An Interview with the New Promoter General of the Laity: David
following interview is with fr. David Kammler, OP who recently
began his service as Promoter General of the Laity, replacing fr.
Jerry Stokey, OP. Fr. David attended the International Lay Congress,
March 2007 and began his term as General Promoter. The interview.was
conducted in May of 2006
Is it true, David, that you will take over from Jerry L. Stookey
as Promoter General of the Dominican Laity next year?
I am still getting used to this myself! The appointment has not
yet been officially pronounced by the Master of the Order. But
I have given him my word about my readiness to serve in this post.
At first, I had serious doubts and reservations about this, but
these were dispersed during a personal fraternal meeting with fr.
Carlos in Rome. Jerry himself also encouraged me to assent.
In your opinion, what particular characteristics do you bring
with you for your new post?
When, to my great surprise, Carlos asked me, first of all the
arguments occurred to me which speak against my suitability: my
age, my insufficient knowledge of foreign languages … etc.
But then I also discovered characteristics which will certainly
help to make the work go more smoothly: the pleasure I have in
being able to dedicate myself in a creative way to a meaningful
task, even in detail; a great love of and esteem for the laity
as full members of our Order; the readiness to encourage them in
their task of preaching as laity as their specific mission; the
exchange of ideas and communication amongst them going beyond the
barriers that are there; the capability to encourage diversity
on the basis of mutual respect and trust. I sincerely hope to be
able to continue, in my way, that which Jerry was able to contribute
in the last few years in a convincingly international way.
Tell us something about yourself and the path you have followed
in the Order.
I was born on 21st October 1942 in Cologne in Germany. I still
have a younger brother and two nephews. As a result of my positions
in various places in my home province of Teutonia I have established
connections with many people. I hope very much that these can be
maintained in the next few years despite the distance apart; for
friendship is very important for me.
I became a Dominican in 1962, in particular because of the challenge
of a community with the objective of preaching in new and unusual
ways. After my studies at our House of Studies in Walberberg and
ordination to the priesthood in 1968, I worked for several years
as a teacher of religious education for primary schools (Diocese
of Speyer). There followed a time as tutor in the boarding school
of our Province in Vechta, and later I worked in a small Dominican
community in a North German parish in Bremen. For eight years I
was Assistant Master of Students at our House of Studies in Walberberg.
Before beginning my four-year term as Socius of the Provincial
I was Prior of St. Andreas in Cologne, where Saint Albert the Great
For the last six years I was Prior of Walberberg, and
during this time I have been active in pastoral work, as spiritual
advisor for individuals and also retreat courses. For over ten
years I have been chaplain to a Dominican lay group and have been
Promoter of the Laity in our Province of Teutonia for seven years.
During the world congress of the Dominican Family in Manila (2000)
as well as the meetings of the European Laity at Fognano (2001)
and Walberberg (2004) I was able to complement and enrich my theoretical
knowledge of the internationality and diversity of the Order of
Preachers through personal encounters.
Do you have other interests which are not 'typically Dominican'?
Do you mean my hobbies? Actually, they are very diverse. The first
one which occurs to me is: music, art and culture; then: sport
(swimming); my friends maintain that I am a good hobby cook - "O
taste and see that the LORD is good!" (Ps 34:9!); and, finally:
travelling and getting to know other cultures. The last one especially
will be integrated into my future worldwide service!
What do you want to put the accent on until you start your new
Firstly, I have to concentrate on a number of sermons and services,
conferences, lectures and retreats, which I have already committed
to for this year. Then it will be absolutely necessary to start
to extend my knowledge of foreign languages in this year already.
My conversational English is quite good, but not without mistakes.
For my stay in Rome and Italy it will be a challenge to learn Italian;
I want to work on this intensively this year as well. So that I
am not dependent on translators, I shall learn Spanish in the next
few years. My knowledge was until now sufficient to get by as a
tourist on holiday. I very much hope to be able to deepen my elementary
knowledge of the wonderful language of culture, French. (My ability
to preach in Cologne dialect will certainly not be required in
the next six years!) How much I would like to be able to encounter
the Lay Dominicans of the world in their mother tongues! In this
respect, I envy the deceased Pope John Paul II with his comprehensive
language skills. I nevertheless hope that, on my travels and in
my correspondence, I shall have the assistance of translators,
and, above all, non-verbal communication and the Spirit of Pentecost,
which creates understanding across language barriers.
Last but not least I want to learn as much as possible from Jerry
before the official start of my job in March 2007 and help him
with the preparations for the International Congress of Lay Dominicans
in Buenos Aires. We shall be in contact by e-mail until then, and
will be in touch personally in Rome from January 2007. I place
my trust in his advice and his help. I pray that we, as brothers,
sisters and laity, will assist each other in the service of preaching,
and look forward to meeting many Dominican sisters and brothers
on God’s blessed Earth!
Walberberg, Germany, April 2006