Was the theme of the 11th European Assembly of Lay Dominican Fraternities in Vilnius, Lithuania. More than 50 participants from all over Europe met from 12th to 17th of August 2022. Participants who arrived on August 12th joined in walking part of the Vilnius, Calvary Way of the Cross, in prayer and were given some historical information regarding “the way”.
The official opening was Holy Mass on Saturday with Auxiliary Bishop Darius Trijonis (Vilnius). Following this the assembly began with words of welcome from Damien McDonnell OP (president of ECLDF) and Rita Paulukeviciute OP (president of the lay dominican fraternities in Lithuania). The master general of the order sent words of greetings and was represented by fr. Alain Arnould OP (Socious for Europe and Canada), fr Alain spoke to the assembly and encouraged us that “We need to walk together, to work together …” as an order with different branches. After fr Juan Ubaldo Lopez OP (promotor general for lay Dominicans) addressed the assembly.
Damien McDonnel OP delivered a report on the work of the ECLDF over the last 5 years. One of the core topics was AGORA, a platform for all lay Dominicans in Europe (agora.ecldf.org) the Council first met in Brussels in 2017 and put a structure in place. Also having in person meetings in Madrid/Caleruega 2018, Croatia 2019, Vilnius 2021 and regular and numerous Zoom meetings. Gabriel Silva OP then gave some information about the activity of the ICLDF.
The assembly had the pleasure to hear a presentation by Prof. Dr. fr. Thomas Eggensperger OP titled “The secular situation Secularization – spirituality – the Mundane”. The presentation provided the basis for discussion and reflection. The reports of the attending provinces showed common challenges, creative ideas and the whole bandwidth of lay Dominican life in Europe. There was a great and special joy to talk to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine via video link, their courage and determination gave the assembly much enthusiasm. The assembly assured our Ukrainian family our continued prayers, thoughts and love.
On Sunday the 14th Fr. Nicolas Tixier OP (Prior Provincial of the Province of France) addressed the assembly. His knowledge and love for his lay Dominican brothers and sisters was very evident. fr Nicola being present for the entirety of the assembly, his interaction and his contribution was noted and very much appreciated.
In the workshops we tried to reflect on ways to encounter a secular situation in many European regions. These 4 workshops were based on aspects of the New Evangelisation. Social Media (Felix Hoffmann OP), Dominican Pub – another approach on pastoral (Ludovic Namurois OP), Singing and music as preaching (fr. Jokubas-Maria Gostautas OP) and Night fever (Damien McDonnel OP).
The following days concentrated on the election of the new Council. Fr Ubaldo was the main celebrant in Mass of the Holy Spirit, invoking the Holy Spirit to guide us in seeking a new council. Nominees were identified, the tractatus was held and the new Council was elected. The new ECLDF is as follows;
- Noreen O’Carroll OP (Ireland)
- Anna Tatar OP (Italy, central)
- Bogdan Penev OP (Bulgaria/Poland)
- Sebastien Milazzo OP (France)
- Juan-Jesus Perez Marcos OP (Spain)
The assembly closed with a Holy Mass celebrated by fr. David McGovern OP (promotor of lay Dominicans in Ireland), fr David’s homily was particularly inspiring and was instrumental in sending our delegates back to their fraternities with great enthusiasm.
In conclusion the Assembly was a week of constructive fraternal discussion, prayer, socialising, networking and discovery of the wonderful town of Vilnius. Huge thanks to Rita and her team of dedicated Dominicans, with the friars in Vilnius and indeed all our brothers and sisters, who prepared and worked so hard to make this 11th assembly so successful. Together with Felix Hoffman OP, Vilija Semetiene OP, Ludovic Namurois OP, Maro Botica OP and Damien McDonnell OP, the (now) former members of the ECLDF, we invite you to pray for the new ECLDF, the European fraternities and especially our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and all who face the threat of war.
We again most enthusiastically invite you and all sisters and brothers to register and use agora, a tool solely and specifically for European Lay Dominicans that will help us all to connect with other fraternities and provinces, provide content for formation, communication and much more (LINK). You can find some pictures below.
PS. It should be noted that the Statutes from the 11th Assembly (which include the minutes/report) will be published in due course following the approval of the Master of the Order.