On a beautiful Saturday morning (June 9), a wonderful thing happened. Local chapters of the Dominican Young Adults (DYA) met in New York at Molloy College, in Puerto Rico at University of P.R. Aguadilla, in Wisconsin at Edgewood College, in Chicago, in Kentucky at St. Catharine’s College and in Indiana. Thanks to technology, over 20 young adults were able to connect in ways they never thought possible. The best part—it didn’t cost any money!
Five years ago, DYA-USA began. A nation of college students who had attended the College Preaching in Action Conference had met in Columbus, OH to plant the seed of a national group of young Dominicans. They met again in 2008 in Madison, WI, and DYA-USA officially formed and launched a web site. In 2009, DYA was officially recognized by the International Dominican Youth Movement (IDYM).
Some DYA-USA members were able to attend the International Gathering in Fatima, Portugal in 2009, and IDYM held its International Gathering in Bogota, Columbia in 2013. Many members and future members have been getting excited about the possibility of representing DYA-USA at the next IDYM venture abroad. The DYA Executive Board felt that it was necessary to find a way to meet nationally, yet allow for young adults to attend without incurring travel expenses.
Kevin Sullivan, the Formations Chair of the DYA Executive Board, had a brilliant idea: “Why not use Google+, Google’s newest foray into the social networking sphere.” Google+ has designed a way for people in different locations to “hangout” in a video chat room (with numerous other features, including chat, Google Docs integration, screen sharing capabilities, the ability to watch a common YouTube video right in the chat room, and more). With much tech preparation by Sean Mundy, the DYA Executive Board Communications Chair, each local chapter or region was able to connect. Michelle Schultz of the Chicago Chapter said, “It was so amazing to connect with other Dominican young adults like myself using the Internet, it was a great way to build community and pray together despite the distance between us!”
The Google+ Hangout allowed the DYA members to do just that. The National (Digital) Gathering began with Andrew Vivian, the DYA Executive Board National Coordinator, sharing the history of DYA and the structure of the national organization. Kevin, who also happens to be on IDYM leadership, gave a brief overview of IDYM and the International Gatherings, which segued nicely into a presentation of materials submitted by Andres Riveira, a Mexican young adult who is also on the IDYM leadership team.
Unfortunately, Sean was unable to present his video of Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom, Director of Vocations for the Central Province of Dominican Friars, due to technical difficulties, but the material was shared with the group the next day via the DYA YouTube page. We were then lead in a discussion by Allie Jeffs, the DYA Executive Board Social Justice Chair, about what service the local chapters have done so far, what they are embarking upon in the future, and ideas for other chapters that may be struggling to find service ideas.
After this, the voting for the 2012-2014 board was held via an online form on Google Docs. Applicants sent in a short video introducing themselves and why they want to be on the Executive Board. These were posted on the YouTube page and the DYA-USA blog so the local chapter members could learn about each candidate. The members elected two existing members and two new members onto the new Executive Board: Andrew Vivian of Wisconsin (outgoing DYA National Coordinator), Sean Mundy of NY (currently a Dominican Volunteer at St. Pius V School in Chicago and outgoing DYA Communications Chair), Katy Somerfield of Illinois (will be a Dominican Volunteer at Immaculate Conception Academy in San Francisco), and Lyamar Rodriguez of Puerto Rico. The four elected officials will meet soon to mutually decide which of the four positions to assume: National Coordinator, Communications Chair, Social Justice Chair, and Formation/Membership Chair.
Most importantly, the DYA members then celebrated the everlasting presence of God among them. They joined together for a prayer service, featuring prayers, a reading from the Gospel of Matthew, a reading of Psalm 103, petitions from the board and the national group, and a unique variation of the “Our Father.”
Tina Cruz of the Puerto Rico Guatibirí Chapter said, “Knowing that our group isn’t alone and being able to communicate with people from different places is extraordinary. Even on a national level, each group has its own culture that’s unique to its location, whether the chapters are separated by a 15-minute drive or by a 15-hour flight. Can we do this every month?!”
Overall, the event was a huge success, and we are so excited to venture on to greater things in the future!