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An Interview with Father Antonio Cabrejas Martín, O. P.

Interviewed by Fr. Luis Ramos, O.P.

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1. Where were you born, and can you tell us about your family?

I was born in the Province of Valladolid, an autonomous region of Castile and Leon, Spain. I am the youngest of six siblings: a brother who is the oldest and four sisters. I come from a middle class farming family.

2. Can you recall any significant influences that inspired your Dominican religious vocation?

I was first influenced by the faith that my mother possessed. Next, I was inspired by the Dominican friars who staffed the church in my hometown where I served as an altar boy from the age of six. I was especially inspired by Fr. Reyes Mate and the Dominican habit that he wore. Dominicans continued to influence my life, especially those who had served as missionaries in Vietnam, China and the Philippines. At the age of eleven and motivated by their exemplary lives, I enrolled in the Dominican minor seminary (Colegio Apostólico).

3. Where did you receive your formation and what do you specifically recall about those years of study?

I completed my bachelor's degree at the Colegio Apostólico de Arcas Reales in Valladolid, Spain. I then entered the Province of the Rosary and completed the novitiate year, four years of philosophy and four years of theology at the studium in Alcobendas near Madrid, Spain. Given the excellent quality of my Dominican professors, I believe that I received a very good education in philosophy. As one of my professors, Father Felecísimo Martínez greatly influenced me in my theological and pastoral studies: he served as director my master's thesis.

4. Who, past or present in the Order has influenced you most?

The person from the past who has influenced me most has been St. Dominic Guzmán. He was a Spaniard just like me. Fray Bartolomé de las Casas has also inspired me. In my own work as a missionary in Ecuador, I have especially been taken by Las Casas' daring commitment as a missionary and defender of the Indians.

5. As a Dominican friar what has been your chief ministry?

I have been a missionary in the Apostolic Vicariate of Puyo in Ecuador for more than twenty years, during which time I have worked in many ministries. I have served as a parish priest for seventeen years; I have served as a director of a boarding school for indigenous children for seven years; I have served as a director of a school for three years; I have served as Vicar General for the diocese for six years, and Vicar General of the diocese for education for three years. I also have served as director of "El Oriente Domincano," a Dominican publication, for three years; I have served as editor of "Carta Misionera," a bulletin of missionary news, for ten years; I served as a member of the board of editors for "La Gente" for six years; and I served as chief editor of "Encuentro" for 15 years.

In Quito, I have taught theology as a professor in the Faculty of Theology at the Pontifical Catholic University there. I have also taught theology at the Institute for Distance Education. I have also served as the Director for the Theological Pastoral Institute of Ecuador (Training Center for catechists (agentes pastorales) sponsored by the Bishops' Conference).

6. Do you recall any event that has deepened your appreciation for the Gospel?

Yes, I was greatly influenced by the Missionary Congresses of the Order that took place in Madrid in 1973 and 1982. I was likewise inspired by the Congress that took place in Agua Viva, Mexico in 1991. I participated in all three Missionary Congresses.

7. What does the future hold in store for the Dominican Order?

The future of the Order lies in the study and in the preaching of the Gospel. Study and preaching are inseparably united, and each supports the other. Theological study embraces the study of human and social realities and the preaching of God who walks each day with the peoples of every culture and continent. In Asia we are called to dialogue with the great religions and in Latin America and in Africa we are called to empower indigenous cultures. While in Europe and North America we are called to work among the urban and secularized cultures.

Wherever we encounter the powerless and marginalized we must work for justice and peace.

8. Would you invite a young person to jointhe Order today? What points would you make in introducing that person to the Order?

Yes, I would invite, not just one young person to join the Order, but many, all those who are living and seeking truth in life.

I would tell them, "Come and see, Come and build fraternity with us. Come with us to search; come and find the truth by following in the footsteps of Jesus." The most convincing invitation that I could give these young individuals would be -come see the joy and the happiness that we experience in living Dominican community life. puce


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