At this summer’s 21st Annual Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference, juniors Sara Sciortino, Isabelle Fitzmorris, Aria Dody, and Gracie Bott, with Campus Minister Miss Claire Gallagher, traveled to Adrian, Michigan for a week of formation in the Dominican spirituality of preaching. The new Dominican student preachers learned how to preach from the pulpit and throughout their lives. The conference drew 76 students and their mentors from 18 Dominican high schools. It was hosted on the Siena Heights University and the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse campuses.
Lessons on preaching in the Dominican tradition were presented by portrayals of St. Dominic by Patrick Spedale, mentor and teacher at St. Pius X High School, Houston; St. Martin de Porres by Brother Herman Johnson, OP, of the St. Martin de Porres (Southern) Province, and St. Catherine of Siena by Adrian Dominican Sister Nancy Murray, OP. There also were sessions on social justice issues of immigration, racism, exclusion of persons with disabilities, and human trafficking. Dominican artists staffed a workshop on preaching through the arts and included liturgical movement and the labyrinth as a tool of contemplation. One day was dedicated to preaching in action through services at various agencies in the Adrian, Michigan community.
Following the service day, Gracie, Aria, Isabelle, and Sara were paired with students from Colegio San Antonio, a Dominican High School in Isabela, Puerto Rico. The students planned an evening prayer service that included a Latino liturgical dance and washing of the feet prayer service.
Upon their return to New Orleans, the students shared at the school’s personnel retreat, their conference experiences. Aria said she “experienced joy and the presence of God on our day of service through simply helping others. Whether it was helping someone with a mental illness paint, or sorting clothes at a Goodwill store, these acts of service helped me to experience God and true joy. I hope to bring this joy back to Dominican by showing that just one act of service can affect many people and go a long way.”
Isabelle shared, “I experienced joy and the presence of God at the Preaching Conference in the new friends I made. I felt the presence of God in the kindness I was shown. I hope to bring this back to the Dominican faculty and students by showing kindness to those I do not know, the same way it was shown to me.”