The Dominicans celebrate this year their 800-year jubilee. After starting in Spain with Dominic de Guzman, the Order developed until it became a worldwide organisation of brethren, nuns, sisters and laypersons. What does it mean being a member of a worldwide order? What does it mean to be a world citizen? That’s the subject of my interview with Leny Beemer. She is a lay Dominican and after being president for 8 years of the Dutch Dominican Lay Fraternity, she went international. Now she is president of the European Council of Lay Dominican Fraternities.
By: Tanja van Hummel
You worked for a long time as a school musician, first in primary and high schools, later as professor of School Music at the Utrecht Conservatoire. The none day you met the Dominicans. What was it that touched you?
I was touched by their involvement and very good preaching, but even more by their open mind and compassion with people. I found this in several Dominican places in The Netherlands: De St. Dominic Church in Utrecht, the Dominican priories in Huissen and Zwolle, the Giordano Bunohouse… But also by reading books by Schillebeeckx, Lascaris and Borgman. But above all I was touched by the Dominican nuns of Beaufort. This is a monastery of nuns in Brittany, France. Their open and heart warming atmosphere, beautiful singing, intense prayers, personal contacts, humour..… This touched my heart. We, my husband and I, became close friends with them and we go to this monastery several times a year for resourcing.
Did your interest for Dominican life sometimes cause tension with your work and private life?
At work my increasing interest for the Dominican spirituality in fact caused no tension. The colleagues and students knew me for years and found this fitting to me. When I coached my students at a firmly Protestant high school my Christian engagement was even a profit, although I never talked about this personal matter. Obviously people notice more about you than you realise.
In my private life my renewed interest in religion and church caused at best a moment of raised eyebrows. But we always talked openly about this.
Gradually it became self-evident and even inspriring. In 1999 I not only founded the Dutch Dominican Lay Fraternity with some friends, but also my husband Hans and our eldest daughter Hanneke entered at the same time.
Tanja van Hummel is philosopher and reporter of the site www.Nieuwwij.nl.
Read here the complete interview with Leny Beemer.