With five more solemnly professed Dominican Friars in the Central Province, we wanted to share with you a brief message of appreciation for your support.
Although Dominicans profess vows up to four times during their formation, it is the profession of solemn vows that unites brothers to the Order and to each other for life.
On Saturday, September 5, five Dominican Friars professed solemn vows at St. Pius X 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., Joe Trout, O.P., and Samuel Hakeem, O.P. professed vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to Prior Provincial, Fr. Jim Marchionda, O.P. and to the Central Province Order of Preachers.
In a sense, the 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 to be solemnly professed. “We’re not all priests, but we all share the same vows—that’s the feature that connects us all.”
For that matter, the 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.
“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.”
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 profession of solemn vows took place in context of the Mass. Brothers processed into the church and sat with their birth family. After the reading of the Gospel, the Prior Provincial called each brother individually to announce his presence and state his willingness to follow through on the commitment. After the homily, the men approached the Provincial one by one, kneeling and placing their hands in his hands atop the Book of Constitutions of the Order of Preachers. There, the men made solemn profession and were greeted in the name of the community by the Provincial. After Communion, Dominican custom invites all professed Dominicans (brothers and sisters) to the middle aisle, where they greet the solemnly professed with a “Dominican hug,” welcoming them into the life. Mass concluded as usual and was followed by a small reception with family and friends.
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 (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 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.
To learn more about solemn profession in the Dominican Order, look for the next issue of DomCentralQuarterly magazine, due out in late fall, 2015.
*Special thanks to Amy Trout Baker for the photos
Book Description: Into the Courtyard of the Gentiles features talks given at the Provincial Assembly for the Province of St. Albert the Great in January 2014. Featured speakers include Archbishop Joseph Tobin, Fr. Michael Mascari, O.P., and Scott Appleby from the University of Notre Dame.
Authors: Scott Appleby, Ph.D.; Fr. Michael Mascari, O.P.; and Archbishop Joseph Tobin
Summer for most of us is a time to go on vacation with our families, have barbecues with friends, or catch local music and food festivals. For six men, two weeks of their summer became an introduction to the life of the Dominican Friars. The entering novice class gathered in Memphis, Tennessee for the prenovitiate, led by Fr. Andy McAlpin, O.P. and Fr. Charlie Johnson, O.P., Vocations Directors for the Central and Southern provinces, respectively. Br. James Peter Trares, O.P. from the Central province assisted by teaching the novices the Dominican style of singing.
During their time at the prenovitiate, the guys attended seminars on the four pillars and “got their feet wet” in the Dominican life. Every day, they began with morning prayer and closed with vespers and compline. Two of the days included visits outside of the retreat center where they were lodging; the novices toured the National Civil Rights Museum and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The combination of daily prayer and learning allowed the novices to ease their way into the routine of Dominican life they will experience during the next year in Denver.
On August 15th, the new Novices will receive their habits in the vestition ceremony. Please pray for them as they answer God’s call to religious life as Dominican friars.
If you’ve never witnessed the profession of simple vows in the Dominican Order of Preachers, you wouldn’t know what to expect. If you plan to attend Sunday’s ceremony at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in Denver, Colorado, there are a few things to know before you go. And even if you can’t attend, you can still learn about this important moment in the friars’ lives.
Q: What are simple vows?
A: Young men discerning a vocation in the Dominican Order spend their first year living in community at the Novitiate in Denver, Colorado. During this time, these novices are “trying on the life”, so to speak. They participate in the prayer schedule, wear the white habit, and learn the history of the Order of Preachers, guided by the Novice Master. As the novices discern whether or not Dominican life is right for them, the Order is also evaluating them. At the conclusion of their first year, the novices make a profession of simple vows, their first profession. It officially signifies their entrance into the Order. In the directory pictured below, each brother is listed with his date of birth, date of first profession, and date of ordination to the priesthood, or the designation “COOP” for Cooperator Brothers who will not be ordained priests.
Q: Do novices profess simple vows at Mass?
A: The profession of simple vows is not a traditional Mass. It occurs at either morning or evening prayer (Vespers), but is typically open to the public.
Q: Is profession of simple vows a sacrament?
A: Profession of simple vows is a Rite, not a sacrament, or an ordination.
Q: What happens during profession of simple vows?
A: Profession is somewhat woven into evening prayer. The Novice Master leads those to be professed in front of the Prior Provincial, where they prostrate themselves with hands extended in the form of a cross. Then the Provincial asks the novices: “What do you seek?” To which the novices reply: “God’s mercy and yours.”
Evening prayer continues with the Psalms. During the Rite of Simple Profession, the Provincial takes his seat and the novices once again come before him; he asks them to state their intention to make profession.
