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October 31, 2016, Dallas, Texas – Three Adrian Dominican Sisters were among a joyous crowd of Dominican Friars, Sisters, and Laity attending “Living our Legacy: A Dominican Conference in Celebration of 800 Years of Preaching.”

The conference, sponsored by the Dominican Friars of the Southern Province, USA, was October 21-23 at the University of Dallas. Representing the Adrian Dominican Sisters were Sisters Patty Harvat, OP, General Councilor; Kitty Bethea, OP; and Mary Fran Fleischaker, OP.

The weekend included the opening keynote address, “In the Company of the Poor,” by Father Gustavo Gutiérrez, OP, a Dominican Friar and theologian from Peru, most known for his ground-breaking work in liberation theology. This was followed by a panel discussion by Father Gutiérrez; Father Bruno Cadoré, OP, Master of the Order; and Dr. Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, founding director of Partners in Health. The weekend also included an address by Father Bruno and several break-out sessions.

“The weekend was an amazing experience of shared Dominican life,” Sister Mary Fran said. She appreciated the input by leaders in the Dominican family and in theology. She also appreciated the emphasis on the witness of St. Martin de Porres and St. Rose of Lima throughout the Americas, and the “strong emphasis on solidarity with those who are poor, voiceless, and marginalized.”

However, Sister Mary Fran added, “The major impact was the interaction between all the members of the Dominican Family, all celebrating together the 800th anniversary of the Order. That happened through prayer, meals, study sessions, and informal encounters.”

Sister Patty was also impressed by the weekend. For her, the highlights were “hearing and seeing Gustavo Gutiérrez speak once again about our vocation to accompany the poor and most vulnerable. Just to be in his presence is so inspiring.” Sister Patty was also impressed by the words of Father Bruno, “words of wisdom, of creatively and compassionately moving into the future.”


Feature photo: Father Bruno Cadoré, OP, Master of the Order, poses with, from left: a Dominican Sister from Vietnam and Adrian Dominican Sisters Kitty Bethea, OP, Patty Harvat, OP, and Mary Fran Fleischaker, OP.

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By Sister Mary Soher, OP

July 21, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – “The Dominican story is only kept alive by live Dominicans.” These words by Dominican scholar Edward Schillebeeckx, OP, could be heard echoing from Adrian, Michigan, the gathering site of the 18th Annual Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference. Students from 23 high schools – including two from Australia – gathered at Siena Heights University June 24-29, 2016, to discover and deepen the preacher within. 

Sister Patricia “Patty” Harvat, OP, until recently an administrator at St. Mary’s Dominican High School in New Orleans, addresses the high school preachers during the opening session of the conference.

Using the 800th Jubilee Celebration of the Order as a theme, conference attendees met Saints Dominic, Catherine of Siena (Sister Nancy Murray, OP), Martin de Porres, and Rose de Lima (Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP); learned about the interfaith mission of the Order; and connected with Dominican family members, including Associates, Laity, Volunteers, and Young Adults, in addition to the Sisters and the friars. 

As proof of the intercultural nature of the gathering, a rosary procession was prayed in five languages – German, Spanish, Vietnamese, Polish, and Arabic – with a rosary shared by the nuns of Mary the Queen Monastery in Fatima. 

Students learned about the signs of the times by studying such social justice issues as human trafficking, domestic violence, and becoming aware of the need for respect for elders and hearing an update on the United Nations’ Agenda 2030. The students also lived out what they heard through a special service day that led to encounters with children, seniors, people suffering from economic poverty, and those regaining their homes. They also had the opportunity to improve the local land through permaculture techniques. 

During the conference, Dominican Sisters of Adrian prayed for specific students and met with them during a special ice cream social before the students hit the dance floor. Adrian Dominican Sisters also helped the students in their final day of the conference. Among the presenters teaching the students to pray through the arts were Sister Nancy Murray, OP, Moving in the Spirit; Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, liturgical reaching; Sister Sue Schreiber, OP, water colors; Sister Maria Browne, OP, Morovian stars; Sister Aneesah McNamee, OP, origami peace cranes; and Sister Luchy Sori, OP, liturgical movements.

And what is Jubilee without a cake? The final night of the conference concluded with a banquet, complete with a cake fit for an 800-year celebration. “The Dominican tradition is something that should be celebrated,” one student commented. “To survive 800 years in a society where most things can’t even last 10 days is worth appreciating!”

Liturgical dancers encircle the altar as Father Dennis Woerter, OP, of Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois, presides over the closing liturgy.

The following morning, at the commissioning ceremony that took place during liturgy with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, the high school groups shared how they plan to continue to live the Dominican charism within their school communities in the coming academic year. 

“Before this conference, I knew I was a preacher, but I didn’t know how to be a preacher,” said Emma Bonnet of Mount St. Dominic Academy, Caldwell, New Jersey. 

“This conference was not only faith-furthering but also life-changing,” proclaimed Kate Gartrell, of St. Agnes Academy, Houston, Texas. “I now know in my heart what it means to be Dominican.”

Songiemar Garcia Curbelo, from Colegio San Antonio, Isabela, Puerto Rico, stated, “It’s a spiritual awakening, when you least expect it!”

The Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference is a program of the newly formed Dominican Youth Movement USA, the umbrella organization that connects today’s youth and young adults to the Dominican tradition of preaching and the participant’s own call to preach.

A big thank you to all the communities of Sisters and Friars who collaborated for another incredible week of sharing our charism with these young adults.



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