1. How would you describe your experience as the Master of the Order?
At the end of his mandate, brother Timothy said that he had made a great “pilgrimage” in the Order. This expression seems to me to be very accurate and I would be happy to use it to answer this question. To go from community to community, from province to province, and to discover the work of the grace of the Word, listened to and preached, lived and tirelessly contemplated, shared and offered: what a wonderful pilgrimage! It is to discover how the brothers, and all the members of Dominic’s family, desire to be all together “totally dedicated” to the evangelization of the Word. It is also a pilgrimage where sisters and brothers teach us how to follow Christ the Preacher in a world where it is not always easy to live, where the human being must be in many places defended, respected, promoted and protected – a world where hospitality requires constant promotion. It is a profound joy to be able to discover in this way how Dominic’s sisters and brothers become “ambassadors” of God’s friendship, missionary disciples with Christ.
2. Having visited all the provinces, vice provinces and vicariates of the Order all over the world, including meetings and interactions with other members of the Dominican family, there is no doubt that you have a good knowledge of the Order. Could you share with us in a few sentences what you think of the Order and the family?
We are living in a time of profound changes, in lifestyles, in communication between people, in the articulation between individual persons, collective identities and the social community, in the pluralism of philosophical and religious references. It is also a time when many processes of interculturality are being developed. All this of course makes its mark on the lives of brothers and sisters, as well as on the lives of communities. It is by taking these changes into account that the Order wishes to serve God’s conversation with its people, and to contribute to the adaptation of evangelization to new contexts. In fact, I think that the vocation of the Order is particularly relevant because it calls us to enter into conversation with our contemporaries by proposing a method made up of friendship and compassion, contemplation and action to offer a hospitable “common home” for all, fraternal dialogue and a passionate common search for the truth. The world is seeking the truth, and the Order proposes to walk with all as a friend, seeking with all new paths to the truth, in the joy of brotherhood, as Saint Albert the Great said.
3. What do you see as the future of the Order in the 21st century?
In just two years’ time, we will celebrate the memory of Dominic’s Dies Natalis. And we will do so with the Mascarella table as a sign of gathering. This is my dream for the Order: to be an apostle of communion, serving the One who comes and gives his life so that all may be one – to be an apostle both of humanity’s ability to live in communion today, and of its ability to act to take care of the common home of all and for all. The future of the Order is to be an apostle of this communion which will be completely recapitulated from the last and first day.
4. Do you have any expectations for the General Chapter?
It seems to me that what every brother expects from a General Chapter is that it confirms us all in our vocation. Or rather, that it takes orientations that call us all, each to its own full measure, to confirm together Dominic’s purpose in today’s world, in the service of the Church’s mission. In addition, the fact that the Chapter is being held in Vietnam also reveals a number of challenges that are probably important for the Order. This will be the first time that a General Chapter will be celebrated in a place whose culture is not Christian: the challenge of meeting and dialogue in a multicultural and pluralistic world. It will be celebrated in a province where one third of the brothers are in initial formation with the challenge of integrating the younger generation into apostolic creativity. In this province, the vocation of the cooperator brother is quite present. There is the challenge of the fraternity of all, clergy and laity, which makes up the Church strengthened by the way of evangelization. Finally, there are a large number of lay Dominican Fraternities in Vietnam, active and involved at many levels in the mission of evangelization – the challenge of promoting the laity in the permanent mission of evangelization that constitutes the Church. Evangelization: I think that the chapter of Biên-Hoà will continue to call the Order to its specific vocation of evangelization.
5. Briefly describe your experiences living in Santa Sabina for the past nine years.
Santa Sabina is a kind of “microcosm” of the Order: an international community, certainly; but above all, an intercultural community, including the crossing of the various “Dominican cultures”. It is an extraordinary experience of communion, with its joys and difficulties. Another experience is that of a community at the service of the Order’s vocation. It is a place where what ultimately must constitute our unity is revealed: to watch over one another so that each one, each community, each province, deploys the best of itself and can thus contribute to the apostolic zeal of a Church in a permanent state of mission. In Santa Sabina, we still experience the universality and diversity of the Church as it meets in Rome. Finally, there is the joy of living in this convent of origins, which is the place of the whole Order: joy and desire for unity of Dominic’s family, of a unity that is built with the common concern of evangelization, in the same way as the group of Jesus’ disciples when they learned as they walked with him to become the Church. Santa Sabina is the common house of Dominic’s family, a family “for evangelization”.
6. What is your farewell message to the Community of Santa Sabina?
It would be the wish that the community of Santa Sabina would always live this joy of being the house of the family of God’s friends, the house of Dominic’s brothers and sisters, house of the meeting of the two apostles of evangelization, Francis and Dominic. It should be a house from where we are to be sent into the world, to tell how God comes to visit his people and inscribes his own history at the heart of human history, a house from which the desire is drawn to gather worlds together in the joy of the Gospel, and to do so by drawing strength from the memory of Christ giving his life so that the world may have life. This so humble Christ as depicted from the door of Santa Sabina!