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The Chapter's Chronicle

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August 7

Next stop : Cracow 2004

Another hot and humid day dawned. To arrive at the chapel before Mass and encounter Friar James Marchionda, our liturgy director who interprets Gregorian chants on the clarinet, makes one's prayer rise up spontaneously. Today's celebration was the responsibility of Lithuania, Bohemia and Slovakia. For the first time Mass was in Latin. To the young it sounded new, while it made the others realize that they are no longer young. Slovakia's vicar presided and the vicar of the Baltic countries preached the homily in French. He told us a story of how he had saved himself from an attack by a sheep on the family farm by using diplomacy- that which failed St. Peter when he wanted to walk on a watery path to the Lord. We heard of Peter's fear and of his dread of making a bad impression in front of the disciples... Our Lithuanian friar showed a courageous effort in preaching to us in French. He called us comrades; I suppose it would be reminiscent of the former régime in his country. And Friar Damian Nemec, he who most amended, specified, and corrected in the chapter, sang us a solo in Czech: it was beautiful music (one supposes the lyrics are beautiful too).

The penultimate session. The presentation of the institutions of the Order. First the Ecóle Biblique of Jerusalem, founded in 1890 by Friar José María Lagrange. It was presented by the director Jean Michel Poffet. It lies in the Palestinian zone of Jerusalem. It does not confer licentiates, but does grant doctoral and other degrees. Next summer they will begin to offer open courses for Biblical education for three weeks; he called them "Courses for Biblical Enthusiasts". They will not require the same prior studies necessary for the regular courses. Among their other projects is the revision of the Jerusalem Bible. It seems that the Hebrew texts from which the translation was made, suffer from diverse ideological influences and it is a good idea to again contrast it with the Septuagint in order to discover the most original text. I don't believe that they will change the Our Father on us.

The Angelicum was presented by the community's prior who was elected to represent the friars of the convent of San Sixto and Santo Domingo. It is a good time for the Angelicum. They have established a new record in the number of students. They have obtained financial support. Their students come from all parts of the world and they are women and men, religious and laity.

The Vicar General of China in Taiwan, Friar Celestino Shuang, explained the apostolic activities and projects of his vicariate.

The Master was entrusted to elaborate the "denunciations" in Rome - that is, the first part of the acts, where appear the most important events since the last General Chapter. There was one negative vote.

The proposal presented by the Master that three provincials be members on the Board of the Angelicum was approved. Poland's provincial will continue and those of India and of England will be added.

Questions from the Secretariate: "Who wants the minutes printed? Who wants them on a disk?" A new question for chapters.

The afternoon session: Appreciations and applause. The first for the prisoners in the Dominican laity in Norfolk , who sent a rose for each member of the chapter and who have prayed for us. Later a remembrance of Friar Dominique Renouard, who presided over the Commission of the General Council that prepared the documents and the first days of the chapter, but whom an illness had prevented from being here. A special thanks to the chapter secretary, George Schommer and the other secretaries. And also to Yves Bériault, author of the fantastic web page on the Internet. Thanks to the translators and the interpreters. To those responsible for the liturgy who have worked so hard; to our invited guests for their presence and to Providence College the institution which has welcomed and hosted us. A special applause for the "mousketeers", the moderators, Quirico, Philipe and José Angel. They have given a good account of themselves in the plenary sessions.

The place of the next chapter of definitors in 2004. Four candidates were presented: Krakow, Poland; Bogotá in Colombia; Naipur in India; and San Juan in Puerto Rico. Each provincial presented the advantages of the place. In India there was also a disadvantage. (There is great control over any kind of meeting, above all a religious one.) The Colombians had prepared a Power Point presentation which they projected on the screens. Puerto Rico offered the El Convento hotel. The results: Poland, 83 votes; Colombia, 24; Puerto Rico, 8; India 7.

The Master especially thanked the province of St. Joseph of the United States which had hosted the chapter. There was even a turn for the intervention of a lay woman Dominican who left us with this beautiful phrase: "Never allow your memories to overcome your dreams." In this case, she said, they have overcome them. A nun, who represented all the others, thanked Timothy for the invitation and to all for the hospitality and the dynamics of the chapter, the liturgy, and the Dominican sense of community. An unforgettable memory. We carry each other in our hearts and in our prayers. Thank you.

They signed the Acts of the Chapter with due solemnity. The "paparazzi"missed the occasion to preserve their images for history.

But unexpectedly, the moderator announced that he had forgotten a request. Friar Jan, the Dutch defender of women, had fought fiercely to bring forth his proposals. He proposed that the next chapter be in English. With some conditions: those who spoke English would conduct the liturgy in another language and they would have to offer a written summary of the homily in the language in which it was given; at the beginning of any intervention in the hall, they would have to tell a joke or story in another language, and make a summary of each plenary session in a language different from their own. It was approved unanimously! As a prize for the one who most strongly defended his ideas, Friar Jan received a religious' veil for his defense of the feminine condition.

Before the solemn Vespers of St. Dominic, there was a concert in the chapel (piano, oboe, and violin) which set the atmosphere. It was in Spanish, perhaps to celebrate the holy Castilian. Very special was the homily after the reading from the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy. Friar Angel Méndez expressed in dance what it is to preach when it is opportune and inopportune. That for Paul things did not always go well. But he ran in hard competition and finally succeeded and kept the faith. It could be that the dance also expressed that we too have kept the faith after this month-long race which has been the chapter. Finally I believe that it expressed with its rhythmic movements that for us there is a crown waiting as a prize. They were a beautiful Vespers with which to end the chapter. Thanks be to God! puce

(Translated from Spanish)

 

Design & management : Fr. Yves Bériault, o.p.