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June 14, 2022, New Haven, Connecticut – Sister Katherine Frazier, OP, newly named Director of the Dominican Youth Movement (DYM), hopes in her new position to continue to foster the bonds of the Dominican family across North America – and to help the Dominican family to engage with its youngest members.
Begun in 2015, the DYM brought together five programs under one umbrella to be more effective in outreach to more than 4,000 young people from high school through young adult years. Individual programs include:
Youth Preaching Workshops, weekend experiences which introduce high school-age youth to the Dominicans and to the idea of preaching the Word;
Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference, a week-long experience that teaches representative students from Dominican high schools how to preach with their lives;
Dominican College Preaching in Action Conference, an annual conference for students from Dominican colleges and universities;
Dominican Young Adults USA, an organization of chapters – many based in Dominican colleges and universities – that give young adults the opportunity to explore Dominican life; and
Dominican houses of hospitality, places where young adults can live in intentional community with vowed Dominicans and Associates.
Sister Katherine succeeds Sister Gina Fleming, OP, a Dominican Sister of Amityville, and will spend time with her in August to learn about the ministry. Much of Sister Katherine’s ministry will be remote, and she is discerning where to live that would best serve the DYM.
“First and foremost, I hope that we’ll be able to continue to foster those bonds of the Dominican family across the country among our institutions,” Sister Katherine said. “How can we really introduce young people to the breadth of the Dominican Order – whether nuns or Sisters or laity or Associates – really giving them a glimpse of how diverse it is and how they fit in as people who have been formed with these same ideals?”
Sister Katherine sees the importance of finding where the young Dominicans are and going to them. “My experience of young people, especially high school students, is they don’t really have control over their schedule – so how are we going to them?” She hopes to work with the Dominican family in its outreach to the younger people who feel called to the Dominican Charism.
“I know this is not a ministry where I can do everything by myself,” she said. “I want the larger Dominican family to provide opportunity to engage with young people … This is something I’m excited about: working on behalf of all the Dominicans across the United States.”
Many members of the Dominican family have reached out through their involvement with the high school and college conferences. Sister Katherine has been a part of both as a volunteer and as an adult leader from Regina Dominican High School, an all-girls school sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and located in Wilmette, Illinois. One of the practices at the high school conference, she said, is for students and adults from each school to create an action plan – ideas for bringing their experience of the Dominican spirituality to their schools during the next school year.
The question, Sister Katherine said, is how to continue to engage the high school and college students after their experiences at the conferences. The Regina Dominican students “had such a wonderful experience at the conference that they were wondering how they could find ways to capture that excitement so they could have that energizing experience at their school,” she said. “That is something we can look into. How can we create experiences for students who have been to the conference to engage with others who are also being formed in that Dominican Charism?”
Sister Katherine pointed to other examples of ways that Dominicans can reach out to young people. During her years of ministry at Regina Dominican High School, she organized a pen pal program between the school’s homerooms and the Sisters who had once ministered at the school. But, she added, engaging with young people is as simple as “showing up at a parish church and being willing to talk to the young people. Those are things that many of us are capable of doing.”
Sister Katherine has learned much from her work with young people. “Young people bring a different perspective,” she said. “They’ll ask a difficult question – ‘Why are we doing it this way?’ – and help you to engage with who we are on a deeper level. I think that is the gift that I have experienced working with young people, as well as the opportunity to be around their energy, to learn about their sense of humor and what gets them excited and helps them to be passionate.”
She hopes to bring the Dominican family and the younger Dominicans together, perhaps through presentations in which Dominican Sisters speak to the youth about their ministries, how they were called, or their relationship with God. “If I can find ways of bringing the experience of older Sisters to people who are still trying to wrestle with those decisions, that would help to bridge the gap,” she said.
Feature photo: Sister Katherine Frazier, OP, right, with Regina Dominican High School’s Dominican Preachers, students who attended the Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference. File Photo, Courtesy of Regina Dominican High School