Lay Dominicans in Toronto, ON


#1

Hey all,
I don’t know how many fellow Canuckleheads are on these forums, particularly from my neck of the woods, but I thought I’d ask my question anyway.

And if you’ve got an answer, but aren’t from here, feel free to comment anyway–I need all the advice I can get.

So here’s the deal. Ever since reading St. Louis de Montfort’s “Secret of the Rosary” I’ve developed a strong devotion to St. Dominic and feel a call to serve God as a Lay Dominican. I’m a convert from Pentecostalism, and researching the Dominicans for the past few years, it seems the Order of Preachers ties neatly together various disparate threads of my spirituality, experiences, and perceived call to ministry in a way that I’d never experienced in the 6 years of my conversion to date.

So obviously, I’m taking that as a sign.

My problem is, there aren’t any Dominicans in my diocese (Hamilton). The closest ones are in Toronto, which is bearable since it’s only an hour down the road in good traffic. The largest chapter of Lay Dominicans happens to be just a little closer, too.

So I got in touch with a Dominican priest and my wife and I and a fellow convert-friend with similar leanings went to visit him and learn more. Unfortunately, he ended up seeming incredibly liberal (in the sense that he apparently found difficulty defining “evangelisation” and determining whether it necessarily meant leading people to faith in Christ, despite Dominus Iesus’ clear teaching). So, I’m a bit taken aback and somewhat frustrated.

I was hoping that maybe someone here might know more than this friar did about the Lay Dominicans–particularly in Toronto–to know whether as a whole they’re more orthodox and evangelistic in their focus, and whether this friar was an anomaly.

After all, Fr. Vincent Serpa, the Catholic Answers Chaplain, is a Dominican, and someone whom I greatly admire, so I figure there’s gotta be a glitch, or perhaps some miscommunication somewhere.

If anyone knows, or can give me some advice in how I should proceed–or if Fr. Vincent happens to read this and can comment–I’d greatly appreciate it, as well as your prayers as I pursue this aspect of my vocation.

God bless
Gregory


#2

Hi! I am just down south from you…another canucker!! My prayers are with you…I have not heard about dominican third orders around here, but I will look into it for you. I, myself, am interested in the carmelite spirituality…third order and they exist in Buffalo!:eek:


#3

Hi Shoshana.

I know one or two Lay Carmelites, so that's cool :) One of them is in the Kitchener area, so there are some north of the border around here.


#4






Where? Are they of the discalced? We have th o’carm here but I am looking for the discalced. That is why Buffalo is the nearest…:shrug:


#5

I know one for sure is definitely discalced. Unfortunately, she also is suffering from cancer right now (please pray for her–her name’s Patricia), so she’s a bit incommunicado. I’ve lost contact with the others…

I can try to do some digging and see where and with whom Pat is, or was, joined up with, though.


#6

I’m in the UK rather than Canada so can’t comment on OPL situation in your specific area, but I am a Lay Dominican so I can offer some general advice.

When I heard Timothy Radcliffe (former Master of the Order) talk once, one of the things he said was “When you’ve met one Dominican, you’ve only met that one.” He was talking about how the Order attracts many diverse people all dedicated to following St. Dominic in holy preaching. Obviously all orders are made up of individuals, but it does seem particularly true of OP that it contains a huge variety of personalities who are encouraged to be themselves…so basically what I’m saying is don’t be put off by the one friar you met! It could be that all the order in the area are like that and you wouldn’t get on with them, but it’s equally (if not more) likely that the other members of the family in the area differ from him in many ways.

Since you seem to have researched where the nearest chapter is, did you find any contact details? It would be fine to contact the Lay Dominican president directly without going through a friar, and you would be welcome to attend meetings for a while without making any commitment to join. In fact, you have to attend meetings for a year as an enquirer before you’re admitted (and it’s another year after that before you make temporary profession). You would probably speak to a friar as part of this, but it would be the chaplain to the OPL chapter (I say probably because the chaplain doesn’t have to be an OP friar, although it usually is) so he would know how it all worked. You would also be expected to undertake certain reading etc (not very onerous, I did it while pregnant and working full-time) and would get to know the rest of the chapter, hopefully socially as well as formally…it’s a time for you to get to know them and they you. Give it a go!

Sorry for all the parentheses by the way, I always write like this, especially when tired :shrug:


#7

Thank you so much for your help!

