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Dominicans celebrate 800 years of preaching, ministry

November 5, 2015
Valerie Schmalz

From Nov. 7, 2015, to Jan. 21, 2017, Dominicans worldwide celebrate the 800th jubilee of the approval of the Order of Preachers by Pope Honorius III in 1216, beginning with the opening Mass at the seat of the order at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome on Nov. 7.

On Oct. 31 in San Francisco, where the Dominicans have been a significant presence since the Gold Rush, the order founded by St. Dominic de Guzman celebrated a little bit earlier with a Celebration of Jubilee 800 – a Mass at St. Dominic Church celebrated by the Master of the Order Dominican Father Bruno Cadoré.

“Let us be sent by the Holy Spirit,” Father Cadoré told the approximately 900 religious, parishioners and friends of the Dominicans, emphasizing founder St. Dominic de Guzman’s “call to let Christ preach in us.”

Father Cadoré is based in Rome but was able to time his West Coast visitation to celebrate the Mass, said Dominican Father Michael Hurley, pastor of St. Dominic Church in San Francisco. “We are kind of a cultural crossroads,” Father Hurley said, a technology center and a gateway to Asia and the Pacific Rim.

“We see a parish not simply as a place to have Mass on Sunday,” and view the order’s charism of preaching as more than giving homilies, Father Hurley said. The parish is “a center of evangelization, a place for ongoing faith formation for the faithful, who are meant to sanctify the world.”

Parishioner Kathy Folan, who sang in the choir with her son Justin, a sophomore at Bellarmine College Preparatory, said, “St. Dominic’s right now is a parish that is on fire with joy and love and the truth and it just draws me and it just draws so many other people.”

In the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the Dominican friars own and operate St. Dominic Parish, which includes the novitiate for the Western Province of the Dominicans. In 2013, Dominicans signed an agreement with the archdiocese to operate St. Raymond Parish in Menlo Park.

The Dominican Friars of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, which was established during the Gold Rush in 1850, encompass Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California. There are five communities of Dominican women religious active in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. (See page 10).

The order was founded by St. Dominic de Guzman to combat a prevalent heresy in southern Europe in the 12th-14th centuries known as Albigensianism, which taught that all of reality was a conflict between a good god and an evil god. Some notable Dominicans are St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine of Siena and St. Martin de Porres.

The Dominicans are also known as the Hounds of the Lord because of a dream that St. Dominic’s mother had when she was pregnant with him. That is also the iconic symbol of the Dominican: a dog with a flaming torch in its mouth. St. Dominic’s mother dreamed of a dog that sets the fields on fire. Her spiritual director told her the dream meant “her son will set the world on fire with God’s love,” said Father Hurley.

Today, St. Dominic’s pastor said, Dominicans continue to enlist the “fire of the Holy Spirit to transform hearts, to preach for the salvation of souls.”

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