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Dominican Family Day 2010

Friday, July 02, 2010

Lest it seem that the Dominican students in Oxford only attend parties or solemn liturgies, below are photos from a recent day of study, discussion, and reflection. The Dominican Family day, which is so called because it involves all the branches of the Dominican Order - the friars, nuns, apostolic sisters, laity, and secular institute - was held this year on 26 June in Stone, Staffordshire. Stone is the motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of the English Congregation of St Catherine of Siena, known affectionately as the 'Stone Sisters'. Dominicans from all over the English Province, as well as the Irish Province, converged on Stone for fraternity, study, and prayer.

The theme of the Family day was: 'The Collapse of Western Christianity', with talks given by Francis Davies, a lay Dominican, and fr Richard Finn OP, who is Regent of Studies of the English Dominican province. The theme was rather dramatic, and focused on the radical change in Catholic parochial life, and the practice of the Faith in Europe, and particularly in England, Wales and Scotland. Some very helpful statistics and anecdotes were presented to stimulate discussion and reflection. The tone of the presentation, though, was hopeful, and the aim of the first talk was to present the situation in a level and balanced way so that we could find opportunities for preaching the Faith. It is all too easy to blame external factors like secularism, or creeping Islamicization, but Francis cautioned against this. Rather, he challenged us Dominicans to draw on our tradition, and to find ways to preach to our fellow Catholics, and non-Christians, today.

The second talk, which followed lunch, was an exercise in ressourcement. fr Richard looked at the role of confraternities in medieval Europe, which were strongly supported by the Dominicans. Although one cannot simply imitate the past, he suggested that the confraternities were a way of reaching out to people on the margins, engaged the imagination and emotions through piety and devotion, and appealed to the concerns and needs of various communities within the Church. There were no easy answers to our contemporary situation, but all agreed that the resources for moving forward could be found in our Dominican tradition and history.

This day was completed with Mass, during which the Prior Provincial preached. He called us to follow Christ who observed the details in the world around us, to see people's needs, and to bring them to the Lord for his blessing and transformation by grace.

Lawrence Lew OP


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