Coinciding with the semestral break of this academic year 2018-2019 and with the Lunar New Year celebrations, Fr Mario Jabares, the Regent of Studies of our Province, came to visit us here in Macau. He spent a couple of months (from 20th January to 11th March) with the student brothers of the Province in this Hong Kong-Macau area. St Dominic’s Priory, in Macau, was his home during the time of his visit. Here he carried out the main task of his visit, no other than imparting some courses or lectures to the students. To this purpose he devoted every morning from the 21 of January to the middle of February.
Two were the main topics of the said course, namely, the importance of study in the Order of Preachers, and the Theology of Mission. In the first topic –the relevance of study in the Dominican Order– Fr Mario did not merely talk about study but he also linked it with other essential elements of Dominican life, such as community life, liturgical prayer and preaching, since they all (study, community life, prayer and preaching) are the pillars of our spirituality, the foundation of our identity as Dominicans.
In the second topic, Missiology or Theology of Mission, Fr Mario developed three sub topics, namely, missio ad Gentes (to the pagans, to the non-Christians), missio inter Gentes (inter religious dialogue) and missio cum Gentibus (mixed Christians and non-Christians). This topic is very important for us, young Dominicans, in our formation. For we are missionaries, preparing ourselves to be sent to carry out the mission that we have embraced. This topic will indeed helpful for us in our future mission because by having a proper understanding of it, we will be able to deal with other peoples and cultures in the different countries where we may be sent, regardless of the big or small number of Catholics, Christians and non-Christians we find there.
At the same time, Fr Mario also arranged his afternoon schedule in such a way that he could meet each brother individually. The purpose of this meeting was to know a bit more about the brothers by talking with them about their lives, particularly in community, as well as their studying. In this encounter, each brother had also the opportunity to share with him the joys and the difficulties confronted in his daily life. On the other hand, by listening to Fr Mario, we were given some advice and encouragement to keep ourselves on-going and never give up in the everyday challenges we face; challenges that are meant to be primarily opportunities to grow up.
Towards the middle of February, Fr Mario left for Hong Kong to teach also the student brothers and the novices in Rosary Hill. He taught them for two weeks, after which he returned to Macao and stayed with us again for a time until he went back to Spain on the 11 of March. Still in the meantime he found a few days to fly to the Philippines and visit also the fathers and the student brothers at San Juan and UST, in Manila.
Worth mentioning in favor of Fr Mario is that during his stay with us, aside from teaching and individually meeting the students, he also joined the community in all its activities, such as liturgical prayer, conventual Mass, meals, and recreation moments. Likewise, he joined us in the outside commemoration activities at St Paul’s School on 25th of January, and in the lectures in honor of St Thomas Aquinas held both in Macau, organized by our Center of Studies at the University of St Joseph, and in Hong Kong by the Master of Students at St Albert’s Priory.
We really had a good time during Fr Mario’s visit! We are indeed grateful to him and I can truly say that his staying with us at St Dominic’s here in Macau was fruitful not only for us students, but also for him as the Regent of Studies of the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Bro. Agostinho Mendonça, OP