One by one each novice kneels before the Provincial, places his hands in the hands of the Provincial, and with the hands of both resting upon the Book of Constitutions, makes profession using the formula proper to the Order of Preachers. Then the Provincial completes the act of profession by the kiss of peace–the sign of admission to the Order.
The newly professed kneel before the Provincial, each holding out his scapular; the Provincial blesses the habits of the newly professed.
Intercessory Prayer is offered for the newly professed, for the Dominican Family, and for the parents of the newly professed.
Evening prayer continues with the Canticle of Mary. The ceremony concludes with the Lord’s Prayer, a Concluding Prayer, and a Solemn Blessing.
Following the conclusion of evening prayer, we observe the custom–known as the Embrazo— of having all professed members of the Dominican Family gather in the center aisle to greet their newly professed brothers. As this greeting takes place the Dominican Family sing an antiphon in honor of St. Dominic–the O Lumen Ecclesiae (O Light of the Church).
The newly professed brothers receive their first formal assignment in the Order (known as a Mandamus). The Prior of the community reads the letter of assignment; during the reading the brothers make the Venia (a visible sign of their obedience to their Provincial).
Q: What vows do novices take during simple profession?
A: Novices profess a simple vow of obedience to the Prior Provincial and his successors, who stands in place of the Master of the Order. This vow of obedience also implies vows of poverty and chastity for Dominican Friars. Simple vows are made for two years, at which time vows are renewed for another two years.
Q: What happens next?
A: After novices profess simple vows, the Prior Provincial assigns them to the House of Studies and St. Dominic Priory in St. Louis, Missouri where they will live in community and continue study at Aquinas Institute of Theology.
As we celebrate the Feast of our Holy Father Dominic on August 8th, we also prepare to begin our 800th Jubilee in 2016. Use these resources to learn more about St. Dominic and the Dominican Order of Preachers.
What did St. Dominic have to do with the rosary? How did St. Dominic build the Order of Preachers on democracy? How are Dominicans giving people tools for their daily lives? What is meant by preaching eye-to-eye? How did St. Dominic take the Order of Preachers to the people, two by two?
To read a brief history of St. Dominic and the Order of Preachers by Fr. Don Goergen, O.P., visit http://opcentral.org/follow-the-white-habit/2015/08/05/st-dominic-and-the-order-of-preachers/
To hear Michael O’Neil’s Radio Maria interview with Fr. Jim Marchionda, O.P. and Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom, O.P. visit http://radiomaria.us/august-04-2015-the-life-of-st-dominic/ (Interview begins at 15:00 mark)
To read more in depth about the life of St. Dominic, visit http://opcentral.org/blog/the-life-of-st-dominic-2/.
Who was this saint? This man of God? How did he become Preacher? Founder? Why is his Order the Order of Preachers, not the Order of St. Dominic? According to legend, his mother’s pregnancy already revealed his destiny. Praying to the eleventh century Benedictine saint, Santo Domingo de Silos, she had a vision or dream of giving birth to a dog with a torch in his mouth, interpreted for her as giving birth to a son who would set the world on fire by his preaching. She thus named her son Dominic, after the Benedictine saint who was patron of pregnant women, and presumably “pondered these things in her heart,” as Our Blessed Mother had done before.
Caleruega is a small village in Old Castile, what is modern day Spain. Felix and Jane, his parents, entrusted him early in life to an uncle, a priest, for his education, after which he went to the university town of Palencia to study liberal arts, philosophy, and theology. He had been called by God already in his mother’s womb. When Dominic himself became aware of his call we do not know, but at Palencia he enjoyed theology above all the other disciplines. It was in Palencia that another characteristic of the young man showed itself: his compassion for the poor. During a famine, he could not bear to see the suffering and sold his own precious manuscripts in order to feed the hungry, saying, “How can I keep these dead skins when living skins are dying of hunger?” His deepest desire, however, was to feed the spiritually hungry.
The opportunity presented itself before long. After Palencia, he was received into the chapter of canons, diocesan priests living a community life according to the Rule of St. Augustine, at the cathedral in Osma, where before long he became subprior. The bishop, Diego, asked Dominic to join him on a journey to Denmark on behalf of the king of Castile, to help arrange a marriage for the king’s son. The trip took them through southern France, Albigensian country, where the ancient Manichean heresy had taken root. While staying at an inn in Toulouse, Dominic became aware that the innkeeper was a convert to the Albigensian or Cathar heresy which saw the material world as evil, the work of an evil God, not the work of the good God. The material creation itself was evil. Dominic stayed up all night to bring the man back to the truth of the Catholic faith, seeing creation as good. His gift for conversion was being made manifest.
