On 6 August, the Dominican Family celebrated not only our father St Dominic, but also the jubilee of one hundred years of the presence of the friars preachers here!
The term “family” is not used lightly in this case, but is essential, so great was the joy that brought the celebrating members together. Many were reluctant to leave – those who regularly frequent the convent, the OP laity, and the sisters, contemplative or apostolic, and the friars, all gathered together, coming from the four corners of the Vicariate of Dacia and from the Province of France, and some on foot – well, the youngsters! The Order, in its four branches, is very active in the Norwegian capital, and we can speak of a true “Dominican Church”, grafted on Christ, who gives his new wine to the country of St Olaf.
We celebrated the Transfiguration of the Lord in the contemplative centre of the Lunden monastery, where the nuns had also prepared a royal table to start the Jubilee. We had the grace of lectures, given in English by all the loyal followers of the convent, in the magnificent church, with an excellent (and lyrical) historical retrospective on the life of the convent, the community and the friars over the last hundred years, and a presentation of the work of Br Marie-Alain Couturier (a student at the time) in his frescoes and stained glass in the conventual church and in the chapel of the neighbouring sisters. Not only rich in human terms, but an artistic treasure, then! Postponed several times because of the constraints imposed by a mysterious epidemic virus, the profession of two new laywomen also took place, really most appropriately, this weekend.
And on Sunday, the solemnity of our father St Dominic, Mgr Bernt Ivar Eidsvig, c.r.s.a., Bishop of Oslo, presided and preached at the great morning Mass. Joy was palpable, and Norwegians sing well, loudly, with all their hearts! The voices of the faithful were in perfect harmony with the splendid Strasbourg organ in the church… Summing up, as we must, we ate and drank heartily (and not just coffee, despite the Norwegian custom)!
The several French friars present had the very positive (and even rather astonishing for our times) impression of understanding absolutely everything in Norwegian, and with good reason: Catholic Norwegians here speak French! – for the local Church was linked, by way of its history, with the country where Olaf was baptised (in Rouen)…
However, after all these festivities and these days of joy and sanctification, everyone had to say goodbye, after one last glass of wine, and one last meal, worthy of the Kingdom, at Sta Katarinahjemmet. Goodbye till we meet again! in the earnest hope of seeing new Dominican friars and sisters arrive here, enlarging the brilliant, smiling group of friars and sisters, preachers all, and perpetuate the generations of ardent Christians who keep coming, ripening (let us say it in this golden month of August in Scandinavia) a magnificent harvest for the Lord!Br Thomas Carrique, OP