The friar I spoke with had also said something about individual Dominicans being rather individual, which is why I was holding out hope, so to speak.

Part of what I’m wondering–and I suppose it’s different for every chapter, again–is what do Lay Dominicans actually do? The friar I spoke with seemed rather short on specifics.

Anyway, thanks again for your help and encouragement. I will certainly contact the local chapter and go from there.
God bless
Gregory


#8

No problem, happy to help.

I'm not sure if you mean what do we do at meetings or in general life so I'm going to answer both:

Meetings include a formal section and often an informal social time such as a shared meal (but this may not be the case if e.g. it is a small fraternity, people travel long distances...), there would typically be time set aside for
a)prayer, especially the Rosary and LOTH
b)business, including hearing news from the wider province, publicity for any upcoming events etc
c)study of some kind, such as a presentation by one of the fraternity on something they've researched, followed by q&a & discussion. This can be on a variety of topics, including Scripture, history, 'pure' theology or contemporary issues
d)if possible, we hear Mass together as a community.

In our wider life, it's really difficult to say. Quite a few articles and books have been written on the theme of 'what is a lay Dominican?' and, to sum it up - you know when you are one, you know (or can be helped to discern) if you are called to be one, but you can't describe any definitive way in which we're different from any other lay person, sorry this isn't at all helpful :shrug:, it may help to explain why the friar had difficulty in articulating it too. However, I'm still going to try (someone call the hubris police...).

It may be helpful if you think of lay members of religious orders in terms of the religious themselves (obviously not in many ways, we are still quintessentially lay people rather than wannabe monks/nuns) - someone is a Benedictine, Carmelite etc., they still would be no matter what role they had in the community or what outside job they did, whether they were retired, sick, a bishop etc. Similarly, a Lay Dominican is what you are, not what you do. The Rule (which you can read online at laici.op.org/eng/library/RULELatinEnglish.pdf), states that
"They pay careful attention to the principal goals of the church’s present-day apostolate, driven in a special way to show real compassion to all who are troubled, to defend liberty and to promote justice and peace."
In practical terms, you will often find Lay Dominicans working with other groups within the Church, such as the SVP, l'Arche, various justice and peace and pro-life groups.

On a more spiritual level, there are certain things which we are supposed to do, from the Rule again:
"The following are the chief sources from which the lay members of Saint Dominic draw strength to advance in their proper vocation, which combines at one and the same time the contemplative and the apostolic:
a. listening to the Word of God and reading the Sacred Scripture, especially the New
Testament;
b. daily participation (as far as possible) in the celebration of the liturgy and participation in the Eucharistic sacrifice;
c. frequent celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation;
d. celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours in union with the entire Dominican Family, as well as prayer in private, such as meditation and the Marian Rosary;
e. conversion of heart according to the spirit and practice of evangelical penance;
f. assiduous study of revealed truth and constant reflection on contemporary problems under the light of faith;
g. devotion to the blessed Virgin Mary, according to the tradition of the Order, to our holy father Saint Dominic and to Saint Catherine of Siena;
h. periodic spiritual retreats.”

I could go on, but this seems to be exhaustive enough for now, especially since my computer has crashed twice whilst typing it. Let me know if you would like any more info or support, but quite frankly you’re probably now overwhelmed by the verbosity of this reply! :o


#9

Here, check out the “Lives of the Brethren.” It is to the Dominicans something like what the Fioretti are to the Franciscans.

domcentral.org/trad/brethren/default.htm

Enjoy!

So I got in touch with a Dominican priest and my wife and I and a fellow convert-friend with similar leanings went to visit him and learn more. Unfortunately, he ended up seeming incredibly liberal (in the sense that he apparently found difficulty defining “evangelisation” and determining whether it necessarily meant leading people to faith in Christ, despite Dominus Iesus’ clear teaching). So, I’m a bit taken aback and somewhat frustrated.

It may make you happy to know that I learned my Christology from a Dominican who taught me straight up what “Dominus Iesus” teaches.

As you know, the the period after the second Vatican Council was very tumultuous for the Church. The Dominicans, in many ways, were spared the worst of the fate of what happened to many venerable religious orders (like the Jesuits), but of course were hit by it nonetheless. So you’ll meet some friars who are like that. It also varies province by province. It’s not as if a friar from any particular province will be a cookie cutter of a friar from another province. There is a distinct ‘flavor’ of Dominican from province to province.

