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A call to reflection, conversion, celebration, action

2010 Marks 500th Anniversary of Order’s Arrival in the Americas

November 13, 2009 -- Next year, 2010, will mark the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Dominicans, Order of Preachers, in the Americas. Dominicans in many quarters are beginning to explore how we might celebrate this anniversary and view it as a time of reflection on the role of the Order of Preachers in the 21st Century.

What will we preach and how will we live in the tradition of the first friars who spoke with such force on behalf of the poor? No matter who is poor in our eyes: Iraqi refugees, the unborn, the unemployed, hungry or without shelter, those who find no home in the church.

Antonio de Montesinos was a Dominican friar on the island of Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic and Haiti) who was the first member of them Order to publicly denounce all forms of enslavement and oppression of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. He spoke for the community there. What will we preach and how will we live?

He and his companions were sent from the Convent in Salamanca, with a double emphasis on contemplation and poverty. Their best preachers denounced the Spaniards who held Indians in captivity. They were asked to stop preaching and refused.

Recently Don Goergen,OP (St. Albert) asked some compelling questions and stirred some challenging observations

How might we reclaim their social consciousness as expressed in such documents as “Rerum Novarum” and recently in “Caritas in Veritate?” They urge us to reclaim our interdependence, to ensure that poor nations have a voice in decisions that affects their lives, to work toward timely disarmament and food security and peace. They also call for protection of the environment and regulation of migrations. What is truly necessary is “integral human development” described by John Paul VI.

"Where are we as Catholics and Dominicans on these moral issues? We have lost sight of, or perhaps never had a consistency in our ethical vision that gives witness to the gospel as a whole. The right to life has become an issue of the right and the promotion of justice is an issue of the left. Are we too aligned with political groups rather than with the Gospel mandate to support life at every age and stage?  In his message on the World Day of Prayer for Peace, the Pope talked about erasing poverty to build peace. He noted that almost half of all those living in poverty are children.

Pope Benedict also said: “Effective means to redress the marginalization of the world’s poor through globalization will only be found if people everywhere feel personally outraged by the injustices in the world and by the concomitant violations of human rights” Another area of concern is the connection between disarmament and development."

Questions to ponder:

Can we not in these areas of social concern, think in terms of both/and rather than either/or? Can we not be pro life and pro justice and pro care for the earth? To have the right to be born or to have the right to survive: Is that the question?

If so, both to be able to be born and to be able to survive- that is the answer. We can only do so much. Pick some issues /efforts we can be involved in. Can we join in with other members of the Body of Christ and see how all our efforts can work for the common good?

Our final question: Are we ourselves open to conversion? Conversion implies an openness to re-structure our way of thinking. It is not easy. We may lose friends. But is this not what the Gospel asks of us?  Am I open to rethinking what I have been doing or not doing in relation to these urgent questions? Whatever our individual contributions to developing a culture of non-violence, a civilization of love, or the new evangelization, ought we not all recognize that non-violence means the non-violence of the personhood of all?

 Let us all work together to promote deeper care for the earth, justice, life and peace– to promote the right to live and the right to live with dignity – as we prepare to commemorate the arrival of the Holy Preaching in this part of the world.  

What will we preach and how will we live?

Download the full text (PDF) of Don Goergen's reflections on the 500th Anniversary



Can we not be pro-life and pro- justice and pro- care for the earth?
To have the right to be born or to have the right to survive?

Are we ourselves open to conversion?