Subscribe to
Home | Sisters | Associates | Friars | Laity | Nuns | Link to Groups | World OP| DLC

Today's Readings

OP Liturgical Calendar

Church Calendar

Resource Books

Preaching Justice

OP Sources Edgewood

College Preachers

High School Preachers

Letter from International Preaching Commission

To the Brothers and Sisters in the Order of Preachers
from the Preaching Commission of the Order:

A Report on Work in Progress


Following a petition from the General Chapter in Bologna (1998), and a report on the progress of the survey on preaching throughout the Order at the Krakow General Chapter (2004), the Preaching Commission was set up by the current Master, Brother Carlos Azpiroz Costa, to take forward the work of examining the question of the charism of preaching for men and women of the Order. The Krakow Chapter recommended discussion on two particular questions: 1.Is collaborative preaching by Dominican women and men, lay and ordained, essential to our witness to the Gospel? 2. How does profession in the Order of Preachers imply a commission to preach as a participation in the essential mission of the Order? The Chapter further recommended, ‘before the next chapter, a small meeting of theologians, historians, pastors and canonists be held to evaluate responses, continue the reflection and propose future steps to be taken’ (ACG 108-112).

We, the Preaching Commission of the Order of Preachers, met at Santa Sabina, the General Curia of the Order, from 11 to 14 February 2007.  This is our report of work in progress to all members of the Family.

Address from Bro. Carlos, Master of the Order

When Bro. Carlos met with the Commission, he reminded us that the grace of preaching had been given by the Holy Spirit to the entire family for the renewal of preaching in the Church and world. He said: ‘In his time, St Dominic saw the effect of the lack of preaching of the Word of God on the Church and world of his day – the disciplinary reform of the Church was not enough.’ Bro. Carlos put to us the following questions: What does the grace of preaching mean today? How do we bring about the renewal of preaching in the entire Order as essential to our common vocation?  Within that context, how can we open and widen institutional authorisation to preach? He concluded that this was not a task for the friars alone but needed the reflection of the whole family if the Order was to grow in all its branches.

Preaching Survey

The starting point for the reflections of the Commission was the survey from friars, sisters, nuns and laity from around the world on the Dominican charism of preaching. The compilation of the survey, completed by Bro. David Rocks OP of the Irish Province in July 2006, gave us the foundation for our deliberations and we are immensely grateful to all who took part. We hope that this report will inspire those who did not respond to do so in future.

There are many other documents and exhortations from General Chapters and Congresses on Mission, letters from the Masters of the Order, preaching and addresses to gatherings of the family throughout the world. We therefore did not see it as our task to add another document to this rich heritage. Rather, we wanted to take account of where we are as an Order in responding to the grace of preaching and to underline the challenges we face. Our most basic challenge is rediscovering that preaching is at the heart of our vocation and identity. That requires of us a greater dedication to study and finding new modes of preaching in today’s world.

Preaching in Collaboration and Formation

We began with an analysis of our current reality related to our preaching charism in the Order, looking at the internal strengths and weaknesses and the external obstacles and opportunities. We are greater witnesses to the spirit of St Dominic when we preach together as the Dominican family. As the message from the members of the international commissions of the Dominican Order, meeting in Fanjeaux in May 2006, stated – we commit ourselves to finding spaces to preach together as Dominic’s family. We note the differences in theological education between the various branches of the Order and consider theological formation to be essential for everyone in the Order, lay and ordained. We note with regret an occasional lack of emphasis on the preaching charism. We need to re-appropriate the original inspiration that preaching should inform every aspect of Dominican life.  Our houses, whether priories, convents, monasteries or homes of the laity, have to become a Holy Preaching.

Words of Hope leading into the Mystery

We affirm that our world is one hungry for the Word that says ‘yes’ to life and all creation; that tells the truth instead of lies; that gives meaning to being human; that puts dignity before greed; that proclaims hope, especially to the poor and excluded, that, in short, preaches Jesus Christ.

Our preaching is a participation in the mission of the Spirit of God who extends the horizon of our concern to all of humanity, to the good of Creation and to a dialogue with those of all cultures and faiths. Jesus preached not just through words, but through his liberating lifestyle. Our lives need to reflect the Gospel we preach. Preaching has to be given priority in the Order and in the Church at large. It is our specific responsibility, not only to witness to the Gospel, but to proclaim it explicitly. We need to rediscover that zeal for the Word that liberates and gives meaning to God’s creation.

We believe that all preaching should lead people to the mystery of God. This should be made manifest by our spirituality of joy, hospitality, contemplation, option for justice, the ongoing search  for truth and a passion for life.

An Invitation to All

We recognise and celebrate the collaboration that already exists among the branches of the Order in many parts of the world. They include: joint preaching ventures, collaborative theological institutes, networks on justice and peace issues, media, joint catechetical teams, collaborative formation, itinerant preaching teams, pastoral ministry. We invite you to share with us your own experiences of collaboration and your hopes, difficulties and dreams of how we can work together more fully in the future.

We invite you to continue this reflection on how we as individuals and communities make preaching the priority that structures and animates our Dominican life:  contemplation, study, community life and ministries. We urge you to share with us models for making our houses a Holy Preaching.

Challenges and Tasks

Two of the challenges that face us are: (1) the Fundamental Constitution of the friars of the Order in relation to our present historical reality as Dominican family and (2) the authorisation for preaching by the non-ordained in the liturgical context. We recognise that we wrestle with these questions in different contexts but consider them fundamental for the preaching. We also began to discuss the need for a Constitution for the Dominican Family. As a Commission, we have begun to discuss these questions but they require prayer, study and disputation of the entire Family. We invite you to join in this project and share with us the fruits of your contemplation.

Our future tasks include: finding new forms of preaching as a Dominican family, gathering suitable resources, emphasising specific formation for the Holy Preaching in every branch of the Order, stressing justice and peace as an integral part of evangelization and therefore of our preaching, and in particular the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a justice focus. Our international commissions meeting in Fanjeaux-Prouilhe in 2006, committed themselves to taking the MDGs on board as an issue for the whole Order. How do we preach them? How do we make the whole family more aware of the centrality of preaching to their being Dominican and especially the laity? How do we encourage study not for its own sake but as an evangelisation of the intellect?

We recommend to all branches of the Order in their upcoming congresses and meetings to put these issues on the agenda and to discuss them as daughters and sons of St Dominic and to share their insights with us.

 If, after this first meeting, we will have stimulated debate in the Order about the centrality and the modes of preaching, then we are on the right track to renewing Dominic’s dream of praising, blessing and preaching. We look forward to hearing from all branches of the Order so that we can continue our work in a participative way as the Dominican Family.

Signed by all members of the Commission:

Mary Catherine Hilkert, M Viviana Ballarin, Blanca Guerrero Gomez, Duncan MacLaren, Allan White, Sidbe Semporé, Daniel Cadrin, Felicisimo Martinez Diez, Marcio Couto, Chrys McVey [Petronille Kayiba]

Related Links

Report on February 11-14, 2007 Meeting of the International Preaching Commission

Download a Word version of this letter here.

Read the Summary on Dominican Charism of Preaching
(Word document)


Home | Contact Us | DLC
Dominican Life | USA is sponsored by the Dominican Leadership Conference,
the networking organization for elected leaders in the USA.
Dominican Life | USA © 2002-
2007, All Rights Reserved
Web Editor: Anne Lythgoe, OP

Subscribe to and get a free email update every two weeks.