I’m from the east coast of the US, and so I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with the Eastern Province Dominicans (the Province of St. Joseph)-- who would be very much of the sort that you would like.

I was hoping that maybe someone here might know more than this friar did about the Lay Dominicans–particularly in Toronto–to know whether as a whole they’re more orthodox and evangelistic in their focus, and whether this friar was an anomaly.

After all, Fr. Vincent Serpa, the Catholic Answers Chaplain, is a Dominican, and someone whom I greatly admire, so I figure there’s gotta be a glitch, or perhaps some miscommunication somewhere.

Again, confer with the notes I made above. (Although Fr. Serpa is a Western Province Dominican.)

If anyone knows, or can give me some advice in how I should proceed–or if Fr. Vincent happens to read this and can comment–I’d greatly appreciate it, as well as your prayers as I pursue this aspect of my vocation.

Please stay close to St. Dominic. It may be difficult, especially if the lay order is watered down in your area. Nevertheless, I am very sure that the Dominican charism appeals to many people-- that many people need it-- and I think that we need good, faithful laymen to once again take up the Dominican third order so that the lay faithful may once again find this very essential spirituality in the Church.

God bless,
Rob


#10

Gregory,
I know somebody who is an enquirer in the Mississauga chapter of the Lay Dominicans. I’ve sent you a PM. I can probably arrange for you to contact my friend directly. From comments he has made, the friars are not that involved with the laity and there is a fair range on the liberal - conservative scale at the chapter.


#11

Batfink:
Thanks for all that info! It was a great help.

Rob:
First of all, thanks for the “Lives of the Brethren”. I’m going to enjoy reading it!

Secondly, it certainly does make me happy to hear about you learning Dominus Iesus from a Dominican :slight_smile: Very reassuring!

Finally, thanks for the advice about staying close to St. Dominic. I’ve definitely made that a priority since my meeting with the friar. Dominic himself is the main reason I was attracted to the Dominicans rather than to other similar orders.

Floresco:
Thanks for your private message. I replied, so I hope you get it. Your enquirer friend sounds like just the sort of person it would be helpful for me to meet–especially since the Mississauga chapter is the closest one to me, and would most likely be the one I’d join. It’s good to hear that there are conservative members in the chapter. Please let your friend know I’d be interested in connecting with him, and we’ll try to arrange something–probably by PM again.

See? I knew the largest online Catholic forum wouldn’t let me down! :smiley:

God bless you all.


#12

Oddly enough, I don’t normally read this sub-forum, but your post title caught my eye. (Yes, I got your PM. I am waiting to hear from my friend before replying.)


#13

Hi folks, just a chime in here as I was reading your thread, not many threads on lay people with vocations to Orders. I’m a Secular Servite, Order of Secular Servants of Mary (OSSM), and a lay person. I liked the description that Batfink was giving:

It may be helpful if you think of lay members of religious orders in terms of the religious themselves (obviously not in many ways, we are still quintessentially lay people rather than wannabe monks/nuns) - someone is a Benedictine, Carmelite etc., they still would be no matter what role they had in the community or what outside job they did, whether they were retired, sick, a bishop etc. Similarly, a Lay Dominican is what you are, not what you do.

I’m a Servite, so are our Friars, Sisters, Brothers etc. Some of us are lay persons, some are clergy, there are cloistered Servites and secular Servites. We are one family with the same charism i.e. we are drawn to serve Our Blessed Mother with particular charism of devotion to the The Seven Sorrows of Mary. There was at least one Pope who was a Secular Servite. There is also the Order of Sevants of Mary (OSM), they are not lay persons but Friars and Religious. Yet, we are all one family, we follow the Rule of St. Augustine and our Rule of Life. Very similar to what you were speaking of.
I won’t take up your space here since this is about Dominicans. Just don’t see much mentioned about the many of us who are lay persons, yet who were called to a vocation with all the discerning, thought, prayer and life long committment that it takes. Had to say hello and thanks for your discussion going on here. You can check us out at:

servite.org/secserv.htm

May Our Lord Jesus Bless You and Our Blessed Mother be ever at Your Side,
MaryTeresa, OSSM


#14

Thanks for that MaryTeresa. I know it wasn't specifically about the Dominicans, but I did find your perspective very helpful in my ongoing discernment.

God bless
Gregory


#15

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