It’s a place where it doesn’t matter your religion or faith or lack of it. It’s somewhere you can go to reflect about the state of your soul or spirit. It’s a private space where you can share your thoughts, struggles and questions about life with other Barry students. It’s a home away from home filled with hope, love and acceptance.
The purpose? To spread the light of Jesus.
That is Ignite.
Rooted in its Catholic identity and Dominican heritage, Barry University’s Dominican Young Adults (DYA) chapter is a group of young people whose purpose is to proclaim the gospel and spread the good news. Whether it’s through preaching, reflections, art, poetry or music, the objective is always to bring people closer to Jesus, regardless of their religion or faith.
“DYA is basically about being aware of the signs of the times, where are the needs and then through prayer, study and community, responding to that in service,” said University Chaplain Father Cristobal Torres, who is also the overseer of the chapter here at Barry.
Under the umbrella of one of the branches of the Dominican order—Dominican Youth Movement International— and housed by Campus Ministry, the DYA chapter at Barry was established after Father Cristobal and some Barry students attended the annual Dominican College Preaching Conference in New York and loved what they experienced, wanting to bring it to Barry by starting a local chapter last year.
“I feel really at home…I really like it because it’s somewhere for me to go where I feel comfortable and I can relax from school and everything that is going on,” said sports psychology freshman Paige Pokryfke, who joined DYA this semester.
Broadcast and emerging media graduating senior Breana Mercado is one of the members of DYA and also the founder/creator of DYA’s special “Ignite” event that takes place every semester in the Cor Jesu Chapel.
Having been very involved in her youth group at her Catholic high school and attending youth nights often, Mercado had very fond memories of those moments and experiences and wanted to have a similar experience at Barry.
“In college, you’re always busy doing things in school and work, and life gets crazy after that and I noticed they had a lot of Campus Ministry events at Barry but never really like a night,” said Mercado. “So, I thought it would be cool for students to come and take time away from being in school, stressed out and working and just be in the presence of believers and feel safe and open in a space where you’re not going to be judged.”
Using Mercado’s experience as an inspiration, “Ignite” was developed. But what exactly is “Ignite?”
Simply put, it is a place where students can come to talk about life while stepping away from the hustle and bustle of school and work. It is a safe space to open up about how they feel and relate to other students, knowing they are not the only ones struggling with certain issues.
DYA held the “Ignite” event this fall on Tuesday, Oct. 16. Revolving around the theme “Soul Food,” it was based on the scripture reading of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. It connected the soul’s thirst for God with the way people feed their souls and how they nourish themselves when they feel empty.
“People hunger, whether they have a religion or not,” said Father Cristobal. “And the culture doesn’t always give them clear guidance.”
The students who attended the event shared their own personal reflections, ideas and experiences of what exactly they use to fill themselves.
“I really liked the topic because it got me thinking, ‘Oh, what am I satisfied with?’” said Pokryfke, for whom this was her first “Ignite” event. “And it got me thinking that I don’t need to be satisfied with everything. I just basically need love from God.”
As the name itself suggests, the idea is to ignite people’s spirits and to get them on fire with a renewed love for God.
It is about trying to find the fire of your spirit, and despite its faith-based background, it is not just for Catholics.
“It’s for everyone, not just for Catholics or just for DYA,” said Mercado, who as the founder wishes to see “Ignite” continue and grow. “It’s for people who are really seeking that spiritual nourishment that you need. And in this age, everyone is trying to figure out what they want and who they are.”
Father Cristobal encourages all students to seek a “connection with God, which is the most important connection we can have.”