By JESSICA ABLE
Record Staff Writer
SPRINGFIELD, Ky. — More than a dozen students at St. Catharine College near Springfield, Ky., formed Kentucky’s first chapter of Dominican Young Adults USA last fall.
The group’s mission is simple: To grow spiritually and to reach out to others.
At the heart of the Domi-nican Young Adult group is growth, said Mary Sue Barnett, St. Catharine College’s campus minister.
“They are college students who are serious about growing into spiritual adulthood,” she said.
Anja Arsenovic, a senior at St. Catharine, said that she and other students are “experiencing a spiritual awakening” simply by being a part of the Dominican Young Adults.
The Dominican Young Adults (DYA) USA movement began in 2007 as a way for college students to remain connected with one another and the Dominican religious community after attending a national “Preaching in Action” conference, Barnett said.
Last year, four students from St. Catharine attended the Preaching in Action conference held at Dominican University in River Forest, Ill. There they joined participants from 14 other Dominican colleges and universities to immerse themselves in the way of Dominican spirituality, Barnett said.
“The conference calls the students to take new steps in search for truth, to experience study and contemplation on a more mature level and then to go ‘preach’ the fruits of this search, study and contemplation,” Barnett said.
By the end of the conference, the students from St. Catharine — Kentucky’s only Dominican college — pledged to form a chapter of Dominican Young Adults when they returned to the school’s campus near here.
Before the students participated in the Public Statement of Commitment this past fall — a step in the formal formation of the group — the students met weekly to discuss the Four Pillars of the Dominican Order: study, prayer, community and mission.
With the formation of the chapter at St. Catharine College, the students joined nine other existing chapters of DYA nationwide. There are eight additional chapters in some stage of formation, Barnett noted.
Members of DYA at St. Catharine meet twice a month to reflect and discuss spirituality.
Part of the group’s identity is tied to action. Not only do they discuss issues, they host events and call awareness to pertinent issues.
“The Dominican charism of preaching can take the form of word and action and can be proclaimed anywhere,” Barnett said. “On campuses, in relationships, in homes, on the streets, in homeless shelters, in prisons, at polluted streams — wherever earth cries out for healing.”
In just the last six months or so, the DYA group at St. Catharine has hosted speakers from the Invisible Children Organization; spent their spring break doing service work in Appalachia; hosted “Denim Day” to raise awareness about sexual violence; and attended a two-day contemplative retreat at Loretto — just to name a few events.
St. Catharine student Ohiniba Ohin said that being a part of DYA has been an “experience of discovery that there is something deep within that has not yet been tapped until now.”
“Now there is awareness, now there are resources. It is deep,” the sophomore said.
Campus minister Mary Sue Barnett likened the group to ‘the colorful life’ that inhabits the branches on a tree.
“The Dominican Sisters of Peace and St. Catharine College are like an old, firmly rooted tree, its branches providing the Four Pillars as a foundation for ethical living. The DYA students are the eclectic, colorful life that temporarily inhabit the branches, learning and growing before they move elsewhere … preaching the fruits of contemplation wherever in the world one is called,” Barnett said.