The first meeting of the new commission appointed by the Master of the Order met at Santa Sabina in the early days of October 2017. It has eight members, Miguel Angel Espinoza Sanchez of Holy Rosary province, Tomasz Gaj of Poland, Fabien-Joseph Hignette of Toulouse, Daniel-Mario Ibezim of Nigeria, Herman Johnson of St Martin de Porres USA, Joseph Mai Van Tuyen of Vietnam, Mariusz Skowronski of Poland and Vivian Boland, socius of the Master for fraternal life and formation. Ignatius Perkins of St Joseph USA and Roberto Clark of Argentina, members of the former commission which produced the Cooperator Brothers Study in 2013, also attended this first meeting.
The Master of the Order participated in two sessions of the meeting. Other contributors were Augustine Thompson of Holy Name USA who has just completed a book-length history of the Dominican brothers, Gianni Festa, the postulator general, who spoke about the holiness of the co-operator brother in the Order, and Benjamin Earl, the procurator general, advising the commission regarding a text for LCO which the general chapter of Bologna has asked for.
Brother Bruno traced the history of reflection on the co-operator brothers vocation from the general chapter of Rome in 2010. A lot has been achieved, not least a raised consciousness in the Order about the importance of this vocation. The brothers carry for the Order the aspect of fraternity which is essential to the Dominican vocation. Augustine Thompsons book shows how, again and again in the course of our history, the brothers have called the Order back to its fundamental mission of evangelizing, of preaching the fraternity of the gospel from the base of a fraternal life consecrated to the Word of God.
The commission studied the new Ratio Formationis Generalis and the new Ratio Studiorum Generalis to see what those documents have to say about the promotion of the brothers vocation and the formation of co-operator brothers. The commission stressed also the need for good communication with the provinces in collaboration with the regional socii, considering ways in which the work of the commission can be represented at provincial and regional meetings of the Order.
The commission chose brother Herman Johnson to be its president and agreed that it would meet twice again before the general chapter, in June 2018 and in February 2019.
The lives and achievements of many remarkable brothers were recalled in the course of the meeting. It is appropriate on the feast of Saint Martin de Porres (even if he was not a co-operator brother in the strict sense) that we should thank God for the witness of many saintly men who have lived this vocation in the Order. It is right also to pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to inspire men to serve the Church and the holy preaching in this way. The brothers remind us that we are, in the first place, brothers, following brother Dominic in our consecration to the Word of God, sharing a common life centred on that Word, and preaching the same Word in many and various ways.
Vivian Boland OP
Socius for Fraternal Life and Formation
?(30 October 2017)