A later return journey home took them through Montpellier where they met three Cistercian monks who had been entrusted by Pope Innocent III with a holy preaching mission among the heretics, the pope’s hope filled strategy to bring them back to the faith. Dominic and Diego recognized that their lack of success was not due to the content of their message but the style of their preaching. The heretical Albigensian preachers were more effective because their lives resembled more that of the gospel. Catholic preachers had a retinue and traveled on horseback. Diego and Dominic suggested a new approach, to preach the truth in the imitation of the apostles going about on foot and begging their way. A new way of preaching was born, what later came to be known as a mendicant and itinerant life. Dominic’s Order, as was that of St. Francis, came to be known as mendicant (beggars), in contrast to monastic, although the Dominican way of life remained rooted in many monastic traditions and a regular way of life.
Dominic was now probably about thirty-three years old. This was 1206. He had been born around 1173. There were now converts from among the Cathars, particularly women, for whom Diego and Dominic had to provide a home. A community was established at Prouilhe, in southwestern France, near Fanjeaux, a heretical stronghold, where Dominic later spent many years as “a humble servant of the preaching,” the way he often signed letters. But Bishop Diego, having returned to attend to business in his diocese, died, leaving the entrusted preaching mission in Dominic’s hands.
In 1215 two companions in the preaching made profession to Dominic, although there was as yet no Order. This was in Toulouse where Dominic had been invited by Bishop Fulk to establish a diocesan preaching institute. When the two together visited Pope Innocent in Rome in 1215 on the occasion of the Fourth Lateran Council, the pope encouraged Dominic to think big, to adopt a rule, and envision extending his vision beyond the diocese. Dominic, exhilarated and burdened with the idea, did so. The Rule of St. Augustine was chosen. In the meantime the pope had died. But Pope Honorius III approved the new venture in December of 1216, and explicitly acknowledged that it was to be an order of preachers in early 1217. Later that same year, in the summer, to the chagrin of his companions, Dominic dispersed some of the brethren to Spain and Paris. Dominic took care of further business in Rome but in 1218 we find him sending friars to Bologna and visiting the communities in Spain and Paris which had already grown in size, after which he returns to Bologna. Dominic had chosen university centers in particular since his preachers were not only to be preachers, but men learned in the faith, an order of students if you will as well as an order of preachers.
Dominic the preaching friar had now been forced to be a founder as well. In 1220 and 1221 the first general chapters of the Order were held in Bologna formulating the primitive constitutions of the Order. Dominic died on August 6, 1221.
What was important to this saintly man? Truth for sure, which later became one of the mottos of the Order. He was deeply contemplative, as another motto of the Order expresses it, to contemplate and hand on to others the fruits of one’s contemplation. It was a ‘mixed’ Order. Dominic became an itinerant, mendicant contemplative with his vision set on preaching the gospel. It was the preaching that was always at the core of his life. Prayer, study, and the regular life were all integral but also geared to the preaching, as were the constitutions of the Order. Nothing was to detract from that purpose. It was to be an order of preaching friars whose way of life as well as their proclamation of the truths of the Catholic faith constituted what was and remains a holy preaching – the sacra praedicatio.
By: Br. Drew Anderson, O.P.
The first week of the second session has begun. Fr. James Dominic, Br. Patrick, Br. Huy and I have new students eager to learn English. This time around we feel a little more prepared. Unfortunately for the Vietnamese brothers this means more homework, but this will only help them more in their quest to speak English. One thing I have learned teaching English is how much I do not know about the language and how difficult it really is. The opportunity to be here is wonderful, but it is also humbling. I am learning something new every day about the language I learned as a toddler. Independent clauses, irregular verbs, the simple present tense, these are things I have used every day but had no idea when I was using them or how to point them out in a sentence right away. I guess you really do begin to learn something when you start teaching it.
We teach six days a week and have Sundays off, but each Sunday we go on a trip. In many of our day trips we visit different convents of Dominican Friars and Sisters. It has truly been a blessing to go on many of these trips and see the large number of Dominicans in Vietnam. Two weeks ago we went on a day-long trip and made many different stops along the way. Our first stop was to a convent of Dominican Sisters. We attended the Mass of Profession of Perpetual Vows where 17 sister committed themselves to Christ for the rest of their lives. It was a beautiful ceremony, and we were happy to be in attendance. This was one of the many convents we have visited in Vietnam. If I heard the friars correctly there are over 15 congregations of Dominican SIsters in Vietnam. Last week we visited a convent where they had more sisters in formation than they did in perpetual vows!
