Caldwell, N.J., June, 28, 2016 – Four Caldwell University students joined students from Dominican universities and colleges to learn about preaching at a conference at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, during the week of May 24.
Students Katlyn Houtz, Joe Severino, Louis Del Virginia, and Sean Puzzo attended the 14th annual Preaching in Action conference, which gave young people the chance to come together to learn about the Dominican charism of preaching and how that charism can be incorporated into their lives. Puzzo had also attended in 2015.
Houtz, an elementary education and psychology major, said her favorite part of the conference was meeting students from around the country and learning how they share the Dominican traditions on their campus.
The conference began with a brief history of Dominic and the Order of Preachers complete with an array of Dominican songs. A presentation on “Dominicans through the Ages” featured depictions of the lives of Mary of Magdala, Dominic and Catherine of Siena and their calls to preach in the early years of the order. Joe Kilikevice, O.P., highlighted the interfaith mission of the order by introducing the students to dance and song from a variety of faiths. Michael Petro showed the young people how the four pillars of Dominican life can help transform their everyday lives so they can be free for mission.
Houtz said she appreciated having the chance to reflect on the four pillars of community, prayer, study and service, principles she has been able to incorporate into her everyday life. “I learned that you do not need to be in front of a large group to preach.”
Alandra Scott and Francesca Pisano, Dominican volunteers, introduced the young preachers to their ministries. Scott ministers at the United Nations and Pisano at an organization that assists victims of domestic violence. Attracta Kelly, O.P., presented on immigration, and Judy Morris, O.P., spoke on human trafficking.
The students put their preaching into action when they spent the day in immersion sites ministering to the poor at the soup kitchen Our Daily Bread, to the earth at the Permaculture Center on the grounds of the Adrian Motherhouse, to the elderly at the Gerontology Center and to people working to obtain housing for the needy at Habitat for Humanity. They also engaged physically and mentally challenged adults at the Hope Center.
There was time for theological reflection before and after the service. Many students were so moved by their experiences that they made commitments to get more involved with their communities back home.
They enjoyed an ice cream social with the sisters at the Adrian Motherhouse. They learned about other aspects of the Dominican family when they visited tables, gathered information and spoke to members of the Dominican Young Adults USA, Dominican volunteers, associate members, lay Dominicans and religious sisters and friars.
Barbara Schwarz, O.P., concluded the week’s presentations by awakening participants to “the art of preaching.” Her interactive and hands-on presentation was an introduction to the “Preaching through the Arts” day. Aneesah McNamee, O.P.; Nancy Murray, O.P.; Mary Jones, O.P.; Maria Goretti Brown, O.P.; Jessica Abejar, a former youth preacher, and Sister Barbara presented breakout sessions for the students to use their creative energies.
The morning and evening prayer services were prepared and led by students, who used their creativity, musical talents and vocal gifts.
At the closing liturgy, students presented their action plans for incorporating what they learned at the conference into their lives and their campuses. Each student received the Dominican cross and was commissioned to go forth and preach the Good News to fellow students.