ROCHESTER — Lissette Dernier noted that she gave up selling sandwiches in order to serve the Bread of Life.
Dernier said she owned a delicatessen/grocery on Norton Street at one time, but closed her business in order to devote her life to serving Jesus.
“I said if I could work seven days a week in my deli, 17 hours a day, Lord, then I could work for you, Lord,” Dernier said.
Although she’s always been interested in her faith, Dernier, 54, said it wasn’t until 2000 that she totally dedicated herself to God.
“It’s just like I died to the self and died to the world,” Dernier said. “I don’t watch TV. I listen to religious music. I read spiritual books. I’m always seeking the kingdom.”
Dernier is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Irondequoit, a lay evangelist and a member of the St. Catherine of Siena Chapter of the Third Order of St. Dominic, which was established in 1932. The chapter boasts 32 members and is one of two in the Diocese of Rochester. The other — called Mary Queen of the Apostles — is located in Elmira and has 39 members, according to Maryanne Amisano, chapter moderator.
Third Order Dominicans noted that their chapter consists of lay men and women, married and single, who belong to the Order of St. Dominic, founded in the 13th century. Diocesan deacons and diocesan priests are also eligible for membership, they said.
Margaret Balconi, the Siena chapter’s moderator and a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Church in Rochester, said her members follow the four pillars of Dominican life: prayer, study, community and apostolate.
Prayer includes recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, retreats and pilgrimages, she noted. Study means the order maintains a library for its members’ use, and encourages them to read church documents and other spiritual materials. Community means the members meet regularly and keep in touch with those members unable to meet any longer due to age or infirmities. Apostolate consists of various outreach efforts, including Bible-study groups at such places as St. Ann’s Community on Portland Avenue, which serves the elderly, she said.
As part of her personal apostolate work, Dernier said she is promoting a Lenten mission March 14 at 7 p.m. at Church of the Holy Spirit, 1355 Hatch Road, Penfield, featuring Third Order Dominican Patricia Mummert. Dominican Father Jacob Restrick, who’s appeared on the Eternal Word Television Network, will be speaking at Holy Spirit on March 19 at 7 p.m., she added.
As the St. Catherine chapter’s secretary and outreach coordinator, Dernier is also working to highlight her order’s work in the diocese, and said she’ll be manning a table with Third Order literature after all Masses at St. Mark’s Church, 54 Kuhn Road, Greece, April 22-23.
Dominicans are also called to live their faith in their work outside the order, Balconi noted, pointing out that she’s a volunteer at Birthright in Pittsford, a center that serves women in crisis pregnancies. As a volunteer, she doesn’t proselytize the women who come there, but said she does try to bring a nonjudgmental, respectful and Christian attitude to her discussions with them.
Balconi added that being a Dominican helps her live a fuller Christian life.
“It certainly empowers me to be Christ-like throughout my whole day, and through everything I do,” she said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For information on the Third Order of Dominicans in Rochester, write: Dominican Laity, 14 Bobrich Drive, Rochester, NY 14610; call 585/224-8324; visit www.3op.org; or e-mail Lissette Dernier at Ldernier@aol.com. For information on the Elmira chapter, call 607/562-8856.