Vocation Outreach and Leadership Collaborate to Promote Vocations in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic
On November 15, Rosa Monique Peña, OP, Mary Soher, OP, and Rosa Reyes, OP, began a 10-day vocation outreach tour to high schools in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Led in English by Sister Mary, the sisters introduced themselves to the junior and senior girls, asking them about their plans for college and beyond. The next step in the program was a reenactment of the coming of the Dominican Friars to both islands centuries ago and why these highly educated men felt the call to respond to injustices among the native people. Donning the Dominican habit, Sisters Rosa Monique and Rosa Reyes recalled the Advent sermon by Antonio Montesino and the response of the Spaniards to the cry for justice. Sister Mary then introduced the PowerPoint presentation, “A Call from God.” The presentation, in Spanish, informed the girls that everyone has a vocation, whether it’s to remain single, to get married or to join a community. Within that “life choice,” a person is called to develop her gifts for a ministry or job choice, such as teacher, doctor, lawyer, social worker, etc. We focused then on the history and development of the Order of Preachers and the story of our own Adrian Dominican Sisters including the present ministries of our sisters on both islands.
At the end of the presentation we asked our audience, “What did you hear?” Their replies were marvelous.
Our first stop was at Academia Sagrado Corazon in Santurce, Puerto Rico, where Sister Rosa Monique had taught more than 30 years ago. Following the presentation, the students remarked about how much freedom sisters had and their ability to respond to a multitude of needs.
The first school where we presented in the Dominican Republic was El Centro Fe y Alegria Espíritu Santo near Fundación where our sisters minister. The students who had just celebrated their graduation from eighth grade commented upon the courage of the Dominicans, both in coming to Hispaniola at the turn of the 16th century, and of the Adrian Dominican Sisters in meeting the needs of the people.
It was the line, “seek truth,” from our Vision that energized the students at Colegio Atrium in Santo Domingo. The girls were impressed that we sought the truth and didn’t paint the truth for our purposes. The students also learned the difference between making a life choice and choosing a career. They were surprised that sisters could seek so many various professions for ministry.
One of the girls at Colegio Atrium told us that her aunt was attending the Barry University School of Law in Orlando. As part of our presentation, we brought along college information about both Barry and Siena Heights universities.
The students at St. Michael’s School were impressed by the founding nuns at Prouihle, France. They also commented upon the professional ministries in which our sisters were involved.
At Colegio Babeque Secundaria, the girls were rather suspicious about our visit. However, when we said that we wanted them to make their life choice in an informed context, they became very curious about religious life. As we mentioned the various ministries of our sisters, they asked about becoming involved in the projects or perhaps forming or joining a Dominican youth group.
Our final presentation was at Colegio Santo Domingo. We were greeted enthusiastically by both the administration and the students. Certain traditions from when the sisters were present years ago continue today, including singing the school’s alma mater in English. Presenting to more than 70 girls for over two hours was highly energizing. We piqued their curiosity about the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse and Siena Heights University. Our ministries across the U.S. and in other countries caught their attention and stirred their imaginations.
We left behind college materials but also bookmarks. On one side of the card was a discernment “cheat sheet.” The other side included our Vision, local names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers. At the conclusion of each presentation, we distributed Dominican vocation prayer cards and prayed together.