International Congress of Lay Dominican Fraternities
Karen Woods, OPL (Holy Name)
BUENAS AIRES, ARGENTINA – April 9, 2007-- Gathered at El
Cenaculo Retreat Center, from March 17-24, were the leadership of
55 provinces and vicariates out of 71 worldwide. Many paid dearly
to get there, either in money or in time and struggle. This was,
however, more than just a gathering of the Lay Dominican leadership.
It was a reflection of the great Family to which we are blessed to
belong. Because of the generosity of several Sisters’ congregations,
as well as provinces of friars, and provinces and chapters of Lay
Dominicans, the Congress was not only possible but, in the end, solvent.
Participating in the Congress from the Curia would be frs Carlos
Azpiroz Costa, Master of the Order; Jerry Stookey, Promoter General
of Dominican Laity; and David M. Kammler, successor to fr Jerry.
From the Province of Argentina, fr Javier Maria Pose, Prior Provincial,
would participate as well.
It was an awesome experience, a gathering of about 75 Dominicans
with a deeply committed interest in discovering together what we
are, what our place in the Order is, and how we might move forward
into the future together. Meeting and talking with Lay Dominicans
from so many different cultures and backgrounds just demonstrated
to me how unifying our Rule is. We are all at different places in
development of our Dominican life in the provinces and vicariates,
but we all adhere to the same Rule. We basically talked the same
Dominican language, although there were three national/regional languages
prevalent there: French, Spanish, and English. We were at home with
the same observances and definitions, and we sought unanimity in
areas that were not so clear, especially our terminology which we
sought to bring into clearer focus with what we are.
We looked together at what this vocation means and how we might be
more faithful to it. We sought help from one another to accomplish
a richer Dominican life. We prayed together in beautiful liturgies
and enjoyed social time, the sharing of cultures, and the concerns
that we brought with us. We enjoyed the warm hospitality of the people
of Argentina and the assistance of friars and sisters who came to
help out. Together we battled a circulating virus cold, many of us
taking our turn in sick bay, and the mosquitoes who were bent on
a campaign of swarm and conquer.
Conduct of the congress was very much like that of General Chapters,
using the three official languages of the Order, English, Spanish,
and French, as well as the protocols for discussion and voting in
the plenary sessions. Delegates were able to participate and vote
through simultaneous translation technology and electronic count.
As in General Chapters, the delegates were assigned to commissions
where they worked for two days to address, as far as they were able
given the time constraints, the issues submitted by chapters throughout
the world over the past year. This was a good beginning.
Contributions brought to Argentina a number of delegates who would
not otherwise be able to attend and helped to defray the costs of
overhead. Adding to the Family environment of the congress were the
sisters and brothers who spent the week with us, assisting in any
way needed, especially in the tedious work of immediate translation.
We are very very grateful!
Organization and coordination was smooth and effective. It was an
exciting, enriching, uplifting, and much blessed week spent in the
company of our sisters and brothers from around the world