Volunteers for 2011-2012
The Salesians of Don Bosco in the U.S. have commissioned 14 lay volunteers for mission during 2011-2012. Thirteen will serve as Salesian Lay Missioners (SLMs) in Salesian missions overseas, and one will serve as a Salesian Domestic Volunteer at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Md.
The volunteers received two weeks of orientation at Maryknoll and a Salesian summer day camp in Port Chester, N.Y., followed by a week of retreat with Salesians at Haverstraw-Stony Point, N.Y. The 14 were commissioned during Mass closing out the retreat on August 6. Fr. Tom Dunne, provincial of the SDBs in the Eastern U.S. and Canada, presided over the commissioning.
The 14 volunteers include 11 women and 3 men. They come from California, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.
Pictured with the newly commissioned SLMs and SDV are Adam Rudin, SLM program director (back row at left), and Jayne Feeney, his assistant (back row center); Fr. Steve Ryan, in charge of the Province Office of Youth Ministry (arm on Adam); Meg Fraino, SDV program director (back row, 3d from left); Fr. Mark Hyde (in vestments), director of Salesian Missions, to which the SLMs are attached; and Fr. Tom Dunne (back row, at right).
Eight volunteers are in the their 20s, recent graduates of Aquinas College (Grand Rapids), Catholic University of America (Washington), Gettysburg College, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers (New Brunswick, N.J.), Texas A & M (College Station), or finishing up at Texas Tech (Lubbock). Three are in their 30s and three in their 50s, leaving behind or taking temporary leave from careers in education, health care, youth ministry, and business.
Six of the overseas volunteers will serve in Bolivia, two in Cambodia, three in Ethiopia, and two in the Far East. Some will teach English in Salesian schools, some will teach other skills, some will care for orphans, some will do community outreach, and one will help in a parish. Not all the sites are Salesian, but all look after poor young people who are at risk.
Seven of the volunteers left for their missions by the end of August and one on Labor Day. Another four expect to depart in the third week of September. The last two will take leave after Christmas.
The commissioning Mass was attended by almost two dozen Salesians, by the family of one SLM, by friends of others, and by three returned SLMs who had served in Rwanda and Ethiopia. Taking note of the presence of all these, Fr. Tom said in his homily, “No one goes overseas alone.” They go, he said, with the support of many other people and with contact with others.
Fr. Tom observed that at the Transfiguration of Jesus (the feast of Aug. 6), Peter, James, and John had nothing with them when they met God on the mountaintop. When they and the rest of the apostles went out to preach the Good News, God was all they had to depend upon; they had to leave behind all their extra “tools” like extra clothes and money. He told the soon-to-depart missionaries that they also would have to leave a lot behind when they went out to be evangelizers. He cited the examples of people he knew who did just that and had life-changing experiences: meeting the Lord in their own emptiness and in the joy of the people to whom they were sent.
The Salesian Lay Missioners include:
Aubrey Brewis is from Plymouth, Mich. After graduating from the University of Michigan with majors in sport management and communications, Aubrey worked as a celebrity consultant with Octagon in Washington, D.C. She left on August 28 to serve at Hogar Sagrado Corazon, a girls orphanage, in Montero, Bolivia. Aubrey says that she hopes to “grow closer to God through serving my brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Katie Chandonnet is from Fremont, Mich. She just graduated from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, majoring in Spanish and minoring in teaching ESL. Katie left on August 28 to serve with the Salesian Sisters at Colegio San Francisco Javier in Okinawa, Bolivia, teaching English and doing community outreach. She says, “I joined the SLMs in order to work and live in a community where I get the opportunity to challenge the youth and myself both physically and spiritually, creating an environment that encourages growth in faith, hope, and love.”
Marnie Commins is from Fairfax Station, Va. Her older brother Christopher was an SLM in India in 2009-2010. Marnie just graduated from Gettysburg College, majoring in health sciences. She left on August 29 for Don Bosco Mekanessa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to serve as an English teacher, with the intention of “serving Christ through the young and the poor.”
