October 29, 2017
This past week Fr. Francis and I traveled to Danville, CA to meet with other friars who work in parishes throughout the Western Province. Our communities in Anchorage, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Antioch (CA), and Benicia (CA) were represented along with St. Dominic’s, LA.
Although this is an annual gathering, this meeting was the third consecutive one in which we discussed what makes a parish staffed by Dominicans particularly Dominican. A general chapter of delegates from around the world met in Caleruega, Spain, the hometown of St. Dominic, in 1994. There, they said the following about Dominicans in parishes:
“In parishes we must not be satisfied with preaching to those who come to Mass. We require every province to consider its present commitment to parishes and ask if each one represents the best basis for itinerancy in preaching to the unchurched. Is a particular parish a basis of the new evangelization? Can it become so? If not we should probably hand it over to the diocese.”
Last year, when the friars talked about what would be the marks of a parish that is a center of evangelization, the brothers said:
1) People are experiencing conversion and spiritual change and want to share their faith;
2) The parish is providing disciples with tools to evangelize others;
3) Preaching is occurring on the “frontiers” of society – and for us that would include the frontier of the entertainment industry;
4) Liturgies are dynamic as intentional disciples of Jesus fruitfully receive communion and offer their grateful praise to the Father.
This year, we talked about how the four pillars of Dominican life (prayer, study, community and preaching) shape the way our parishes become centers of the New Evangelization. The goal was to develop criteria to evaluate our ministries, particularly when our Provincial makes his visitation, but also when we are considering whether to leave a parish or open a new parish.
The renovation of our community center is a key part of a new focus on evangelization at St. Dominic’s. In the next four weeks I will share more about what we discussed at our meeting.