December 30, 2018
On January 3 I will leave for Oakland, CA as a delegate to the 26thProvincial Chapter of the Western Dominican Province. This meeting is an essential part of governance within the Dominican Order. Every elected prior in the Province is a delegate, along with other delegates elected by the friars. There will be 20 delegates at the chapter, which will likely last two to three weeks. The structure of the Chapter is prescribed in our Constitutions and the Acts of previous Chapters. It begins with the invocation of the Holy Spirit and a three-day retreat.
Then the delegates are divided into four commissions which examine the legislation that guides our life, specifically in four areas: the Following of Christ, the Formation of the Brethren, Government, and Economic Administration. Oral reports are then given by ten different leaders in the Province, including the Provincial, the Novice and Student Masters, the President of our graduate school (Fr. Peter Rogers, OP!) and others. In addition, I have already received a dozen written reports to study before I leave.
After hearing about the state of the Province, the delegates caucus in preparation for the election of a new Provincial. Fr. Mark Padrez, OP, has been Provincial for two terms and thus, according to our Constitutions, cannot be re-elected. The new Provincial’s name will be sent to Rome for approval by the Master of the Dominican Order. The next order of business is the election of a group called the diffinitors, a group of six friars who will, at the end of the Chapter, review the work of the Chapter and make recommendations to the Provincial for appointments to positions in the Province. The diffinitors are part of the new Council that advises the Provincial. Six more councilors are elected, as well, but are not part of the diffinitorium.
The commissions will review suggested legislation proposed by members, communities, or ministry groups in the Province, and, when ready, present their conclusions and resolutions to the whole chapter for discussion and for voting on whether to approve the legislation and make it binding on the members of the Province.
According to our Constitutions, the Chapter can last as long as a month, and even be extended for an additional fifteen days. However, our Provincial Chapters tend to last no longer than 2-3 weeks.
Please pray for me while I am away, and for the members of the chapter to be docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. You will be in my prayers, as well. While I am gone you will be in the capable hands of Fr. Francis and Fr. Thomas. Fr. Cassian, the sub-prior of the Dominican community, will be acting superior in my absence. Please pray for them, as well, who will have extra work to do in my absence.