This year (2012), we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the Portuguese Dominican Province. This will be an occasion of joy, thanksgiving and primarily, of remembering the past not forgetting to evaluate the present and consider the future!
The history of the Dominicans in Portugal is a long one and as we might expect, full of crucial events. The first Dominican friar to arrive in Portugal (1217) was one of saint Dominic´s first companions, Fr. Soeiro Gomes. The following year, a convent was established in our territory (Montejunto/Santarem) and in 1275 the Vicariate of Portugal of the Iberian Province was created. The Portuguese Province of the Order of Preachers, however, was not established until 1418.
After centuries of great apostolic work in Portugal and the mission territories, the Dominicans, as all the other religious Orders, were suppressed in the whole of the Portuguese territory (1834). From the beginning of the 20th century, there were renewed interests in the Dominican vocation in our country. Finally, in 1948, some friars from Canada came to Portugal to help in the restoration of the Province and this took place in 1962, with the nomination of Fr. Louis-Marie Sylvain as Provincial.
The entire Dominican Family is invited to participate in the commemorative events of the anniversary and especially in the Holy Eucharist. The whole celebration started with the Holy Eucharist on the 11th of March at Fatima. But before then, there were courses in Preaching and Communication at the Convent of St Dominic, Lisbon (Jan 28 – March 17). Before the Eucharistic celebration at the Convent of Our Lady of the Rosary, Fatima, there was also a presentation of a book titled “Portugal Dominicans: Past and Present”. On the 12th of April, the Master of the Order, fr. Bruno Cadoré, OP together with the European Provincials celebrated the Holy Eucharist for the anniversary at the Convent of St Dominic, Lisbon. This was at the IEOP Assembly. On the 24th of May, there will be another presentation of the book, “Portugal Dominicans: Past and Present” but this time at the parish of St Dominic of Benfica, Lisbon. There will also be Mass on that day for the feast of St Dominic. On the 6th of October, there will be a colloquium on, “The Restoration of the Dominican Province of Portugal: Memories and Challenges”. The closing Mass for the anniversary will be on the 7th of October, at the Covent of Christ the King, Port.
Fr. Jose Nunes