«I really enjoyed every minute of it!» says a Norwegian participant about the Dacia meeting for lay dominicans which took place in Oslo November 6 – 9, 2009. People had travelled from Finland, Sweden – and Rome, to take part in the meeting. Saint Dominic’s preaching of grace was the main theme, but an important discussion also took place about the value of lay people’s consecration in the Order.
Oslo is a rather unique dominican centre. All branches of the order are represented, apostolic sisters, comtemplative nuns, brothers and a lay fraternity. It was Jeanne Wreden and her brothers and sisters in the lay fraternity who hade arranged the meeting, which in the Scandinavian way was very orderly and calm.
The morning and evening prayers in the chapel of the apostolic sisters’ house, Katarinahjemmet were very impressive though.
To the left the convent and to the right the little pink house where we held our meetings. The photos (from the sisters’s site) were taken in springtime, but when we were there, darkness and rain prevailed.
Many sisters were absent, yet the singing was wonderful. During the last evening of festivities we realized why. Almost everybody could sing! The Swedish groups from Stockholm and Lund formed a little choir. Two Norwegian women sang traditional songs as did two women from Finland. Our brother David Kammler sang beautiful German songs and brother Pascal Renée, provincial vicar of Dacia sang ”La vie en rose” in French. And Jeanne Wreden who used to be a dancer, danced a beautiful Habanera with a rose in her mouth!
But we also did some good work. Brother David Kammler talked about the different colours of grace.
A very learned Swedish dominican priest, Anders Piltz spoke about saint Paul’s preaching and ”How do we speak at the Areopagus?” The president of the chapter in Lund, Maria Green talked about ”A consuming Fire” – ora et labora outside of the Cloister and I, myself, talked a little about Saint Dominic’s charity reflected through the first letter of saint John.
”Life of the Lay Dominican Fraternities” was the subjekt that br Réginald Blondeel, religious assistant from the French Province and the Norwegian Jan Frederik Solem talked about.
The Swedish dominican priest, Anders Piltz told us about his efforts ”to marry the same woman three times”. First he was a lay dominican with final vows. Then he became a priest and a familiaris of the brothers’ community of Lund. After that he was told that he was no longer allowed to remain a lay dominican, so he had to transfer to the society of Saint Dominic for parish priests, and say final vows there once more.
This raised the question whether it is a good idea or not to divide the order into such precise categories. In the old third order there was room for lay people, deacons, priests and popes. Do we lose something of the original unity of the third order by the way modern organization emphasizes the separation into clerical and lay fraternities? Father David Kammler promised to look into the matter.
Another thing came up which seemed to worry most of the participants. What with the rising of so many different kinds of lay dominicans, the lay consecration runs a risk to be less strong. But as father Anders Piltz pointed out, the word for vows in Latin is the same for brothers, sisters and lay people. It seemed that this was a very important issue to all the participants. Being a lay dominican is a real vocation.
With that I say, good-bye Europe from Dacia and
Ylva-Kristina Sjöblom in Sweden