On the precipice of the Aug. 8 feast day of St. Dominic, local chapters of the Dominican Young Adults (DYA) met on Saturday, Aug. 2 in New York at Molloy College and St. Thomas Aquinas College, in Chicago, in Michigan at Siena Heights University, and even in Kenya, Africa (special appearance by Br. Lorenzo Laorden, OP doing mission work there). Connecting via technology, more than 20 young adults were able to gather nationally without paying a cent!
Seven years ago, DYA-USA began. A nation of college students who had attended the College Preaching in Action Conference had met in Columbus, Ohio, to plant the seed of a national group of young Dominicans. They met again in 2008 in Madison, Wisconsin, and DYA-USA officially formed and launched their web site. In 2009, DYA was officially recognized by the International Dominican Youth Movement (IDYM), at the International Gathering in Fatima, Portugal, and IDYM held its International Gathering in Bogota, Columbia in 2013, where two DYA USA members were elected onto the five person International Commission (Sean Mundy from Chicago as Promoter of Communications and Lyamar Diaz-Rodriguez from Puerto Rico as Promoter of Formation).
In 2010, members from various DYA groups met at the first National Gathering in Chicago. Many members are excited about the possibility of representing DYA-USA at World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland in 2016, at various world activities for the 800th Jubilee of the Dominican Order, and at the next IDYM International Gathering 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. Google+ has designed a way for people in different locations to “hangout” in a video chat room (with numerous other features, including chat, Google Drive integration, screen sharing capabilities, the ability to watch a common YouTube video right in the chat room, and more). With a great deal of tech preparation by Sean Mundy, DYA Executive Board National Coordinator, each local chapter was able to connect.
The online gathering began with Sean giving an introduction to the Dominican Young Adults. Then, the groups came together to recognize God’s presence among them in a national prayer service. The service included opening and closing prayers collected by Andrew Abberton of the Molloy chapter, a reading from Corinthians, Psalm 91, and a reading from the Gospel of Matthew. Preaching from Sister Jenn Schaaf, OP (Blauvelt) regarding alternatives to obsessions with money, sex, and power, guided us in reflecting about what it means to be a young adult preacher in our chaotic world. Petitions were collected prior to the meeting from the chapter members. Others were spoken aloud and some were kept in the silence of our hearts. We closed with a song by the JJ Weeks Band called, “Let Them See You.”
After this, the voting for the 2014–2015 National Executive Board was held via an online form on Google Drive. Applicants sent in a short video introducing themselves and why they want to be on the Executive Board. These were posted on the DYA YouTube Page so the local chapter members could learn about each candidate. In a change in the structure of leadership, the members of DYA USA elected Andrew Abberton (from the DYA Molloy Chapter) as President/National Coordinator, Carissa Rivera (from the DYA St. Thomas Aquinas Chapter) as Vice President/Formation and Membership Chair, Mike Malinowski (originally part of the Molloy chapter, but is working to create a DYA Barry University Chapter) as Secretary/Communications Chair, and Briana Frazer (from the DYA Siena Heights University Chapter) as Finance/Social Justice Chair. Continuing his leadership will be former National Coordinator, Sean Mundy (from the DYA Chicago Chapter) to mentor the new Executive Board in this transition.
Much gratitude was given to the outgoing 2012–2014 National Executive Board, Sean Mundy (National Coordinator), Lyamar Rodriguez-Diaz (Membership/Formation Chair), Katy Somerfield (Communications Chair), and Andrew Vivian (Social Justice Chair) for their two years of service and leadership.
Next, a representative from each chapter was able to speak about their progress over the past two years, including numerous acts of service, and to share their hopes and future plans. This insight allows newer or continuing groups to learn about best practices for such a young organization.
Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, members of the International Commission of IDYM were unable to present about their progress, but videos will be coming to the DYA Youtube channel shortly with updates. Sean Mundy helped shed light on some of the work of the International Commission. For example, International Coordinator Jose Alberto de Blas (Spain) visited both the Philippines and the African gathering of Dominican Youth, and Daniel Toledo (Guatemala) and Leo de Laquila (Brazil) visited Colombia and other Central and Southern American countries to speak with the young adults there. Sean Mundy and Lyamar Rodriguez-Diaz will also be participating in the Dominican Laity Congress in Dallas, Texas to speak about DYA and IDYM. In trying to continue the connection between Dominican Volunteers USA and DYA (many young adults participate in both programs), we decided to end with the tradition of singing the Dominican Blessing as a commissioning of its members.
Overall, the event was a huge success. With the help of the new Executive Board, we are excited to create new DYA chapters throughout the United States. Existing chapters will undoubtedly continue to make an impact in their local areas through prayer, community, preaching, and service.