Students attending the 2023 Founders Week kickoff event were inspired by the story of a 20th century Italian university student who has reached the first stage of sainthood. Alumna Sr. Arlene Flaherty, O.P., D.Min., delivered the keynote address on September 19, 2023, in the Lawrence Room of Rosary Hall. She spoke to students about the Dominican tradition and the short life of Giorgio Frassati, a Dominican lay person who cared for the poor and was committed to changing unjust social and political systems.
Sr. Arlene told students that questions such as “Why am I here?” and “What do I want to do with my life?” are critical questions that lead to choosing a vocation. She encouraged the students to think about how they will use their gifts. “Our country is at a crossroads. What will you bring to the work of making America a place of welcome, safety, and a country where all can thrive? To what effort can you add your support — healthcare, earth’s sustainability, children’s rights, teaching, care for the vulnerable, justice work, research? Where are you called to live and work in harmony with your nature?” she asked.
Sr. Arlene has a long, distinguished career working to further education, justice, and peace around the world. Her work has taken her to Haiti, Jamaica, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Ecuador. In Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria she documented the impact of war on children and refugees. She represented the Dominican Family at the United Nation’s Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland, composing and presenting an oral argument that the war in Iraq and the implementation of crippling sanctions on Iraq constituted a violation of article 13 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.