This year’s seminar took place from 17-19 March, at Hinsley Hall in Leeds. The theme was Being Prophetic: Reading the Signs of the Times and Being a Sign for the Time, and the seminar was attended by many branches of the Dominican family – friars, sisters, Lay Dominicans, the Priestly Fraternity, the Secular Institute and Associates. There were plenty of opportunities for praying together and socialising as well as listening to the speakers.

Margaret and Andy Doyle, from the North East Fraternal Group, spoke about The Vocation to Lay Preaching, exploring how we understand the vocation of the laity, and whether it is the role of Lay Dominicans to role model the role of the laity.

In a session entitled Being Prophetic – experiences and insights from the Dominican Family, we heard about prophecy in Social and Trade Union Activism from Simon Hewitt, a Lay Dominican from Yorkshire, and about the experiences of the Tamar Fraternity, who are the Dominican presence in the south-west, and told us of the rewarding experience of their Light a Candle initiative in Plymouth, inviting passers by to come into church, to light a candle and to ask any questions during Advent.

‘Loving but not Crying ‘Peace” (Hosea)
  • Activism is about working to make the world a better place, often alongside people who are not Christian and may be hostile to Christianity.
  • We must avoid the temptation to ‘be nice’, to make things unproblematic, if that ignores justice.
  • Prophets see what is happening and interpret the signs of the times.

We should pursue right, not paper over the cracks.

Simon Hewitt

We also heard from Sir John Battle KCSG, who spoke about Refugees and Migration: the Issue that Won’t Go Away. Sir John shared with us some statistics on migration, but also the stories of some of the people who arrive in the UK.

He spoke about the worrying change in language, when ‘asylum’, which is about sanctuary, and ‘human rights’, which is about human dignity, are becoming used as negative terms.

The way of arriving has become more important than the story of their suffering.

Sir John Battle KCSG

Sir John said that we need new politics for new times, and he encouraged us all to consider how we, in our parishes, welcome and celebrate the stranger. He also suggested that we should study ‘Love the Stranger’, the new document from the Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

Fr, Luke Doherty OP spoke about Caring for the Environment as a Matter for Justice and Peace.

Fr. Luke spoke about the complex union of justice and charity and the link between environmental issues and human rights. He talked about the agricultural developments of the 1960s, when mechanisation and chemicals succeeded in increasing food supplies but caused huge environmental damage. He introduced us to the Planetary Boundaries concept, which identifies areas which require global action,

Fr. Luke spoke about the threefold energy problem (security of supply, affordability and sustainability), but also about new developments and research, concluding that technology is not enough – – we need to make a place for God.

We heard reports from the different branches of the Dominican family, including:

  • The development of the Light of Truth on-line apostolate of the Dominican Sisters of St. Joseph in Lymington.
  • The success of the friars’ work in the Caribbean
  • The Priestly Fraternity now have 15 professed members and are concentrating on formation.
  • The Secular Institute are working with the Polish group.
  • The sisters of the English Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena are in the process of moving out of their house at Stone, but have 3 sisters in temporary profession and strong links with the Dominican Sisters International
  • The Dominican Missionary Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, Newcastle, Natal, have thriving ministries in their parishes in Crawley and Greenwich.
  • The Lay Dominicans are expanding, in numbers and in setting up new groups.