Bars on the window, but an open heart

Bars on the window, but an open heart

After the American prison in Norfolk, a Belgian prison also has a Dominican lay fraternity, supported by Lay Dominican Ludovic Namurois, Provincial President.

Working on the periphery is characteristic of Dominican spirituality, for example with students or inmates. “Without setting plans or goals, we are simply present. I call that a pastoral ministry of availability. If something emerges, we’ll see”, Ludovic says. It all started with a small prayer group led by Mr Albert Rondelet, op and Friar Patrick Gillard, op who are chaplains in the penitentiary in Ittre, 30 kilometres south of Brussels. The discussions with the inmates have showed that they receive a lot of support from their prayers. Some expressed their desire to learn more about prayer and about Dominican spirituality. Ludovic continues:

“When visiting the inmates, I was impressed by the quality of their prayer life, their hunger for connection with others, inside and outside the walls, and for something that transcends them.”

During an initial period of acquaintance a number of prisoners received a Christian and Dominican formation. They learned to celebrate Vespers and were in touch with the lay fraternity in Norfolk. Together with Albert Rondelet and Patrick Gillard, Ludovic guided the group. The Order’s previous Master, Bruno Cadoré, encouraged Gillard and Ludovic to work on what could potentially become the second Dominican fraternity of prisoners in the world.

In October 2018, ten prisoners and the lay chaplain made their temporary profession. At the end of this year, they may renew it or make it final. Since November 2019, the group has been officially a lay fraternity.

Original text: Kerk en Leven

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