Getting the cue from the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, the theme of this year’s common study is “The Joy of the Gospel and the Gospel of Joy.” There were seventeen participants that attended the common study coming from five provinces of the Order (Most Holy Rosary, Assumption, Queen of Martyrs, Philippines and India) and eight nations (China, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia and Solomon Islands).  Among the participants are five ordained priests and two deacons.

The annual four-week program is in compliance with the provision of the Acts of the Bogota Chapter, number 221 which asked that “the Priors Provincial, Vice-Provincials and Vicar-Generals, together with their formation councils, to elaborate a program for those friars that have made their solemn profession and those who have been recently ordained to help them in these crucial moments of transition when they dedicate themselves to the mission.”  The Asia-Pacific region is the first to comply since the major superiors of this region had already made a decision to pursue this program even before the inclusion of the provision in the Acts of the General Chapter of Bogota.  It has been conducted twice in the Philippines (2008 and 2009), once in Vietnam (2010), Thailand (2012), and India (2013).

The 2014 common study in Indonesia was extra special because the brothers, during the fourth week of the common study (August 11-16, 2014), participated in the joint conference of the Journées Romaines Dominicaines (JRD) and the Justice and Peace and Care of Creation Commission (JPCC) of the Order in Asia-Pacific.  It was the first time that these two groups are meeting jointly and the first time too that the JRD, the inter-religious dialogue group, is meeting in our region.

Msgr. Vincentius Sutikno Wisaksono, the bishop of Surabaya, generously lent the retreat house of the diocese in the cool mountain setting of Claket.

During the first three weeks of the common study, the following modules were conducted:

  • July 21-25: Preaching and Saint Thomas by Br. Vivian Boland, OP, Vicar of the Master of the Order (This module supplemented the brothers’ intellectual formation with hands-on analysis of key text from the writings of St. Thomas.)
  • July 28 - August 1: The personal dynamics affecting the Preacher of Evangelii Gaudium by Br. Amitharaj, OP (This module made the future preachers understand their own psycho-sexual dynamics and how to live with a healthy mental health while in  ministry.)
  • August 4-8: The Spirituality and Mission of the Preacher of Joy by Br. Edmund Nantes, OP, and Br. Prakash Lohale, OP (This module puts the Dominican spirituality within the context of the Asia-Pacific region during the papacy of Pope Francis.  Br. Prakash not only shared the challenges of the mission of the Order but also related the preparations leading to the Jubilee of the Order.) The socius of the Master for Asia-Pacific extended the personal greetings of the Master of the Order and also gave an overview of the situation his region.

All the modules provided the participants the opportunity to interact with each other after the presentation by the facilitators.  The common study aims not just to provide theoretical knowledge, but more importantly to provide the participants the chance to experience living in an inter-cultural community.  Thus, brothers are exposed to different prayer traditions during the liturgical celebrations.  The brothers are also able to share the history of their own provinces and the cultural richness of their countires. The brothers formed friendship and enjoyed each other’s presence during recreation. The Claket retreat house has a swimming pool and a football field which the brothers used. The retreat house was located in an area surrounded by forest and the brothers had time to trek around it and visit a hotspring 4 kilometers away.  On weekends, there were excursions planned for the participants. The first weekend was cultural and historical: a visit to the archeological sites and museum of Trowulan, the capital of the Madjapahit Empire.  The second excursion was nature adventure: a trip to Mount Bromo.  The participants waited overnight for sunrise in its chilly slopes and at the break of dawn went on foot to the mouth of its crater.  The third weekend was religious: it was an excursion to a popular shrine of Mary in Puhserang.

Br. Nilo Lardizabal, OP, was the local coordinator of the first three weeks of the common study in Indonesia. He was ably assisted by Ibu Anita and Ibu Tini, members of the Dominican laity of Surabaya and our own brother aspirants.  They were mainly responsible for all the logistics during the first three weeks of the common study: assistance for visa application, transportation, accommodation, and excursions.  They made sure that the brothers were comfortable during the trips and well fed.  The participants highly appreciated their work in the evaluation.

Since its inception, Br. Edmund Nantes, OP, has been involved in this annual four-week course as coordinator or as mentor or as resource person for one of the modules.

The fourth week of the common study was spent in Ciputra Golf Club and Hotel, August 11-16, 2014 where the joint conference of the Journées Romaines Dominicaines (JRD) and the Justice and Peace and Care of Creation Commission (JPCC) of the Order was held.  There were a total of 89 registered participants from the Dominican Family coming from about 30 different nationalities.


(03 September 2014)