First Impressions

2017-18 Dominican Volunteer Sean Puzzo serves with the Dominican Youth Movement and  shares community with the St. Hugh of Lincoln community in Long Island New York.

When I was a young child in elementary school I remember being in the grocery store with my mom. As we turned around the aisle I froze in my tracks and couldn’t believe my eyes – there halfway down the aisle was one of my school teachers. In a matter of seconds my theory that teachers never left school and slept there was shattered. Teachers were in fact real people – who did real things and as the saying goes, “put their pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us.” I had a flashback to that moment when I first moved into my community of sisters. When one hears the word “nun” or “sister” certain images often come to mind. Perhaps it’s Julie Andrews and her cast mates in the Sound of Music or Whoopi Goldberg and her pals in the Sister Act series or maybe even Sally Field in The Flying Nun. Black and white, pious, reserved, simple, etc. – a very different life than that of a recent college graduate. I have to be honest and candid and share that I got quite the gamut of reactions when I explained what I was doing. “Are you crazy,” “Are you sure,” “Does this mean you want to be a priest,” “Does that mean you have to give up having fun?” Well to answer those questions: yes, yes, no, and no!
Throughout my college career at Caldwell University, a Dominican college, I had the amazing opportunity to get to know some of the Caldwell Dominican Sisters. They were teachers, mentors, counselors and most importantly they were friends. Having this base, I was excited and nervous to starting my next adventure.
My community is St. Hugh of Lincoln Convent, where I live with four sisters (S. Gina, S. Lenore, S. Mary, and S. Mary Rose) Sydney, another DV, and Josieann, a DV from last year who continues to live in our House of Hospitality while she pursues her MBA at nearby Molloy College. It’s been less than a month since I moved in and have already learned so much in such a short amount of time. Sisters are just like regular people – they joke, they cook, they work, they may drink, and on the rarest of occasions – they may say a bad word! Sisters are educators, medical workers, counselors, social justice activists, and so much more. In my case they will become a second family this year who I will live out the Dominican Charism and the four pillars (prayer, study, community, and ministry) with.