Every year, a group of Dominican Sisters in Cabra, organise an event called the Dominican Youth Forum (DYF). This year, the theme Inspiring Voices featured contemporary inspirational individuals including Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist who has campaigned for education for all, Fr Peter McVerry, who has worked tirelessly with Dublin’s homeless and Joan Freeman who set up the first Pieta House in Ireland.
The organising group, Faith in Young People (FYP) is interested in working with and fostering faith in young people and has done so in many ways over the years and DYF is an important event in the annual calendar.
Over 100 students and teachers from each Dominican School in Ireland attended this year’s event including schools from Belfast, Galway, Wicklow and Newbridge and Dublin schools, Sion Hill, Muckross Park, Ballyfermot, Sutton, Griffith Avenue, Scoil Chaitriona and Cabra the host school.
Every event is evaluated and the students consistently look for a better understanding of what it is to be a Christian and also more about St Dominic and the Dominican way.
This year, to answer those questions, lively presentations on St Dominic including videos featuring the students from Cabra were used who creatively featured the Dominican statues in the campus in Cabra to tell the story of Dominic and his ministry. Each school present is encouraged to do the same when they return. There is also a teachers’ workshop on the same theme which was presented this year by Sr Mary O’Driscoll OP.
The idea of using ‘inspiring voices’ came from the Knockadoon Music and Liturgy Course for young people, which takes place every year in Cork.
Each workshop presenter of an ‘inspiring voice’ was encouraged to help the teenagers to get into the heads of the ‘inspiring voice’ and ask themselves a question. Who are the needy in my hometown, parish or school and could I be an inspiring voice even in a small way?
The inspiring voices included:
- Malala Yousafzai who at great personal cost is an activist for human rights including education for all but especially girls. She is from Pakistan.
- Fr Peter McVerry who for some many years has lived out his Christian calling by drawing attention to the plight of the homeless.
- Sr Caoimhin Ní Uallachaín, Dominican Sister who left teaching in a girls’ school when she noticed that young men in the area were being neglected. Two centres, which she set up, are still up and running. Sr Caoimhin has retired.
- Joan Freeman who opened up the first Pieta House so that young men and women will have a place to go to when they are feeling low and even suicidal. Pieta House is now going global.
- The Voice of the New Universe Story reminds all of us of our interconnectness with the whole planet and encourages us to become more aware of sustainable living and so much more.
- The Voice of silence tells us that we can take time out of our very busy lives and learn just to be.
- Diane Ihirwe and Rita Merembe working in partnership with the Dominican Justice Office. They spoke about what it was like to arrive as unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in Ireland, and about their project with the Dominican Justice Office to support pregnant young women who are isolated and/or vulnerable.
The event was supported with wonderful music from well-known Irish composer Ian Callanan. In a ceremony of light, the teachers were presented with a DYF 14 candle symbolizing the lighting of the journey back to schools all over Ireland carrying the richness gleaned from the day.