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Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Laity part of a renewal movement for the Order of Preachers

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lay Dominicans - The Catholic weekly
Installation ceremony for the new provincial council elected in February during Dominican Rite Mass at St James Priory Church in Glebe in May. L to R: Daniel Younan (Provincial president), James Lu (Chapter president), Fr Laurie Foote OP (chaplain to the Sydney chapters), Moira Kelly (Provincial secretary), and Pamela Van Oploo and Maree Nelson, Provincial councillors.

Sydney finance professional James Lu was studying at university when he learnt through Dominican chaplain Fr Mannes Tellis OP that it was possible for him to be a Dominican without becoming a priest or a religious brother.

The president of his local chapter of lay Dominicans says the order is going through a period of renewal and is thriving throughout the Asia Pacific region, with increasing numbers of lay people taking up the commitment to live the order’s charism according to their own state in life.

Lu made his solemn profession (life-long promises) in 2022, and his commitment includes praying the rosary and at least two hours from the Divine Office each day, attending Mass each day, and gathering once a month with fellow Dominicans from the same chapter.

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There are three chapters in Sydney alone, and Lu’s one, named after St Mary Magdalene which meets at the St John Paul II Centre at the University of Sydney, recently celebrated the solemn procession of two new members, Aaron Wood and Joshua Gereis.

Last month a new provincial council, incorporating secular Dominicans from Australia, New Zealand, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, was installed at a ceremony in Glebe.

Lu is currently assisting with the creation of a directory and the first formation manual for the province and is involved internationally in discussions about ensuring improved administration and the ongoing viability of the third order.

lay Dominicans - The Catholic weekly
Aaron and Joshua take their Solemn professions. Photo: Supplied.

“We have three mottos—Veritas (truth), to contemplate and to hand on the fruits of our contemplation, and to praise, to bless, and preach,” explained Lu.

“At the heart of them all is searching for the supreme truth, coming to know God himself and coming to know and love him more.”

Lay members are expected to adhere to the four pillars of the order’s spirituality—daily prayer, study, community, and preaching, which in the context of a lay person might mean simply sharing their faith with others.

“I was interested in the intellectual life of the church but also in the Dominican order specifically, with a great fondness for Thomas Aquinas and St Augustine,” he explained of his vocation.

“I didn’t think I was called to be a friar but I was intrigued by the possibility of living according to an established rule that gives me guidance and a structure followed by a community that shares the same interests, the same activities, which has its own culture and has produced its own saints.

“Through my contact and friendship with Fr Mannes I realised that here was a way for me to have best of both worlds, that in my state of life I can be a Dominican but still live in the world and try and ensure that I am faithful to that mission and charism in my state in life.

“It’s no easy task, but no vocation really is.

“We have our lay patrons such as Pier Giorgio Frassati and St Catherine of Siena and it shows us that in every age there is something for us laity to offer the church, which is amazing and quite beautiful.

“Knowing that we’re part of a broader family in the Dominican order and that we draw on the same heritage and rich fabric of that order is something I never fail to appreciate every day.”

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