5th Year Student Brother
“…And Jesus in the crucifix speaks to St. Thomas and says, ‘You’ve written well of me, Thomas. What do you want as your reward?’ St. Thomas answered, ‘Non nisi te, Domine. Non nisi te.’ Nothing but you, Lord. Nothing but you.”
So preached Br. Vincent Dávila, O.P. to a group of young adults at St. Dominic Priory in St. Louis one Saturday night in January. These men and women, 27 in all, had joined us for the inaugural Non Nisi Te event—two hours of Eucharistic Adoration with preaching, music, silence, night prayer, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
During this Year of Consecrated Life, and as we move closer to the 800th Jubilee of the Order, the Dominican student brothers in St. Louis desired to begin a ministerial project which would both contribute to the Archdiocese and increase the Order’s visibility in St. Louis. Our goal was to offer a space and time for Catholics to build a personal relationship with Jesus, on the foundation of Eucharistic Adoration.
The event borrowed cues from monthly Adoration nights the brothers had attended in other cities. However, everybody involved in the planning agreed that Dominican identity was important in shaping the event. This led to the inclusion of preaching by the brothers; a mix of modern praise music, Taizé, and more ancient chant from our Dominican tradition; a period of at least 30 minutes of silence during adoration; and ending the event with Dominican night prayer, recently translated and arranged by Fr. David Wright, O.P. and Br. James-Peter Trares, O.P.
The student brothers promoted the event largely through word-of-mouth. We reached out to young adults we knew from our ministries in the city’s parishes, to fellow students from the Aquinas Institute, and to students at Saint Louis University. Word spread, thanks in part to an article covering the event printed in the St. Louis Review. Each month’s Non Nisi Te saw larger and larger crowds. The largest event brought 67 people, filling the priory chapel. While the focus was on young adults, the events have been attended by a wide audience. We’ve also seen an increase in people joining us for the Liturgy of the Hours and for daily Mass.
Kayla Essner, a graduate student at the University of Missouri, drove nearly two hours to attend the event. “I really enjoyed the praise and worship during adoration, mostly because that is one of my favorite ways to pray,” she said. “I really enjoyed getting to meet the Dominicans and other young adults in St. Louis.” Kayla has been acquainted with the Dominicans assigned to the Newman Center at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. Non Nisi Te gave her the opportunity to get to know more Dominicans, connecting the ministry in Columbia with that of the wider province.
Saint Louis University medical student Stephen Grote attended each of the four Non Nisi Te events. “It was a good chance for me to leave behind the craziness and anxiety of medical school for a couple of hours,” he said. “I really appreciated the good mix of silent prayer, wonderful music, thought-provoking scripture and preaching, and Reconciliation. I always left refreshed and renewed in spirit. It came at a time when I was struggling, and gave me the loving reminders of God in our world that I really needed.”
The Dominican character of the event had a significant impact on Saint Louis University student Maria Miloscia. Following Br. Vincent’s preaching during the first event, Maria said, “I’ll never forget how I experienced a deep-seated desire to echo Thomas in his profession, ‘Non nisi te, Domine’: Nothing but you, Lord.” Maria’s desire to echo St. Thomas led her to discern a call to religious life. She has recently been accepted to the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia, and will begin as a postulant in August. “Non Nisi Te has been a precious time for reflection and communal prayer in my life. It has strengthened me in my faith and augmented my appreciation for my Dominican brothers.”
As we enter a new school year, we look forward to continuing this ministry, providing opportunities for men and women to encounter Christ. Our next event will be on Saturday, September 19, from 7:30pm-9:30pm at St. Dominic Priory in St. Louis, MO. If you are in the St. Louis area, please join us!