Part one of a two-part series
The Dominicans (Order of Preachers), are a Catholic religious order founded by Dominic de Guzmán in 1215. The history of the Dominican Friars in Trinidad and Tobago goes back as far as 1513, when the first missionaries – two Spanish Dominicans, Francisco de Cordova, and Juan Graces – set foot in Trinidad. They were also to be the first Christian martyrs, betrayed by the Spanish soldiers who came with them.
The history of the Dominican laity has been part of the landscape of Trinidad and Tobago since 1871. It began when the late Fr Forestier OP, established the first fraternity with a group of devoted ladies, who helped care for the orphans he had gathered in a house in Belmont.
Since then, the laity has evolved into eleven Chapters, spread throughout Trinidad. All Chapters are known by a Dominican patron saint but can also be identified by the place within which they are located.
The existing chapters are –
The single mission of the Order of Preachers embraces many ministries, developed as needed to bring the Word of God to people in varying societies and circumstances.
St Dominic had this in mind when he urged the first members of the Order to identify with each culture, to listen to the voice of the poor, to those who sought deeper meaning in life and who sought to know God. The Dominican laity in Trinidad continues to work with this mission in sight.
The past two years during the pandemic have, as for all other countries throughout the world, seriously challenged our ability to fulfil this mission.
The laity recently met on March 30, 2022, for a retreat on ‘Synod and Synodality’. This was held at Holy Cross Chapel, Arima, and was led by Fr Ferdinand Warner OP.
Mission of Laity
The Dominican laity welcomed the Provincial Fr John Harris OP during his visit to Trinidad in June 2022 and we were asked to revisit the mission of the group.
He understood that most Chapter members are also very active members of their church communities and work in several ministries in their parishes as lay ministers, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, lectors, collectors, choir members, parish council members, and in other avenues of service.
We were asked to allow the events of the past two years to challenge us to a deeper understanding of life as a Dominican.
Each Chapter holds at least one monthly meeting. Others hold a second one for more in-depth study and reflection. Chapters also engage in special projects or apostolates by adopting families, donating food, clothing, money, and other supplies to needy families in their communities. They conduct regular visits to the sick in their homes, and hospitals.
When the country went into various forms of lockdowns and restrictions due to the onset of the Covid-19 virus, Chapters ceased physical meetings and gradually resumed participation in Church ministry by June 2022.
The charism of St Dominic was kept alive throughout the lockdown in various online and other initiatives – some did better than others but all persevered. Like all other organisations, the members had to become innovative in conducting their activities.
Dominican Family Day
The Dominican Family of Friars, Sisters, nuns, youth, and laity enjoyed fellowship and a renewal of family life whilst celebrating the Feast of St Dominic on Sunday, August 7, 2022, at the Rosary Monastery.
Holy Mass was celebrated with Archbishop Emeritus Robert Rivas OP and was followed by a day of fun, food and music with a special BBQ lunch prepared by the team at the Monastery and the laity Chapter members.
The day climaxed with the presence of a Parang band which encouraged our family members to showcase their dancing skills.
This gathering is not only carded to be an annual event, but other activities are planned throughout 2023 to enhance the communications and links between all arms of the Dominican family.
For more information on the Dominican Laity, please contact Najette Abraham at 620-7061 and Kathleen Warner-Lall at 727-3556.
“We are lay people who are Dominicans and members of the Dominican Order. Our inspiration is St Dominic. His mission was to preach Jesus Christ and bring the Gospel message to all but especially those who felt lost, confused or had gone astray.
We form one family with the Friars and the Sisters.
We share in the Apostolic mission of the Order and actively share in the life of the Church.
We are a mixed bag of saints and sinners; worldwide we are over 100,000.
We meet regularly to pray and study together and share each other’s joys, problems and hopes.
We reflect on the Word of God seeking inspiration for our own lives and the lives of others.”
–(Fr Simon Roche OP)
“Your actions must speak so loudly that they cannot hear what you say”
–(Fr Pat Lucey OP to Lay Dominicans in T&T, 2012)