By Sister Antonette Lumbang, OP
November 29, 2018, Negombo, Sri Lanka – The Justice Promoters of the Dominican Family from Asia and the Pacific gathered November 3-7 at Negombo, Sri Lanka, to discuss their efforts about bringing about justice and peace in the region. The countries of Taiwan, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, East Timor, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, China, and the Philippines were represented.
Each congregation/province reported on their justice and peace initiatives, both the triumphs and the challenges in their respective countries for the past two years. The reports by the justice promoters provided the group with a comprehensive picture of the situation in the region.
Common justice and peace issues that surfaced from the country reports were poverty, government corruption, religious extremism, and environmental degradation. The group spent time reflecting on the challenges and opportunities for Dominican family collaboration.
The conference was an eye-opener, with rich input. Sister Christine Fernando and Ruki Fernando, Human Rights defenders from the host country, shared the situation of justice and peace in Sri Lanka. Sister Cecilia Espenilla, OP, from Dominican Sisters International, talked about human trafficking and touched on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Father Mike Deeb, OP, the Order's permanent delegate to the United Nations, shared on Dominican work at the United Nations and expounded on the role of the Dominican Justice and Peace Promoters.
When the delegation broke into small groups, meeting by country, the promoters – invigorated by what they had seen and heard from each other and from the speakers – were eager to brainstorm toward common goals.
The Philippines Justice Promoters identified four areas where collaboration is promising: the annual Dominican Month for Peace; being in solidarity with the families of the War on Drugs casualties; the Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign; and the ongoing formation of Dominicans committed to justice and peace.
The Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter in particular has committed to facilitate and oversee the assistance program for selected families of extra-judicial killing victims in the Diocese of Kalookan. Selected families will be mainly from the San Lorenzo in Dagat-Dagat, Navotas, a parish administered by Dominican Friars. The modules for psycho-social and spiritual healing that will be used in the assistance program were developed by the University of St. Tomas, Simbahayan, Community Development Office.
The extra-judicial killing of more than 4,000 people suspected of drug dealing or drug use is the result of the war of drugs initiated by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, elected in 2016.
By the end of the conference, delegates had completed drafts of strategic plans for each country and for the region, with the hope that these will be followed through to strengthen justice and peace promotion in Asia and the Pacific. It was indeed a fruitful conference.
Coming together and sharing with one another the work we do among marginalized people in our own countries, we justice promoters found renewed hope and encouragement to continue our efforts. To quote from the conference statement, we say, “Thus we continue the journey, step by step, confident in the knowledge that even in small actions, we can contribute to the in-breaking Reign of God.”
November 28, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – Go to the peripheries, wherever that is. Be in the peripheries, whether in an institution or on mission and offer loving accompaniment to those you find there.
That was the message that Father Bruno Cadoré, Master of the Dominican Order, sent to the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, and Co-workers assembled in St. Catherine Chapel on November 26 – and those who were watching through broadcast or live stream.
But that message of challenge – as well as support, encouragement, and affection – was conveyed on Father Bruno’s behalf by Father Christopher Eggleton, OP, Socius for the United States. Father Bruno’s plans to visit the Adrian Dominican Sisters were changed abruptly when he was prevented from entering the United States.
Father Bruno was represented by Father Chris, a member of the St. Martin de Porres (Southern) Province, and Father Louis Morrone, Vice Provincial of the St. Albert the Great (Central) Province.
“Friar Bruno is very much in love with what he does because he’s very much in love with his Dominican life, with God, and with his sisters and brothers in the Dominican family,” Father Chris said. “He is one who will not exclude anyone and he feels that at the heart of our spirituality as Dominican women and men is that no one should be excluded. … He is absolutely convinced that each person is part of the Body of Christ and that the Body of Christ must be respected and loved and pulled into the community.”
Father Chris emphasized the need for unity among all members of the Dominican family: friars, nuns, sisters, laity, and associates. “We remember always that we are sisters and brothers in Christ and St. Dominic and St. Catherine and the living saints in Dominic, as is our call,” he said. As a united family, he encouraged he Sisters to “go to the peripheries,” to evangelize all people who are on the margins or in some way left out of the care of society.
“I tell you now on Father Bruno’s behalf that he loves you – we love you,” Father Chris told the Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates. He added that Father Bruno is appreciative of the many decades that Adrian Dominicans have been serving people on the peripheries.
In his homily during the Mass that followed his talk, Father Chris continued with the theme of ministering at the periphery and finding mission wherever you are. He told the story of a young man, Jonathan, who he had met on Death Row for murdering two young men. Through the presence of Father Chris, a Franciscan chaplain, and a chapter of Dominican Laity who served at the prison in Texas, Jonathan converted to Catholicism and became a member of the Dominican Laity. He began counseling other prisoners, listening to them, and accompanying them to their executions.
For the next 10 years – until his own execution on October 7, 1998 – Jonathan “evangelized where few could enter,” Father Chris said. “He knew that he had a mission, and his mission was right there in that periphery, in that place, at that time. He was fired up with the Holy Trinity, with the Blessed Mother, and with his brothers and sisters on death row.”
Father Chris encouraged Sisters and Associates to notice the good in their ministries. “Wherever you are, in whatever periphery you’re missioned, let us notice the good that is there, the hope people offer, and the hope that we offer, united as one in Jesus Christ, in his Blessed Mother, and in our St. Dominic, St. Catherine, and the cavalcade of saints transformed into great preachers.”
Founded in 1206 by St. Dominic de Guzman, the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) minister throughout the world, on every continent except Antarctica. The Dominican family includes Friars; cloistered Nuns; apostolic Sisters; Dominican Laity, who are associated with the Friars; Associates, who are connected to individual Congregations of Dominican Sisters; and special groups such as Dominican Young Adults, Dominican Volunteers; Dominican High School Preachers; and Dominican College Preachers.
For information on becoming a vowed Adrian Dominican Sister, contact Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, 517-266-266-3532 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, 517-266-3537 or email@example.com. For information on becoming an Adrian Dominican Associate, contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature photo: Father Christopher Eggleton, OP, Socius for the United States, speaks to Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, and Co-workers on behalf of Father Bruno Cadoré, Master of the Order.
From left, Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, and Sister Elise García, OP, General Councilors; Father Louis Morrone, OP; Father Chris Eggleton, OP; Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation; Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; and Sister Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor.