By Sister Ann Marie Lustig, OP (Tacoma)
In March, Tacoma Dominicans were joined by Dominican sisters from Racine and Sinsinawa as well as friends of the community in the Northwest to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Montesinos and Dominican preaching in the Western Hemisphere. “Antonio de Montesinos: The Holy Preaching as Prophetic Word” was a day of study and prayer for those today that follow in the footsteps of the courageous preachers of Hispaniola.
Presenters were Vincent J. Pastro, OPA, author of “Enflamed by the Sacramental Word: Preaching and the Imagination of the Poor”; Sister Teresa Montes Lara, OP, a student in the D.Min. program at Barry University; and members of the Tacoma Dominican Immigration Study Committee.
Opening prayer for the day of input and process was an opportunity for reflection on the integration of compassion and respect for all others, especially the oppressed, within contemplative experience of Catherine of Siena and Dominic. An overview of the history that first brought the Dominicans to the “New World” provided background for understanding the context of the early community of Santa Cruz. Pedro de Cordoba and the community recognized the injustice to the indigenous people who were enslaved by the Spaniards. Communal discernment confirmed their resolve to speak out against what was happening. The community wrote the homily they commissioned Antonio de Montesinos to preach on December 21, 1511. This angered the Spaniards who were abusing the native people. When challenged to release their slaves, they demanded that the homily be retracted. The homily was repeated. The voice of Christ would not be silenced.
Table discussion helped attendees to focus on the lessons of Montesinos for today. Special attention was given to the reality of structural sin in relationship to human rights, the baptismal call to participate in the Holy Preaching, and how Dominicans can raise a prophetic voice today. The closing session highlighted the Tacoma Dominican embrace of the call of the Dominican Justice Promoters of North America to study migration and immigration. Their study is preparation for a corporate stance to be taken in June. The Holy Preaching continues.