A “radiant” crowd zealously awaiting the eighth centenary of the Order of Preachers flocked to Manila, Philippines for the Asia-Pacific Dominican Family Retreat held last October 12-14, 2015. This affair served as among the Family’s preparations for the Jubilee Year, which formally begins on November 7.

“This radiance is the fruit of a great missionary zeal and an impressive generosity deployed by the (Dominican) brothers and sisters who established the mission of the Order in the Asia-Pacific,” wrote Master of the Order Fr. Bruno Cadoré, OP, who sent his heartfelt message to the Dominican Family for the event.

Having been appointed as member of the recently held Synod, Father Cadoré was not able to physically join in the celebration. But his message with which he expressed his gratitude for the Dominican Family in Asia-Pacific was well-received.

Themed “Sent to Preach the Gospel,” the retreat saw over a thousand Dominicans from the Asia-Pacific Region in attendance. They were friars, sisters, nuns, priestly fraternities and lay fraternities from 14 countries, namely: Australia, Guam, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Timor Leste, and Vietnam.

Dominicans from the United States of America and Italy also joined in the retreat.

Father Cadoré commended in particular the Family’s apostolic commitments, exemplified by formal education extended to “the penniless families” and “the efforts of understanding other religious traditions and the dialogue with them.”

Fittingly, the event was held in the Order’s oldest and pontifical university in Asia, the University of Santo Tomas.

Humility in preaching

Opening the retreat was a Mass presided by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, DD, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines and a member of the Dominican Clerical Fraternity of the Philippines.

In his homily, Archbishop Villegas called the Family to look deeper into the gesture of kneeling, which countless generations of the faithful have learned to observe while praying.

“What can we preach if we forget how to kneel?” Archbishop Villegas asked. “Kneeling reminds us that what we preach is not our words but the teachings of our Lord.”

The second day was also started with the Holy Mass. The presider was the socius for the Asia-Pacific Fr. Vincent Lu Vien Ha, OP. Preacher for the second day was Fr. Franklin Buitrago Rojas, OP, coordinator of the Jubilee of the Order.

Joy of a Dominican

A former Master of the Order and recent appointee to the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP, was the retreat master of the Asia-Pacific Dominican Family Retreat.

He discussed three topics; one for each day. These were Mercy, Communion, and Mission.

Particularly resounding was Father Radcliffe’s talk on Joy during the second day. There, he urged the Family to evaluate where does their happiness rest.

“We start being joyful when we start caring whether our brothers and sisters are happy,” he said.

He added that caring must be expressed, such as by showing one’s appreciation toward others.

“There is joy in us when we make (our brothers and sisters) happy,” he said. “The culmination of our freedom and joy is when we give away our lives, like what Jesus did.”

In between the talks and ceremonies, members of the Family gathered in small groups to reflect and share on the specified topic for each day. On the third day, however, a panel discussion with Father Radcliffe and other members of the Family was held.

Fr. Vivian Boland, OP, Vicar of the Master of the Order, formally closed the retreat with a Mass and a candle lighting and mission sending ceremony.

By Levine Andro H. Lao


(12 November 2015)