Over the past couple of weeks, Dominicans from the Western Province have attended two national conferences aimed at supporting Catholic college students.
The Rise Up Conference, hosted by Canada’s Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO), and the Student Leadership Summit, hosted by U.S.-based Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), gather thousands of college students for training in evangelization, faith formation and outreach at universities. Both have become very effective in helping young people embrace their Catholic faith in an increasingly secular world. The friars were on hand at the conferences to help with Masses, hearing confessions, vocation discernment, and other duties in support of the students.
The presence of Dominicans was significant, as Dominican sisters and friars from the other provinces were also on hand. So noticeable was the Dominican presence that some students affectionately referred to the row of Dominican booths as “Dominican Alley.”
During the conferences, the Dominican friars and sisters would gather in front of “Dominican Alley” and pray the Divine Office, attracting students to join them each day. It was a fantastic opportunity for Dominicans to witness to their vocation and help men and women discern God’s calling in their lives. Inevitably, numerous vocations and life-changing experiences occur for the young people who meet the friars and participate in CCO and FOCUS programs.
From the Western Province, Br. Bradley Elliott, O.P., Br. Chrysostom Mijinke, O.P., Br. Joseph Selinger, O.P., Br. Damien Lach, O.P., Fr. Michael Augustine Amabisco, O.P. and Fr. Stephen Maria Lopez, O.P. have been lending a hand to witness to Dominican life and help minister to the thousands of college students at the two conferences.
Fr. Stephen Maria, the Director of Vocations, said of the experience, “Participating in the annual FOCUS and CCO conferences is not only a great opportunity to support these organizations in equipping college students for the work of the New Evangelization, but also to help young men and women discern a possible vocation to religious life. Many wonderful, grace-filled moments happen during these conferences.”
Br. Bradley Elliott, O.P., a friar in his sixth year of formation, was also on hand to promote vocations to the Order of Preachers, and minister to the college students.
“The Dominicans have an 800-year history of working with, and ministering to, communities within academia,” said Br. Brad, “so supporting the work of FOCUS and CCO on college campuses is a natural fit for us.”
With the help of our friends and benefactors, friars like Fr. Stephen Maria, Fr. Michael Augustine, Br. Brad, Br. Chrysostom, Br. Joseph and Br. Damien are able to travel the country, engaging young people in the great work of the Church. This is critical to building the Kingdom of God now and for generations to come.