Student Preachers – the People Behind the Prayer

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Two senior preachers, Sophie Ondrusek and Alex Williams, are second-year veterans on the Student Preaching team.  With their experience, they step up to help other Student Preachers in their daily spiritual tasks. 

Prom. Ring Day. Induction. Graduation – so many events run through the minds of seniors as they approach the “beginning of the end” of their high school journey.

However, seniors Alex Williams, and Sophie Ondrusek have additional events on their minds. They, along with six other DHS students, are Dominican Student Preachers. As Student Preachers, this team is tasked with inspiring creative initiatives within the school to lead others into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Veteran preachers Ondrusek and Williams have the important role of leading their fellow preachers; seniors Caroline Bickerton, Molly Derbes, Abby Haydel, Meghan Rotolo; and juniors Ella Cheramie and Cappy Elvir.

As part of their commitment, the Dominican Student Preachers take on the responsibilities of teaching, preaching and spreading the word of God to the DHS community. The girls incorporate the four pillars of Dominican life – prayer, study, community and service – throughout their daily actions.

According to Mrs. Jill Cabes (’87), vice resident of Dominican Catholic Identity, the preachers have a very important role at Dominican. They must possess specific qualifications to obtain the special position. A preacher must be Catholic, a junior or senior and interested in deepening her Catholic faith. With these qualifications, preachers must also be dedicated to put hard work and time into their prayers and reflections.

Though the Student Preachers may be heard only once each day during afternoon prayer, the work they do behind the scenes is vital and continuous.  The job of the student preachers is to incorporate prayer and study into their lives while teaching others to do the same. “The Student Preachers have the job of uniting the school through prayer and keep Dominican focused on God,” said Ondrusek.

While being a preacher is an honor, both Ondrusek and Williams agree it is still comes with everyday challenges. This past August, Ondrusek reflected on her challenges with public speaking at the Mass of the Holy Spirit. She explained to the student body how becoming a preacher has helped her to face that fear and conquer it completely.

The students also take what they learn as preachers and incorporate it into their everyday lives. “Before I became a Student Preacher, I could tell a part of me was missing,” said Williams. “Now, two parts of me – faith and individuality – come together, making me the person I am today.”

The role of the student preacher surpasses what the student body sees on the day to day basis.  However, according to Derbes, the hard work is worth the effort.

“I recommend being a student preacher to others because you can share your faith and lead people closer to God,” said Derbes.


Each summer, Student preachers attend the Dominican Preaching Conference in Adrian, MI. Gathered on the campus of Siena Heights Univeristy in Michigan are new preachers (back row) Catherine Bickerton, Ella Cheramie, Abby Haydel, Molly Derbes, (front row) Meghan Rotolo and Cappy Elvir.

Preachers must incorporate a great amount of time and effort to prayer and study into their busy schedules. Over the summer, the girls attended the Dominican Preaching Conference in Adrian, Michigan. There, they met students from various Dominican schools and learned about the history of the Dominican Order of Preachers.

Throughout the school year, Student Preachers share their faith at multiple Dominican gatherings. At events such as Black & White Friday Night and Open House, the Student Preachers lead prayer and explain their role in the school. In early March, they will assist with the formation St. Joseph’s altar, and throughout the year, they write and share reflections with the Dominican community at Mass.

Keep an eye out for the preachers at Open House on October 19 in the Siena Center Gym.

  • Inziya Magee