A Letter from the Prior Provincial

(From left:) Frs. Ambrose Arralde, O.P., Ephrem Reese, O.P., Anthony VanBerkum, O.P. Irenaeus Dunlevy, O.P., Justin Bolger, O.P., and Jonah Teller, O.P., were ordained by the Most Reverend Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, DC, at the Dominican House of Studies.

Dear Friends,

I would like to share with you these verses from Psalm 18 that we Dominicans pray in the Divine Office.

He made the darkness his covering, the dark waters of the clouds his tent … From on high he reached down and seized me he drew me up from the mighty waters. (verses 12 and 17)

This psalm helps me to see this COVID-19 period with the eyes of faith: that however dark the cloud or rough the waters, because of Jesus “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

This light shone in a special way on May 23 when eight of our friars were ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. The pandemic made this a historic ordination because it happened in three East coast cities simultaneously: Washington, DC (Dominican House of Studies), New York City (Church of St. Vincent Ferrer) and Providence, Rhode Island (Providence College). We believe that God is everywhere, and our trinitarian ordinations remind us that he is with us and draws us up from the mighty waters.

Our ordinations had a simplicity about them because of the restrictions on public gatherings. This was so difficult for the family and friends of our new priests who were not able to personally attend. Let me suggest a significance for this sacrifice. Their ordination ceremony conforms them symbolically to Jesus Christ, who was born in a stable, lived in Nazareth, had nowhere to lay his head and was crucified outside the city gates. Because he emptied himself to come among us, he is the Good Shepherd who leads us through all the dark valleys of life.

This is true for our eight new priests. They are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, to draw His people up from the raging waters, to lead them through dark valleys, to manifest His light in their preaching, pastoral care and celebration of the sacraments. Please pray for them, and see in their ordinations the unmistakable sign of Jesus Christ who promised: “I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Come, Lord Jesus!



Very Rev. Kenneth R. Letoile, O.P.
Prior Provincial

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