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Although Dominicans profess vows several times during their formation, it is their profession of solemn vows that unites brothers to the Order and to each other for life.
On September 5th, five Dominican Friars professed solemn vows at St. Pius V Church in St. Louis. It was the largest solemn profession class in years. Together, Brothers Vincent Davila, O.P., James Peter Trares, O.P., Raphael Christianson, O.P., Joseph Trout, O.P., and Samuel Hakeem, O.P. professed vows to Prior Provincial, Fr. Jim Marchionda, O.P. and to his successors for life.
In a sense, profession of solemn vows is the culmination of these brothers’ lives as Dominicans.
“Regardless of whether I’m ordained a priest or not, the bottom line is what connects me to the Order first and foremost is that I’m a Dominican. We all have that in common,” said Fr. Paul Whittington, O.P., former Student Master for the men who were solemnly professed. “We’re not all priests, but we all share the same vows—that’s the feature that connects us all.”
“These men are quite outstanding. They’re very bright and they have a real zeal for preaching and living Dominican life,” Fr. Whittington said. “I believe all of these men have the gifts and talents to go on for further academic study to pursue doctorate degrees. They will be some of our leaders in the next 10 to 15 years here in the Central Province and maybe the worldwide Order.”
For that matter, profession of solemn vows marks the end of initial formation for Br. Trout, who is a Cooperator Brother. He graduated from Aquinas Institute of Theology in May and is already working in full-time ministry as a Theology teacher at Fenwick High School, outside Chicago.
The remaining four brothers are each in their fifth year of studies at Aquinas and will continue on the path to priesthood.
“Prior to solemn profession, a brother will make profession for a certain number of years,” Fr. Whittington said. “It’s such an emotional commitment to profess until death that it’s not unusual for a brother to become overwhelmed or tearful as his voice cracks. It’s like a marriage; that’s how we approach it.”
The solemn profession class itself is representative of the Dominican Central Province. Both Br. Davila and Br. Trout were raised in Indiana and attended Purdue University, where they met the Dominicans at the Thomas Aquinas Catholic Newman Center. Brother Davila attended Holy Spirit Catholic Church (Fishers, IN) and Hamilton Southeastern High School, while Br. Trout attended St. Vincent de Paul Parish (Fort Wayne, IN) and Bishop Dwenger High School.
Though Indiana is officially the Province’s easternmost border, it often draws vocation candidates from beyond. Such is the case for Br. Trares, who was raised in the Youngstown (OH) Diocese, where he attended St. Joseph Church and Crestwood High School in Mantua, OH. He later graduated from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan where Dominicans now work in campus ministry.
The Central Province reaches north into Minnesota, where Br. Christianson was raised and attended St. Joseph Parish and Owatonna High School, before graduating from Carleton College. The Province also reaches far west into Colorado and New Mexico, where Br. Hakeem attended Prince of Peace Church and St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque (Archdiocese of Santa Fe), as well as the University of New Mexico, where he first met the Dominicans.
Novice Class Highlights Province Diversity
A man seeking to become a Dominican Friar spends his first year in a special setting called a novitiate. He lives the life of prayer, living in community under the observance of poverty, chastity and obedience, and he wears the white habit. Novices study the Dominican Constitution, the history of the Order, and the history of consecrated life. The novices are also introduced to any pertinent texts for ministry, such as papal documents and books on evangelization. The men also spend one day each week at a ministry site, working with the poor, elderly, or school children.
In August, six men formally entered the novitiate of the Dominican Central Province in Denver, Colorado. Philip Catalanotto (Rockville Center, NY) is the son of Gerald and Victoria Catalanotto of St Raphael Church of East Meadow. Andres Trujillo (Santa Fe, NM), now with the religious name Mannes, is the son of Henry and Yolanda Trujillo (Edgewood) of Estancia Valley Catholic Parish of Moriarity. Alejandro Ulbrich (Cooperator Brother) (Calgary), now with the religious name of Albert, is the son of Clara Ulbrich of St Anthony Church of Calgary. Michael Wagaman (Washington, D.C.), now named Thomas Mary in the Order, is the son of Michael and Elaine Wagaman of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church of Lexington Park, MD. Stephen Peterson was raised by the Dominican Sisters in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Fr. Dominic Ibok (Nigeria) is the son of Louis Ikon Ibok (deceased) and Theresa Iquo Bassey, of Shomolu, Nigeria and St. Dominic Church in Yaba, Nigeria, in the Archdiocese of Lagos. He was ordained a priest with another religious order in Springfield, MO in 2006.
If these men are approved by the local priory community and Prior Provincial, Fr. Jim Marchionda, O.P., they will profess simple vows in August, 2016.