In our latest blog post, we talk to Sister Pat Stringer, a Caldwell Dominican Sister from Caldwell New Jersey. Sister Pat was recently appointed to the DVUSA Corporate Board and reflects on the significance of DVUSA and the ministries that have shaped her own Dominican journey.
Thank you for your Dominican witness, Sister Pat!
1. Give us some background. How have you been shaped by the Dominican mission and Dominican life?
I was educated by the Dominicans of Caldwell in grammar school and then at Caldwell College for Women (now Caldwell University). After graduating from college I entered the Community. So you can say that almost all of my formal education came from Dominicans. Looking back I was always involved in acts of charity either through school projects or because my parents encouraged us to do acts of kindness. However, while in college I really began to get involved in studying the causes of injustice and I began searching for answers to these deeper questions while at the same time continuing the acts of charity.
Why do you feel called to serve on the DVUSA corporate board?
I have a deep respect for young people who are willing to give service to others so when I was asked to serve on the Corporate Board of DVUSA I was thrilled. For me it is a way to support young people and to give others the opportunities I was given to serve others.
2. As a Dominican Sister, you have served lived out the mission of St. Dominic and Saint Catherine in many ways. Please tell us some specific ministries and stories that have had an impact on you? How has spending time with Dominican Volunteers impacted your life and ministry?
I thought that I would spend my life teaching mathematics (I have a BA and MA in mathematics) in one of our high schools—was I wrong! I spent 5 years teaching on the island of Abaco, Bahamas working with Bahamian and Haitian children. I learned about different cultures and the beauty of living and working cross-culturally. My community had a Dominican volunteer program at that time so in those five years I worked closely with these volunteers in a formal educational setting. I also ministered in Quito, Ecuador where I again lived and worked with young adults who volunteered their service for a year or two. It was a great experience living together (10 of us lived in the same apartment with only 2 bathrooms) and ministering to the people of Ecuador in formal and informal ways. For 11 years I lived in a very poor area of the Dominican Republic working together with the people to educate their children. Eventually, we built a pre-school, a grammar school, and high school. During this time we were lucky to have many groups of college students join us for a week of service. They did wonderful programs with the students and faculty, sharing their talents and skills in unbelievably creative ways. In New Jersey I did not have the pleasure of living or directly working with Dominican Volunteers but I have known a few of them personally and I am very impressed by who they are as people and the skills that they have to offer others.
I am presently serving as the Promoter of Dominican Life and Charism for my community and this gives me many opportunities to share with and invite both young and old into a deeper understanding of the Dominican Charism and Mission. In August sisters, former sisters, associates and Dominican Laity came together to “Celebrate Our Dominican Journey.” It was a wonderful day of sharing, renewing friendships and establishing new ones. In September the faculty and staff from our 3 academies came together for a Spirituality Day before classes started. The day started with prayer and input, followed by small group discussion and lunch and concluded with a guided reflection. There is a chapter of Dominican Young Adults that meets monthly at our Motherhouse that I help facilitate. This group gives me hope for the future of our church and world.
4. The mission statement of Dominican Volunteers USA to “respond to the injustices of our day by ministering with our sisters and brothers, especially those who are poor and marginalized.” What does serving with our brothers and sisters who are marginalized mean to you? Why is serving with others who are marginalized so important and life-giving?Ministering with those who are poor and marginalized means helping them help themselves. Concretely, this means helping people develop the skills they need to direct and determine their own futures. This can be accomplished informally with classes, workshops, and/or role playing or it can be done by educating young people by establishing schools and programs or by assisting young people with resources and encouragement so that they can get a formal education. I saw this work in the Dominican Republic and I am now seeing it work in Haiti.
5. What advice would you have for Dominican Volunteer alumni who want to continue to make a difference and live out the Dominican mission in our world today?
Find a young adult group in your area. If possible, join the Dominican Young Adult movement. There are chapters across the United States. Their website is http://dymusa.org/dya-usa/. This is a good way to contact others who have the same values that you do and also a way to continue to give service.
6. Tell us about your life outside of DVUSA. What do you like to do for fun? Tell us something that the DVUSA community may not know about you?
I like to read both novels and books about justice issues. I love sports; I am a Yankee fan but will go to any baseball game no matter who is playing. I also enjoy going to the soccer, volleyball and basketball games of the Caldwell University teams. I enjoy being with friends and visiting my family. And lastly, I enjoy being on Long Beach Island, both in the summer and winter.
7. What are some quotes that have been particularly impactful in your ministry, life of service, and faith journey?
Micah 6:8 – "What is good has been explained to you; this is what Yahweh asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God."This quote from Micah is the one I try to live by each day.
My hope is that DVUSA continues to grow in order to give young people an opportunity to serve others and learn about the Dominican Charism. I see the roles of both Boards to help and support the Directors in their outreach efforts to young people so that this growth is achieved.