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International Commissions Meet to Catch the Fire
of Dominic's Vision

Eileen Gannon, OP (DLC/Sparkill)
NGO Representative to the United Nations/New York

PROUILHE, France 05/29/06-- What a wonderful privilege to be present for the first time ever, meeting in Prouille, France of the International Commissions of the Dominican Order, April 28-May 4. In an extraordinary gathering of the Dominican Family. Master General, bro. Carlos Azpiroz Costa, OP, convened the meeting with 70 Dominicans representing all the members of the Family throughout the world. The meeting was an opportunity to begin reflection and celebration of the 800th Anniversary of the Order.

The first evening together celebrated the feast of Catherine of Siena and the preaching by Carlos was in fact a preaching of the Dominican Family as he elicited the thinking of various members of the Family in his shared homily.. The gracious hospitality of the nuns in providing dinner and opportunity for conversation continued the celebration. Later, in this rustic, rather barren chapel where Dominic gathered the first members of the Order, the nuns ritualized Dominic’s nine ways of prayer. New and older members, laity, youth, nuns, friars, and sisters from countries all over this planet prayed together recognizing our common heritage and tradition.

Two exceptional speakers provided the context for reflection. Liam Walsh, OP (Ireland) who spoke on the ecclesiology of Dominic in The Light for the World and Barbara Beaumount, OP (Belguim) who spoke about the early history of the Order (The Coming of the Preachers).

It was Liam Walsh, OP who, perhaps courageously, was willing to bring to light some of the unsettling features of our history:

In spite of being educated in the school of Thomas, Dominicans have at times acted as if they believed the grace of the Holy Spirit was co-terminus with established Church law. The Friars have been particularly prone to this failing. They have had the law on their side and knew how to manage it. When they drifted into ecclesiologies that were dominated by clerical concerns, they were in a position to appeal to and when necessary create laws that would put the right to preach exclusively in their hands. They would see themselves, in a way their sisters and brothers were not, to be the Order of Preachers - while all the time piously telling their sisters and brothers who were not Friars that they belonged to the Order of Preachers. Thank God our history shows how the grace of preaching again and again re-asserted itself and broke through the stranglehold of the canons - doing it very often, paradoxically, by recovering and beginning to obey again the original life-giving canons. [#39]

For me, it was exciting that someone put into words what I believe is at the heart of what Dominicans know about the desire to preach. Who ever we are, whether men or women, we are called to preach. It is in our bones, it is not something peripheral, it is at the heart of who we are.

And Barbara Beaumount, OP’s inspiring, brilliant reflection on the Coming of the Preachers teaches each time I reread. Her words,

” Perhaps an even more challenging lesson to be learned from the history of the early years of Prouille is the idea of accepting to be in a process of becoming, which may go on for some time. This necessarily means accepting a degree of fragility, vulnerability. This is how the first sisters of Prouille lived. For what we are to become is rarely fixed at the outset; we become it, we shape it ourselves day by day, in the activities that confer meaning on our existences.”

Such words touch deeply as this time of so much transition on US Dominican life.

Over the next days, we worked together listening, learning, understanding, questioning. In “Catching Fire from Dominic’s Vision”, we were called to share our experiences and dreams, to understand Dominic’s original dream of a collaborative mission, to explore diversity, horizons and conversion and finally to dream the future together. Common to all the discussions was the desire to preach together, to include the whole of our Family in the preaching mission.

There were many significant and memorable moments in this time, to name one isnot to diminish the others. Our final day together, liturgy was again celebrated by Carlos. At the conclusion of the Eucharistic liturgy, as participant’s names were read, each was blessed and commissioned by Carlos and given a lighted candle. At his request Margaret Ormand, blessed and commissioned Carlos. The celebration was over, the work was begun.

And now what? It is very important that this not remain a wonderful experience of a few, but rather be an invitation to a commitment of the whole. There is a one page statement. It is rather simple, and yet very profound; it is a promise to work to work together as Family, to honor our heritage; to support justice and peace; to preach together and to honor the preaching charism of the Dominican Family.

I am profoundly grateful for this time.

US Dominicans who attended included: Gemma Doll, OP (DSI/Great Bend), Eileen Gannon, OP, (DLC/Sparkill) Dusty Farnan, OP (Adrian/Justice), Jerry Stookey, (St. Albert) Socius for the Laity, Chrys McVey, OP (Pakistan) Socius for Apostolic Life, Brian Pierce (St. Martin) Promoter for the Family in Latin America. Michael O’Rourke, General Secretary of the Order, (St. Martin). Brian Bricker, OP (St.Joseph) chaplain at Prouilhe and Laurie Bisko, Lay Dominican from St. Joseph Province.


A new website for the 800th anniversary is now available.

Additional Reading:

Message to the Dominican Family

The Coming of the Preachers (opens in Word)
Barbara Beaumont, OP

a provocative look at the founding events of the Order.
web version

Light for the Church
(Opens in Word)
Liam G. Walsh, OP

an examiination of the eccesiology of Dominic.
web version

Jubilee Prayer

participating groups:

members of the Dominican Curia Santa Sabina

Dominican Sisters International (DSI)

International Commission of the Nuns

Dominican Volunteers International ( DVI)

International Dominican Youth Movement (IDYM)

International Promoters of Justice, Peace and Care of of Creation

International Council of Lay Dominican Fraternities


International Commissions of the Order Meet

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Since the time of St Dominic, more than 800 years ago, Dominicans have been living and sharing
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