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USA | Province of St. Albert the Great Holds First Meeting of Priests for the Dominican Fraternity

fr. Tom McDermott, OP, (1st from left) with the pioneer group of diocesan priests in the fraternity

The inaugural meeting of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic was held on 25 June 2014 at St. Vincent Ferrer Priory in River Forest (Province of St Albert the Great, USA).  Seven diocesan priests, five of them under the age of 40, met with me as Provincial Promoter for a three-hour meeting with lunch.  They were:  Fr. Gary Blake (Peoria), Fr. Alan Guanella (LaCrosse), Fr. Michael Lane (Joliet), Fr. John Lovitsch (Joliet), Fr. Dennis Paul (Joliet), Fr. Matthew Pratscher (Joliet), Fr. Leoncio Santiago (Chicago). 

A little bit of information about each one. Fr. Paul was a novice in our province from 1999-2000.  Fr. Blake came into contact with the Dominicans through Fr. Cy Fabian in Winona.  Fr. Guanella also knew Fr. Fabian and also studied at the Angelicum as did Frs. Lovitsch and Pratscher.  Fr. Santiago, who is originally from the Philippines, studied at the University of Santo Tomas where he obtained the degree of Medical Doctor.  Fr. Lane is the dean of the Joliet city deanery and started a large chapter of the Dominican laity in his parish, St. Jude.  (The Nashville Dominican sisters teach at St. Jude School).  Incidentally, Fr. Guanella is a fourth cousin to St. Luigi Guanella (died 1915), founder of the Servants of Charity and other groups.

Several things struck me about the group.  All of them have had contact with the Dominicans and seem well aware of the Order’s charism.  They are particularly attracted to the fraternity dimension of the Dominican Family.  (One of them said that his deanery has not met in six years and that he was craving contact with others).  Some expressed an interest in preaching.  One of them said that he had left the Church for several years and believed that the intercession of St. Dominic was instrumental in his return.

I was not expecting that the group would be so young and so much fun.  The meeting and lunch were characterized by a lot of good laughs.  Several of them said that they know of others who are interested in joining.  Some of our future meetings will be in Joliet where the majority of members reside.

Two others from the Diocese of Lansing were not able to make it owing to distance and conflicts of activities: Fr. Ed Fride, pastor of Christ the King Catholic Church in Ann Arbor, and Fr. Anthony Strouse who will soon be a pastor in Adrian, MI.  Anthony, who is doing an M.A. in liturgy at Mundelein, had lunch with me last week.  Anthony was received into the formation program by Fr. Giles Dimock OP of the Eastern Province and Fr. Ed. is finally professed also through the auspices of the Eastern Province. 

If all goes well, these men will make their final profession in February of  2016 at which time they will be constituted as a chapter and entitled to vote for councilors who in turn will elect a prior.  Then they will be on their own, much like chapters of the Dominican Laity.  As Promoter, my role will be more supportive and advisory. 

The formation program includes face-to-face meetings three times a year and conference calls in between meetings.  At this point, we are discussing the Rule and reading Bede Jarrett’s Life of St. Dominic.

I found the men very impressive.  I felt honored that they wanted to join the Dominican family.   Please pray that this new moment will bear fruit.  Also, please get the word out to other diocesan priests who might be interested. 

fr. Tom McDermott, OP Provincial Promoter of the Priestly Fraternity, Province of St Albert the Great, USA