August 13, 2017
This weekend we are celebrating the Solemnity of St. Dominic, our patron. We transferred his feast from August 8 to this date, so we can celebrate together as a parish. I would like to take a moment to let you see into our life. We are not diocesan priests who wear white. We have a common life together. Each day we meet to talk about our day; we pray together and eat together. Each month we have a meeting called a chapter, in which we examine our life – from the finances of the community, which are strictly separate from the parish, to an ongoing discussion of how our various ministries are affected by our common life and how they flow from our common life.
We have elected or appointed officials in the priory: sub prior, who is in charge when the prior is out of town; bursar, who is in charge of our finances; sacristan, who maintains our private chapel and who keeps an account of our Mass stipends and makes sure we’ve said the intentions we have promised to celebrate at Mass. We also have a lector, who is responsible for our common study. Each month we meet to discuss an article or part of a book that we’ve read together. He is also responsible for our library, and makes an annual report to our Provincial about the health of the intellectual life of the community. The secretary of the priory takes minutes at our chapter meetings, and also keeps a record of documents that pass back and forth between our priory and the Provincial Office in Oakland.
While we are blessed to have six members in our Priory (soon to be seven, as Fr. Michael Chaberek is returning August 27), only two are assigned as parish priests and Oxy chaplains and receive a stipend from the parish. The others pay room and board to the parish and have other ministries or are retired. Fr. Jude has a teaching apostolate and is often on the road throughout the western U.S. Fr. Dominic De Lay is on sabbatical this year. He, too, will be gone much of the time, but if he helps out at the parish with Masses, he will receive a stipend from the parish. Fr. Cassian Lewinski and Fr. Donald Bramble are retired, and in exchange for their generosity in hearing confessions and presiding at Mass, their room and board is reduced. Fr. Michael Chaberek will be assisting at local parishes and schools as a supply priest in the San Fernando region and beyond.
I mentioned the priory finances. Our vow of poverty means that each friar does not have private property. The income we receive is held in common, and as a community we give 25% of our income to our Dominican Province to help support the friars in initial formation and the friars who are retired. When people give Fr. Francis or me money for car blessings, weddings, anointings or any other parish work, that money goes to the parish. Money any of us receive for ministry outside the parish is turned in to the priory.
A critical part of our life is prayer and study. These prepare us for our mission of preaching. Sometimes it is difficult for people to understand this. Recently, a well-intentioned man was surprised to learn I have a day off. “I thought priests worked 24/7!” While I am always a priest, it would be foolish to try to work 24/7. Even God took a day off after his labor of creation! But it points to an expectation some may have. We have made a priest available each day for confessions, hospital calls and other emergencies. For other needs, it helps if you call to make an appointment, so the priest on call can still plan his day which includes administrative work (and there’s a lot of that!), prayer, study, homily preparation, community duties, marriage preparation, meetings, and more.
I hope this helps you understand the life of the friars who live here in LA and who are sons of St. Dominic, our patron saint.