Dutch Dominican Family Launches Jubilee Campaign in the Pub

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Dutch Dominican Family Launches Jubilee Campaign in the Pub
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The Order of Preachers started in a pub, not in a church. The Dutch Dominican Family therefore has launched a Dominican jubilee-beer, called Zondag (Sunday). It marks the start of a campaign in 2016 to create opportunities for meaningful encounter with secular people in universities, on social media, in café’s and elsewhere.

The brothers, sisters and lay Dominicans of the Dominican Family in the Netherlands want to celebrate the 800-jubilee of The Order not only among themselves, but with people outside of their priory’s, convents and churches as well. The famous story of Saint Dominic talking all night with the innkeeper shows that preaching starts with the willingness to spend time together and share visions on life and love. The question therefore is: who is today’s innkeeper we would like to meet?

So the Dutch Dominican Family has decided to work together with young secular communication professionals, who are interested in what they themselves could learn from our tradition, and vice versa. The result of all this is a communication campaign with the slogan Dwell – Share – Celebrate, as a modern translation of Dominican inspiration. The logo of the campaign is - of course – the dog with a torch.

The campaign consists of several elements. First there is the beer called Sunday, a special brew of a small brewery called De Hemel (Heaven) – what’s in a name? It is a blond and tasteful beer and it goes with special beer mats. On these mats are quotes from famous Dominicans as Meister Eckhart, Catharine of Siena, Thomas Aquinas and Edward Schillebeeckx. With the quotes come questions to deepen the encounter, such as ‘What is not God?’ of ‘What do you hope for?’ or ‘What are you grateful for? And how do you know that?’

Sunday is also the name of a series of seven radio-programmes and podcasts, produced with a national radio-station. The series is due for the summer of 2016. Sunday refers to what seems to be lost in the secular culture of the Netherlands: a space to contemplate and share and celebrate life. It also refers, of to the name of Dominic, to the word Sunday in Latin.

The radio-programs focus on life changing moments and dealing with the questions on what people find valuable and important about life. As Leonard Cohen sings in his song Anthem: ‘There is a crack in everything, that’s where the light gets in’. The seven sacraments are structuring elements in these programs.

Thirdly we are organising three debates at the universities of Amsterdam, Tilburg and Nijmegen. In these public meetings scientists and Dominicans will talk about urgent issues. The intention is to start talks in which arguments are a part of mutual learning and understanding, referring to the long tradition of democracy and dialogue in the Order.

Fourthly: one of the Dutch priories will host Writers in Residence. A group of writers is invited for a retreat, with contemplation, study and meetings. They will share their experiences and insights in new stories or poems, which will be published.

The fifth element of this campaign is to get in touch with secular people. This element will become clearer later in the year.

The situation of the Dominican Family in The Netherlands is delicate. There are about sixty brothers, 150 sisters of different congregations and 60 lay Dominicans (the most vivid branch of the Order in the Netherlands nowadays). Most of the brothers and sisters are old, although far from inactive. In fact, the sisters and brothers tend to keep on working until old age forces them to slow down.

Nevertheless, the long tradition of the Order in the Netherlands seemed – until recently - to come to an end, except for the lay Dominicans and the Dominican centers for study and spirituality in Zwolle, Huissen, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, in which predominantly lay professionals are employed.

Yet on March 13, 2013, the same day Pope Francis was elected, the Dutch brothers chose their youngest to be their provincial superior. Ever since René Dinklo was elected, there have been breaths of fresh air. The Dutch Dominicans now have five younger brothers in formation, and at least two on their way.

The Dutch brothers, sisters and lay Dominicans compare their current situation to that of Saint Dominic in 1216, sending out his sixteen brothers to the world. There is much uncertainty, but there is also hope and a mission.

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The campaign-website: www.800jaardominicanen.nl
The normal website: www.dominicanen.nl

 

(25 January 2016)