Sunday, April 28, 2013

Viability of US Dominican Missions

Throughout the 20th century Dominicans sent Friars and Sisters from the United States to found missions in the Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Nairobi, New Guinea, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Romania, Samoa, South Africa, Sudan, Taiwan, Tanzania, Trinidad and the Virgin Islands.  In preparation for the 800th anniversary of the Order and the 2nd International Congress on the History of the Order of Preachers in America to be held in Colombia in 2016, study of the history and viability of these missions is underway.

Dominican Institutions in the US

Between 1800 and 2000 Dominican men and women have founded over 500 institutions for formation, worship, education, orphan care, medical care, nursing care, prayer, devotion, college education and campus ministry in the United States.

  • 4 Provinces and 10 Dioceses 1806-1979
  • 35 Congregations 1822-1997
  • 385 Schools 1830-1978
  • 71 Academies founded 1851-1968
  • 19 Orphanages and Nurseries 1852-1910
  • 25 Hospitals 1870-1952
  • 13 Monasteries 1880-1958
  • 25 Colleges 1890-1979
  • 9 Newman Centers 1908-1999

The Spirit of the Order

Dominican Sisters of the present era read Sacred Scripture, Catholic Teachings, Dominican History, and the writings of Catholic theologians.  In addition to religious studies, they have advanced education in history, science, math, languages, literature, music, fine arts, philosophy, education, medicine and psychology.  Shared study of current events, social justice and contemplative dialogue are hallmarks of contemporary Dominican religious formation.  Devotion to Mary continues to inform us as preachers and bearers of the Word.  There are approximately 24,600 Dominican Sisters in the world at the present time, 151 congregations in 110 countries. The Spirit of the Order: prayer, study, community and preaching are the four pillars that guide the spirit of Dominican women throughout the world.  There are presently 6 Congregations in Africa, 23 in Asia Pacific, 81 in Europe, 19 in Latin America and Caribbean and 22 in North America. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Memory and Tolerance

Yesterday Pati and I visited the Museum of Memory and Tolerance in Mexico City.  The building itself is a work of art.  It is constructed as a cube within a cube.  The inner cube decorated with the branches of an olive tree holds memories of genocide in all parts of the world from the time of the Jewish holocaust to today.  Hundreds of photos, videos, artifacts and personal statements testify to the atrocities committed by one people against one another.  On the outer cube are three large fingerprints leading to the identification within ourselves of forms of self-interest that can lead us to distrust, oppress and destroy one another.  This is a tremendously powerful exhibit that inspires both reflection and action.  It is not enough to know, one must also be willing to accept what one knows as truth, and to risk acting in accord with what one knows.  In the context of our international congress on the mission of Dominicans throughout history, this museum strengthened my commitment to working for justice for women in the Church.  In the last room of the museum is an exhibit on violence against women.  The woman in the sound-surround video remains silent while a man rails against her without ceasing. There seems to be no other point but this question, "How long does one stay??"  This is the question too many women ask themselves in our homes, in our churches, in our schools and in our workplaces.  How do we join together to say "Never again!" and make it so?  I depart Mexico laden with the love of my sisters and the responsibility I hold toward all who count on us to make a difference. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

North and Central American Dominicans Today

After our presentations we answered questions about differences we perceived between the Dominican situtation in North and Central America.  Fr. John spoke about the reality of multicultural parishes and the challenges that presents in worship and in formation of new vocations.  He pointed out that this is a benefit to the Church and a challenge well worth the extra cost.  It is a creative tension that will bear great fruit for the future of the Church.  I spoke about the importance of equality for women for the Church in the United States.  Because of our advanced education in education, theology, sociology, anthropology, psychology and our experiences in leadership in government and business, the lack of openness to leadership positions for women in the central government of the Church is an obstacle to religious vocations among women in North America.  This is a struggle in which we remain humble, patient and gentle...and yet strong.  We will not give up this struggle.  The call to the apostolate, the example of our Blessed Mother, the preaching of St. Mary Magdalen and the Dominican mystics support us in this struggle.  We will persevere... and we will win!  The struggle for equality for women is right and just because our right to equal dignity and authority in the Church is based on the human right to freedom for all people and guaranteed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He who preached no woman or man, no gentile or Jew, surely supports our cause.  It must happen, and it surely will happen in our lifetime!  Our Church needs the leadership gifts of women to thrive and flourish into the next century.  

U.S Dominicans in the Expansion Period

Dr. Hna. Donna Maria Moses of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose presented  on the European Influences on Dominican congregations founded in the United States.  The two greatest influences were the foundations in Stone, England and Regensburg, Germany.  During the expansion period from 1850 and 1950 a total of 28 congregations were founded.  Eleven draw their roots from Regensburg in Bavaria.  Although many came hoping to preach the Gospel to poor natives, their main mission was to educate poor immigrants from European countries and tend the sick.  In order to carry out this mission the foundresses spent the better part of their lives establishing a rule that would allow them to live an apostolic life.  All existing rules at that time were for monastic life.  With the approval of the Master General and the Pope they turned to the English Dominicans and borrowed from the 3rd order Rule written by the foundress of the Stone Dominicans to create their own Constitutions.  They negotiated with local bishops and business men to purchase land and build numerous institutions, many of which still exist today.  Between 1822 and 1997, 35 Dominican congregations were founded in the United States.  They founded 385 schools, 71 academies, 19 orphanages, 25 hospitals and 19 colleges, all of which were owned and operated by 3rd Order Dominican Sisters.  During the same period 13 monasteries of 2nd Order Dominican nuns were also founded.

Pere G. H. Levesque in 20th century Quebec

Dr. Fr. Maxime Allard, OP of College Dominicain in Ottawa, Canada presented on the life and social transformation of Pere G. H. Levesque in 20th century Quebec. In Quebec in the 1960’s French Catholics lived in the rural areas but the cities were primarily controlled by English-speaking Protestants.  Levesque sought a way to keep the Catholic faith in a Protestant land.  He did not want to create Catholic ghettos, so the unions, cooperatives and schools he proposed were run by Catholics but open to all.  He sent students from the university he founded in Ottawa to northern France to study Economics, Sociology and Politics but to do so with a heart imbued by the Catholic faith.  His basic thesis was that through love of self and of others, individuals flourish and become free.  His socio-economic ethics draw upon Aquinas and Pius XI.   Over time the University of Ottawa began to turn out large numbers of priests with PhD.  Rather than sending them out to create more Catholic universities, Levesque sent them to invade and take over other existing universities with their intellectual tradition and knowledge of sociology, economics and politics.  Thus, Levesque and his followers eventually brought about the social transformation of Quebec.