Staffing a parish is a valuable way of exercising our preaching ministry. However the Dominican Order was not founded simply to staff parishes but to preach wherever we can, wherever the opportunity may arise. In some parts of the world we are not involved in parish work at all. In other places, where there is a need, we do staff a good number of parishes. InSouthern Africa, for example, we came in the beginning as missionaries and were therefore involved in parish work from the start. Today about 50% of our ordained Dominicans work on parishes.
Another form of pastoral preaching is chaplaincy work. We are chaplains to specialised groups that are not parishes. For example, we minister as chaplains to Catholic university students, to schools, to the deaf, to the police, to prisons, to convents of sisters, to homes for senior citizens and for orphans. Here too the work provides us with a very valuable opportunity to preach and counsel people.
TEACHING AND LECTURING
Throughout the world, Dominicans (both ordained priests and non-ordained brothers) exercise their preaching mission by teaching or lecturing. From the start St Dominic sent his friars to study theology in universities throughout Europe. They soon became lecturers and professors expounding the Word of God in these academic circles. There were no seminaries in those days. Teaching and lecturing became a much treasured ministry in the Order and still is today.
In Southern Africa in earlier times we were deeply involved in seminaries. Today due to our smaller numbers, we are only minimally involved. Our involvement in university lecturing is also minimal. But our hope is to prepare our young Dominicans to take up this challenge in the future.
We have been and still are engaged in other forms of teaching like diaconate courses, theology for the laity, Bible Study groups, catechetics and religious studies in schools.
THE MINISTRY OF WRITING
Dominicans don’t only teach, they also write books and articles. Some of our brethren inSouth Africahave published numerous books, not to mention a large number of articles in reviews and journals as well as chapters in published collections of essays. We also write for Catholic newspapers and magazines. This too is a very important way of preaching the Gospel.
RADIO, TV AND INTERNET
What better way these days of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ than through the modern media of radio, TV and the Internet. We are just beginning to explore the possibilities of the new social media and we make only a very limited use of TV. But the very powerful medium we have been involved in is radio. Fr Emil Blaser after years of hard work has set up and drives the South African Catholic radio station, Radio Veritas. Other Dominicans are involved and hopefully in the future, as our numbers increase, this will become a powerful Dominican ministry.
We have always been known for our retreat preaching. From the beginning inSouthern Africawe have conducted retreats for specialised groups of people and retreats open to everyone. Today there is an ever greater demand for retreats – from one day retreats to ten day retreats.
We also do counselling and spiritual direction wherever and whenever we can. This too is a form of preaching.
There is a crying need for new ways and means of communicating the Gospel to the youth of today. We are marginally involved through our parish work, our ministry to university students and our chaplaincy to schools. In the past we were deeply involved in movements like YCW (Young Christian Workers) and YCS (Young Christian Students). But today new ways of engaging the youth need to be explored. It is a challenge to us as preachers.
THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE AND PEACE
While all our preaching should include some reference to social justice because it is an integral part of the Gospel, there are also specialised ministries around issues of Justice and Peace like chaplain to J & P parish groups, coordinator of J & P diocesan commissions and the coordinator of the SACBC’s J & P commission. Dominicans have often held these positions as part of our preaching ministry.