The 2016-17 Dominican Volunteers recently completed their Closing Retreat in New Orleans Louisiana.
We take a look back at some of their reflections on their year of service with DVUSA.
“There is more than merely starting as a community through service. With each morning there is a celebration with prayer as the entirety of student body and teachers recite a decade of the rosary, before any moment of study. It is at this moment that one can see that connection in prayer to the community. From this community and prayer, there is also a sure sign of all four pillars being demonstrated and exemplified by both students individually as well.”
“Although the exchange turned out to be a lighthearted moment, it could have taken another turn. It is possible that the student could have hurt my feelings by giving her opinion on my poster. What if I believed my poster to be a true artistic masterpiece, and I was very proud to show it to the students I made it for. The student could have shattered my confidence with her bluntness, and caused me to believe that she neglected my feelings by sharing her opinion. However, the student was not taking a stab at my artistic abilities, she was merely stating her opinion about the aesthetics of a poster. I asked her a question, and she answered me honestly. She was not coming from a malicious place. In fact, she was coming from quite an opposite one. If she knew that I had made the poster, she may not have answered me in the way she did.”
9:00am – 5:00pm:
“I am a Crisis Intervention Advocate – which in other words means I am an advocate for those who have been affected by Domestic Violence. So Far, So Good is an understatement! I am loving my time here at SI! The environment and vibe is such a welcoming, warm, and loving feeling that you get every time you set foot through the front door! A daily day at SI really isn’t ever the same as the day before. You always have to be prepared and ready for something new. However, when you have an amazing team of Staff, Volunteers, and Interns supporting you – things are easy peasy!! So even though the daily schedule at SI is always changing, here’s a good idea as to what it is that will or could happen as far as myself goes – I could be on Crisis Line, answering the door and greeting incoming clients! If not on CL, I could have intakes or advocacy appointments, or be have meetings with the staff, or maybe even group! Every Thursday night I have a late night group with children! It is my favorite part of the week because I get to sit down and color or play games or tell scary stories. Like one time – I ordered a pepperoni pizza, but then when I got the pizza… there were mushrooms on it!!!! It’s definitely the highlight of my week and something I look forward too!”
Katherine Maloney wrote about embracing Dominican life in her work with the Dominican Leadership Conference at the United Nations and inher intentional community
“I am challenged to consider the plight of migrants and refugees in the morning, and then asked to consider what role women should have in peace negotiations in the afternoon. It has involved helping to plan a forum, volunteering for the International Day of the Girl Child Summit, drafting a proposal for an event on indigenous women in agriculture, writing statements for a social development commission, taking an active role on six NGO committees, collaborating with great people, and being tasked with professional responsibilities that I never thought would be possible as a recent graduate. It has involved cooking for my community, which I was terrified of doing. It has involved waking up at 5:50AM for prayer, which seemed daunting at first, but has carried many personal rewards as well as strengthened my relationship with my community. It has involved finding a new home in an unexpected place, but still being so close to the home I’ve known since childhood. It’s involved giving a place I was ready to leave a second glance, and definitely not regretting it at all. It has involved traveling around the world without ever leaving New York, and its involved being in a center of global diplomacy every day, but returning to my quiet corner of suburbia every night.”
“I was working with a fourth grade boy who struggles with several subjects due to a learning disability. Lately, we have been working on his self-esteem before schoolwork because he gets easily discouraged. On this day however, we were filling out a worksheet. In between questions, he asked if I would remember him after I left Chicago. I told him I would definitely remember him because I care about him. He then said, “Good, because I’ll remember you forever!”
This is why I became a Dominican Volunteer. By serving others, I find purpose. If I can make a difference in one or two lives, I have contributed something, however small.”
“If you’ve always wanted a girls night out but couldn’t find the perfect girls to go out with then have no fear! Because the sisters will be willing and able to. Your GNO will consist of and is not limited to: a night out to the theater filled with Christmas songs and drinks, Friday night happy hours at the house, movie nights with homemade popcorn, going out to eat pho for your birthday, and desserts every night!”
“Your ministry will push you, sometimes it will push hard. You’ll be handed a retreat with 60 freshmen with just four days’ notice. You’ll help run a choir even though sometimes you barely feel qualified to be in a choir. You’ll play piano and flute in front of the whole school. You’ll somehow learn the entire rapid transit system in a month. But you’ll never feel overwhelmed. Even in the scariest of situations, you will feel a pervading sense of calm, as if this is what you are meant to do.”
“I enjoy talking about all of the different cultures. I am changing their lives but most importantly they are changing mine. In the Opening Word, I have room to grow spiritually, emotionally, and professionally. My boss is very understanding and flexible. I have become good friends with the women. Finally, it has brought me the greatest joy, knowing that I put a smile on another person’s face especially a woman. Women supporting women.”
“I live with a family here. We are non-traditional by most standards as we have 2 Sisters, 2 ladies, and 2 dogs. All of us are equally valuable. We love and serve independently, but also through the vision of community.”
We are so grateful for 2016-17 Dominican Volunteers and for many unique ways in which they live out the Dominican charism. They are integral and members of our Dominican family and pray that they carry their Dominican spirit with them in all their future endeavors.
May God creator bless them, may God Redeemer heal them, and may God the Holy Spirit fill them with light.