Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom, O.P.
We recently celebrated St. Dominic’s founding of the Order of Preachers nearly 800 years ago. You would not think there could be a new idea in 800 years, but actually there was and is! On December 8, the Dominican Family Group celebrated its first year anniversary. It began as one family of 7 wanting to deepen its Catholic faith by intentional journeying together through a specific school of spirituality: Dominican. Along the way it invited three others families (making the group membership 15) to join them in embracing this particular calling. Today there are 7 families and 45 members involved. As Angela and John Burcsh, the group founders and leaders put it: “We combat the limited societal experience of family and help our children recognize that the spiritual life is lived beyond the walls of the church and in the heart of our homes. It is incredibly helpful for our children to see the other families living their faith lives outside of an hour on Sunday.”
The group’s mission statement reads: “Seeking to raise our families in an intentional way, finding support and structure in the four pillars of the Dominican Community.” The latter part of that statement reflects the strong and stable framework of the group: prayer, study, community and ministry. Its ongoing inspiration is its methodology: all, whether children, teenagers or adults, are equal participants in the group activities of communal prayer, discussion and follow-up action steps to bring faith alive during the month between meetings. “As a kid, I get to participate. The adults treat kids’ ideas and input with respect,” says Evan, an eleven year old group member. Thirteen year-old Amanda agrees with him, “I really enjoy being able to discuss my faith with people who are like-minded and kids my age. I also really like learning more about my faith on a level that engages me.”
Each two-hour “gathering” takes place in a member’s home, and includes: 1. Welcome, 2. Opening prayer, 3. Discussion of topic or theme of the month, 4. Input and sharing of ideas for the upcoming month’s topic, 5. Housekeeping of the group, 6. Closing Prayer, 6. Social time with snacks, games or “play time.”
The theological foundation is first and foremost the Catholic faith and within that rich mosaic, the theology of vocation (all are called to universal holiness), marriage and children with a constant emphasis, the family as “the domestic Church.’ Undergirding this theological foundation is the guidance of the Catholic Catechism sections on marriage, family and children.
The goals are to support and strengthen families as a the domestic church; support the vocation of marriage; embrace each family member as a teacher of the others, especially respecting the innate theology of children; leaning and growing in the Catholic faith, particularly through the Dominican religious tradition; and finally to discern or reaffirm one’s life vocation.
For more information
After such a successful first year, we welcome you to consider forming your own Dominican Family Group. If you are interested in the Dominican Family, please contact me at A.Wisdom@OPCentral.org or at (312) 243.0011.