DOMINICANS OPEN JUBILEE 800 CELEBRATIONS

On November 7, 2015 the Dominican Family throughout the world opens its celebration of the 800 Approval/Confirmation of the contemplative-active religious Order. The Dominican Family is composed of nuns, brothers, sisters and lay and priestly fraternities. We refer here mainly to the brothers.
In our life we always remember – as individuals and as members of a community or a family or a nation – important and significant events, such as a birthday, an anniversary, a silver or golden jubilee of priesthood, marriage, religious life, the centennial or millennium of an institution or a country. As the family of Saint Dominic, Dominicans will celebrate their Jubilee 800 by recalling their own birth and rejoicing and giving thanks and being sorry and committing themselves to live their vocation to preach the Good News for the salvation of all: contemplari et contemplata aliis tradere (to contemplate and give to others the fruits of their contemplation). The Jubilee will certainly be a time to praise God: laudare, benedicere and praedicare (to praise, bless and preach). Above all, it will be a time for a dynamic conversion and renewal to God, to others and in a special way to the needy and poor.
The Order of Preachers (OP) was founded by St. Dominic de Guzman (1170-1221). It was confirmed as a local permanent institute of preaching of the Diocese of Toulouse by Pope Honorius III on December 22, 2016. The same Pope confirmed it a second time with another Bull on January 21, 1217. This time as a universal religious Order with the whole world as its preaching pulpit.
When Dominic died, there were five Provinces and 5 more in the making. At present, and according to the data of the Dominican Curia at Santa Sabina, (Rome, 2014), the Dominican Order of brothers is made up of 50 institutions: the great majority are Provinces, some are General Vicariates and a few, Vice-Provinces. The overall number of Dominican brothers is still decreasing very slightly in 2014 compared with the three previous years. The trend is definitely improving, particularly in Africa and Asia, and also in some Provinces of the Americas and of France. Currently the brothers of the Order of Preachers are nearly five thousand and seven hundred, including thirty six bishops. The overall number of priests is 4355. The overall number of students (simply and solemnly professed) is 836 – and growing! There are, moreover, in the whole Order 322 cooperator brothers and 76 deacons, plus many novices on the path of their first profession.
The solemn opening of the Dominican Jubilee will take place on the Feast day of All Saints of the Order, which is November 7 (2015). The inaugural ritual to be carried out within the Holy Eucharist or morning or evening prayer of the Divine Office is intended as a celebration of the whole Dominican Family of the same country or region – when possible. The Solemn Opening Rite comprises the following steps: Opening Song, Message of the Master of the Order brother Bruno Cadoré (Video), Ritual of the Light, Prayer, Gospel Reading (Mt 10:5-15), Procession, Jubilee Hymn, Lighting of the Candles, Te Deum, the Jubilee Prayer, Final Blessing, and Salve Regina. (For more details, kindly see web page of the Order: www.op.org).
The Dominicans celebrate their 800 Foundation Anniversary under the motto: “Sent to preach the Gospel.” There will be four levels of celebrations: in the local community, the Province, the region, and the global Order. Moreover, Dominican convents and houses are encouraged to celebrate joyfully and hopefully the Dominican feasts.
The general program of the Jubilee 800 includes many and different activities, such as prayer-vigils, communal penitential celebrations, retreats, international congresses on mission and on the defense of human rights, encounters and dialogue and inter-religious dialogue, pilgrimages to Dominic’s places in France, Spain and Italy, etc.
As immediate preparation for the Jubilee 800, the Asia/Pacific Region organized a spiritual retreat for representatives of the whole Dominican Family in the region which was successfully held in Manila at the University of Santo Tomas on October 12-14, 2015. Other regional academic and cultural presentations will follow – always underlining that external celebrations are ordered to internal renewal and personal and community change.
Each Dominican Province has planned through previous years its own specific Jubilee program and activities. As a unit of the Order of Preachers, the missionary Province of Our Lady of the Rosary joins gratefully and joyfully the Jubilee celebrations of the Order and of the Asia/Pacific Region with a year-long program of activities.
The Dominican Province of Our Lady of the Rosary was founded in 1587 by Spanish Dominicans. In July of 1587, the new Dominican Province inaugurated its mission in the Philippines and Macau, and rapidly spread to different Asian countries, including Japan, Vietnam (then Tonkin), Taiwan and China (including Hong Kong and Macau), and later on to Venezuela, Korea, Myanmar, East Timor and … And the journey continues! At present, the Province has, according to the Dominican Curia in Rome statistics, 261 members: 196 priests, 41 students (including 20 in the studentate in Macao), 17 cooperator brothers, and 7 deacons. Moreover, in the year 2014-2015 the Province counts with 12 novices and 30 pre-novices. The number of pre-novices, novices and professed students is significantly growing in various countries of Asia.
The Province of Our Lady of the Rosary is present also in Hong Kong and Macau. In Macau, there are two branches of the Dominican Family – soon to be joined by a third, a Dominican lay fraternity: the sisters of the Congregation of Dominican Missionaries of the Rosary and the brothers of the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary. Dominican sisters and brothers – about fifty – inaugurate in communion with the whole Dominican Family the Jubilee 800 on November 7, 2015 with The Rite of Opening, which will be integrated in the second Vespers of the Feast of All the Dominican Saints. It will be held in the evening at St. Dominic’s Priory.
A deeply meaningful part of the Rite of Opening is the Ritual of the Light that is the lighting of a large Dominican Candle from which the Dominican communities will light their respective large candle. Each brother and sister will light from large candle a small individual candle to be kept by them and brought back to the chapel for all the common celebrations through the Jubilee. The Dominican Candle will illumine the churches, chapels, oratories of all the Dominican communities in the world through the whole Jubilee Year and up to January 21, 2017, which is the day the Jubilee 800 will close.
For an appropriate celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life (2015), Pope Francis suggested the following aims: look at the past with gratitude, embrace the future with hope and live the present with passion (Message for the Year of Consecrated Life, the Vatican, November 29, 2914).
Echoing the celebration of a Jubilee among the Jewish people and in the Church, Jubilee 800 takes the Dominicans back to their origins, looks forward to a hopeful future and commits them to bridge past and future with passionate and creative fidelity to preaching in our time. Antoine Saint-Exupery of The Little Prince fame wrote that “to be creative is to do things with fervor.”
May the Dominican Candle illumine the hearts of all those who are sent, in the words of Pope Honorius III, to proclaim the Word of God, to preach “everywhere the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” May Mary our dear Lady and Mother protect us – and all!

FAUSTO GOMEZ, OP
St. Dominic’s Priory, Macau