The following press release was sent to the major Catholic newspapers in the US. For some reason, which we don't understand, none of them choose to publish what we think is noteworthy news both for the Dominican Order and for the Church. So, we are publishing it below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dominican Cloistered Nuns Celebrate 800th Anniversary
The multifaceted celebration of 800 years of Dominican Monastic life is the exciting focus for more than 3,500 Dominican Nuns in 250 monasteries throughout the world. The Jubilee Year for the Order will begin on the First Sunday of Advent, December 3. This year is the beginning of a ten year period of special events marking all the complex steps which led up to the birth of what we now know as the Order of Preachers, commonly known as the Dominican Order
In 1206 Dominic de Guzman, sub-prior of the Chapter of Canons at the Cathedral in Osma in Spain, was considering how best to carry out the Lord’s work in the local Church. He and his Bishop, Diego had been traveling in southern France and became aware of the great need for good preaching among the people who had been led away from the Church by false teaching. In particular there was a group of women who had been very active in the heretical sect and had been converted by St. Dominic’s preaching. Now these women were free and eager to give themselves to the true faith but were in danger of being lured back to false doctrines unless they could continue to be fed with authentic teaching and also have an outlet for their generous response to God.
On the evening of July 22, 1206, St. Dominic was praying about this in the little town of Fanjeaux in southern France. As he looked out over the countryside he saw a globe of light descend from heaven and it seemed to rest on the abandoned church in the neighboring village of Prouilhe. When this vision was repeated three times, he became convinced that God was directing him to obtain this church and gather the converted women there. This monastery became the nucleus of what would later develop into the Dominican Order. It was a place for Dominic and the preachers who were gathered around him to spend time resting, studying and reflecting between their apostolic journeys.
What are the charateristics that make up thos monastic life that is at the heart of an Order dedicated to preaching the Gospel of Christ?
Like other contemplative Orders, the Dominican nuns live a life wholly dedicated to contemplation. Their lives are centered around the celebration of Holy Mass and the prayer of the chanted Divine Office. For Dominicans there is a special emphasis on common life and the community expresses the desire to be “of one heart and mind” through the monastic observances of prayer, work, and recreation, enclosure and silence. Because of a profound love of the Word of God who is Truth, study also plays a unique role in the life of the nuns. Many of the monasteries also have the privelege of daily and even perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to the Mother of God, especially to her rosary is also important.
The life of the Dominican nuns is a life of hidden apostolic fruitfulness. Called to free for God alone, the nuns unceasing search for God brings her into communion with the entire world. The cry of St. Dominic, “O Lord, what will become of sinners,” becomes her own while she is keenly aware that she is the first in need of the mercy of God. In solidarity with the mission of their preaching brothers as well as the whole Dominican Family, the nuns, by the dedication of their lives and their prayer, accompany “the Word which does not return to God without accomplishing that for which it was sent”. (Is 55:10)
The nuns were an integral part of this “Holy Preaching” from the very start since their life was ordered to the salvation of souls. It was only in December 1216 that Dominic received from the Holy See the final approval the Order. Now the Friars, Nuns, Apostolic Sisters, and Dominican Laity are spending the ten years from 2006 to 2016 celebrating the foundation of the Order. In the United States there are sixteen monasteries of cloistered Dominican Nuns. All of these monasteries will be sponsoring special festivities to mark the 800th anniversary of the founding of the first monastery of nuns.
In honor of this special anniversary, the Holy See has declared all monasteries as places of pilgrimage during this Jubilee Year from the First Sunday of Advent, 2006 to Epiphany Sunday, 2008 and a Plenary Indulgence under the usual conditions to all of the Faithful who come to pray at any one of the Dominican monasteries in the world.
The Dominican Nuns’ website is http://www.usaopnuns.org/. There you can find more information about the individual Dominican Monasteries in North America and this special jubilee. Available through the website for purchase are medals, calendars and books produced to mark the 800th anniversary.