Dominican celebrations in Albania in honor of St. Dominic

On January 17, a solemn Eucharistic celebration opened the jubilee year of St. Dominic at the Dominican Parish of St. George Martyr in Lagjja Mirdita, Durrës, in Albania. His Excellency Msgr. George Frendo, O.P., Metropolitan Archbishop of Tirana-Durres, presided and the parish priest Br. Geoffrey Bugeja, O.P., concelebrated.

fr. Bernard with Dimiter Qosja, an Orthodoxe Priest

The celebration began with the rite of the Lucernaria, with readings and prayers, the blessing and lighting of candles outside the church precincts. The faithful then entered the church in procession singing the litanies of the saints of the Order. The idea behind this being that we frequently refer to St. Dominic as the Lumen Ecclesiae, light of the Church. In his homily, the Archbishop presented his reflections on the Gospel of the day, and referred to our Holy Father Dominic and the presence of the Dominicans in the country since the beginning of the Order. In fact, only a few years after the death of St. Dominic in 1221, the Dominicans were active in Albania. They arrived in 1240 and worked there until the end of the 15th century when they were banished by the Turks. They then returned in 1996 to the city of Durrës, from where they reach and serve several other villages that have a strong Catholic presence.

In addition to our Dominican brothers and sisters, other religious sisters took part in the celebration together with the people of God who ask for the intercession of the Saint of Guzman. The singing of the antiphon O Lumen and the lighting of the Jubilee candle marked the end of the celebration.

On Sunday, February 7, the parish of St. Dominic in Durrës, Albania, celebrated its patron saint, on the occasion of the beginning of the jubilee year for the eighth centenary of our saint’s birth to heaven. The celebration was organized by the parish priest, Br. Bernard Caruana, O.P., and his team.

It started with the blessing of a new icon of St. Dominic painted by an Orthodox iconographer guided by Br. Bernard. The auxiliary bishop of the diocese, Msgr. Arjan Dodaj, F.D.C., presided over the celebration and Br. Constantine Mamo, O.P., concelebrated. The Vox Iuvenum choir from Tirana accompanied with their beautiful voices.

Three persons read a short presentation of the saint followed by singing by the choir. A selection from the Libellus about the beginning of the Order of Preachers by Bl. Jordan of Saxony, first successor of St. Dominic as Master of the Order, was read. Those present in the congregation prayed an Albanian translation of the responsory O Spem Miram followed by other prayers of the faithful. The bishop blessed the Icon and lighted a Jubilee candle prepared for the occasion, and the choir sang the Latin version of the O Spem Miram to the melody written by Charles Gounod.

A celebration of the Mass for the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time followed. During the homily Msgr. Arjan spoke beautifully of our Father Dominic presenting him as a true preacher of truth that shone in the Church, and who only spoke to God in prayer and about God in his preaching. He stressed the fact that, according to his early biographers, Dominic was always transmitting the joy of being faithful to the Lord. He pointed to Dominic’s many saintly sons and daughters who were his true disciples. He reminded those present that Dominican Friars came to Albania in the early years of the Dominican adventure as an Order of Preachers. After a period of absence from the country they returned to Albania and are present in the Diocese in the person of the Archbishop Msgr. George Frendo and the brothers responsible for the running of two parishes in the city of Durrës.

After the solemn blessing at the end of the Mass two men carried the Icon of Dominic in procession to the side chapel where it is offered for the veneration of the faithful. Other activities are being organized in honor of Our Father Dominic throughout this Jubilee Year.

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