St Dominic in Macau started walking in 2007. It is a Dominican community belonging to the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary, which is a missionary Province of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans). By the way, the Dominicans initiated their presence in Macau as early as 1587. In fact, the primitive house of St. Dominic is considered the second oldest house of the Province, the first one being Santo Domingo in Quezon City, Manila, Philippines.
The community of St Dominic’s Priory in Macau is currently composed of thirty-four (34) Dominican friars, of whom 10 are priests and 24 are temporary professed, student Brothers. All of the 24 are enrolled at the University of St Joseph (USJ), pursuing the 5-year institutional studies program of the Faculty of Religious Studies and Philosophy. Due to the coronavirus restrictions, six students are currently following the courses online from Hong Kong, as they cannot so far enter Macau.
As for the ten Dominican priests, four of them are currently pursuing graduate studies at USJ. Even so, they and the rest of the Fathers are directly involved in either preaching, teaching, writing, or engaging information and in the education apostolate. In fact, four of them are working in the diocesan school of St Paul and the other five are committed to Dominican formation and or teaching at the University of Saint Joseph. Some priests are also involved in pastoral work in the diocese, as in celebrating the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation in parishes or in religious communities.
The whole community participates in the daily liturgy of the Priory chapel, which is open to the outside religious and lay faithful. The main event is the Sunday Mass, at eleven in the morning. All the members of the Priory are likewise members of the Association of Macau Religious Men (AMRM), participate in its regular activities throughout the year, and a few represent the community in the monthly meetings of the Association.
This Priory houses also the Provincial Studentate and the Center for Institutional Studies. Henceforth, it plays an important role in the Province as far as religious vocation promotion is concerned, focused not so much on recruiting new vocations, but rather on forming those who have joined us. This factor adds a typical characteristic to this community, namely, to be truly international and intercultural, as it gathers brothers from nine different nationalities.
Prayer, Study and Fraternal Life in common
Inside the Priory’s walls, the community of Brothers, consecrated by the profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, hold regular observances, marked by a daily schedule of prayer, study, and community life.
Prayer: We start our day by praying the Rosary in honor of Our Lady, the Patroness of the Province; then, we have the Morning Prayer (Lauds) integrated with the Eucharistic celebration. Parallelly, every evening we have together a 15-minute period of meditation, followed by Evening Prayer (Vespers) and the Office of Readings. In the late evening, the student brothers close their hour of common study with the Night Prayer. The community also holds an annual retreat, which usually takes place during the Holy Week. We invite also Brothers and Sisters from other religious Congregations in Macau to give us some talks. We have Eucharist Adoration once a month and other moments of personal prayer, aimed at fostering spiritual growth and ongoing conversion.
Study: Study is an essential part of our Dominican tradition. In fact, the book Constitutions of the Order of Preachers stresses the vital role study has ever had in Dominican life from the time of its foundation by St Dominic. This is very relevant today as our society values studies and education so much that without them there is no place to work for daily survival it. Still for us, Dominicans, the study is not simply ordered to get a job or to earn a living, but it is rather part of our spirituality: we study to become preachers, which is our charism. This explains why practically all the members of St Dominic’s Priory are involved in academic activities, whether at St Paul’s School or mainly studying and teaching at St Joseph University. The Priory houses also a good library for the service of the brothers.
Common life: Inside the Priory’s walls an outstanding fraternal atmosphere and coexistence among all the members prevails, something that has been taken place throughout the years.
A positive characteristic of our community is, for instance, the joy of our domestic celebrations weekly socials, birthdays, anniversary celebrations, special feasts, etc. that show the standing fraternal relationships prevailing in the community as well the generous mutual help and collaboration among its members. There is an equally good collaboration, great respect, and a sense of evangelical justice towards our employees. The brothers, likewise, enjoy the community recreation time. All this is more admirable when our great differences (cultural, ethnic, linguistic, educational, etc.) are considered.
The community tries to be faithful to its responsibilities regarding its scheduled religious observances. At times, however, not without some difficulties, due to the different schedules, commitments, absences, and the like of the brothers.
Looking at the future with hope
It is a great joy for the current priests and students of the Priory to realize that a good number of their former student brothers in Macau are now Dominican priests working for God’s Kingdom in Myanmar, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, East Timor and even in Spain and Venezuela. As they continue their journey in Macau, the members of St Dominic’s Priory are trying to do better what they have to do, above all, concerning their two main commitments, namely Catholic education, and the philosophicaland theological formation of their student brothers.
Certainly, and as long as our Center of Institutional Studies continues in Macau, the Dominicans wish to be part of common projects of the religious men and women in Macau and particularly of the diocese.
The happiness of witnessing the yearly professions of their brothers in formation, the ordination to the priesthood of those brothers who came to their community searching for their real identity, the passing of the torch of their ancestors to establish the Dominican Order, and in an especial way the charism of the Our Lady of the Rosary Province among other people, is visible in the community. It is visible not because they waited for it, but because, like the first three friars who arrived in the territory of Macau in 1587, and the brothers of the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary along all these years, they also respond with a willingness to be open and sent in answer to God’s invitation.
Faithful to a glorious past, which began here with the first three friars who arrived in the territory of Macau in 1587; and marching towards a hopeful future, the Dominicans in Macau walk in the present by steps of creative fidelity to their Dominican and missionary vocation and love for humanity. Thus, we celebrated gratefully and joyfully the Jubilee 800 of the establishment of the Dominican Order in 1216, and, in this current year 2021, the Jubilee 800 of the death of our Founder St Dominic de Guzman.