The Scriptural admonition “Woe to us if we do not preach the Gospel” resounds in the hearts of the Lay Fraternities of Latin America and the Caribbean.
As a lay Dominican, I have been reflecting on the First Meeting of the Dominican Family of Latin America and the Caribbean, which took place from 2 to 8 July in the Vicariate of Puerto Maldonado, in the Peruvian Amazon, in light of what it means for Lay Dominicans.
I am grateful to God for having had the opportunity to participate in this meeting. It has enriched my life and strengthened my identity as a missionary and preacher.
As president of COFALC (Council of Lay Fraternities of Latin America and the Caribbean), I responded to the invitation of the Dominican family to take part in this meeting and I looked forward to contributing to the development of a mission that would involve the whole Order of Preachers.
One of my hopes was to be able to communicate to the presidents of the Latin American and Caribbean fraternities the reality of the situation in the Amazon and the needs of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Maldonado.
What I discovered
I discovered in the Order of Preachers a sincere desire to join forces as sons of Saint Dominic, in forming a comprehensive mission in the apostolic vicariate of Puerto Maldonado.
Why a comprehensive mission?
Because the transmission of faith by preaching Jesus cannot be separated from the situation in which the inhabitants of Puerto Maldonado live. These communities suffer mainly from a lack of basic services, human trafficking, job insecurity, uprooting and economic poverty.
What can we do as lay members of the Order of St. Dominic?
We call on the lay fraternities of Latin America and the Caribbean to promote missionary vocations. We need those who, inspired by the phrase “Woe to us if we do not preach the Gospel”, will promote Christian identity while respecting local traditions and cultures. We need missionaries who will be preachers of faith and life together as a unified experience, those who will witness to the life of the spirit as well as to life itself and a respect for the region’s ecological circumstances.
We need missionaries who are willing to be light by their dedication to their own formation, with prayer and study, and thus, in accordance with the charism of the Order of Preachers, to preach the compassion of God.
Following in the footsteps of our Father Dominic and under the patronage of Our Blessed Mother of the Rosary, we pray for the emergence of committed lay people from our lay fraternities.
This lay mission is essential for our charism, especially for those who serve as doctors, educators or teachers, psychologists and engineers.
I look with hope to the unified effort that the Order is making in the Amazonian missions. The power of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit working in a missionary can realize God’s desire that all the inhabitants of this planet have the necessary food and thus be able to sustain their families.
Efforts are urgently needed because, while the Amazon is one of the richest places in the world in terms of flora and fauna, the people who live there are among the poorest in the world.
I have great hope. For eight centuries the tradition of the Order of Preachers has been to bring Jesus into the hearts of people, preaching the justice of God which is unbending, but above all, announcing the merciful love of a Father who awaits the return of all his children to his bosom.
Ms. Margareth Velasquez, OP
President of COFALC