The 16th annual Preaching in Action Conference was held from May 22 to 27 at Caldwell University. Students from Dominican colleges/universities or college campuses with a Dominican presence throughout the United States participated. The event gives students the chance to become immersed in the Dominican tradition of preaching through presentations, workshops and peer-to-peer sharing. Speakers focused on topics such as the Dominican saints, preaching in a global culture, and the interfaith mission of the Dominican order.
Rochelle Chezick, from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, was delighted to meet other students who were “on fire with the Holy Spirit” like she is. Among the speakers, Danielle Corea, relationship manager for Catholic Relief Services, presented on CRS student ambassador programs, which allow students to to raise awareness of issues such as global poverty, injustice, migration, fair trade and more. She spoke about the importance of being aware of the realities of those who live without material goods and of understanding the world as a global community.
“Signs of the Times” workshops focused on the United Nations, migration, “Homelessness: A Day in the Life of an Ordinary New Yorker,” and women’s issues, which was presented by Sean Puzzo, coordinator of charism for the Dominican Youth Movement USA and a Caldwell University alum.
The students were given quiet reflection time to consider what they learned and how they could put their faith into action in their lives and on their campuses. Chezick thought a lot more about contemplative prayer and “being with God and clearing my mind.”
Tara Suchland, who works in university ministry at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, was attending the preaching conference for the first time, along with two students from her institution. She found Caldwell to be beautiful and the staff running the conference to be “super hospitable.”
Caldwell University student Anthony Pineros appreciated learning about the rich Dominican history. He was grateful for the chance for the students to “be together as a family” and have the opportunity to volunteer at different service sites learning how their actions are a form of preaching. They assisted at non-profits including Toni’s Soup Kitchen in Montclair, Our Lady Help of Christians School in East Orange, First Friends for immigration and asylum seekers, and St. Catherine’s Convent, a home for the elderly located on Caldwell’s grounds.
Caldwell Dominican Sister Honora Werner, O.P., offered theological reflections.
Caldwell University student Julianna Verso was fascinated to learn from speakers how preaching is sometimes done through art, song, and dance and the importance of “letting God guide you through the process.”
Caldwell University alumna Kaitlyn Tasjian, a teacher at Lacordaire Academy, encouraged the students to live authentically and to look for the random, teachable moments in their lives to preach the Word of God to others. “We don’t even need a pulpit. If we live an unforced, natural life in the Spirit, we are answering God’s call to preach by using our existence as an example.”
The conference culminated with a Mass celebrated by Father Paul Colloton, OSFS.
In planning the conference, Sister Gina Flemming, O.P., executive director of the Dominican Youth Movement USA, and Puzzo worked with Colleen O’Brien, Caldwell’s director of campus ministry.
The students were challenged with the creation of an action plan for the 2018-19 academic year. Caldwell students Brittany Gaule, Anthony Pineros and Julianna Verso came up with a plan to put in place a Dominican Week to focus on the Dominican pillars during the last week of September, ending with Caldwell Day to live out the pillar of service.
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