General Assembly of Lay Dominicans Fraternities in Africa

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General Assembly of Lay Dominicans Fraternities in Africa
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From Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th November 2017, the first General Assembly of Lay Dominican Fraternities in Africa was held at the Convent of the Dominican Sisters at Rebero, Kigali – Rwanda. This is a short summary of the meeting.

INTRODUCTION: The African Council of Lay Dominican Fraternities (ACLDF) has amongst its responsibilities the mandate to ensure that Lay Dominicans in African fit within the proper structures in the Dominican Order and Family. It is for this reason that this meeting was organized by the present members of the Council.

INPUTS: The Promoter General, Fr. Rui Carlos Lopes op, Joyful Felix Foko, the regional president of the ACLDF and his councillors present took turns to facilitate the conferences during the four-day meeting.  The Religious Promoters and other participants contributed positively in the discussions and at the end arrived at the following resolutions:-

That all Lay Dominicans should refresh themselves on the Rule, the Acts of Argentina, the Declaration of the Master of the Order and other relevant Church documents in order to situate themselves firmly within the Dominican spirituality.

That the leaders present at this meeting should facilitate the understanding of the proposed draft Directory for Africa amongst their members and make suggestions where necessary to the ACLDF for any amendments.

That all the Provincials/Provincial Vicars should be officially informed of this decision immediately. Each entity should make sure that this is done as soon as possible through their Religious Assistants and/or Promoters.

That we should be reminded of the forthcoming 3rd International Congress of Lay Dominicans Fraternities in Fatima Portugal from 4 to 10 October 2018.

In this respect:
- All professed Lay Dominicans shall be welcomed.
- All Religious Assistants and promoters shall be welcomed.
- Only two Lay Dominicans from each country shall have an active voice. The choice of these two shall be given to the leaders.
- All Lay Dominicans should pray and organize community prayer sessions for the success of the Congress.
- When questionnaires towards the preparations of the Congress are made available, we should contribute promptly to help the commission leaders in their preparations.
- Those who would wish to participate are encouraged to indicate to the Regional President through their chapter leaders before March 2018. This will help to request invitation letters early enough and to acquire low cost air tickets and to avoid inconveniences such as those that happened towards the 800-year  Jubilee  celebrations when many Lay Dominicans from Africa were denied visas to Rome, Italy.

All should be involved to participate in the activities of the Dominican Month for peace as per the letter of the Master of the Order of 11/11/17 (attached). This will begin on the first Sunday of Advent 2017 and runs throughout the month of December.

We should pray, reflect and make suggestions towards the organization of a Congress of Lay Dominicans in Africa, preferably to be hosted by any country within the Western zone-Benin or Côte d’Ivoire.

In the course of the activities, the Council had a closed-door session with the Promoter, Fr. Rui and discussed other sensitive issues especially related to discipline and administration, the process of admitting members to profession and the statues of members who are no longer in communion with the Church. In the next review of the directory, these issues will be further discussed and clarified.

ORGANIZATION AND GRATITUDE: Rough statistics indicate that about 700 Lay Dominicans are present in 27 countries in Africa today.  Since the foundation of the African Council of Lay Dominican Fraternities (ACLDF) in Bamenda, Cameroon 2004, the Rwanda meeting of leaders is the first ever assembly/gathering of Lay Dominican Leaders from more than three countries at a time.

Seven countries were present, three sent reports and three whom the council had been working with (Nigeria, Côte D’Ivoire and Burkina Faso) were absent.  In all, at least the Council had so far been able to interact with 13 countries.

Much gratitude was given to Rwanda for the organization and warm reception of the delegates, despite the short notice. Equally, the Provincial Vicar for Rwanda and Burundi with the Dominican Friars in Kigali and Nyagatare were very much appreciated for their co-operation and support. The Dominican Sisters of Africa in whose convent the assembly was  held were also very much appreciated for their hospitality. 

The participants noted with gratitude the presence and inputs of the Promoter General Fr. Rui Carlos Lopes OP, and the promoters from the Southern Africa and Equatorial Africa Frs. Raphael and Aristide; and the dynamism of the Regional President Joyful Felix Foko and his team for their instrumentality and sacrifices.

Participants while evaluating their interaction on the last day noted with satisfaction that this was a unique moment to renew their preaching mission. The social evening, the tour of Kigali city and exchange of experiences together with the rich inputs exposed the beauty of the Dominican vocation.

In his last statements Fr. Rui thanked all the Fraternities in Africa for what they are doing for the Church and the Dominican Order.  He urged all to deepen their spirits within the Dominican spirituality.  He further re-iterated that when we live in communion we overcome all obstacles to our lives. “Be faithful to your Profession and remain faithful to St. Dominic’s vision and Christ’s Mission”, he concluded.

Joyful Felix rounded up by thanking all for their sacrifices and hoped he meets all again in the forthcoming events. All delegates departed happy, determined and hopeful.

 

(25 November 2017)