The friars are not doing too bad themselves. After attending the vows ceremony we went to the novitiate for the friars. We were able to spend some time with the novices and had a short conversation with them. This year the Vietnamese Province has 22 novices and they were shocked when we told them we had six novices in our novitiate. We had to explain to them that six novices in one class is a pretty good number in the United States. In August these 22 men will make their first profession, so please keep them in your prayers. Also located on the same compound as the novitiate is a shrine to St. Martin de Porres. The church itself was pretty small, but the compound had a large outdoor area with many benches that act as pews during big ceremonies. One of the friars told me they get over 10,000 people to visit the shrine on the Feast of St. Martin de Porres!
While we have not had the chance to meet any Dominican Nuns, there is only one monastery here in Vietnam, we have had the opportunity to spend time with the Dominican Laity. It is hard not to, since there are nearly 200,000 members of the Dominican Laity in Vietnam. This large number has to do with the great ministry and presence of the friars in northern Vietnam in the 19th and early 20th century. Nearly a month ago Br. Patrick and I had the opportunity to go to the beach with some friars and members of the Dominican Laity. It was a great day as we were able to spend some time in the water (which was very warm!) and just sit back and relax. Though many of them did not know English it was still wonderful to be with them. They even encouraged Br. Patrick to sing a song, and so he sang “Walking in Memphis”.
It has been a great opportunity to meet many of the members of the Dominican Family in Vietnam. Some of my most memorable experiences have been with them. Though our time here is coming to a close very quickly—Br. Patrick and I are leaving in 18 days—I look forward to more visits with the sisters and the laity. Hopefully we will also be able to visit the nuns, making sure we have not left out a branch of the family. Please keep the friars and us in your prayers as we continue our English lessons.
By: Br. Drew Anderson, O.P.
The brothers’ English is improving day by day. Their pronunciation and comprehension has improved significantly since the first day we arrived in Vietnam. We are in the last week of the first session for the English classes. After this week most of the brothers will go to their summer assignments to do ministry in parishes throughout Vietnam. Some will stay and other brothers will come from the parishes to start the second session. As of right now we have a little over 20 brothers that will partake in the second session.
There have been challenges for both the student brothers and for Br. Patrick and I. The student brothers are eager to learn to pronounce words in English, but the accent sometimes gets in the way. As a native English speaker it can be difficult to hear the word the brother is saying. I ask them to repeat the word many times so I can understand what they are trying to tell me. Much of the time it is a simple mispronunciation that is fixed once I understand the word they are trying to pronounce. Sometimes they need to spell out the word so I can see what they are trying to say. Pronunciation has improved since we have arrived and Br. Patrick’s and my ears are more accustomed to the Vietnamese accent, though every day I still have to ask a brother to repeat a word or a sentence. I have a saying the brothers can now quote me verbatim “Speak slowly and clearly”. We have all come a long way since our first week together.
Last week Fr. James Dominic flew in from St. Louis. He will also be helping the brothers learn English. A great advantage of having Fr. James Dominic here is the ability for the brothers to have the Mass in English with a native English speaker. He will also have his own class when we start the second session. Unlike Br. Patrick and I, Fr. James Dominic has spent time in Asia. As a child he spent two and a half years in Japan from the ages of eight to ten. He loves Asian culture and so he has been in his own little heaven.
Here is a look at the daily schedule, the Horarium, of the convent:
Rise: 4:30 AM (I’m not kidding, even after a month I’m still struggling with this)
Office of Readings: 5:00 AM
Morning Prayer and Mass: 5:30 AM
Breakfast: 6:15 AM (after breakfast the brothers will continue to have coffee and tea until it is time for class)
Morning Class: 8:00 AM (Class goes until 9:30 AM)
Lunch: 11:30 AM (After lunch there is a little recreation and then we have an afternoon sleep or “siesta”. This is how they manage to get up at 4:30 AM)
Bell to Rise from Siesta: 1:45 PM
Afternoon Class: 2:15 PM (We begin the class with Rosary and then we do a review of the psalms for Evening Prayer and Office of Readings and Morning Prayer for the next day)
Sporting Activities: 4:30 PM (I’m not joking! The brothers plays sports for an hour and fifteen minutes every day. The two sports they play are soccer and volleyball. Lately Br. Patrick and I have been playing soccer, of course we call it “football” here in Vietnam.)
Evening Prayer: 6:15 PM (A common meditation and Night Prayer follow afterwards)
Dinner: 7:00 PM
A bell in the middle of the convent is used to let the brothers know that something is happening. For example in the morning the bell rings at 4:30 AM to rise, then it rings at 4:55 AM to notify you that prayer begins in five minutes. Unless you are sleeping like an absolute rock you will hear the bell, the challenge is getting up after it has rung. There is no snooze button in Vietnam!