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The courage to respond

Becoming a priest with charisma 

Do we need priests any more? Hasn’t our age provided rather more efficacious role models for our young? Perhaps it has. Benedict XVI’s decision to dedicate a year which celebrates the priesthood expresses the conviction that priests still hold inestimable value in the life of Christians and humanity today. If it provoked us into wondering what on earth makes being a priest exciting at all, then this year will have achieved one of its main targets. Of course things are not so simple. Priests are becoming more of a rare species. Why that is so is a complex answer ranging from the materialistic selfishness of our society obsessed with well-being and pleasure to the equally obvious fact that families have far fewer children today and are less inclined to encourage their siblings to even consider becoming a priest.

Saint Paul had made the following plea: “How can they hear without someone to preach? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14)

The challenge posed by these two questions was courageously taken up thirteen centuries later. In 1216, St. Dominic de Guzman responded to a desperate need for informed preaching by founding the Order of Preachers. He trained his preachers to affirm the world as the place where Christ was discovered and to counter false teachings which denied the dignity of our humanity. Because of him we are called Dominicans and we continue to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in our world today. 


  • It was the medieval genius that gave an original model of priesthood that went beyond this dichotomy and offered a fresh and more gospel-worthy way of being a priest. Saint Dominic from Caleruega, himself originally a canon regular, quickly rejected the pathetic efforts of wealthy and ill-prepared prelates who pompously preached the crucified Christ and decided to organize a team of well-trained friars who could allow themselves to be challenged by dissidents from orthodoxy as well as excite and strengthen – rather than underestimate – the intelligence of the faithful. 
  • When St. Dominic asked the Pope to approve his newly founded communities of friars he was asking too much. There already existed in the Church an order of preachers, the episcopate! Yet Honorius III enthusiastically embraced this new initiative within the Church and gave the priesthood a completely new dimension with the introduction of entire teams of friars who could relevantly connect to the people of their times. 
  • The need for authentic charisma is always with us. It was further relayed for our times by Paul VI in his immortal document Evangelii Nuntiandi written back in 1975. In an expression he used on more than one occasion he told us that "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses." 
  • Dominican friars seek to live a community life of prayer and study which enables them to imitate more closely the life of the apostles. This is unabashedly countercultural since consumerism has transformed us into ego-centred parasites of leisure and comfort. Committed to a life of poverty in times of materialistic greed and profound social injustices around the globe, the combination of spirituality and ministry results in a new form of apostolic lifestyle, also a newer and authentic way of being a priest. 


Dominican communities still flourish today. Humanity’s thirst for the gospel increases day by day. So does the urgent need for new apostles who speak to our times. For more information about us, sharing our experiences, participating in retreats and encounters, visit: www.sejhadumnikana.blogspot.com 


Vocations Promoter
House of Formation
Dominican Fathers,
Rabat - Malta