Dear Brothers and Sisters,
First of all I wish you, your fraternities, families and friends a happy and healthy 2006. May the Lord and his infinite love be with you and all your loved ones.
I would now like to tell you about the last meeting of the ECLDF, which took place in St. Sabina in Rome between 3-11-05 and 6-11-05.
The following were present:
Fr. Jerry Stookey OP
P. Carlos Azpiroz Costa OP, P. Jerry Stookey OP and the whole convent gave us an extremely friendly, warm-hearted and brotherly reception, which showed us once again that we laity are obviously seen as an integral part of the Order. After the days in Rome I can say with great pleasure that our experiences in St. Sabina demonstrate that the familia dominicana is not merely a theoretical idea but a living reality.
One of the high spots of our stay was a meeting of about an hour with the Master of the Order. We not only discussed special questions relating to work, but also had the opportunity to exchange ideas about questions regarding the development of the Dominican laity and of the familia dominicana. We were also able to invite P. Carlos to our next European meeting.
Naturally our next Assembly was one of the main themes of our meeting, and here I must report on the following major problem. The International Congress of Lay Dominican Fraternities was supposed to take place in Buenos Aires this summer. However there are compelling reasons for the ICLDF to defer the congress to March 2007. All the European Provinces are, of course, going to send representatives to this outstandingly important congress. For most Provinces it would hardly be practical to send delegates to the European Assembly only a few weeks later. We have therefore postponed the next General Assembly to a time between April and July 2008. According to our statutes the next Assembly should have been arranged for 2007 but the statues are allowing for a departure from the three year rule in the case of exceptional circumstances. We agreed unanimously that the time clash with the International Congress constitutes an exception that justifies the postponement of the Assembly to the following year. The problem then arises as to whether the Assembly should still take place in Slovakia. We are currently considering this question.
We are, of course, working on the agenda for the Assembly. Our chosen theme is “Preaching in the secular world”. We are going to try to find suitable speakers, but we have not forgotten that workshops are also important.
As regards the question of translations, it appears at this time that we are not in a financial position to have more than two official languages – English and French – at the next Assembly.
Finance was once again an important item on the agenda. Chantal Soligny has had to give up her position as treasurer on personal grounds. We have accepted her resignation with great regret. Nikolett Muranyi has been chosen as her successor. I should like to express my heartfelt thanks to Chantal for all her effort and commitment, and likewise to Nikolett for taking on this important post.
The question of fundraising remains of overriding importance. I beg you with all my heart to consider the possibility of financial support. Even the smallest donations are welcome.
We have new bank account. We had originally intended to open an account in the United Kingdom. After a lot of problems the plan had to be given up because of insurmountable obstacles in the British banking system. We have therefore opened an account with the catholic PAX-Bank in Berlin. (Please do not use the old account in Italy anymore.)
The new account details are as follows:
European Council for Lay Dominican Fraternities (ECLDF)
Kto.NR. 600 419 4010
Iban DE 32 3706 0193 6004 1940 10
BIC GENODED 1 PAX
Nikolett is going to comment on the financial situation in a separate communication.
The last point is the evaluation of the questionnaire about the General Assembly 2004 in Walberberg. Here is a short summary of the findings:
Accommodation – Satisfactory
Translation – needs to be better
The preaching – could the preachers please provide the written text in advance for those speaking a different language.
Liturgy – attention needs to be paid to the quality of the booklets, with a larger type-face for older people.
The whole mass should be in one language.
Anything unusual about the liturgy should be explained in advance.
Programme – this was too busy, hence some delays and alterations. The presentations did not relate to the main theme of the assembly.
Social evening – this should not only be about national cuisine but should include short presentations about our work in each country.
Cultural programme – Excellent
Future intentions – more time devoted to theology and faith than to social business. A shorter time for the assembly might be better.
The Acts of the Walberberg Assembly are available on CD. Please contact Eva Kameniarova, if you wish to order it. Thank you to all who prepared it.
We took part in the Brothers’ prayers and in the Holy Mass. A group mass in St. Dominic’s cell, celebrated by fr. Jose Almy Gomes OP, from Brazil (studying Scripture in Rome) fr. Prakash Anthony Lohale OP, from India (Co-Promoter General of Justice and Peace and the Care of Creation)was particularly impressive.
At last, I want to emphasise once again the friendly and brotherly atmosphere, not only among ourselves but in the whole convent, and offer our heartfelt thanks to everybody, and most particularly to the Master of the Order, P.Carlos Azpiroz Costa OP, for his support and warm-heartedness.
I should like to close with a request for your prayers for us all.
With a brotherly hug,