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
|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.
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
|” 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.
website for the
800th anniversary is now available.
to the Dominican Family
Coming of the Preachers (opens in Word)
Barbara Beaumont, OP
a provocative look at the founding events of the Order.web
for the Church
(Opens in Word)
Liam G. Walsh, OP
an examiination of the eccesiology of Dominic.
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