learn how to preach through the arts. Presenters were Sister Carletta LaCour, OP, Houston, T’ai Chi Chih; Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, Adrian, the labyrinth; Sister Sara Fairbanks, OP, Adrian, liturgical preaching; Sister Jean Patrick Ehrhardt, OP, Springfield, rosary-making; Sister Barbara Schwarz, OP, Amityville, mandalas; Andy Abberton, Dominican Young Adults USA, “Found Prayer”; and Sister Luchy Sori, OP, Adrian, liturgical movement.
The closing Liturgy – celebrated with the Dominican Sisters of Adrian in St. Catherine Chapel – was an exuberant experience as the students were sent off to their homes and their schools to continue their preaching.
“We have taken the time to listen to each other, to fan the fire inside each person to let God’s love shine forth like the stars in the night sky,” Sister Mary Soher, OP, an Adrian Dominican Sister and Director of the Preaching Conference, told the students. “From such a wondrous week, how do we leave each other?” She encouraged them to consider their going forth back to their homes and schools as another call from God. “You gave your all to come here, and I know you will do no less for those whom God loves back home.”
Each school group then came forward to announce their commitment for the coming year: from organizing creative prayer services and teaching their classmates about different types of prayer to emphasizing the four Dominican pillars of prayer, study, community, and ministry or preaching.
As the hosting Congregation, Sisters at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse had the privilege of praying for a particular participant and of meeting him or her during an ice cream social – and of celebrating Night Prayer that evening and the Closing Mass with the students. But the preaching conference, a program of the Dominican Youth Movement USA, was a collaborative effort of the U.S. Dominican family.
Many of the Congregations of Sisters and provinces of the Friars sponsor the schools that participated in the conference:
- Dominican Sisters of Amityville: Colegio San Antonio, Isabella, Puerto Rico and St. Agnes Academic High School, College Point, New York.
- Dominican Sisters of Caldwell: Mount St. Dominic Academy, Caldwell, New Jersey.
- Dominican Sisters of Houston: St. Agnes Academy and St. Pius X High School, both in Houston, Texas.
- Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose: Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, La Caňada, California; Immaculate Conception Academy Cristo Rey, San Francisco, California; Sacred Heart High School, Los Angeles, California; and San Gabriel Mission High School, San Gabriel, California.
- Dominican Sisters of Peace: Our Lady of the Elms High School, Akron, Ohio and St. Mary’s Dominican High School, New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa: Dominican High School, Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin and Edgewood High School, Madison, Wisconsin.
- Dominican Sisters of Sparkill: Albertus Magnus High School, Bardonia, New York.
- Dominican Sisters of Springfield: Marian Catholic High School, Chicago Heights, Illinois; Rosary High School, Aurora, Illinois, and Sacred Heart-Griffin High School, Springfield, Illinois.
- Dominican Friars of the St. Albert the Great (Central) Province: Fenwick High School, Oak Park, Illinois.
The Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference is a program of the Dominican Youth Movement USA. DYMUSA brings together the various existing Dominican youth programs, unifying their support and promoting their collective social impact. It has created a network for our young people to further develop their own call to preach.