Kaitlin Darnell is from Henrietta, Tex. She is a senior at Texas Tech in Lubbock, majoring in exercise sport science and education, and planning to graduate this fall. She expects to depart just after Christmas for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to serve with the Salesian Sisters at Don Bosco Skills Training Center, working with young girls. She says that she’s becoming an SLM “to serve, to share God’s love.”
Marcelle Farhat is from North Brunswick, N.J. She is a graduate of Rutgers University, where she earned a B.A. in math and an M.A. in math education. Marcelle will leave on September 5 to serve with the Salesian Sisters at Colegio San Francisco Javier in Okinawa, Bolivia, teaching and doing community outreach. She wants to “love Christ by serving and loving the least of us” and “to give a year back as I’ve been given so much.”
Carmen Hilmes is from Atlanta. She is taking a leave from her job as operations manager for the TAS Group in Alpharetta, Ga. She is planning a September 21 departure for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to serve with the Salesian Sisters at Don Bosco Skills Training Center, teaching young girls. Carmen wishes “to experience service and immersion into another culture” and help others, sharing “her life talents in any way God is willing to use [her] open hands.”
Angela Marie Maiorano is from Claremont, Calif. She’s a passionate Dodgers fan. Angela has volunteered with the Olancho Aid Foundation as a junior high school teacher in Honduras and was a chaperone for World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008. She’s planning to leave on September 21 to serve at Hogar San Francisco, a girls orphanage in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She says, “In order to meet Jesus fully, I need to be with my brothers and sisters in various situations” and “community is also important.”
Judy Mathias is from Beaverton, Ore. She has taken a leave from her supervisory position with Legacy Health in order to serve at Hogar San Francisco, a girls orphanage in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She has done several short overseas mission trips in recent years. Judy says: “The Salesian spirituality touched my heart. I want to live out that spirituality of joy and service, working with youth with the support and prayers of the Salesian community.” She’ll leave for Bolivia on September 23.
Paul Miller is from Marietta, Ga. After retiring from the airline industry, Paul recently completed a certification course in ecclesial ministry at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., and will begin practicing ministry with the Salesians at Don Bosco Catholic Church in Dilla, Ethiopia. He plans to depart on September 20 and expects to teach and to help in the health clinic and feeding center there. He want “to serve youth by my example and to radiate the love of Christ.”
Marie Prosser comes from Ellicott City, Md. Marie has already done a year of domestic volunteer service with the Capuchins. Marie earned a B.S. in chemical engineering at the University of Delaware and then an MAT in secondary science from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. Influenced in part by participating in World Youth Day at Cologne in 2005, for some time she has wanted to teach in Africa. After a seven years’ teaching experience, including two at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Baltimore, she believes she’s ready now to teach overseas. Planning a January 2012 departure, she’ll teach English at Don Bosco Mekanessa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Marie says, “Don Bosco is awesome!”
Mona Rominger is from San Antonio, Tex. Mona attended Texas A&M, majoring in sociology. She left on August 29 for her mission at Hogar Sagrado Corazon, a girls orphanage, in Montero, Bolivia. As an SLM she hopes “to grow in love, to surrender myself and my life for the greater good of my brothers and sisters, to love fully and give graciously.”
Cathleen Soltis is from Julian, Pa. She graduated from Lock Haven University with a major in math. As a Salesian Domestic Volunteer, Cathleen will teach and engage in youth ministry at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, Md., which is co-sponsored by the Salesians and the Archdiocese of Washington. Already a deeply committed Christian, she entered the Catholic Church last spring. At DBCR, where the school year began late in August, she hopes to deepen her faith as she helps the students grow in theirs. She’ll be working with another Domestic Volunteer, Kelly Schuster, who went to DBCR last year and loved the ministry so much that she’s doing a second volunteer year.
For information about the Salesian Lay Missioners: http://www.salesianlaymissioners.org/
For information about the Salesian Domestic Volunteers: http://www.salesianym.com/domesticvolunteers/