1. I began as the friars’ first Promoter General of the Dominican Laity in September, 1999, in response to the General Chapter of Bologna, 1998.
2. The initial stage primarily involved establfshing the new promoter’s office at Santa Sabina (orientation, job description, goals, budget, fundraising, and files), and more importantly, beginning to meet the many lay Dominican entities in the world.
3. According to the Bologna Chapter, Acts No. 171, it was recommended that this Promoter General would preferably be a lay person, and would do the following tasks:
i. To represent the laity at the international level.
ii. To encourage contact among the different groups within the Dominican Laity.
iii. To encourage the laity to form regional and continental organizations.
I feel that I have successfully begun to accomplish these objectives, although this is just the beginning:
a) I represent the laity on the Intemational Commission of the Dominican Family and in many other instances. In some circumstances I try to find a Lay Dominican to represent the laity.
b) I have begun to meet with Dominican Sisters International (DSI) about networking the different groups of Dominican Lafty with whom we all have contact; and,
c) I have been meeting with the regional organizations regularily and assisting in the formation of new regional organizations where they are lacking. Specifically, in Europe there is the European Council of Lay Dominican Fratemities (ECLDF); in North America there is the Dominican Laity Inter-Provincial Council (DLIPC); and in Latin America there is the newly formed Laicado Dominicano de América Latina (LAIDAL). Next, we will pursue organizing the remaining regions of Africa and Asia, so that a truly representative Intemational Council of the Lay Dominicans can be formed soon.
B. LAY DOMINICAN FRATERNITIES (LDF)
1. The General Chapter of Madonna dell’Arco, 1974, No. 234, stated that “the terms first, second and third Order should be omitted”, resulting in the change of name from “Third Order Secular Dominicans (tertiaries)” to “Lay Dominican Fratemities (LDF)”. For many reasons, this change of name is still disputed among the LDF members today.
First of alf, new kinds of Dominican groups of laity continue to emerge, who sometimes use the same term “fraternities” or “Lay Dominicans” in reference to their new entities. Rightly, the LDFs (formerly tertianes) are dismayed over this sudden ambiguity about their name and feel that this also reflects difficulty over the very nature of their LDF entity, which has hundreds of years of existence. For us friars, this would be equivalent to all sorts of groups emerging under the name “Dominican friars”! More about this under section E. Other Lay Dominican Groups.
Secondly, many “tertiaries” who were clergy díd not find a comfortable place in the new LDFs which focus today on “laity”. Usually the number of these clergy in a given area is insufficient to form their own active “Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic” (which also has a new Rule). Again, this situation has not yet found an adequate solution today, in my opinfon.
2. The LDFs now live according to the revised Rule of the Lav Fratemities of St. Dominic (Montreal, 1985; approved by the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes, 1987; promulgated by Damian Byme, OP, 1987). The LDFs, however, function daily according to an approved, provincial Directory that is to be written by the local LDFs themselves. Many lay provinces have yet to write thefr provincial Directory and obtain its required approbation from their Provincial.
An updated census of Lay Dominicans who live by this Rule has begun, but is not yet completed. Previously the numbers were estimated to be more than 74,000. Over 58,000 alone are in Viet Nam, which suggests that the overall estimates are too low.
Consequently, each LDF is urged to update the statistics of their members by means of a form, which counts those who are new candidates, temporary promises and perpetual promises, and also identifies members who are unable to participate, who live alone, and who are considered “private” members. These forms are avaílable from the Promoter General’s office and a copy should be returned there when compteted.
4. According to The Rule, each province must establish a formation program (No.11) and its new members must complete the initial formation process (No. 17), after which they may make a formal promise (No. 14). !t is important to note that both the initial and on- going formation of the Lay Dominicans is a high priority of the LDFs, and that many provinces have written new formation Manuals. Laity formation will continue to be a high priority in the coming years. It is also noteworthy that the formal promise made by these Lay Dominicans has wording very similar to the vows made by the friars and nuns, and it is made to the Master of the Order (No. 14). Furthermore, The Rule states that “the Fratemities of the Order are subject to the jurisdiction of the Order.” (Rule, No. 18). For these and for many other reasons, the LDF members defensively insist that they are part of the Order, and not just part of the family, as the ongoing discussion has sometimes raised.
5. “The Master of the Order presides over all the LDFs in the world” (Rule, 19). “The Provinciai presides over all the LDFs in his territory, and with the consent of the Local Ordinary, establishes new Fratemities” (Rule, 20a). The Provincial Promoter of the Laity “is appointed by the Provincial Chapter or by the Provincial with his Council, after consultation with the Provincíal Council of the Laity” (Rule, 20b). The Provincial Promoter represents the Provincial to the LDFs and “is an ex officio member of the Provincial Council of the Dominican Laity.” (Rule, 20b). Íhere is also a Religious Assistant to each LDF “who is appointed by the Provincial after consultation with the Provincial Promoter and the local Council of the Laity.”
