In his letter to the Master of the Order, “Praedicator Gratiae[i] Pope Francis writes: “In our own age, characterized by epochal changes and new challenges to the Church’s evangelizing mission, Dominic can thus serve as an inspiration to all the baptized, who are called, as missionary disciples: to reach every “periphery” of our world with the light of the Gospel and the merciful love of Christ; to cooperate with others to overcome unjust economic and political structures; and to give birth to a new world where all of us are brothers and sisters where there is room for all those whom our societies discard.” [ii] He calls all Dominicans to be in the forefront of a renewed proclamation of the Gospel, one that can speak to the hearts of the men and women of our time and awaken in them a thirst for the coming of Christ’s kingdom of holiness and peace.
Brother Gerard Francisco Timoner III, OP, Master of our Order, in elaborating on Pope Francis’ call to our Order states “Speaking either with God or about God, St. Dominic embodied a synergy of contemplation and action and exemplified a disciple-missionary, called to follow and sent to preach the way of the Gospel. It is worth pondering that the Holy Father uses the term missionary-disciple instead. Perhaps, Pope Francis is inviting us to realize that the God who sends us in mission is the same God who is present everywhere and constantly invites us to follow Him as disciples.”[iii]
The call of Pope Francis and the Master of our Order, to all Dominicans to serve as missionary-disciples, is a prophetic moment especially as the Permanent Commission for the Vocation of the Dominican Cooperator Brothercontinues the work entrusted to it by the 2019 General Chapter of Bien Hoa (cf. ACTA 189-198). This act of the 2019 General Chapter was an historic event but, more importantly, it was a defining moment that re-affirmed the essential presence of the vocation and ministry of cooperator brothers in carrying out the mission and charism of our Order in our contemporary world.
The ministries of cooperator brothers in the life our Order have existed since its very foundation. The historical collection of the richness, diversity, and challenges of this ministry in responding to the needs of the Church, including those martyred for the faith, during these eight hundred years, is extensive. Inspired by Pope Francis’ call and that of the Master of our Order to renew our mission and charism as missionaries and disciples-preachers of grace, we have been charged to set forth a radical new vision of the ministry of evangelization, discipleship and formulate new initiatives for the formation and ministry of cooperator brothers in response the urgent needs of our world today and for the future, and that excite young join our Order as cooperator brothers – missionaries and disciples – preachers of grace.
Collaborating with the work of the Permanent Commission is the appointment of a Theological Commission (cf. 2019 General Chapter-Bien Hoa, ACTA 199) whose charge it is “to undertake theological research on the vocation of the cooperator brother. The publication of this research will help to deepen our understanding of the specificity of the cooperator brother vocation in the Order and in the Church.
The Permanent Commission has met several times in order to respond to its charge. It is in the process of identifying several strategic initiatives that will invite the input of all cooperator brothers of our Order, as well as all members of the Dominican Family, to participate in creating and implementing a new vision in response to the needs of the Church and a world in need of healing, hope and an enduring peace. The Commission is in its early stages of creating a long-range plan. We invite all members of the Dominican Family to help in formulating this plan by contacting any member of the Permanent Commission listed below.
In the words of Pope Francis “may the Order of Preachers, now as then, be in the forefront of a renewed proclamation of the Gospel, one that can speak to the hearts of men and women of our time and awaken in them a thirst for the coming of Christ’s kingdom of holiness, justice and peace.”[iv]
As we move forward in creating a renewed vision and ministry for Dominican cooperator brothers in our world, we are reminded of the invitation of Jesus “let us cross to the other side” (Mk: 4:35), and follow Him and his disciples as they travelled deep into pagan lands to announce the message of the kingdom, to be unafraid to cross all frontiers even to the ends of the earth, and to welcome to our common home the lost, the last, the least, the unloved, the unwanted, victims of bondage and human trafficking, and those forced to live on the periphery of human life in deafening anonymity. Amen[v]
Brothers of the Permanent Commission:
- Daniel-Mario Chukwuma Ibezim, OP (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Herman Johnson OP (email@example.com)
- Mark Padrez, OP (Secretary) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Xavier Plassat, OP (email@example.com)
- Ignatius Perkins, OP, Chair (firstname.lastname@example.orgJoseph mai van Tuyen (email@example.com)
[i] Pope Francis (2021). Praedicator Gratiae: To Brother Gerard Franciso Timoner, O.P., Master General of the Order
of Preachers (Rome, Italy: The Vatican, 24 May, pp.1-3).
[ii] Pope Francis (2020). Fratelli Tutti-On Fraternity and Social Friendship. Vatican City, Rome, Italy: Libreria Editrice
[iii] Timoner, III. G.F, (2021). Praedicator Gratiae and the Grace of Preaching in the Church. (Rome, Italy: Curia
Generalitia, 24 May pp. 1-2)
[iv] Ibid, p. 2.
[v] Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies for Apostolic Life. (2015). Identify and Mission of the
Religious Brother in the Church. Vatican City, Rome, Italy: The Congregation
6/24/2021: Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist