On July 25, 2021, the three Dominican Brothers Richard HTOO, Gabriel Robinson KYAW KO KO and Justin SAW KAUNG HBOWN MYINT, made their solemn religious profession into the Order of Preachers. They had just finished their institutional studies of Philosophy and Theology at the University of Saint Joseph in Macau.
By making their solemn profession, our three brothers culminated a five-year-long process of formation, counting from the moment they completed their Novitiate, in July 2016. It was on that day when they made their first simple (temporary) religious profession, taking upon themselves the three evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience “to God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to St Dominic,” the founder of the Dominican Order. Now, after five years, they did the same “until death”: A sort of matrimonial covenant with God, the religious profession seen in spousal terms. The ceremony of the religious profession takes place normally within the Mass. At the end of the proclamation of the Gospel, the brothers are called by their names and asked to affirm their willingness to live according to the evangelical counsels. Then, one by one, the brothers kneel before the altar, place their hands in their Provincial’s hands atop the Book of Constitutions of the Order of Preachers, and pronounce the formula of the profession.
In our missionary Province of Our Lady of the Rosary, with an additional promise, namely, to go to Missio ad gentes, if so decided by their Superiors. In the formula of profession used in the Dominican Order, only the evangelical counsel of obedience is mentioned. Everything else, even the other two vows of poverty and chastity, is included there, as the Book of Constitutions of the Friar Preachers explains: “By obedience, a person dedicates himself totally to God, and his actions approximate to the goal of the profession, which is the perfection of charity. Everything else too in the apostolic life is included under obedience” (LCO, 19). The act of obedience, in which one gives his entire self in service to God, is what brings unity to a brother’s life, and it is what enables him to grow in charity and love. Poverty and chastity go hand in hand with obedience.
In the Dominican culture, a life of evangelical poverty frees the friar of the desire for material wealth. Furthermore, it allows a brother to grow in his dependence on the Lord and in his trust in God’s providence and care. Likewise, a life of chastity is manifested through religious celibacy. It enables a friar to devote himself ceaselessly to preaching and to the proclamation of the Gospel for the salvation of souls without the responsibilities of married family life. In addition, they support themselves in this endeavor, through a fraternal life in common, working, praying, and studying together.
Through the solemn religious profession, a brother acquires certain responsibilities, like voting rights in the community Chapter and the capacity to serve in different offices. More importantly though, complete, permanent religious consecration gives the brothers the opportunity to be “totally dedicated to God, who is supremely loved, and to seek the perfection of charity in the service of God’s Kingdom, for the honor of God, the building up of the Church and the salvation of the world” (c. 573). Our sincerest congratulations to the three solemnly professed brothers!