I recently had the privilege of having lunch with Bishop Robert Barron after he ordained six of our friars to the priesthood at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, his first ordination as bishop. I asked him about a line from his homily that struck me: “Dominicans, this is your moment.”
The Bishop elaborated on what he calls the biggest crisis in evangelization: people are now more interested in constructing their own identities than in seeking Truth. They are turning in on themselves definitively—and they expect the full acceptance of society in doing so. But at heart, Bishop Barron said, they are deeply unhappy.
They need preachers bold enough to rescue them from their self-constructed prisons by directing their eyes to the greatness of Truth, preachers whose life of poverty and reliance on Providence command respect. This is exactly what St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers to be, and Bishop Barron was astute enough call us back to the charism of our founder.
The Order of Preachers was formed at a time of real crisis in the Church and the West. St. Dominic saw a need for a return to the basics of poverty, trust in God, and preaching the Gospel for the salvation of souls.
When St. Dominic died in 1221, there were about 300 friars. Growth during the next 35 years reached the phenomenal high water mark of 12,600 friars. Dominicans Bl. Innocent V and Bl. Benedict XI reigned as popes, twenty-eight Dominicans became cardinals, and many more served as bishops. Together, these men were known for addressing urgent questions of the day with dynamic comprehension and offering balanced and moderate solutions.
Like Bishop Barron himself, they earned the trust of their hearers even as they challenged them. Most importantly, they convinced their fellow men that the wisdom of the Church really contained answers to the most pressing questions of every age.
As you recognize, the situation has come full circle. Rejecting reality and its Creator, men have attempted to invent their own substitutes, first in materialistic philosophies and now—straying in the opposite direction—in “gender ideology” and other fictions that deny material realities like biological difference.
With your help, the Dominicans are going to the inflection points—places where men and women are open to reason—and making the case for the Catholic faith, a life of virtue, and a just society.
In this issue of BlackFriars, you’ll hear how Fr. Peter Cameron, O.P., is reaching young people just as they’re questioning the cultural narrative, and how Fr. Humbert Kilanowski, O.P., is making advances in scientific research while preaching the compatibility of science and faith. Fr. Jonah Pollock, O.P., draws on his own experience with cancer to share a Dominican spirituality of openness to Providence with hospital patients.
We couldn’t continue to train men in the charism of St. Dominic without your support. If this is a “Dominican moment,” it’s also your moment.
Fr. Gabriel Gillen, O.P.
Dominican Friars Foundation