January 31, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – During the January 28, 2020, liturgy for the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas – a Dominican scholar, writer, and Doctor of the Church – Adrian Dominican Sisters and Co-workers in St. Catherine Chapel heard the call to continue to preach the Word of God in a troubled world. They were challenged by a brother Dominican, Bishop José Raul Vera López, OP, Bishop of the Diocese of Saltillo/Monterey in Mexico.
Bishop Vera has extensive experience in ministering in a world of trouble and violence. He was Bishop of Chiapas, Mexico, in 1994 during the Zapatista resistance. That year, indigenous people of Mexico fought the government for their basic rights for everything from land, work, and housing to education and independence.
“Bishop Vera is known for his courageous pastoral support of the indigenous peoples of his diocese,” Prioress Patricia Siemen, OP, explained. “He remains an outspoken advocate for the human rights of migrants and asylees remaining on the Mexican side of the border.”
Bishop Vera came to Adrian to visit his friend, Sister Pauline Quinn, OP, who years ago made private vows as a Dominican Sister and has been living at the Dominican Life Center in Adrian with her service dog, Pax. Her varied ministries included working with Bishop Vera and organizing and promoting a program in which prison inmates are trained to take part in the early training of service dogs.
During his homily – preached in Spanish and translated by Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor – Bishop Vera encouraged the Sisters and Co-workers to continue to preach the Word of God, following the examples of St. Thomas Aquinas and Sister Pauline.
“Today, on the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, remember that St. Thomas did not leave the Word of God to himself,” Bishop Vera said. “He preached with great passion from his great knowledge and his understanding of what the Word of God was for him. … St. Thomas abandoned himself to the Word of God, but he not only abandoned it in study and understanding, but he lived the Word of the Lord.”
Bishop Vera held up Sister Pauline as another example of a Dominican who preached with her life and her connection to other people, as well as her words. “I have seen Sister Pauline working very closely with me for many years, and it has been just a marvel to see all that she was able to do,” Bishop Vera said. “Sister Pauline was with the indigenous people and it was very, very dangerous at the time – and scary.”
Bishop Vera noted the many challenges and difficulties facing the world today. “The Church needs to respond to the Word of God and to all of these challenges with great passion,” he said. “All of us are called to preach the Word of God to all men and women, wherever they are.”.
Feature photo: Bishop Raul Vera, OP, preaches during the January 28, 2020, Mass celebrating the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor, stands ready to translate his homily from Spanish to English.