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St. Martin de Porres Province
Lay Dominicans Gather in New Orleans

OP Laity meetingNEW ORLEANS, LA April 14, 2008 --- In early March, Lay Dominicans from across the Southeastern United States met at the Dominican Conference Center here for their Lay Provincial Council Meeting (LPC). Presently, this is the only assembly that allows the elected leadership of the 24 Lay Dominican Chapters in the St. Martin de Porres Province to meet face to face.

During these four days we took an honest look at the challenges facing the chapters and also a strong focus on our strengths. A more consistent and module-based formation program was a challenge we addressed and we decided that a Formation Committee will be formed to review the revised materials from the Eastern Province for compatibility with the approved topics for Inquiry and Candidacy from our Province.  Another common challenge, attracting new candidates, was addressed by creating a vocations/media committee to develop a marketing kit for the lay province to increase our visibility. We will also work on translating more of our material to Spanish. 

Discussions were held on implementing resolutions accepted by national and inter-national assemblies of Lay Dominicans. One such resolution addressed the issue of dual membership and states;  

Because of the unique charism, spirit, and vocation of the Dominican Laity, we recommend that life professed members of other association of the Christian faithful who share the spirit and are under the devotion of another religious institute or similar organization (whether called 3rd Order, secular, laity or some other name) not be permitted also to be members of the Dominican Laity.

We also adopted newly promulgated declarations by the Master of the Order which came about from the International assembly of Lay Dominicans held in Argentina. Some areas addressed by these declarations are;

  1. identity and incorporation of the members of Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic
  2. Provincial Directories
  3. Dispensation from proper Law
  4. Temporary and Permanent Indult
  5. Dismissal from Promise

Our promoter for JPCC, Scott Farris, presented a JPCC Charter proposal to the LPC and, after some discussion, it was approved and will be implemented as a Provincial Justice and Peace program. Each group and/or chapter is called to provide one representative who will participate in a three year program designed to bring forth a list of issues that deserve attention.  Once this list of opportunities is created, each group will discern which, if any, action(s) will become part of their Dominican “mission.”  We will also collectively discern one action that will become a provincial wide action.

OP SouthOur hope as a commission is to become prophetic- to challenge unjust situations with the message of the Gospel, by word and by deed.  We also hope to be pragmatic- to work in solidarity with others to transform those parts of our lives, our Church, our society and our world that do not contribute to the building of the Kingdom of justice, peace, and love.  We will become involved in monitoring developments globally that affect us locally.  Through utilization of the four pillars of Dominican life, we aim to conduct research, provide information, service, and support, and collaborate with others who serve the cause of Justice and Peace.

Beginning in April 2008, we will gather by teleconference monthly to study the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching.  This study will form the foundation of all our work as a commission.  The second year (2009) will be spent discerning opportunities for peace and justice action in local areas.  Year three (2010) will see the implementation of JPCC actions.

Ultimately, our work as a commission will result in accomplishing several goals:

  1. We will create a body of work and accomplishment that will speak out against injustices in our province;
  2. By relying on the four pillars, we will actively participate in the holy preaching of the Dominican charism;
  3. We will create a greater sense of “community within a community”;
  4. We will make ourselves visible to others that may be discerning a vocation to lay Dominican life.

We explored technological options for improving communications among us such as teleconferencing techniques, net meetings, private chat rooms, and a greater use of e-mail. Our provincial newsletter will now be primarily distributed via email and available on line to be duplicated as necessary. And of course, we wrestled with financial matters which focused on looking for creative ways for chapter members to meet their financial obligations and to generate additional income outside of membership assessments. A finance committee will be created to brainstorm fundraising and to along with obtaining 501-c status. Once the resolutions were passed, the priorities were set, and a budget was created to support them, an executive council was elected to ensure that the work of the Lay Provincial Council Meeting is successively carried out in service of our chapters. Bruce Trigo was elected as Provincial Moderator, J. Scott Farris was elected as Provincial Vice –Moderator, Theresa Alvarez was elected as Provincial Secretary and William Malloy was elected Provincial Treasurer by acclamation.

As well as attending to the business aspects of our chapters, we also celebrated the other pillars of Dominican life: prayer, study, and community. An emphasis was made during our morning and evening prayers to have a lay preacher give a reflection on the daily reading. We were fortunate to have Sr. Anne Willits, O.P., with us on Thursday evening to discuss Dominican Spirituality in the 21st century. Some of her main points for us as Dominican Laity included to:

  1. Proclaim the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ in many different ways as we are called
  2. Live the apostolic life of unity, indefatigable journeying, and voluntary poverty
  3. Insert ourselves into the ministry and mission of the Church, and
  4. Provide structures for ourselves by which we govern ourselves according to the Dominican tradition.

Sister Anne challenged us to “build bridges” among people and to ask ourselves repeatedly “Who is the God you preach?”

Our Provincial Promoter of the Dominican Laity, fr. John Lydon OP, gave a brief history of preaching including a doctrinal/dogmatic perspective,  a focus on preaching about the human condition, and preaching based on Scripture.  He emphasized Dominic as Preacher and many other historically noteworthy Dominican preachers as well.  He also shared some of the methods and resources that he uses when preparing his homilies. 

In many ways these four days could be considered a magnification and or intensification of a regular monthly chapter meeting. It was a unique formation experience for all who attended, filling us with overflowing hope and enthusiasm to share with the chapters we represent.

Source:Bruce Trigo, Lanie Leblanc, and Scott Farris

St. Martin Province website

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