Because of the needs of the brothers in the two Belgian entities, and in the hope of strengthening the preaching mission of the Order in that country, the Master of the Order, in response to a request from the brothers of both entities, has suppressed the province of Saint Rose in Flanders and has entrusted the brothers and communities of that province to the apostolic solicitude of the Vice Province of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Belgium.
It means that the 41 friars of the former Flemish province are now affiliated to the Vice Province with all rights, obligations and privileges. At the same time the Vice Province erected a vicariate in the territory of Flanders. The vicariate consists of one convent in Leuven, as well as four houses, at Heverlee, Ghent, Schilde, and Knokke. In the Vice Province there are currently three convents, at Brussels, Lige and Louvain-la-Neuve.
In civil life the Flemish and Francophone regions of Belgium are distinct, with separate administrative and governmental structures. The new structure of the Order seeks to respect the specifically Flemish character of the region and of the brothers who belonged to the province of Saint Rose, while at the same time giving them the support of belonging to a bigger entity. The brothers there say that their unification is an important sign to the Church and to the country.
The decree of suppression and the erection of the Flemish vicariate took place on 27 September 2015. These acts were contextualised by the Master of the Order within the process of restructuration initiated by the general chapter of Rome and carried forward by the general chapter of Trogir.
On 28 September 2015 there was a gathering at Leuven to which all the friars in Belgium were invited. After the decrees were read, fr Bruno spoke about his hopes for the future of Dominican life and mission in Belgium. The brothers had an opportunity to ask questions of the Master and to offer their comments on the situation. The Master then presided and preached at the Eucharist which was followed by a festive lunch. The whole day was an important first moment for strengthening fraternity in the expanded Vice Province.
The photographs show moments from the meeting of 28 September 2015: reading the decree, celebrating the Eucharist, the group of brothers who gathered at Leuven, and lunch.
(2 October 2015)