TORCH OF MACAU
As a Dominican, I would say that I am always instigated by the dream of St. Dominic’s mother before she had him; a dog jumped from her womb holding a torch and set everything around them on fire. This kind of vision is not only impressive but also awesome! Given the Order charism for zealous preaching of the Gospel, the story and the play on words seemed fitting!
But I never had such an illusion to initiate a Confraternity of lay Dominicans anywhere, much less a head trip in Macau. And yet, we say that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways, either. And I want to figure out that the God of surprise was in cahoots with our Father St. Dominic de Guzman’s wish in augmenting the members of the Order.
This is my simple story:
Â A Dominican lay from Hong Kong, who was unfamiliar to me, approached me after the mass suggesting if we could start a lay Dominican group here in Macau. I was not only astounded but I could not give her a reply. On my way home, I thought: Is this not a God-given design? It was then that I started discerning about this matter, and truly I have thought This is not a joke. And so I proposed this matter to Fr. Jose Luis de Miguel, Prior of Macau to which he made some dubious comments since the participants are not residents of Macau and because of the unstable work they might be touch-and-go members.
I was working in the Pastoral Center for Migrant Filipino Workers and was in charge of their Christian Formation. And so, I thought of inviting young men and women regardless of their status to lay eyes on our Dominican style of life. The response was not spontaneous, given the fact that they didn’t know what I was up to. I did not give up the ship; rather I leave no stone without any compromise. And so, to my surprise, and maybe for curiosity’s sake, 15 members came, but 8 hung loose, and 7 persevered. As they went along in formation, they were all enticed by the way our Dominican life as a family lives. The Dominican Family is where we all feel at home. That means we do not have to justify being there but feel at ease. We feel accepted just the way we are, was their general comment.
The first batch after a period of three years decided to make their first commitment with the consent of Fr. Provincial, Fr. Javier Gonzalez, O.P. They are Ana Francia de Guzman, O.P., France de Guzman, O.P., Miriam Zingapan, O.P., and Selina Ebora, O.P.
Thinking of how to name the group, I did not hesitate since the dream was prescient due to a play of words in Latin: although Father Dominic named it Order of Preachers, it would later come to be known as the Dominicans; in Latin, that Dominican, which is very similar to Domini Canis, or dog/hound of the Lord. Timely, Macau is drenched in materialism because of the presence of casinos all around. And so I have thought of a name suitable to what will become the mission of our Lay in Macau, to be faithful like our Father Dominic de Guzman in proclaiming the Gospel and guarding the faith and the truth from modern heresy; and to rouse people from today’s blind adherence to an ephemeral world; undoubtedly my brother priests agreed with me.
Indeed, this time was magnificent because the Lord’s preaching hounds unleashed a force meant to further fire up an already splendid 800-year-old service to the Catholic faith when the Order Our Lady of the Rosary Province celebrated a solemn mass in the Cathedral with the presence of the bishop, priests, religious, Lay Dominicans (from Hong Kong and Macau), the faithful, in this momentous event of the Order. That was a superb celebration!
Last April 29, the feast of our Sister Catherine of Siena, our Dominican Family was blessed by 4 Professed Lay Sisters who renewed their promise for a year, 4 Novices and 6 Postulants seeking a richer, deeper spiritual life while living in the world in personal and liturgical prayer, especially the Eucharist, in the common study and in everyday life experiences. They discern ways, with the help of a Spiritual guide and community of believers, to deliver the Word according to their abilities and the urging of the Holy Spirit. Although they are OFW workers, they are living a positive response to the Gospel message, sharing their faith to their families and even the family of their employers and friends, trying to combat the evil of the age by preaching the Truth of Christ. They are aware that Lay Dominican life is all about having a passion for the Word of God. It is about committing oneself to a community of like-minded brothers and sisters that immerse themselves in the Word of God. If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (St. John 8:31-32).
Lastly, they are here with us now not only to enrich the Order, the Church, and the World around us through the richness of their vocation but to journey with us through the path that our Father Dominic had trudged.
We pray for these new members of our Order, the Lay Dominican- Torch of Macau, for their zeal and enthusiasm in illuminating at least this little corner of the world- Macau as faithful hounds of the Lord.
Father Dominic, pray for your sons and daughters, pray!
Sr. Maria Lourdes Blanca, O.P.
Missionary Dominican Sisters of the Rosary