St Dominic’s life and teachings play a large role in St Mary’s College’s culture through the four Dominican pillars of prayer, learning, community and preaching, and in June this year two college students and two staff members travelled to Adrian in Michigan, USA, for the 19th annual Dominican Preaching Conference.
Joined at Siena Heights University by representatives from one Puerto Rican and 22 American colleges, Australia’s only attendees were teachers Lucina Loro Parham and Prudence Raymond, and Year 11 students Maddy Healey and Eilis Murphy, who represented St Mary’s for the second consecutive year.
Mrs Loro Parham explained that the five-day event gave participating students a chance to strengthen their faith and appreciation of the Dominican movement through the running of liturgical celebrations and taking part in discussion and culturally diverse preaching activities.
“The schools all had a Student Ministry Team who were responsible for organising Masses, liturgies and prayer services, so the structure was very much about giving students a stronger understanding of what it means to be in a Dominican school,” she said.
“Mentor groups at the end of each day allowed for students from different schools to share what happened to them during the day, and to relate this experience back to their personal faith and school lives.”
Activities included Tai Chi, liturgical movement/dance, making mandalas rosary beads and origami and painting. There was also time spent out in the community with people with a range of disabilities, helping to paint a house and working in the garden.
“Certainly, being with all these incredibly faith-filled young people opened my eyes to the energy that exists in these schools. Being from Australia we definitely stood out, but were warmly accepted so felt instantly ‘at home’,” said Mrs Loro Parham.
“With the continuing decreasing presence of Dominican Religious in our schools, it is more important than ever to put more energy in to maintaining the Dominican nature of our school.
“We need to make connections with other Dominican schools here in Adelaide and Australia and are currently looking at doing that, so the future looks exciting.”
Eilis and Maddy reflected on the “incredible opportunity”, saying it had given them a “newer, deeper outlook on life, with an appreciation for what we have and a more powerful sense of faith within ourselves”.
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