By Sister Mary Soher, OP
July 21, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – “The Dominican story is only kept alive by live Dominicans.” These words by Dominican scholar Edward Schillebeeckx, OP, could be heard echoing from Adrian, Michigan, the gathering site of the 18th Annual Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference. Students from 23 high schools – including two from Australia – gathered at Siena Heights University June 24-29, 2016, to discover and deepen the preacher within.
Using the 800th Jubilee Celebration of the Order as a theme, conference attendees met Saints Dominic, Catherine of Siena (Sister Nancy Murray, OP), Martin de Porres, and Rose de Lima (Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP); learned about the interfaith mission of the Order; and connected with Dominican family members, including Associates, Laity, Volunteers, and Young Adults, in addition to the Sisters and the friars.
As proof of the intercultural nature of the gathering, a rosary procession was prayed in five languages – German, Spanish, Vietnamese, Polish, and Arabic – with a rosary shared by the nuns of Mary the Queen Monastery in Fatima.
Students learned about the signs of the times by studying such social justice issues as human trafficking, domestic violence, and becoming aware of the need for respect for elders and hearing an update on the United Nations’ Agenda 2030. The students also lived out what they heard through a special service day that led to encounters with children, seniors, people suffering from economic poverty, and those regaining their homes. They also had the opportunity to improve the local land through permaculture techniques.
During the conference, Dominican Sisters of Adrian prayed for specific students and met with them during a special ice cream social before the students hit the dance floor. Adrian Dominican Sisters also helped the students in their final day of the conference. Among the presenters teaching the students to pray through the arts were Sister Nancy Murray, OP, Moving in the Spirit; Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, liturgical reaching; Sister Sue Schreiber, OP, water colors; Sister Maria Browne, OP, Morovian stars; Sister Aneesah McNamee, OP, origami peace cranes; and Sister Luchy Sori, OP, liturgical movements.
And what is Jubilee without a cake? The final night of the conference concluded with a banquet, complete with a cake fit for an 800-year celebration. “The Dominican tradition is something that should be celebrated,” one student commented. “To survive 800 years in a society where most things can’t even last 10 days is worth appreciating!”
The following morning, at the commissioning ceremony that took place during liturgy with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, the high school groups shared how they plan to continue to live the Dominican charism within their school communities in the coming academic year.
“Before this conference, I knew I was a preacher, but I didn’t know how to be a preacher,” said Emma Bonnet of Mount St. Dominic Academy, Caldwell, New Jersey.
“This conference was not only faith-furthering but also life-changing,” proclaimed Kate Gartrell, of St. Agnes Academy, Houston, Texas. “I now know in my heart what it means to be Dominican.”
Songiemar Garcia Curbelo, from Colegio San Antonio, Isabela, Puerto Rico, stated, “It’s a spiritual awakening, when you least expect it!”
The Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference is a program of the newly formed Dominican Youth Movement USA, the umbrella organization that connects today’s youth and young adults to the Dominican tradition of preaching and the participant’s own call to preach.
A big thank you to all the communities of Sisters and Friars who collaborated for another incredible week of sharing our charism with these young adults.
November 25, 2015, Adrian, Michigan – Are you looking for a meaningful and non-commercial Christmas gift for a loved one who cares about peace and justice? One suggestion is to adopt a crane and receive a painted crane – or a photo of a crane – created by one of our Adrian Dominican artists.
The cranes can be viewed and purchased online at www.1000cranesforiraq.org. They are available for a $100 donation, which will support the refugee relief efforts of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Mosul, Iraq. The website was established on August 6, 2015, on the one-year anniversary of the flight of the Dominican Sisters of Iraq, their families, and other Christian and minority Iraqis in response to the imminent threat of attack by ISIS.
Since January, Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP, has been creating one oil painting per day depicting a folded crane; she intends to paint 1,000 folded cranes. Sister Janet Wright has created water color paintings of actual cranes, and Sister Sue Schreiber has taken photographs of people with the folded cranes.
The project centers on the legend made famous by a Japanese girl exposed to radiation from the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Years later, Sadako Sasaki died of leukemia at age 12 before she could fulfill her wish of folding 1000 cranes in prayer for health and world peace. Her classmates finished the project.
To date, nearly 145 cranes have been purchased. The project has spawned a great deal of creativity, as well as support and concern for the Iraqi refugees. The cranes have been purchased in memory or in honor of loved ones; for organizations such as parishes, Bible study groups, and Adrian Dominican Mission Councils; and in recognition of weddings and other special events.
To make a donation and select your crane, visit the 1,000 Cranes for Iraq website.