The Lay Dominicans of the UK had an Assembly on 4th July 2015 in the Dominican Priory, Leicester. For the second time it was an Assembly ‘new style’: only one day with a good guest speaker and less talking about council subjects. The ECLDF was invited to be present at this Assembly. Leny Beemer- de Vos, president of the ECLDF, came for this meeting to Leicester.
The Promoter General of the Dominican Laity, Fr. Rui Lopes o.p. could not come, as he was in Brazil at the time. Therefore his assistant, Ruth Anne Henderson, former ECLDF president, did come on behalf of him. We travelled together by train from Birmingham Airport
The welcome in the afternoon of the 3rd of July was heart warming. Ten of the UK Lay Dominicans were already in Leicester, some of them in the same hotel where Ruth Anne and I stayed. We had only time to put our baggage in our room, because we were invited by Conchita Dunn, one of the organizing lay Dominicans from Cornwall, and Peter Kilty, president of the UK Lay Dominicans, to have dinner together in a bustling Italian restaurant. From that moment all the ice was broken. What a surprise meeting some ‘old’ friends, Lay Dominicans from the UK we met before at several European ECLDF Assemblies. And within a short time I got many new Dominican friends.
On Saturday 4 July many other Lay Dominicans varying in age from 17 to 90 and some friars from all over the country gathered in the Dominican Priory and I was able to speak with many of them. The Promoter of the UK Lay Dominicans, Fr. Bob Eccles, came to me to transmit many greetings from one of the Dutch brother novices, Stefan Magnus, having his noviciate in Cambridge at the moment. He was previously one of my dearest Lay Dominican brothers in the Netherlands.
Fr. Timothy Radcliffe o.p. was invited for the Assembly to give two talks: one in the morning about the significance of the human body, responding to the Albigensians today, one in the afternoon about the Word of God. After each talk Fr. Timothy wandered around among the audience in the hall and, as people thought of comments or questions, he engaged with each personally, while still bringing in everyone else, so the whole room was discussing his points together in no time. He is a very inspiring speaker and is able to draw everybody within the subjects he is talking about in such a way that you easily think and speak yourself about how you see and experience things.
Of course I cannot repeat in this small report what Br. Timothy talked about. Anyhow I still remember a lot of his words as if they were new in my mind. I will never forget his saying in the morning: ‘Being bodily is being dependent’, and ‘The body is the visible expression of grace’. In the afternoon again words which remain in my mind: ‘Revelation is dialogue, is letting ourselves be changed.’
And more personal: ‘Look at me…’ meaning ‘Hold my gaze, listen and understand what I am saying to you…’
Lunch was a fantastic buffet, offered by everyone. All kinds of food, fruit, sweets, etc were colourfully spread on a long table. There was plenty for everybody. And it was a very good time to continue the meetings and conversations. Outside the weather was beautiful and behind the priory church a photo was taken of the whole group.
A pity we did not wait for Br. Timothy, who came later for his second talk. A lively discussion followed the talks by Br. Timothy, after which he had to go quickly to another appointment. Ruth Anne and I got the opportunity to tell the Assembly about the activities of ECLDF and those of Br. Rui.
The atmosphere was very good. The Cornwall fraternity, presided by Conchita Dunn, did a great job for the whole organization. The next morning Ruth Anne and I went back to our respective homelands Italy and The Netherlands with a grateful heart, knowing the UK Province is very alive and alert!
Leny Beemer- de Vos, ECLDF president