As part of the Leadership Through Ministry Program, six interns worked at ministries associated with the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville from June 5th through July 14th. The interns – including Ana Calero, Michael McCarthy, Ganesh Oduko, Betul Cayan, Desmon Andah and Elena Russ ministered at a Homecoming Farm, Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services, the Recreation Office at the Sisters’ Motherhouse and Dominican Village Assisted Living Community.
“I enjoyed working at Catholic Charities,” said Michael McCarthy. “It was nice to finally be able to help out the refugees instead of just seeing them on the news.”
Each week, the participants worked Monday through Thursday in their chosen ministry site. This Leadership in Ministry Program — established by the Dominican Youth Movement, USA — was designed to help carry on the traditions of the Sisters of St. Dominic (the Order of Preachers). The program connected young adults with their own form of preaching; provided a venue to serve God, self and others; supported tomorrow’s lay leaders; connected others with Dominican ministries. It was partially funded by the Koch Foundation.
Intern Betula Cayan worked at Dominican Village leading activities with the retired community. She called the internship life changing. “It was the first work experience of my life,” said Betula. “I ministered at a position where I could practice my English while working with elderly residents in an assisted living facility. At first, I had fears and asked myself ‘What if I can’t do this?’ But now I finished six weeks and it went by so quickly… I tried to do the best in everything I did. I loved my work very much. I met new people and chatted and spent time with them. We did activities together and it was very enjoyable to help them. I was very happy when people said I’m glad you came.”
On the Friday of each week, the participants gathered for Leadership seminars with subjects including: clear communication, active listening, how to negotiate differences, community building, creative thinking, collaboration, introduction to the Dominican mission, the spirituality of work, team building, delegating, organizational skills, transforming a job to a ministry and critical thinking.
The interns had the opportunity to eat together each day at lunch at the Motherhouse cafeteria. “They became a close-knit Community,” said Sister Gina Fleming, the promoter of youth for the Congregation.
“They enjoyed their ministry experiences and were able to effectively put into practice many of the leadership skills they were learning. Their confidence grew as the weeks went by and in many cases began leading some of the activities that they once were assisting with.”
Intern Ana Cordero was grateful for the spiritual aspects of the program. “Thanks to this program I met very wonderful people and had an incredible experience,” said Ana who ministered at Dominican Village Assisted Living Center.
“Most importantly I feel I have come closer to God. The sisters supported me in an incredible way and gave me unconditional encouragement. Participation in this wonderful program has given me a wonderful learning opportunity and has boosted my self-confidence. This program has changed my life and I will be forever grateful!
”On their last day, the sisters said goodbye and sang the Dominican Blessing over the new members of our Dominican Family wishing them well as they return to their schools or places of work. “I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt appreciation to all the sisters,” said Ganesh Oduko. “Your presence in my life has been nothing short of a blessing, and I am grateful for all the ways you have touched my heart…I didn’t just come for an internship, I made a family and that’s something I will appreciate every day. God bless all the sisters. This was an experience worth living for.
”This program is a “template which will be made available to other Dominican congregations who might want to establish a Leadership through Ministry program of their own,” commented Sister Gina. “The leadership of Dominican Youth Movement USA plans to connect with the other Dominican congregations to speak to them about this program and encourage those who are willing and able to create their own version of this program.”