The Sisters at Sacred Heart Convent welcomed the Dominican Volunteers USA for their mid-year retreat from January 30 to February 3, 2013. Seventeen volunteers re-united from across the country to share reflections on their first half of their year of service and to learn of each other’s experiences.
All of the ministries the volunteers are involved in focus on serving the marginalized in urban and rural areas. They are presently serving in ministries such as foster care assistance and prevention; family stabilization programs; refugee assistance; after-school programs; domestic violence prevention; health and fitness programs; teaching assistance; campus ministry and advocacy at the United Nations.
Sr. Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP directed the retreat focusing on the gift that vulnerability plays in the volunteers’ relationships with God, the communities they live with, and those to whom they minister. Sr. Rebecca Ann shared her thoughts of encouragement with the volunteers, “Service is more about getting things done. Mission is about recognizing God’s presence in the doing no matter where we find ourselves. I encourage you to reflect on this often, and invite those you minister with and for to do the same. Hold them in your prayer; hold them in your presence. Allow your compassion to match their needs. You may or may not ever see them again, but for a brief moment they will know that they were loved, they belonged and they are more than enough. That is what Jesus did and calls us to do in the Spirit.”
Michael Chapuran, Executive Director of Dominican Volunteers USA said, “The retreat facilitated by Sr. Rebecca Ann was transformational in that it gave the volunteers a chance to find acceptance from God, each other, and themselves in the middle of what is a challenging and formative year. This experience thus opened the door for them to more fully accompany and accept others in their ministries and communities. The group was engaged and energetic and re-inspired to continue along the path of service in the Dominican Family!”
Chapuran commented further, “The volunteers spent their free time enjoying the sisters’ pool, the Lincoln Museum, and a night out at Mario’s Italian Ristorante. The retreat concluded at a liturgy with the Dominican sisters where the sisters sang a Dominican blessing to the group at the altar, and the Dominican Volunteers sang the Dominican Magnificat to the Sisters as a thank you for their tremendous hospitality.” The positive impacts of the retreat were easy for him note, “The volunteers left for the airport and in cars to return to their communities and ministries to complete the second half of their year of service. Hopefully, they will always remember that at the heart of ministry is relationship.”