NEWBURGH, N.Y. – August 2016 – In celebration of the 800th Jubilee of the Dominican Order, students and staff from Mount Saint Mary College recently made a three week pilgrimage in the footsteps of the 13th century saint, Dominic de Guzman.
St. Dominic made innumerable contributions to Christianity 800 years ago, all while living a simple, joyful life. Following Dominic’s missionary trail were Amanda Bocekci of Paramus, N.J.; Veronica Malloy of Amenia, N.Y.; Antonio Mansilla of the college’s facilities team; and Norma Pettus of the college’s security office.
The group joined others from the Mount’s 18 sister Dominican colleges of the U.S. and Puerto Rico for study and travel to Fanjeaux, France, birthplace of Saint Dominic's Order of Preachers.
In Fanjeaux, the group focused on where Dominic’s movement began. They visited the home where Dominic briefly lived while he debated the Albigensian Cathars – a sect of his time that disagreed with his faith – as well as the nearby basilica and monastery of Sainte Marie de Prouilhe, where Dominic established his first community of nuns in 1206.
“Visiting the places where St. Dominic lived and prayed was very humbling,” explained Malloy. “It showed that greatness and wholeness of life [is a product of] serenity, simplicity, and a humble nature.”
By learning about literature, art, architecture, and more, Bocekci and Malloy earned credits in a course on France in the Middle Ages.
“The trip helped me to become a better student because it opened my eyes to culture, art, architecture, and the story that all this has to tell,” Malloy explained.
The tradition of St. Dominic’s order includes respectful dialogue and the search for “veritas” (truth) in all facets of study and life. With this in mind, Bocekci enjoyed discussing her faith and the Fanjeaux journey with her peers. They grew together academically and spiritually, she noted, and created lasting friendships.
“The one thing that stuck with me the most is the sense of community and how easy it was for everyone on the trip to become so close to one another,” Bocekci said. “By the end of the first day, it was like I had always known everyone and it was like we were all meant to be on the trip together.”
For Mansilla, St. Dominic set an example in scholarship and faith that can be applied to everyday life.
“I learned we’re always going to deal with challenges, hurdles, hectic days, not feeling well, and more; however, in those situations, I just stop and think about [St. Dominic’s] legacy,” he explained. “His charisma has clearly impacted me. I try to do my best to integrate it on a daily basis at home, work – around everyone.”
Mansilla added, “The trip has also helped me to be humble, but attentive to others in need. When I have some difficult times and days, I go back to my time in the trip, pause, and pray. Just thinking of his legacy helps me to be a better person.”
The Dominican Sisters founded Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y. in 1959, using as a guideline the four pillars of Dominican life: study, prayer, service, and community.
Much of the Fanjeaux pilgrimage was sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Hope in Ossining, N.Y.
For more information about the Mount, visit www.msmc.edu
Photo Caption: The Mount Saint Mary College Fanjeaux travelers, left to right: Antonio Mansilla of the college’s facilities team; Veronica Malloy of Amenia, N.Y.; Amanda Bocekci of Paramus, N.J.; and Norma Pettus of the college’s security office. Photo provided.