As of Monday May 30, the Dutch and Belgian Dominicans will form one province. This will take place by the reading of a decree by the Master of the Order Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III OP who will visit the Netherlands for this occasion. The decree states that as of the 30th of May, the Dutch province is suppressed and becomes a vicariate of the Belgian province. The Dutch brothers will become “sons” of the Belgian province by transfiliation.
September last year, the Chapter of the Dutch brothers unanimously agreed to this merger. Because the number of friars in the Netherlands has decreased considerably in the past years, a merger with another province was unavoidable. A union with Belgium was obvious; until 1860 the Dominican friars in the Low Countries formed one province. Nowadays the Netherlands still has 33 friars and four communities. In Belgium there are 54 friars divided over several convents and houses.
In the past period, friars from both provinces already started to cooperate with each other in some areas, e.g. in in the founding of new international community in Leuven. This new convent will be a house of studies for initial and permanent formation.
The merger marks the end of the Dutch province which was established in 1515 and, apart from the Netherlands, also included Belgium and the north of France. The province has had its present form since 1860. For decades the Dutch Dominicans were active in many parishes in the Netherlands, but also in mission areas such as the former Dutch Antilles, Puerto Rico and South Africa. In addition, friars were involved in the education of lay people in the convents of Huissen and Zwolle. In the time to come, the friars will reflect on where Dominican presence is needed.
After reading the decree by the Master of the Order, there will be a Mass of Thanksgiving at 11.30 am in the St. Dominicuskerk (Het Steiger) in Rotterdam. This will be followed a special Chapter of the new vicariate in which the Dutch friars will elect a Vicar and two council members for the next four years.