As a new Associate of the Dominican Sisters of Peace I am proud to be a part of the Dominican family. What drew me to become an Associate was a desire to become part of a community dedicated to prayer, study and building church and community. Simply stated, I wanted to proclaim the Gospel in many different formats.
As a deacon I have the privilege of preaching regularly at the Sacred Liturgy. However, St. Dominic saw the message of the gospel needed to be proclaimed not just to churchgoers but to all people: Christian and non-Christian.
At a time when social justice issues and the need to ensure all people are treated as God’s children, I felt a need to become part of a community that transcends the boundaries of the parish.
For many years, I have been interested in the life of St Francis and thought that someday I would become affiliated with the Franciscans. I expressed this one day to Sr. Bea Tiboldi, OP. She asked me: “Why not a Dominican? and gave me a few books on St Dominic. As I read the books, I began to see similarities with St Francis. Dominic, however, focused on spreading the WORD to all people through preaching and outreach.
St Dominic’s approach was, for me, “catholic” (universal). This appealed to me in light of where the Catholic church is today in the early decades of the 21st Century. The church is desperately in need of reform. It needs a new “aggiornamento” to revive the openness that Vatican II sought to achieve; a church that is inclusive and welcoming. Dominic’s emphasis on prayer, study, preaching and community brought together the things in my life that have brought me along my faith journey.
As I began to attend associate meetings and meet with my mentors, I was asked to read the Associates guidebook and reflect on what I read. I was also asked to seek out Dominicans who best represented the Dominican charism. This was not an easy task. In fact, during my search I came across a book written by Sr. Mary Jane Dorcy, OP entitled, St Dominic’s Family. The book tells the story of the lives of more than 300 famous Dominicans. The Dominican family has a wealth of contributors to Church history. Following St Dominic’s example are many women and men who have proclaimed Christ in a manner indicative of building church. However, what I was looking for was a contemporary example. I found one in Yves Congar, OP.
Yves Congar, a French Dominican priest, was one of the pioneers in the Church’s theology on ecumenism and the place of the laity in the Church. Pope John XXIII appointed him as a counselor at the Second Vatican Council. Congar’s personal influence on the Second Vatican Council was far reaching. It included lecturing international groups of bishops and helping to draft conciliar documents. Congar’s hand can be discerned in almost every major document produced by the Council Fathers. Congar was made a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1994, shortly before his death.
Reading about Congar led me to discover the brilliant minds of many Dominicans of the 19th and 20th Centuries: Chenu, Schillebeeckx, Gutiérrez, and many more. These names are just a continuation of the long history of Dominicans that have contributed greatly in spreading the Good News, including Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, Rose of Lima and Catherine of Siena.
Today, the Dominican Sisters of Peace are preaching the Gospel worldwide in outreach programs, calling for an end of gun violence and the death penalty and advocating for equal rights for minorities and the safe treatment of migrant families entering the United States and other countries.
As Associates, we are fortunate to be part of a community dedicated to preaching the Gospel and praying together as a family united under St Dominic. The rich history of the Dominican Order demonstrates the success and divinely inspired efforts of St Dominic.