Monday, August 18, 2008

The Renewal of the Dominican Order

Anna Arco writes in the Catholic Herald (UK): The Renewal of the Dominican Order is Flourishing:
From St Thomas Aquinas to Fra Angelico, St Dominic de Guzman to Meister Eckhart, the Dominicans have been a dominant force on the intellectual life of the Church.

Marked by a rigorous academic tradition matched with a duty to save souls, to be both apostolic and contemplative, the Order of the Friars Preachers has been around for almost 800 years. But in the period spanning between 1963 and 1984, it looked as though the Dominicans might be among the first casualties of the collapse in religious life that followed the Second Vatican Council.

Like many other religious orders, the Dominicans revised their constitutions and began to re-examine their charism. In that period, over 3,000 brethren left the Order, world-wide, and by 1975, over 700 priests were laicized, according to Fr Benedict Ashley, an American Dominican. They were in the midst of a serious identity crisis.

But today, in the English Province, the Order of the Friars Preachers, is witnessing a slow and steady resurgence. Over half the friars are under 40, while most of the older ones are over 60. The English Province has 75 friars at present and a small but constant trickle of energetic novices. Young and enthusiastic or older and experienced, they are all Dominicans. Whatever their differences as men, they see themselves as called to follow St Dominic's mission to preach and save souls.

...Fr Timothy Gardner, a friar based at London's St Dominic's Priory, believes that the growth of the last two decades is the result of the order rediscovering its charism. It has returned to the intentions of its founder to be defenders of orthodoxy, through study, prayer and preaching.
Yes, this is precisely what happens when religious orders strive to remain true to their charisms!

The Dominican Laity also appears to be having a bit of a resurgence, particularly with young adults: lay folks, single and married, who desire to ground themselves in Christ in the way of life St. Dominic instituted, equipping themselves to preach the Gospel, particularly in areas where the friars are not able to go.

A gesture of thanks to Mark at Dominican Idaho.

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