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July 3, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – The campuses of Siena Heights University and the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse were a beehive of energy, joy, and community June 25-30, 2019, as 76 students and their mentors from 18 Dominican High Schools participated in the 21st Annual Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference.
“I’ve been very fortunate to meet a lot of other people and I’ve become very welcomed into this Dominican community,” said Grace Rado, a student from Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois. “I’ve found that there are a lot of other young people who are on the same path, and we’re all learning to walk in God’s light and to preach.”
That is the intention of the preaching conference, which forms students from Dominican high schools in the Dominican spirituality of preaching – not just from the pulpit, but through their lives. The conference is structured to teach students the various ways Dominicans preach – and to encourage them to take what they learn at the conference back to their schools. Participants also plan and participate in prayer services, get to know one another at meals and other social events, and discuss the day’s events each night with specially organized groups.
The students first learned to preach in the Dominican tradition through portrayals of St. Dominic by Patrick Spedale, a 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.
In later sessions, students studied the signs of the times through sessions on the social justice issues of immigration, racism, exclusion of persons with disabilities, and human trafficking. Reinforced by their review of social justice issues, participants then spent a full day learning to preach in action through service at agencies in the Adrian area.
On the last full day of the conference, students attended workshops by Dominican artists to learn how to preach through the arts. Among the presenters were Adrian Dominican Sisters Tarianne DeYonker, OP, on the labyrinth as a tool of contemplation; Sara Fairbanks, on liturgical preaching; and Luchy Sori, OP, on liturgical movement.
The closing Liturgy – celebrated with the Sisters in St. Catherine Chapel – was an exuberant experience as the students were sent off to their homes and their schools to continue their preaching.
“We have taken the time to listen to each other, to fan the fire inside each person to let God’s love shine forth like the stars in the night sky,” Sister Mary Soher, OP, an Adrian Dominican Sister and Director of the Preaching Conference, told the students. “From such a wondrous week, how do we leave each other?” She encouraged them to consider their going back to their homes and schools as another call from God. “You gave your all to come here, and I know you will do no less for those whom God loves back home.”
Each school group then came forward to announce their commitment for the coming year: from organizing creative prayer services and teaching their classmates about different types of prayer to emphasizing the four Dominican pillars of prayer, study, community, and ministry or preaching, and educating them about social justice issues.
“It has been very humbling,” said Sean Repinski, of Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. He said he appreciated the opportunity “to come together as a group with other Dominicans and see how they do things differently, and what we can take back to our school to enhance our preaching experience.”
Feature photo (top): Patrick Spedale portrays St. Dominic in a dramatic account of the saint’s life and his founding of the Order of Preachers.
Top, from left: Sister Mary Soher, OP, Director of the Preaching Conference, addresses the assembly. Students prepare the altar during the exuberant offertory hymn, “We Come to your Feast.”
Bottom, from left: Students from Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois, present their commitment to enhance the Dominican spirit at their school. Students from St. Agnes Academy in Houston share a laugh with Sister Joan Baustian, OP, during the ice cream social, which brought together the young preachers and their prayer partners.
March 21, 2019, Niles, Illinois – Sister Nancy Murray, OP, was one of five recipients of the 2019 Coordinating Board Award from the Association of Chicago Priests and Deacons (ACPD). She received the award March 3 during the organization’s 52nd Annual Mardi Gras Award Celebration, at St. John Brebeuf Parish in Niles, Illinois.
The award is given to individuals and groups in the Archdiocese of Chicago “in recognition and appreciation for their outstanding contributions to the life of the Church of Chicago,” according to the ACPD website.
A native of Wilmette, Illinois, Sister Nancy graduated from Regina Dominican High School, sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and located in Wilmette, and then entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation. Among other ministry, she was a teacher and pastoral minister at an inner-city Chicago parish.
Since 2000, Sister Nancy has traveled throughout the world performing “Catherine of Siena: A Woman of our Times,” a one-woman portrayal of St. Catherine of Siena, Dominican mystic and church reformer. In other performances, she portrays Venerable Mary Potter, founder of the Little Company of Mary Sisters, and Sister Dorothy Stang, a U.S.-born Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who was murdered in Brazil in 2005 after years of social justice work with farmers in the Amazon and advocating for the environment.
Sister Nancy said she first heard about the award through a phone call from Father Martin Marren, Vice Chair of the ACPD Executive Committee. “I said I didn’t live [in Chicago], but since I shared my ministry around the Archdiocese, they wanted to acknowledge it.” Her next performance as St. Catherine of Siena in Chicago will be March 23-25, 2019.
“I gave a one-minute thank you,” she said, adding that she then addressed the crowd as St. Catherine of Siena. In Italian-accented English, she spoke the words of a famous quote by St. Catherine of Siena, “God wants us to walk on two feet – love of God and love of neighbor."
Sister Nancy said she appreciated the award and the festive setting for the Mardi Gras Awards Dinner. She also enjoyed the opportunity to invite eight guests, which included her long-time friend and Chapter Prioress Sister Kathleen Klingen, OP.
Most recently, Sister Nancy – based at the Motherhouse in Adrian, Michigan – performed as St. Catherine of Siena March 13 at a special National Catholic Sisters Week event at Siena Heights University, sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Read an article on her performance by Associate Arlene Bachanov.
The 2018 recipient of the Dominican Institute for the Arts’ Fra Angelico Award, Sister Nancy is also active portraying St. Catherine of Siena at events for the U.S. Dominican family, particularly the Dominican Colleges Preaching Conference and the Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference.