The Lay Dominicans of England, Scotland and Wales

New Prior Provincial Elected

With joy, the brothers announced the election of a new Prior Provincial, Fr Nicholas Paul Crowe OP, who was elected by the Provincial Chapter and confirmed by the Master of the Order on 10 April2024. The Prior Provincial leads our Province of England, a territory within the worldwide Dominican Order consisting of Britain plus Jamaica and Grenada.

Fr Thomas Mannion OP, has been elected as our new Provincial Promoter of the Lay Dominicans.  Fr Thomas hopes to be able to meet with fraternities in the coming year.

Secrets of sacred art – a podcast

To the surprise of many – including myself – I began hosting a podcast about Catholic sacred art with my friend and fellow student, Kathryn Laffrey last year.  

We met four years ago whilst pursuing a masters degree in sacred art.  Kathryn lives in the Midwest in the United States and I am happily ensconced in a small English village in the Midlands.  At first our friendship consisted of long chats about sacred arts, our faith and what in the world we were going to do with ourselves once we did manage to get our degrees.  We set up an online chat group with other students which proved to be a tremendous comfort and support over the lockdowns.

It was from these chats that we slowly began to imagine we could produce a podcast in an attempt to share our faith through our love of sacred art.

The whole endeavour was and is so far beyond my comfort zone.  I am not tech savvy, I dislike public speaking, and I would rather keep myself to myself when I can.  It is through my life as a Lay Dominican and the vows I took that I find the courage to share something that I love so dearly with the world.

We are called to preach and teach in whatever capacity we are able.  Sacred art, since its inception, has been a means by which the Church has communicated the great treasure of Truth she has maintained throughout the centuries.  What better way to share Goodness and Truth than through Beauty?

Our podcast explores various aspects of sacred art and its meaning in the history, theology and liturgy of the Church.  The art is intended to evangelise both believers and non-believers in unique ways developed through Church history.  Sadly, the original intent of sacred art has been lost by both artists and viewers in relatively recent history.  Kathryn and I are attempting to remedy this situation as best we can.

Our target audience is anyone who is interested in art, not necessarily sacred art.  We don’t rely on our own exceptional abilities as artists, entertainers or theologians, but rather on the beauty of the sacred art to draw people closer to Goodness and Truth.

The podcasts , for me, an apostolate I never thought I would be part of.  The background research is something that I have a great deal of confidence in, but the more public aspects of sharing something very dear to my heart and sharing the Gospel in this unique way, is very much outside my comfort zone.  It is in this area that I find myself most reliant on the Dominican tradition of prayer (both public and private) and evangelisation.

We draw great inspiration for our work from Blessed Fra Angelico, St. Luke and Our Lady Help of Christians.  I pray our podcasts are something of an inspiration for any and all who hear it.

Alexandria Murray (Oxford)

Breaking to Silence

Tear the bread - image of body broken
Toil did not the breaking cause, it was
the symptom and punishment deserved,
for mysterious failure of created nature.

What flaw of being so deep and not
yet true did lead to that departure?  From
place where life had not known death
where desire of knowledge did truth displace.

In universal hiding, appearance of beauty
through strife and pain: strange contradiction!
Like unity, from multifarious plurality derived,
a truth understood but as yet not observed.

Did ‘the real’ show itself in essence denied?
What frame of reference allowed such vision?
To unfold in hierarchical splendour: being,
still not realised, left gap for my dismay.

Isolated! Alone! No friendship! All is forsaken
of me, in my recollection.  God also has left
me, to be. In this nothingness, when all is gone,
not even words break through, only silence.

Karol Grobicki (North West)


The Mystery of the Ascension

Jesus’s work of redemption did not end on the cross of Calvary, nor was it completed even with his glorious resurrection. It reached its ultimate fulfilment with his ascension.

In this article, we will delve into another crucial aspect: the entry into the heavenly sanctuary.  This layer of the Ascension mystery is the foundation of the Eucharistic offering that has sustained the Holy Mass for millennia, yet it tends to be overlooked. In our exploration of this mystery, we will rely on biblical revelation to unpack how the scriptures reveal the secret of  the universality of the Eucharist. 

Of all the books of the New Testament, the Letter to the Hebrews has one of the most detailed accounts of Jesus’s ascension. 

But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through  the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he  entered once for all into the holy place,” ……how much more will the blood of Christ, who  through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God! For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance…… 

“For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one,  but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the holy place year  after year with blood that is not his own, … But as it is, he has appeared once for all at  the end of the ages to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Heb 9:11-12a, 14-15a, 24- 26)” 

Furthermore, a similar statement is found in Romans: “Who is to condemn? It is Christ who died, or rather, who was raised, who is also at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for  us.(8:34)”  

In these passages, we glean important insights regarding Jesus’s ascension. He is not merely seated at the right hand of God, symbolising his reign as the King of the universe, but according to Hebrews, on the day of his Ascension, he also “entered once for all into the Holy  Place, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood,” in order to offer himself to God “once for all”, as the eternal High Priest for all generations. 

It is so important that without understanding this meaning, we cannot comprehend why the Ascension is an indispensable part of the Paschal mystery. When it comes to Jesus as the ransom for human sins, many may think of his sacrifice on the cross—which indeed surpasses all sacrifices. Some may also recall the Last Supper, where Jesus gave himself to all through  the transubstantiation of bread and wine—a necessary sacramental establishment for eternal life. However, what many of us may not consider is that beyond these “earthly  offerings”: from the Last Supper on Holy Thursday to the climax on Good Friday at Calvary,  Jesus did not stop there; rather, with his resurrection and ascension, he brought his glorified body, bearing the wounds, into the heavenly sanctuary to present himself as a sacrifice to God the Father, for the remission of the sins of many. Moreover, not temporal, but once and for all, in another word, eternally outside the time frame. 

Based on this brief exposition, it can be elucidated that on Good Friday on earth, Jesus was  the fulfilment of the Paschal Lamb, while his ascension ultimately fulfilled the Day of  Atonement under the Old Covenant. However, unlike the Jewish high priest who entered the Holy of Holies once a year, Jesus, as the eternal High Priest, offered an atoning sacrifice once for all in the true sanctuary of heaven. This is the unalloyed fascination of the Ascension:  through it, Jesus has transformed his historical crucifixion, an event that took place in the  Near East two thousand years ago, into an eternal redemption that transcends time and space. 

St Leo the Great, in the 5th century, wrote:  

“For otherwise in the Church of God, which is Christ’s Body, there are neither valid  priesthoods nor true sacrifices, unless in the reality of our nature the true High Priest  makes atonement for us, and the true Blood of the spotless Lamb makes us clean. For  although he be set on the Father’s right hand, yet in the same flesh which He took from the  Virgin, he carries on the mystery of propitiation. (Letter 80 II)”  

Clearly, in the early Church’s insight, this mystery has been explicitly articulated:  understanding the essence of the Eucharistic sacrifice hinges on understanding Christ’s  ascension. The two keys in St Leo’s statement can be explained as follows: 

First, Jesus retains the same body after his ascension as he had on the cross, which is why his  resurrected and ascended body still bears the wounds. While Christ’s post-resurrection body  undoubtedly exists in a marvellous state, the continuity of his physical form implies the  perpetual unity of his human nature with his divinity. 

Second, it is the bodily ascension of Jesus as the eternal High Priest that ensures the efficacy  of all sacraments. Although his suffering ended with his death on the cross, the paschal  offering did not conclude there. According to Hebrews chapter 9, he brought it into an eternal state. (Jesus is not still suffering, but he is still offering, in an infinite sense, that outside time  and space.)

During the “Reformation”, Luther and Calvin rebuked the Holy Mass as a blasphemy of the  most terrible kind, because they believed that the offering made during the Mass was a re-sacrifice of Jesus. Their error consisted in the misunderstanding that the Mass involved a re-sacrifice, as if the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary was insufficient and needed to be repeated  continuously. However, what Pope St Leo the Great understood, and what Luther and Calvin  failed to grasp, was the mystery of the Ascension: the Eucharist is not about re-sacrificing  Jesus. On the contrary, the Church firmly declares that there is only one atoning sacrifice,  which is Jesus’s offering on Calvary. This one sacrifice, through the mystery of the Ascension,  transcends the limitations of time and space by entering the true heavenly sanctuary with Jesus himself. Thus, it becomes an eternal sacrifice. Therefore, it cannot be emphasised  enough: the Holy Mass does not repeat the sacrifice on Calvary; rather, it participates in  Jesus’s current and eternal offering of himself in the heavenly sanctuary to God the Father

Additionally, by comprehension of the transubstantiation, it is not hard to explore that the  Eucharist we receive is indeed the body of Christ who suffered, rose, and ascended – his glorified body, eternally offered to the Father in the heavenly altar.  

Thus, regardless of five hundred, one thousand, or two thousand years after Christ, and regardless of where on earth the Mass is celebrated, it is not a separate, isolated event. Rather, each Mass is united with the one, complete, and effective redemptive sacrifice of Christ in heaven. This means that every Eucharist partakes in the same grace and redemption,  transcending time and space, and drawing us into the eternal offering of Christ. 

By quoting Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church’s teaching cannot be made more explicit.  

‘The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his  Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and  eternal Covenant, “entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands… but into heaven  itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he “always lives to make intercession” for “those who draw  near to God through him”. As “high priest of the good things to come” he is the centre  and the principal actor of the liturgy that honours the Father in heaven. (Paragraph 662)’ 

In another word, why is the sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary 2000 years ago still   effective for us today? Why is the Eucharist we receive today the same as that received by the  disciples 2000 years ago? How can the Mass celebrated by the ecumenical Church across  millennia and in different locations maintain the same meaning and efficacy? Why can the  Body and Blood of Jesus, sacrificed on the cross, still be “present” in our Mass today? These are profound questions that the theological possibility may not often be contemplated, yet by no means are incomprehensible.  

It is not that the priest re-sacrifices Jesus each time Mass is celebrated. Instead, every sacrifice is a participation in the eternal sacrifice that Christ has made, and the Eucharist we receive is the glorified body of Christ, which is the very same body that was crucified, resurrected, and ascended, now presenting in the appearance of bread.  

This is why the Ascension of Christ holds such crucial and essential theological importance. If our understanding of Christ’s redemption is narrowed into the crucifixion and resurrection, it remains incomplete, which fails to address the underlying reason why humanity is able to enter into the life of God nor the true source of the universality and eternal efficacy of the  Holy Mass. 

Therefore, the Ascension is in every sense indispensable of the paschal mystery and the fulfilment of eternal atonement. This is evident in the apostles’ teachings, as demonstrated by  the examples from Romans 8:34 and 1 John 2:1-2, where they often view the Passion,  Resurrection, and Ascension as interconnected events. 

The Ascension of Christ indeed acts as the link and transformation between the earthly sacrifice—the crucifixion at Calvary, and the heavenly sacrifice—the everlasting offering, which goes down to us through the Eucharist. It also reveals the depth of our participation in the heavenly liturgy which is portrayed in the Book of Revelation. 

Furthermore, the mystery of the Ascension is the foundation of Christian hope, as Christ is our eternal intercessor and advocate before the Father. If we understand that Jesus Christ is our defence attorney, advocating for our justification rather than our condemnation, how could our hope for eternal life be anything but secure? 

As St John Chrysostom eloquently stated: 

“Christ not only died for us, he now intercedes for us. You see how it is shown by every  argument, that there is no other reason for Paul’s having mentioned intercession, save to show the warmth and vigorousness of his love for us; for the Father also is represented to us as beseeching men to be reconciled to him. ” (Homilies on Romans, 15) 

This profound interpretation uncovers the twofoldness of divine love: the love demonstrated  through Christ’s death and the love manifested in his Ascension, highlighting both his sacrificial love on the cross and his ongoing eternal love in heaven. 

In conclusion, the Ascension underscores the enduring and active love of Christ for the human  race, providing us with unwavering hope and a profound understanding of our reconciliation with God. 


Brant Pitre, The Ascension of the Lord, Year A, Mass Reading Explained 

St John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 15, Translated in NPNF1, 11:455 St Leo the Great, Letter 80-II, Translated by Charles Lett Feltoe. From Nicene and Post-Nicene  Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 12. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1895.) 

All Bible citations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

Angelica Shen (North West)

News from around the Province

Events: God’s Mercy and Yours conference

The Edinburgh Friars are holding a conference, “God’s Mercy and Yours”, on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th June. The conference seeks to explore the theme of mercy which is central to our lives as Dominicans and has been witnessed to by so many of our brothers and sisters over the centuries. More information is available on our website.

Fraternity news


Our apostolate – corporately – has taken a very novel turn this year. In 1929, Hilary Pepler, father of Fr Conrad Pepler OP, wrote a play called Saint Dominic which was published by St Dominic’s Press in Ditchling, hand-printed on hand-made paper. The Library of Blackfriars in Cambridge has a copy.  The Cambridge Lay Fraternity is in the process of rehearsing the play which will soon be professionally recorded by one of our members, for broadcast this summer, we hope, on Radio Maria. As individuals, each of us is very active in our parishes, and our Treasurer, Jonathan, is moving towards the completion of his formation for the Permanent Diaconate. 

We had three Admissions last year: Eddie, Helen and Louis, and this June, God willing, they will all make their First Professions at Mass during our Day of Recollection at Clare Priory. All three have made huge contributions to the life of the Fraternity since joining us, and we pray for God’s blessing on them as they move on in the footsteps of our holy father, Dominic, and our holy sister, Catherine.

We currently have two participating enquirers. Three others joined us briefly over the months and we have had several first contacts of which none has borne fruit, mostly for logistics reasons. Family commitments and distance can make regular attendance at meetings very difficult. 

Two of our members have left the Order and the Fraternity. One felt that he was now being called elsewhere to serve the Lord, and the other (I am paraphrasing very freely here) that his life in the Order had become barren. This has led to some soul-searching on our part, as you might expect. It is not a new phenomenon, of course. Over the years, people have left for all sorts of reasons: one to become a Benedictine Oblate, for example, and another converted to Judaism. (She later returned to the Church and to us.) We have been blessed with some very intelligent, thoughtful, prayerful people among us, whose spiritual roads have sometimes taken very unexpected turns. One or two have even left us to become Dominican Sisters and Friars…

Some senior members of our Fraternity have been smitten by health problems in recent months and consequently attendance at meetings – local and Provincial – has sometimes been a bit patchy. Our members rallied round as usual, although our ongoing formation programme, mostly Scripture-based at present, wandered from the planned agenda from time to time. Nevertheless, every Fraternity meeting has turned out to be very affirming and fruitful for which we are very grateful to the Holy Spirit. On a personal note, at every meeting lately I have had a sense of something fresh stirring in our fraternal life. Resurrection in the air? Alleluia!

Please pray for us as we pray for you all.

Jill Gunsell, Cambridge Fraternity president


We have had three admissions: Emily Martin, Phillip Lasater and Eleni Thwaites.  Please keep them in your prayers.

Life in the Oxford fraternity carries on unabated.  Over the last few months we have welcomed new members to our group, paid our annual levy, and continued our discussions on the Dialogues of St Catherine.  It is good to be part of the Oxford Dominican family.  Two incidents do, however, stand out.

During March 2024 we planned our annual retreat.  In the past we have gone to a variety of interesting locations, but for quite a while now we have simply booked the Oxford Priory for a Saturday.  We are made very welcome, and we know where everything is and it provides all we could want.  And afterall, we are part of the Dominican family.  This year was particularly important because we had just gained a new Chaplain, Fr David Rocks OP and it would be the first opportunity for some of our members to really get to know him.  In the best Dominican tradition we had planned the day meticulously and then expected to just play things by ear.  Even so, you can imagine our panic when on the morning of the event I received an email from Fr David explaining that he had to go on an emergency appointment to a hospital in Reading and so would not be able to join us until lunchtime.  Obviously our thoughts and prayers concentrated on our friend, but what could we do without him?  First of all we extended the introductory coffee time and then re-scheduled our various talks and came up with a programme that seemed to have the approval of the group.  The morning was actually a great success although we were worried about Fr David.  He did arrive, as promised, at lunchtime and seemed able and keen to lead the rest of the day.  Frankly, he was brilliant.  The insights he shared in his talk were much appreciated and our Mass and Exposition of the Sacrament were things of beauty.  Fr David made an impressive start as our Chaplain and we thank God for his appointment.  We will however continue to pray for his health.

April had other complications.  The Oxford fraternity has devoted the current academic year to Inclusion.  We are investigating using Zoom to allow our isolated members to continue being involved in our activities.  With this in mind we held Zoom meetings in the winter and re-started in-person meetings in March.  This means that April should have been our first ‘normal’ meeting.  But nothing in the life of a Dominican is ever simple.  During March I received an email from the then Oxford prior, Fr Nicholas Crowe OP, asking if we could reschedule our April meeting because it might clash with the Friars’ General Chapter if it took more time than usual.  Of course I agreed, and we decided to Zoom the April meeting as well.  This involved quite a bit of extra work but the meeting proved a success.  We are still, though, stuck in a contradiction.  We want to hold our meetings in person yet if we do that we exclude some of our brothers and sisters and for the moment all we can do is work on our compromise.  The May meeting took place in person and was a great success and we sent out a basic but adequate recording of the talk and discussion.

Philip Owens, Oxford Fraternity president


Our fraternity made both an Advent and a Lent retreat.  The Advent retreat was under the guidance of our religious assistant, Fr Andrew Brookes OP, during which he encouraged us to reflect in depth on the infancy narratives of the Gospels.  Our Lent retreat was directed by Br Bede Mullens OP, who invited us to contemplate our individual responsibility for sins and need to repent in the light of the Lord’s love and longing for us.  We’re grateful to both Fr Andrew and Br Bede for enriching these seasons for us.

Augusta Wolff, London Fraternity president


In the spring 2023 edition of Veritas, we wrote about our 4th February 2023 Come and See Day with Fr Albert Robertson and members of the Fraternity. 12 inquirers came, of whom 7 continued to attend. This led to 5 Admissions in September (and October) 2023: Tricia Murphy Black, Anthony Capildeo, Alison Deighan, Lilian Lee and Lee Patterson. [Photo available from website!]

Each Lent, as part of our apostolate of outreach to other parts of Scotland, the Edinburgh Fraternity holds a Day of Recollection at Our Lady of the Waves in Dunbar, home of two of our members, Colin Barnes and Teresa Franco. (This was sadly to be Colin’s last such day with us.) The then Br Thomas Mannion OP led the retreat, on St Therese of Lisieux. He was a great hit, particularly since he presented us all with flowers!

On the departure of our Religious Assistant, Fr Albert, to the Cambridge community to work at the Chaplaincy at Fisher House (was it something we said??), we were delighted to welcome as our new Religious Assistant none other than the newly ordained Fr Thomas Mannion, sent to Edinburgh as his first house of assignation as a priest! He was an instant hit.

We continued our study of the Gospel of Luke in our Scripture sessions, and of Lumen Gentium in our monthly meetings, taking both chapter by chapter. 

 Our Lent 2024 Day of Recollection in Dunbar was given by Fr Adam Rokosz OP, a Polish Dominican from the German province. 

Our new inquirers (currently 7), together with our 14 professed members (one of whom, Michael van der Zande, is housebound) and the five Admitted members, now make up such a large group that it is getting logistically difficult to cater for them all! Some attend by Zoom (kindly facilitated by our former president Steve Male), particularly Trish Cole (formerly of the London Fraternity), who joins us from South Uist.

Most recently, we received the delightful news that Fr Thomas has been made English Provincial Promoter of Lay Dominicans for the whole of the UK! Given that he is a very mission-minded friar, we are expecting great things as a result of this. Those of you who don’t know him yet will have the chance to make his acquaintance at the Assembly Day. A fun fact about Fr Thomas is that he really loves dogs, so get ready to show him photos of your own Dogs of the Lord.

Teresa Jankowska has encouraged us to think about ‘being more Christlike’ in our attitude to the Apostolate. So far, I realise being Christlike hasn’t appeared too much in the above account. So I will leave you with my shining image since September of Teresa Franco and her Christlike love for her husband Colin, for the other widows in our Fraternity (Sofia and Biddy) and for all of us Lay Dominicans, as Colin cheers her on, as we trust, from Heaven.

Sara Parvis, Edinburgh Fraternity president

Our next newsletter will be in the spring of 2024.  Please send any news and contributions to:

Teresa Jankowska, Communications Officer