However, in practice many of these aspects of ihe Rule are violated. Provinces erroneously appoint provincial Promoters of the Laity Without thout consulting the Lay Provincial Council. New LDFs are established without the consent of the Provincial, or without the consent of the local Bishop. Many Religious Assistants are named to an LDF without the knowledge of the Provincial, nor his Provincial Promoter, and sometimes without the knowledge even of the local Lay Provincial Council. An important response to much of this chaos is for everyone to observe The Rule and to appoint active, qualified promoters as well as religious assistants, while observing the consultation process that is required.
6. The official translation of the Rule is in Latin. It has subsequently been translated into vernacular languages everywhere. Yet, subtle interpretations of the meaning of the Latin text, as well as some faulty translations, have resulted in the need to name “transtation committees” for some of the major languages, in order to resolve the differences. While agreement of specific wording may not be possible, there needs to be a common interpretation which, in some cases, may have to be resolved by the Master.
7. In full support of the Church’s renewed theology of the laity, the LDFs have as an objective “to form adults in the Faith, capable of accepting, celebrating, and proclaiming the Word of God” Rule, 11). They believe that “every Dominican must be prepared to preach the Word of God” (Rule, 12). The most significant consequences of this are:
i. LDF members are focusing more on their preaching charism and mission in society and are working closer with the Dominican Family in our common mission in the world;
ii. Many LDF members are shifting from a solely devotional Dominican identity to a vocational one, which can be difficult;
iii. Many in the Dominican Family still fail to understand that the Lay Dominicans are 100% lay and 100% Dominican, as was St. Catherine of Siena.
8. The Rule (No. 22b) provides for the possibility of forming an International Council of the Lay Dominican Fratemities, which many LDF members are requesting, due to numerous questions that need resolution. However, this Council would not the same as an international council comprised of the many different groups of the Dominican laity in the world. In this regard, ECLDF (Europe) and DLIPC (North America) are solely LDF structures, whereas LAIDAL (Latin America) is a mixture of different kinds of Dominican lay groups. I have begun to form a provisional International Council of LDFs simply to move forward on the process and to have access to LDF consultants.
C. DOMINMCAN YOUTH MOVEMENT (DYM)
1. Sr. Pilar del Barrio, OP, the General Secretary of the International Dominican Youth Movement (IDYM) has submitted a separate report to the General Chapter, and so it is not necessary to duplicate information here.
2. I would simply note that the DYM is growing in every continent, except North ‘ America. There are over 30 countries with DYM groups who are affiiiated with the IDYM. They adhere to the same Mission Statement and criteria, although they are each established according to their unique cultures and situations. http://idym.op.org.
3. For purposes of clarity, it is important to repeat what the Dominican Youth are and are not:
i. DYM is not a recruitment or religióus vocation program;
i. DYM is not a recruitment or religious vocation program.
ii. DYM is not primarily a pastoral or campus ministry program to youn people.
iii. DYM groups do not belong to the sisters or friars who assist them;
iv. DYM are young adults “who are committed to be disciples of Jesus Christ and they assume in their lives the basic Dominican values of prayer, study, community and preaching (Bologna, No. 161);
v. DYM groups are “members of the Dominican Family and we encourage all branches to support this movement. Cf. Caleruega 97 ” (Bologna, No. 162).
4. The IDYM has an intemational councit of elected representatives, which meets biannually. As Promoter General of the Domínican Laity, I particípate in these meetings and offer regular support to IDYM and to its General Secretary, whose office is located in Ireland. Through my annual budget, the friars contribute a smali annuaf donation toward IDYM’s expenses, However, it is evident that IDYM is under-staffed and under- funded for the many tasks at hand, as are most of the local DYM groups.
D. DOMINICAN VOLUNTEERS INTERNATIONAL (DVI)
1. One of my principal tasks during this first year and a half as Promoter General has been to establish the new Dominican Volunteers International (DVI) together with Dominican Sisters International (DSI), whose staff person to this project is Sr. Veronica Rafferty, OP.
2. As cofounders, we have established the purpose, criteria, guidelines, budget and all the initial aspects of the DVI program. DVI was officially launched at the Dominican Family Assembly in Manila, in October, 2000. Since then it has been receiving many requests for volunteers as well as applications from potential volunteers.
3. The first group of Dominican Volunteers Intemational is being trained and sent in August, 2001 to Dominican projects in the Philippines, Honduras, etc.
http://www.op.org/volunteers/ for further information.
