The Dominican Sisters of Hope are launching an intentional community for recent college grads at The Center at Mariandale in Ossining, NY, called the Hope Volunteer Community. This 11-month program will provide young adults with an opportunity to serve others and care for Earth in return for room, board, and a small stipend.
Volunteers will share meals, tend the garden, and serve the local community. Recognizing that young people are often the best “teachers” to their peers and to those younger, volunteers will also help lead high school and college retreats at the Center. The community will meet regularly with Dominican Sisters of Hope to reflect on their experience, gain wisdom and insight, and explore their spirituality.
Mariandale Executive Director Carl Procario-Foley described how the program came to be. “The Center recognizes the need to expand its inter-generational programs, utilize space creatively, and to offer meaningful experiences to engage future generations in transformative ways,” he said. “This program is a direct extension of the mission of the congregation, as it is hope-filled, aiming to cultivate the core values of Dominican spirituality in the lives of young people.” Goals include developing skills for sustainable gardening and serving community-based agencies, and learning new practices of prayer and contemplation.
“The program is ideal for young adults who wish to live in community and integrate service and spirituality into their lives,” he continued. “It may also attract young people who need a nurturing space to discern a new direction for their career.” Requiring a commitment of 15-20 hour per week, the program allows for the pursuit of graduate studies, should participants wish to enroll at a local university. Having previously worked in campus ministry, Procario-Foley understands that in transitioning out of college and entering graduate studies, “students may seek the supportive setting of a community to grow the values they hope to embody.” He sees the community element as key to the transformational impact of such programs. “We expect the volunteers will grow life-long friends and cherished mentors,” he said.
Many elements make the Hope Volunteer Community different from the 120 other programs in the Catholic Volunteer Network, according to Procario-Foley. Situated on Mariandale’s 64 acres abutting the Hudson River, participants will live in retreat center context, and the program will emphasize the integration of eco-spirituality and sustainable gardening with direct social service work. Applications for the cohort which begins in September 2022 will be accepted online through April 1st.