2nd Provincial Chapter of Lay Dominican Fraternities in Slovakia

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From 6th to 11th August, The Second Provincial Chapter of Lay Dominican Fraternities in Slovakia was celebrated at St. Bystrík House in Čičmany.  Since   Chapter is being celebrated before 2014, the Jubliee year dedicated to the Laity and their mission in the Order, the Provincial Chapter wanted to walk along this line. The   theme of the Chapter was: "Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions (Joel 3:1): The Dominican Laity and Preaching“. 

AS CLOSE AS BEYOND HORIZONS, AS FAR OFF AS THE TOUCH OF A HAND.

18 delegates from different fraternities, as well as invited guests and two observers from the Czech Province, gathered in Čičmany to celebate the Chapter. A very important part of the Chapter was the presence of four "Chapter Theologians" who helped the participants to understand the Chapter topics more deeply from philosophical, dogmatic and biblical perspectives and also from the point of view of the mission of the Church and the Order. The Chapter theologians were fr. Ján B. Mičkovic, fr. Benedikt R. Hajas, fr. Vavrinec R. Mitro and Superior General of Dominican Sisters in Slovakia sr. Justína I. Kostúrová. After elections, which took place on Saturday 10th August a joint meeting of delegates with the Prior Provincial fr. Reginald A. Slavkovský took place.

The participants of the Chapter reflected on Jesus´ command to the Apostles – to preach. Jesus said to them: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" (Mk 16:15), "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils" (Mt 10, 8).  Our prophetic mission is carried out in two dimensions: wandering to the horizon and being close to those to whom the Good News is proclaimed.

The celebration of the Chapter was opened in the evening of Augusth 6th, by fr. Bohuslav T. Jančiar, the vicar of the Provincial Prior. In his homily, he developed the theme of the Chapter. "Being close at hand: it often means going much further then we think or presume; being close at hand – it is an inner journey, a rebirth for a reality of the other person, the person who is in our closeness or the one to whom we want to be close, but many of our prejudices keep us out. Therefore being close, paradoxically, sometimes means going all over the world. ...Going beyond the borders means ascending to our own horizon, which can give us a great perspective and outlook. This horizon is quite moving and takes the form of our patience, indulgence, and the willingness to share our love."

The next day the reports of officials were read and capitulars then worked in four commissions (I. Preaching and the Laity in Slovakia, II. Fraternal Life and Governance, III. Formation and Study and IV. Prayer.)

The focus of the Commission for Preaching came from the two already mentioned dimensions of preaching. The first dimension "to wander to the horizon" included the following elements: wander - "to live with an active memory of the first vocation" of Abraham, a Father of faith. Furthermore, to accommodate foreigners, God called Bishop Diego and Dominic to start a new evangelization in a foreign country, which later acquired a global dimension. The way beyond the borders of what they knew, opened up the horizons of their hearts and none of them was ever the same again. And also the development of being on the borders, (reflections on the five boundaries defined by our Order).

Our ways of carrying out the mission to proclaim the One who came so that 'nations could come up to Him´, should have a dimension of closeness and encounter. None of these categories are new, they are ways by which God revealed Himself in history. He is close to his people and this closeness reaches its maximum in the Incarnation. God accommodates his people. The dimension of closeness was developed through hospitality as a form of preaching and sensibility to " Leah´s eyes" (cf. Gen 29, 16-17) – to listen to the voice of the quiet, the lonely and the less loved.

The Commission on “Fraternal Life and Governance” worked on certain   challenges that will enable our our local fraternity become more open. If we are talking about a Dominican fraternity, we do not just mean local fraternities, but we want to proclaim universal brotherhood. “The grace of renewal cannot grow in communities unless each of these extends the range of its charity to the ends of the earth, and devotes the same care to those afar off as it does to those who are its own members." (Ad gentes, Article 37.) The Commission also reflected anew on the homily of Fr. Antonio de Montesinos.

The Commission for Formation and Study focused on the book of Jonah, where the prophet is seen as a man invited by God not only for the external fulfilment of his mission, but also for the internal identification with it. The book describes the laborious process of internal transformation. From the first addressing to internal adoption of the mission is often a long journey. Although Jonah up to the end of the book remained stiff and compassionless, his story for us still remains a challenge to keep working on our hearts to be compassionate and merciful, and to proclaim God who loves all people. At the same time, this book is a challenge to study, in order that our so called "incomplete exegesis" is not a closed door for many who want to know God.

The fourth Commission of the Chapter focused on the dimension of expectations of God's promises. Prayers of the prophets were characterized by these expectations. The prayer which teaches us to expect gifts from God, is the Lord's prayer "Our Father". Here we express different petitions, each of which has its special importance and urgency. What we have to realize is that every single prayer has its own time, the time of its fulfilment. We intercede "Give us today" – and this is the type of prayer that is indispensable: e.g. asking for bread. In this petition we do not ask for bread just for ourselves, but we learn to be sensitive to those who beg for bread from us, all those who are poor. And then there are petitions that teach us to wait patiently, because the time of fulfilment is long, such as  - “Thy Kingdom come”.

In his final homily, the promoter for Lay Dominicans in Slovakia stated: "Between the hand that points to horizons and the hand which is close by, is the heart of the area with the centre of God´s call, recorded in the book of Isaiah: "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes" (Is 54, 2). This prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled in the Incarnated Word. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (God positioned his tent among us)". Christ is the tabernacle of God's presence, in which many nations have found their home. This openness is also realized in the preaching of St. Paul: "We have spoken freely to you and opened wide our hearts to you" (2 Cor 6, 11). Finally, this is what St. Dominic taught us too, not only in preaching, - to go and preach to the whole world -, but also in the actual space of the Order, as St. Catherine of Siena mentioned, that Dominic created the Order "wide and spacious."

During the meeting, the participants were given a "map preacher", which shows that what was being discussed in various committees reflects the priorities and ways in which we want to proceed in the next four years.

The provincial Chapter elected the new Provincial Council and President for a period of four years. Peter Jeremiáš Suchovský became our new president. The Provincial Council has the following members: Katarína Magdaléna Lichmanová, Eva Antonína Zúdorová, Klára Alberta Golecká, Jozef Dominik Kozík, Božena Magdaléna Pätoprstá, Eva Katarína Tomanová. Two additional provincial officers were also appointed: Alena Dominika Luptáková - Secretary and Žofia Dominika Tkáčová,  Socius.

Eva Antonína Zúdorová, Lay Dominican
fr. Mannes Stanislav Marušák, promoter
(19 September 2013)