For the past 3 years, members of the Dominican Young Adult Molloy Chapter have travelled to the small village of Sol Naciente in El Salvador and have assisted Sister Flor de Maria Buruca in running a camp for the children in this area.
This Molloy Chapter of DYA is located in the United States in Rockville Center, New York. Sister Flor de Maria is a Dominican Sister of Amityville. In the late 1980’s, she came to the United States. For many yearsbefore becoming a sister, Sister Flor de Maria worked in retail and was able to acquire her working visa. Since entering theDominican Sisters of Amityville, Sister Flor de Maria has completed a Master Degree in Theology and is certified in PastoralCare. Some of Sister Flor de Maria’s family continues to live in El Salvador in La Union and San Salvador. Besides visitingher family, Sister Flor de Maria, began over 10 years ago, a ministry in Sol Naciente where she responded to the needs ofthe people.
The people in Sol Naciente were displaced from La Union the town where Sister Flor de Maria grew up. These people hadlived near the water in this seaport town. They were forced to leave when a company from a first world country came andtook over their land. The people settled in Sol Naciente. They lost everything!
Sor Flor de Maria visited these people and experienced their deep pain! She felt compelled, like St. Dominic and St. Catherine, to unite with these people in working with them to form a new community. Her first desire was to build a chapel for the people which would be in the center of the town. The people needed a worship, as well as, a meeting place especially for the children. Through endless fundraising in the United States, Sister Flor de Maria raised the money to build a beautiful chapel which is named Immaculate Conception/St. Dominic’s Chapel. On the main door of the chapel is a huge Dominican Cross and the inside is decorated with pictures of St. Dominic, St. Catherine and St. Martin dePorres.
Sister Flor de Maria saw the need to educate the children not only in academics, but also in their rich Salvadorian Culture which was and continues to be threatened by the influence of gangs, as well as, countries coming to El Salvador and opening stores and major corporations that entice the people to move away from their self-sufficiency to acquiring “material things” that they do not need. Sister Flor de Maria began an after-school program for the children in order to encourage them to remain in school and not become a gang member. This program also stresses to the children that they need to remain in El Salvador and reclaim their rich culture.
Besides the after school program, Sister Flor de Maria runs a camp for the children during their summer vacation. The camp takes place each year in the beginning of January before the children return to school. This camp embodies the 4 pillars of Dominican Life, Prayer, Study, Community and Service. Each day begins with a Religion Lesson that relates to the theme of the camp. This year the theme was “Be who you are meant to be and you will set the world on fire!” (St. Catherine of Siena) St. Catherine, portrayed by a DYA member, would spend 15 minutes with the children and pray a Scripture reading with them, talk a little bit about herself and ask them to reflect on what they heard throughout the day. They would be given homework that related to the theme of the day. The children would then participate in Arts and Crafts, Music, Sports and Outdoor Games and Community Service which would Incorporate thetheme of the day. The camp always ends with a closing mass. This year several children received First Communion and four babies were baptized.
Our Dominican Young Adults that have had the amazing opportunity of travelling to Sol Naciente have been moved deeply working at the camp and assisting Sister Flor de Maria with the children. Usually, there are between 30 and 40 children whoattend the camp. Most of the children speak only Spanish. Most of the DYA Members that come speak only English or verylittle Spanish. Initially, the DYA Members find this challenging but quickly realize that it is the Language of Love that dominates the week! The young adults stress to the children the importance of remaining in school, of participating in the After School Program, and not join the gangs. I am always in awe at the relationships that form so quickly and move beyond language!
This experience immerses the young adult in our Dominican Life and Spirituality. Each day they live out the 4 pillars in very tangible and real ways. They are following in the footsteps of St. Dominic and preaching daily in their lives! They are so grateful to Sister Flor de Maria for allowing them the opportunity to come and work at this very Holy and Blessed Camp. They also are inspired by Sister Flor de Maria who saw the need and gave and continues to give her heart and life to these beautiful people of Sol Naciente!
Dominican Young Adult Chapters opens the hearts, minds and souls of so many young adults! They are able to put their faith in action and see the face of God in the poor and the marginalized. I am honored and blessed to be part of this wonderful journey with them!
Sister Diane Capuano
Dominican Sister of Amityville Mentor for
the Dominican Young Adult Molloy Chapter Group