The Aquinas College campus was alive with the energy of approximately 40 young adults who participated in the Dominican Colleges Preaching in Action Conference May 23 – 28. Nine Dominican schools were represented from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Participants learned about Preaching in the Dominican Tradition as they met St. Dominic (in the person of Lay Dominican, Patrick Spedale), St. Catherine of Siena (Nancy Murray, OP), St. Martin dePorres (Herman Johnson, OP), and St. Rose of Lima (Ana Gonzalez, OP).
They discovered how Dominicans Preach the Signs of the Times in presentations on Immigration (Brendan Curran, OP), Climate Justice (Ana Gonzalez, OP), Racial Micro-Aggressions (Marcelline Koch, OP and Mila Diaz Solano, OP), and Human Trafficking (Mary Brigid Clingman, OP). On Friday participants were invited to choose a service site for the day and discover how Dominicans Preach in Action. Service site options included Kids Food Basket, Family Promise (ending homelessness), Aquinas College Sustainability (restoring the environment), and the Marywood Prairie. On Saturday, participants discovered Preaching Through the Creative Arts in workshops on the Art of Liturgical Preaching (Megan McElroy, OP), Zentangle (Amy Kam, Dominican Associate), Pastels and Paint (Katherine Frazier, OP), and Drawing to God: Praying with Art (Chela Gonzalez, OP). Several Sisters joined the participants for a cookout one evening, and the students wowed their mentors with a talent show Saturday evening. Finally, on Sunday, the Feast of Pentecost, the participants were Sent in the Dominican Tradition with each school sharing their action plan to share the fruits of their experience with other students and receiving the Dominican cross.
Three Students Sponsored by Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids
The Sisters sponsored three students from Aquinas College: Zoebelle Bean, Mark Musgrave, III, and Danielle Paginelli. Each one of them wrote a reflection sharing how the experience impacted them that we wish to share with you.
Leading up to the Dominican Youth Conference, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve been on numerous religious retreats and conferences before, so I assumed this one would be similar. As soon as I entered into this conference, I could sense I would need to truly engage my mind, body, and spirit this week.
My attendance at this conference helped me be formed in the four pillars of prayer, study, community, and service, which shape the values of Aquinas College and upon which the Dominican sisters build their lives. I can confidently say after leaving this conference, I will approach my classes at Aquinas College in a new light.
Each day was full of learning and living out each one of these pillars, which resulted in a deeper, more profound understanding of the great need for the four pillars within the Christian life. We started and ended each day together in prayer, which was interactive because each student got to take part in leading the prayer and being immersed in the Gospel. We learned the importance of study of the living Word and how to be informed citizens of our society. The schedule made it possible to foster deep relationships with each student who at attended. Our day of service put our minds and bodies to physical labor to better the world around us. Although we are from all around the United Sates, we left feeling connected because of the Dominican Family we are all part of. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn about the Dominican life as well as be engaged in the truth that I am favored and blessed in the eyes of the Lord.
Mark Musgrave, III
This past week the Dominican Preaching in Action Conference was substantial in my progress of discernment for my priestly vocation. There was lots of information to take in and learn each day to further my knowledge of Catholicism. Too meet other Dominican College students was also such a blessing. If this opportunity were to ever present itself again, I would surely accept the offer and will spread the word to my Campus Ministry peers for next year’s conference. I took so many notes from keynotes and sessions that will be great to revisit as needed. This coming academic year will be much more fun with a better understanding of Dominican tradition and the Sisters associated with Aquinas College. My favorite part of the conference was serving at Marywood in the prairie. I now plan on emphasizing stewardship in my personal life and continuing to volunteer at the prairie. Go Saints!
This retreat was a critical moment in my spiritual life and built relationships and knowledge that I will treasure for years to come. The beauty of this experience opened my eyes to a greater need in my community that I was unfamiliar with. It was a calling I’d never considered before, and God granted me the grace to find a community and build better connections through it. I believe in several instances that God was speaking to me personally through many people on this retreat, something that I hadn’t experienced so profoundly before. The moments where I was the most unsure of something were the moments where I found I grew the most, and I am grateful that God gave me the courage and strength to persevere and try new things because I’m not sure where I would be right now otherwise. I learned to appreciate the little moments, the people God gifted around me, and the experiences I was able to engage in with the newfound family we had fostered. What strikes me the most is how incredibly close the people on the retreat became after hardly a day. We all grew to be a makeshift family within the space of a day, and we have shared so much with one another that I can’t imagine losing them. They are my Dominican Family, and I will hold them in my heart as thus. I will continue to thank God every day for the ability to make and hold these relationships, stronger than anything I’ve had before. This retreat touched my heart in a way none other has done before. I have been on many retreats in my lifetime and only was it here that I found that I was actively growing and continue to do to this day. I found places in my life where I hadn’t considered adding God but found that everything in my life could be used to honor or acknowledge the incredible gift of life God has given me. I used my talents to forge a closer relationship with God on this retreat and discovered talents I didn’t know I had before. My confidence in preaching and speaking improved greatly, my confidence in my own written abilities, which I had cherished so greatly even before the retreat, increased ten-fold like nothing before. Every moment of this retreat was a memory I will cherish. I cannot stop thanking God for bringing me here against all of my anxiety and fear. I cannot doubt Him anymore, I cannot harbor worries anymore, because I know with the strongest certainty that He is here and everywhere and will always be. ~ Blessings, Zoebelle Bean