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Dominican Priories: a new series on Godzdogz

Friday, October 10, 2014

'Where will you be sent after you're ordained?'

As Dominican brothers studying for the priesthood in Oxford, we often get asked this question. The ultimate answer is: 'Anywhere in the world!'

When a man is clothed in the habit of St Dominic and becomes a Dominican friar, he immediately finds himself a member of a global Order, an international brotherhood. Indeed, as a member of the Dominican Family he also discovers he has many sisters and brothers in all its branches. As a friar preacher, his obedience is owed to the Master of the Order, presently fr Bruno Cadoré OP, who can assign him to any house or mission run by friars, anywhere in the world.

But the new Dominican also becomes a son of a particular Province. In our case, the student brothers at Godzdogz are generally sons of the English Province, but we also have among our number student brothers from other Provinces. A Province is composed of various communities, called priories and houses, and is an important level of governance for the strategic planning of our mission. The Prior Provincial is the 'ordinary' superior, who assigns brethren to a particular place according to both the needs of the mission and their particular capabilities.

The Master with the Godzdogz team last year

There is normally a process of discussion between each brother and the Provincial, to discern where that brother might be maximally useful. But, in the final analysis, religious obedience means we have to go where we are sent! And rightly so. We might think that we desperately want to be assigned to one place, only to find that a different assignment makes us flourish in ways we had not imagined. After experiencing this very situation, an older and wiser Dominican brother told me: 'God does not give us what we want; he gives us what we need!'

In practice, we are likely to be assigned within our own Province. That means, for the English Province today, there are several places where we might go: London, Cambridge, Leicester, Durham, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the West Indies – not counting Oxford, where we might return on a future assignment.

In this new series, we would like to introduce you to these different priories and houses, offering a bit of historical context but focusing mainly on our present apostolates, with the challenges and opportunities they entail. At one level these are just our homes, where we happen to live; but the way we live together, and the things we do in and from these places, all contribute to our mission to preach the Gospel.

So, as our medieval brethren put it, the priory itself becomes a praedicatio, a preaching of the Gospel!

The Priory of St Albert the Great, Edinburgh

Top image: The Priory of the Holy Spirit, Oxford

Fr Matthew Jarvis O.P.


Fr Matthew Jarvis is assigned to the Priory of the Holy Cross in Leicester.


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