BY BILL SKOWRONSKI
Director of Communication and Marketing Central Province, USA
When she was 14 years old, Carmen Rodriguez asked herself what she was here to do and how she could help others. Looking at the world around her, she recognized a growing population of Spanish-speaking people. She wanted to serve God and she thought the best way would be as a woman religious. Several years later, she joined a convent, but found the life wasn’t right for her. She even left the Catholic Church for a period of time.
“I know some people have left the Church, but God never forgets us,” Carmen said. “In order to be at peace with ourselves and others, having a deep and profound relationship with God is important and the rest follows.”
And so it did. Carmen became very involved at two parishes, one in the western suburbs of Chicago and one in the city itself. She earned her teaching degree, finally found her niche working with people with disabilities, children affected by drugs, and needy residents in the Hispanic community of St. Pius V, a Dominican parish in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. At St. Vincent Ferrer Parish (a Dominican parish in River Forest, IL), Carmen received the spiritual direction she needed and became a Lay Dominican. Today, she is a faithful parishioner and a retired special education teacher.
For years, Carmen considered teaching to be her vocation because she felt she had something to offer the handicapped community.
“I like to help,” Carmen said. “Every person has a unique gift from God. He has been so wonderful to me; He gives and I give back.”
Now, Carmen gives back financially to help support the Dominican Friars in formation. This year, 26 men count on donors like her in order to pursue their own vocations.
“I feel like the role of the priest and continuing God’s church is one of the most important professions, so I want to assist young men who choose to answer that call,” Carmen said. “To preach for the salvation of souls is to be Christ to the entire world, which is a very difficult task, but one the Order of Preachers emphasizes.”
In the model of St. Therese of the Little Flower, Carmen prays for priests every day. She recognizes their important role in the Church, as well as hers.
“Jesus was sent here to save us,” she said. “We all have a place within the body. Each part has a function to do. I want to help in any small way I can to help build the Kingdom.”
Some people have a favorite charity and hers is the young friars in Dominican formation.
“All the saints left something before us. I live my life as a very simple woman so I want to continue donating money as long as I can for the education of the Dominican student brothers,” she said. “The Dominican family is my community and my legacy as a Catholic. Now God’s plan is unfolding within it.”
To learn more about supporting the Dominican student brothers, visit www.OPCentral.org/support.
Return to Summer 2015 DCQ