Letter to Dominican Laity, Christmas 2002

Dear Dominican laity:

Christ’s peace be with you and with those whom you love! I write to you from Santa Sabina in Rome as the friars’ Promoter General of the Dominican Laity, to wish you a happy Christmas, and a New Year filled with many blessings!

I also want to give you a brief report on my activities as Promoter General during these past three years. May this report encourage you as lay Dominican preachers of God-with-us.

My first year as Promoter General was Autumn 1999-2000. During that year I opened the Dominican Laity Office at Santa Sabina, started to get to know laity networks that existed, and began to make contacts in the various regions of the world, especially to help organize new networks where needed. Major projects also included helping to plan the International Dominican Family Assembly, Manila, October 2000. Sr. Veronica Rafferty of Dominican Sisters International and I were named to co-foundDominican Volunteers International, a 2-year program for Dominican lay missionaries. That first year I discovered that there are numerous types of Dominican laity groups around the world!

During the second year, 2000-2001, my efforts were directed mostly toward strengthening the regional networks of Lay Dominican Fraternities (tertiaries), who comprise the largest number of Dominican laity in the world, and at the same time making Dominican laity the largest branch of our Dominican Family! I attended meetings and assemblies of the European Council of Lay Dominican Fraternities (ECLDF) and North America’sDominican Laity Inter-Provincial Council (DLIPC). The Latin American laity network began to establish three sub-zones, which together are known as Laicado Dominicano de América Latina (LAIDAL). As the friars’ representative to the International Dominican Youth Movement (IDYM), I also participated in their meetings and international assembly, assisting the council and Sr. Pilar del Barrio, the IDYM Secretary General.

This past year, 2001-2002, my efforts as Promoter General were reduced to part-time, when I received the additional appointment by the new Master of the Order to serve as Assistant for the USA. Nevertheless, important projects continued, although at a slower pace. We formed the firstInternational Council of Lay Dominican Fraternities (ICLDF), comprised of five regional representatives who met for the first time in May, 2002. They are:

AFRICA: Emmanual Afrifa (Nigeria)–appointed
ASIA: Rowena Gonzales (Philippines)–appointed
EUROPE: Patricia Robinson (England)–elected by ECLDF
LATIN AMERICA: Pedro Torres (Mexico)–appointed
NORTH AMERICA: Laurie Biszko (USA)–elected by DLIPC

It is the hope of ICLDF that networks can be formed in each region and that eventually there would be an international assembly of representatives of Lay Dominican Fraternities.

On April 13, 2002, together with the Associazione Piergiorio Frassati, we sponsored the closure of Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati’s centenary of birth at Santa Sabina, at which the Master preached and Luciana Frassati, Bl. Piergiorgio’s sister, participated. At this same time, Stefano Angeli, a Lay Dominican in Rome, became a volunteer assistant in the office, and has since been a great help to us.

Usually at your request, I have had the privilege of visiting Dominican laity in over 30 countries. However, I have not been able to say “yes” to all your invitations nor respond to all your phone calls, letters, e-mails, faxes, and visits. I beg your pardon and patience, hoping that you understand the predicament of our small office.

What are our plans for 2003? Here are some of them:

  • To establish a Dominican Laity network in Asia-Pacific region. A meeting is planned for February 10 – 15, 2003 in Manila.
  • To complete the network of LAIDAL (Latin American) region. A meeting is planned for the Bolivarian zone, January 24 – 26, 2003 in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
  • To establish a Dominican Laity network in Africa. Discussion planned with prior provincials/vicars of Africa, June 1 – 3, 2003, Santa Sabina.
  • To strengthen ICLDF. Their second meeting is May 2003, Santa Sabina.
  • To provide greater services from the Office. This ncludes an updated webpage, fundraising, and improving our files and archives.

At the heart of all these efforts is our common Dominican preaching charism of telling the world about God’s presence among us and about God’s love for everyone. Our Dominican vocation is evangelical and missionary by nature. So all that we do is for the common mission of preaching the Good News to others everywhere and in every way.

Finally, my thanks for your kindness and support during these past three years, especially at the time of my father’s death last summer. Best wishes and prayers for a holy Christmas season and a Happy New Year!

Your brother in St. Dominic and St. Catherine,
fr. Gerald Stookey, OP
Promoter General of the Dominican Laity

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