“ Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him.” (Mk.10, 21) In this phrase taken from the story of Jesus’ encounter with the rich young man, Pope John Paul saw what he described as: “ The interior structure of a vocation to the Religious Life.” (Redemptionis Donum3)
Every religious vocation is an invitation of love, calling for a response in love. It is an intensely personal call, addressed to a particular person, who in responding “Yes” to this invitation, embraces a radical way of living the Christian life, taking up the evangelical challenges that the Lord placed before his disciples and tries to live them to the full. The person is in this way consecrated to follow Christ in obedience, chastity and poverty and to dedicate one’s whole life as a disciple, to the service of God and of his people.
Religious live out their consecration to God in a community of “ friends of God” that has one mind and one heart in Jesus, and that is committed to the service and salvation of others.
Jesus’ invitation of love to the young man in the Gospel reverberated across the centuries and was accepted by numerous persons who would carry His message of love to the ends of the earth. One such person was a young man from the village of Caleruega in Castille, Spain, by the name of Dominic Guzman. In some marvelous way Jesus had come into Dominic’s heart and had said: “Go, preach the Good News to every nation.” Four years later, in 1221, the year Dominic died, there were twenty-five houses of the Friars established in five different European countries; by the end of the century there were ten thousand Dominicans preaching throughout the world.
Dominican consecration is a specific expression of the religious consecration, for the Order was instituted from its very beginning for preaching the Word of God and the evangelization and salvation of all people.
Dominic believed that the truth of God’s compassionate love and justice for all was THE TRUTH that would set all people free and make them whole. Because he was convinced of this, he spent his life making this happen.
Dominic listened and dialogued, but he also spent long hours in study and prayer, especially with the Scriptures. He knew that this truth had to be grounded in God’s word. Therefore the study he required of his preachers was for the sake of the mission. People needed to be exposed to the truth in teachers who would be credible, who would exemplify, like the original disciples of Jesus, a community that has an evangelical life-style. People had to see that the life of discipleship lived together as Jesus had taught it, was the way to become free and whole.
And so the seeds of Dominican community were planted. Dominic dreamed of a community that would exist to be helpful to people through preaching the word of truth, love, mercy and justice which the community has received from God in Jesus Christ, the preacher par excellence.
The flame which Dominic enkindled providentially reached our Islands as well. A Dominican Lay Woman, Carolina Cauchi had come in contact with the Dominican project through the Dominican priests already established in Malta. In 1889 she gathered around her a group of young women who were willing to walk in St. Dominic’s footsteps. By Divine Providence this group flourished. Today we are in all around one hundred and fifty Sisters scattered in various houses in Malta, Gozo, Italy, England, Pakistan, Australia and Sri Lanka. We are committed to preaching the Word of God wherever we find the opportunity to do so.
The Word of God can be preached in a thousand different ways. The Word of God can be spoken anywhere human beings are gathered, and even where there is only one other person.
As women in the Order we have learned to be flexible and creative in our preaching. Among the several women of the Order, St. Catherine of Siena is our model of a woman preacher. She was a Dominican woman on the lookout for new preaching places. Knowing that God’s Word of love and truth had been entrusted to her for others she spoke it anywhere and everywhere she could. Like Catherine we seek to preach through the various works we are committed to - the education of children and youth, the care of the sick and elderly and in the accompaniment of women victims of domestic violence. We are committed to share with others the truth we encounter in contemplation.
In our simple life-style which runs against today’s materialistic culture there is hope for our world:
· The witness of prayer in a secularized world where many are searching for the experience of God.
· The witness of support and understanding we give each other in a world where brokenness is on the increase.
· The witness of great generosity where selfishness is abounding.
· The witness of prophetic presence and active involvement with the poor and marginalized in a world where exploitation is common.
· The witness of unity and love in a world where division and hatred are widespread.
· The witness of a stable commitment in a world of insecurity and uncertainty.