REPORT ON THE LAY PREACHING WEBSITE

At the last European Assembly in Slovakia in 2008 it was proposed that the European Dominican laity make use of modern technology by launching a lay preaching website to publish stories of fruitful use of our opportunities to preach the Good News by word, gesture and example. The Assembly appointed a team of four – three lay Dominicans and the Promoter General – to manage this new initiative. The lay members were chosen not least because they are all in one way or another professionals with words: they are a couple from Brussels, Guido Van Damme, who is a journalist; Bénédicte Van Damme, his wife, who is a translator; and me, Ruth Anne Henderson, a Scot living in Italy, an academic in the field of English language studies.  It is useful too that we are each fluent in at least two languages and competent in at least one more.

Third meeting of the European Council of Lay Dominican Fraternities

Rome, 29-31 October 2009

1 – Since the 7th European Assembly of Lay Dominican Fraternities in Slovakia from 29 May to 3 June 2008, where the five members of the European Council of Fraternities (ECLDF) were elected, the Council has met three times: first in Brussels from 23 to 26 October 2008, then in Paris from 4 to 7 June 2008, and recently at the Santa Sabina convent in Rome from 29 to 31 October 2009.

Lay Dominican Preaching Website

As members of the Order of Preachers, we are following in the footsteps of the apostles. So our Dominican vocation to “Go and preach” needs feedback in the form of sharing our preaching experiences with Jesus as well as with one another (Mk 6:30). Jesus was not only a ‘liturgical preacher’, proclaiming the Gospel in the Temple and the synagogue, but above all an ‘itinerant preacher’, using as his ‘pulpit’ the world around him, and as his ‘text’ the daily life of his countrymen and -women.

State of the Laity within the Dominican Family today – 2009

(concise summary)

DEVELOPMENTS

Increasing awareness of the apostolic aspect of vocation:

The friars discern that the laity are not only the object of their preaching, but they are considered more and more as companions in preaching, especially in places where the friars are not so skilled: in family life, the neighborhood, in the professions, in society, the economy and politics. The laity, too, discern more and more that they are protagonists of preaching in their typical environment, where they are specialists. There is an increasing esteem and mutual respect. In the spirit of the Church, understood as Mystery of Communion, the secular branch is respected no longer like a “third Order” of Dominicans, but as  integrated members of a religious family, called by the development of their own charism to respond to the same universal vocation.

Ongoing Formation for Lay Dominicans

Most chapters/fraternities of Lay Dominicans have elderly or disabled members who are unable to attend the meetings.  As part of our ongoing formation we have a responsibility for those members in this category who wish to remain connected with the Order and with their chapter/fraternity.  Our concern for and kindness to these members is a very important part of our life of preaching, prayer and community.  Our community life is tenuous in comparison to the Friars or Sisters but it is still a valid part of our Dominican commitment. Others will see how we care for our elderly/disabled members and this is preaching in action.