As Dominicans, we are “Sent out to preach by Dominic…to find new ways to preach.” Almost 80 students from 19 Dominicans high schools gathered to learn how they too are called to preach with their lives.
The Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference empowers high school students to discover and deepen the preacher within themselves through prayer, study, community and interaction with members of the Dominican Family. Each year students from Dominican High Schools gather from across the country to participate in this conference. In total, more than 2,000 students have participated since its beginning in 1999.
The 20th Annual Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference was held from June 25-30 at Siena Height University and the Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of Adrian. Students and their mentors gathered from coast to coast with schools from California, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
Throughout the week the participants learned shared and bonded. Each day of the preaching conference focused on a different aspect of preaching.
The first day focused on Preaching in the Dominican Traditions. The day began with a keynote address by Michael Petro (Cardinal Stritch HS, Oregon OH) who spoke to the students about the Four Pillars of Dominican life: Prayer, Study, Community, and Preaching. Click here for a fun video on how Michael taught the students about the balance of the four pillars!
The keynote was followed by dynamic presentations in which students were introduced to the history and “heroes” of the Order. Patrick Spedale, (St. Pius X HS in Houston, Texas) brought St. Dominic to life. S. Nancy Murray, OP (Adrian) brought St. Catherine to life while S. Marilin Llanes, OP introduced Antonio de Montesinos’ radical message to the students. Br. Joe Kilikevice, OP (St. Albert the Great Province) can be seen here introducing the students to the Interfaith Mission of the Dominican Order through sacred dance.
That evening, the students had the opportunity to meet with their prayer partners, Dominican Sisters of Adrian who had been paired with the students to pray for them. The students and their prayer partners sat together to share conversation, camaraderie, and ice cream. New this year, the students planned and celebrated Evening Prayer with the sisters in St. Catherine’s Chapel which can be seen here.
The second day, the students learned about various social justice issues present in the world today. The presentations included:
Justice Posture on the Dominican School Campus – Patrick Spedale
Immigration in the Trump Era – Stephanie Zavala Guzman (Dominican Volunteer)
Tapestry of Life Issues in Our World – S. Roberta Miller
Women’s Pay Parity – Sean Puzzo (Dominican Volunteer)
I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot – Kateri Golbiw (Dominican Volunteer)
Following these sessions students were introduced to the various members of the Dominican Family. Katie Love, Associate of Adrian, spoke about Dominican Associates. Kateri Golbiw, Stephanie Zavala Guzman, and Sean Puzzo spoke about Dominican Volunteers USA, Gwendolin Weinberger, OP (St. Albert the Great Province) spoke about the Dominican Laity. Dominican Young Adults was introduced to the students by Kiersten Diachun and Keegan Pabst, members of the Siena Heights University chapter. Fr. Dennis Woerter, OP, and Br. James Pierce Cavenaugh, OP (St. Albert the Great Province) spoke to the students about the Friars. Although a Dominican Nun could not make it, S. Mary O’Keefe, OP (Adrian) was on hand to answer any questions students had about them. Ss. Luchy Sori, OP and Katherine Frazier, OP, a novice spoke to the students about life as Dominican Sisters.
With a better understanding of the signs of the times, the next day students took action, serving the local community ranging from the underserved, senior citizens, women, and children suffering from domestic violence and sexual assault to differently-abled adults.
After a long, but rewarding day of service, the conference celebrated the students, mentors, presenters, and all who make the conference possible at a banquet. This year at the banquet the Sister Patricia Brady award for extraordinary service and contributions in furthering the traditions and charism of the Dominican Order was presented to S. Gina Fleming, OP. S. Gina long history with the youth of the Order has brought her to her current position as director of the Dominican Youth Movement, an umbrella organization which oversees five programs which connect today’s youth and young adults to the Dominican tradition of preaching and the participant’s own call to preach.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, students learned about preaching through the arts during special sessions on June 27. They had the opportunity to experience
making rosaries with S. Jean Patrick Ehrhardt, OP (Springfield)
liturgical preaching with S. Sara Fairbanks, OP (Adrian)
reflecting through paint or pastels with S. Katherine Frazier, OP (Adrian)
moving in the Spirit with S. Nancy Murray, OP (Adrian)
folding origami peace cranes with S. Aneesah McNamee, OP (Adrian)
creating mandalas with S. Barb Schwarz, OP (Amityville)
liturgical movement with S. Luchy Sori, OP (Adrian); and
Tai Chi Chih with Patrick Spedale
The conference closed with a vibrant liturgy that included music, liturgical dance, and encouragement for the students to bring what they had learned to their home schools, families, and local communities.
As part of this liturgy, students are challenged with the creation of an action plan for the upcoming school year. This plan is the vehicle for sharing what they have learned at the conference to their college campuses. With the Dominican Charism firmly planted in mind, body, and spirit – the “Holy Preaching” continues! School action plans ranged from teaching fellow students about the Dominican pillars and saints, improving sustainability in their schools, and helping the school to become more involved in service activities. Read their actions plans here.
Learn more about the Dominican High School Preaching Conference here!