Due to the growing number of vocations to our PROVINCE OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY, a House of Studies was recently formed in Macau. It was established in September 2007. It was raised to the status of a PRIORY in 2008. As such the full monastic life is carried out: a life of PRAYER, STUDY, COMMON LIFE and PREACHING. Here students are prepared for the Dominican Religious life in the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary. We pray the Divine Office daily and on Sundays and Feast Days we chant it. The Divine Office is carried out within the Mass on ordinary days, but on Sundays and Feast Days it is prayed as part of the Mass.
The Order of Preachers is made up of several Provinces, areas usually within a country, where Priories or Houses are established. As a young man, St. Dominic had a dream: to go as a missionary to the “Cumans,” that is, to some pagan tribes of Eastern Europe, and hopefully, to die a martyr’s death. In other words: to be missionary amongst non-Christians. However, as we have seen, Divine Providence directed him instead to Albigensian territory in Southern France. There he labored unceasingly for long years. But he never forgot his dream.
It is said that towards the end of his life he grew a beard in the hope of being able to fulfill his dream. Again, this was not to be. Was Dominic’s dream lost forever when he died at Bologna, Italy, in 1221? No, it wasn’t. Some of the early followers, led by St. Hyacinth of Poland, did missionary work in the very territories of Dominic’s dream. Others soon started preaching the Gospel in Muslim North Africa and the Middle East. Later, upon discovery of the American Continent, large numbers of Dominicans from Spain flocked there, contributing immensely to the evangelization of the South, Central and North America. At about this time, Portuguese Dominicans established missions in some parts of Asia (Goa in India, and Macau in China). All this was good and fruitful work. Still, it did not quite catch the fullness of Dominic’s ideal. Something else appeared shortly afterwards; and that was the establishment in 1587 of the DOMINICAN MISSIONARY PROVINCE OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY. This indeed marked a significant milestone in the development of the idea of mission. Up to that time, it had been individual Dominicans from different Provinces going to mission lands while the rest continued their apostolate in Europe. They were, so to speak, Provinces “with missions.” Now there was a province so essentially missionary that all its members went to mission lands.
This new Province brought about a further unique feature in the history of the Order: the fact that it had no territory of its own, say in France or Spain or somewhere else, as all the other Provinces had since their foundation, but became rather the personification of the “itinerant” apostles o fold among the non-Christian peoples of Asia, ready to go and work wherever a door was opened to them. And so, to Asia they came, nearly two thousand strong, over a period of four hundred years, to work in the Philippines, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and, later, to Korea, Singapore and Macau.
And so among the many Provinces was added the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary. The spirit that animates a true member of this Province of Our Lady of the Rosary, can summarized under the three following headings: ad gentes (to non-Christian peoples); be extra (outside one’s own country) be vitam (for life, a life-time commitment, and nor just for five or ten years). It must be noted, however, that since the over-all consideration in Preaching is the needs of the people of God, including those of the preacher himself, it may happen that, owing to special circumstances, such as the establishment of the Order in a particular territory, or in the context of what the Pope has described a s the “New Evangelization” of traditionally Christian countries that are in need of a revival of faith, some members of the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary may be working somewhere else.
The qualifying feature still stand that this is essentially a Missionary Province and that, therefore, the basic attitude and disposition of all its members should in principle be the three “ads” just mentioned. With the establishment of the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary, Dominic’s dream of becoming a missionary in pagan lands and of dying a martyr’s death came true in extraordinary abundance in his sons; for, throughout the entire history of this Province, an impressive number of members (Europeans and Asians, Friars and Sisters, Lay Dominicans and others belonging to Dominican Confraternities) gave their life for the faith they preached and are now acclaimed as Saints of the Church. Among them just to mention two, St. Francis Fenandez de Capillas, Protomartyr of China and St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint. Now you know who the DOMINICANS ARE and WHAT THEY DO, and in particular about the Dominicans of the PROVINCE OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY. A HIGH IDEAL, isn’t it? Yes, high it is, and high indeed it must be, coming, as it does, from above.
The challenge is certainly great, and it demands generosity of heart. But the Lord who calls, shares with his own generosity. He tells us too – as he did his disciples, as he did St. Dominic- to “Go and preach.” However, not alone. “And remember”, He adds, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). Do you feel in your heart a desire to join the Dominicans, and, more specifically, the Dominican Missionaries of the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary? Do pay attention to this feeling. It may be the voice of the Lord calling you to the Religious Life. Indeed, Religious Life, Dominical life, Missionary life…a life-time journey through which the vocation and the mission keep constantly unfolding, discovering new dimensions and opening up to new possibilities; step by step bringing a man closer to the ideal that first attracted his attention and made him embark on that journey; day after day increasing in his heart the joy and happiness of knowing that, as a “special friend,” he has been chosen to be “in the service of his Master,” And this, in spite of the fact that, inevitably, difficulties and obstacles appear on the way, and perhaps even crises and failures. Faith is needed- and Trust – because faith without trust is not faith in the Lord who calls, who sends, and who accompanies us. Faith and Trust are needed in our Mission as Preachers! St. Paul who knew Christ well and all about preaching, offers us some encouraging advice: “I know him in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what I have entrusted to him” (2 Tim 1:12).
Fr. Lionel XevierO.P