4. DVI is a major international project of the Dominican Family, requiring full-time staff. Unfortunately, this Promoter General cannot continue to fulfil the amount of time needed for DVI while also serving the other laity needs. Consequently, we need your help in searching for a futl-time friar to join the DVI team composed of Sr. Veronica from DSI and Carola Arrue, who is the lay member on the team.
E. OTHER LAY DOMINICAN GROUPS
1. As mentioned earlier in Part B, there are many other Lay Dominican groups, most of which have appeared only in the last 30 years, as we have noted in our recent General Chapter Acts. They can be characterized primarily as foflows:
i. Groups founded by, or affiliated with, a particular branch of the Dominican Family such as a congregation of Dominican Sisters, e.g. associates, lay prayer groups, new fraternities according to congregational statutes, youth groups, vofunteer groups, etc.;
ii. Secular Institutes and Consecrated Virgins;
iii. Formal organizations and pious associations founded by an individual (usually a Dominican) for spíritual or apostolic purposes, e.g. FASTA, Dominican Lay Scholars Community, etc.;
iv. Ecumenical and mixed Dominican Family groups, such as Jubilatio, some of the lay preaching teams, etc.;
v. Confratemities (which actually have a very long history) such as the Rosary confraternities, Angelic warfare, etc.;
vi. Alternative Dominican lay groups “who have appeared as alternatives to the traditional Dominican fratemities. In general, these lay people do not primarily desire to integrate themselves into a structure, but to participate in the mission of the Order as individuals or a family aggregated to some community of friars and their work ” (Bologna, No. 174).
2. I continue to discover more lay Dominican groups aiong the way, but to date I have not been able to devote much attention to them. How they shall relate to one another as the “lay branch” of the Dominican Family is yet to be seen. As mentioned in A.3b, I have begun to dialogue with Sr. Margaret Ormond, OP, the intemational coordinator of DSI, to determine what we might be able to do together “to encourage contact among the different groups within the Dominican Laity” (Bologna, 171.2).
F. OTHER ACTIVITIES
1. One of my major tasks has been to serve as a member of the Intemational Organizing Committee of the Dominican Family Assembly (Manila, 2000). In particular, I coordinated those projects, which included: an Internet page (http://family2ooo.op.org), the media coverage, and the vídeo. The documentary video on the Assembly is available in English, French, and Spanish.
2. As Promoter General of the Dominican Laity, t am a member of the International Commission of the Dominfcan Family (Bologna, 149-150), as well as a member of the “Team of Promoters” at Santa Sabina.
3. Since being named Promoter General, I have visited Dominican youth and laity in 26 countries, frequently making formal presentations at their meetings and regional assemblies.
There are more invitations than I can accept and more correspondence by post and e-mail than I can personally answer. I am dividing my time between beíng in the office at Santa Sabina and being “on the road” to meet and support the Dominican youth and laity groups.
G. FUTURE CHALLENGES
1. One of the greatest challenges facing the Dominican Laity today is to create lay structures and organizations that are appropriate for them, rather than duplicating models from the religious branches of the Family.
2. The Dominican Laity want to have a network with a trufy Dominican identity. Generally, they do not live together, they do not own institutions, they do not have centralized finances, they are not “visible” as Dominicans, and there is not “one size that fits ali” when dealing with them. But the diversity is powerful, although extremely challenging. It is exciting for the whole Family!
What should the relationship be between the Dominican Laity and other branches of the Domínican Family? Is it a mutual relationship? Can it be more egalitarian and supportive? The friars and sisters have juridical control over all the Dominican Laity groups. In some instances, friars and sisters organizations have denied participation of Dominican Laity groups, when it seemed appropriate. In light of Vatican II’s theology of the laity, Dominican lay groups compare themselves to the many new lay associations in the Church and question whether this type of clerical-lay structure is still appropriate. These questions do not indicate that the Dominican Laity want no relationship with the other branches of the Famiiy, but rather seek to clarify exactly what their relationship to the Dominican Family is.
3. The Dominican youth and laity would like to do more with the Dominican Family in our common apostolates and new missions. They realize that they have much on-going work to do in terms of formation and organization. Any help with formation from the other branches in the Family is welcomed. Yet some Lay Dominicans find that they are not readily inciuded even when they are prepared and available. How can we do more in mission together?
4. The Dominican Laity is the largest branch of the Dominican Family, yet it has very little organization, structure, administration, funds, or staff, whether at the local or intemational level. The Dominican youth and laity are keenly aware of this and together we are working to remedy the situation. I have begun an intemational “Dominícan Laity Solidarity Fund” to help remedy this. Patience and solidarity from the rest of the Dominican Family is greatly welcomed and appreciated.
Fr. Gerald Stookey, OP
Promoter General of the Dominican Laity