With the church bells ringing a new day in Fatima starts. After breakfast and Lauds we go to the Assembly room, our epic centre for the next days. While we are singing the Jubilee song, we enter this room and on the ground there is a huge rosary. and we gather around it. By lighting a candle Leny Beemer, the President of the ECLDF, opens the Assembly.
Cristina Busto, the Lay President of Portugal, welcomes all participants on behalf of the Portuguese Fraternities. She tells us that the hotel where we are staying is also a house of the Dominican Sisters and it is the place where the Lay Dominicans feel at home and celebrate their special occasions.
The first speaker is Br Bruno Cadoré, the Master of the Order. In his talk he gives an answer to the questions: What does it mean to be a Lay Dominican as preacher of hope? Can we speak more precisely of laity and preachers? Why do we speak about lay preachers? The Master thinks it’s an essential dimension to be what you preach. Lay Dominicans are in the Church, the Church will – by the grace of God – be built through preaching and he has noticed a shift in the way we think about evangelization. Being a Lay Dominican is not saying what you are in canonical terms, but what the identity of the Order is, because all laity are called to be actors of evangelization. We do that by evangelizing through our belonging to the fraternity; the fraternity, the community is our way of preaching. When St. Dominic started the Order, he was looking to Jesus’ preaching of proclaiming the Kingdom of God and thought about how he could help the Church.
The Master hopes that Lay Dominicans can also contribute to the Church in this way: in who she is through preaching, in what the possibilities are and how you can do that as a community. ‘So it is not important to organize the agenda or the schedule of the masses, but how we live and who we could be through our community. Because we choose for communities, we have the hope that humanity is able to live in a community. Being a brother or a sister is a capacity put into each human being. If we say that we are an Order of Grace and Salvation, then we say something about this ability: we try to live as brothers and sisters. We don’t say that we have to be a perfect community, but by our communities we can talk with each other about being a community. And our duty as preachers is to call the human community to their ability: the grace of the Lord is acting in the world and works in the heart of every individual and in the communities’, Bruno says.
In history, Europe was dominant and powerful and imposed its will on others. Europe is not in such a position today, but the good news is that humility is our real strength: Europe is called to try to be one in and through the diversity. The Master states that we have a common inheritance, that shows us that we can be one: ‘We want to be one, a community, with and through the diversity and we can do that in humility. The struggle for being a community calls everybody to convert him- or herself. Community is not what we shall be ourselves in the future, but what you shall receive, because it is present from the beginning. As Europeans and as Lay Dominicans, as preachers of hope, we have to remind people, who they could be as a person and what you can receive through diversity can be received from the beginning. This is an important challenge: while we understand our history, we have to proclaim something specific to the world and that is this interaction of communion given from the beginning, and diversity; an interaction which leads to peace.’ After these words the delegates had the opportunity to share their questions and concerns with the Master.
Before lunch we celebrated Mass in the chapel and the Master of the Order was the celebrant. It was very special because Sergio, a Lay Dominican from Portugal, made his final profession. In the afternoon each Province and Vicariate presented themselves and shared with the other participants their special projects and topics. It was good and inspiring to hear all those stories.
And last but not least the Council presented the report (activity and finances) over the period 2014-2017.
The Assembly thanks the Council for all the activities and stimulating contacts between the Lay Fraternities in Europe. This first intensive day ended with praying the rosary and Vespers. After dinner some rehearseal for singing at the celebration tomorrow, some were going to the nearby Sanctuary and some had an informal meeting in the bar of the hotel. It was a good and fraternally lively day!
Click here for:
- word of welcome of Cristina Busto
- the liturgy book 5th October 2017
- the Assembly prayer.
- the report of the ECLDF (coming soon)
- the report of the ICLDF
- the photos of 5th October