RESOURCES

National Vocation Awareness Week

November 7 - 13, 2021

During National Vocation Awareness Week, we will feature friars in our Province who have offered up some insight into their own vocations: why they chose the Dominicans, what blessings they have received from religious life, or their favorite part about being a Dominican Friar.

Please join us in reciting our Dominican Prayer for Vocations every day this week:

 

Blessed Father Dominic, preacher of God's grace,

you promised to assist us even after your death.

Intercede for us before God

to help us encourage more men and women to follow our way of life,

the way of a preacher.

Bless us in our common life, study, prayer, and ministry,

that our lives together may be a joyful witness

creating a desire in others to join the Sacred Preaching.

Amen.

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Fr. James-Peter Trares, O.P. - Graduate Student at The Angelicum

What drew you to the Dominicans?

I was first drawn in by the joy, passion, and fraternal charity of the brothers. Then as I learned more about Dominican spirituality, I became convinced that the life of contemplation and study flowing over into preaching would be the best way for me to grow and be of service to God and the Church.

What aspect of Dominican life do you find most fulfilling and why?

The structure of Dominican life, with its rhythm of prayer and community and its orientation toward preaching, constantly challenges me to go beyond myself. As I Dominican, my life centers upon daily opening myself to God's grace, learning to love my brothers amidst the challenges of community, remaining faithful to the commitments of the vows even when it's difficult, and responding compassionately to the needs of the world around me. It's an exciting and worthwhile adventure!

 

What has been an unexpected blessing in your current ministry/stage of formation?
I'm currently studying spirituality at the Angelicum in Rome. While it's challenging to be a priest yet not engaging in regular pastoral ministry, I'm finding the life of academic study very fulfilling. Engaging in the academic study of theology is not dry or abstract—every day I find that what I'm studying impacts my spiritual life, and I continually think about how to share what I'm learning with others. Some might see what I'm doing as a long retreat, but I see it as living the Dominican spirituality of study as a form of prayer.

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Fr. Ed Riley, O.P. - Retired Nigerian Missionary

Fr. Ed Riley, O.P., grew up in Oak Park, IL, and graduated from Fenwick High School in 1951. He entered the Dominicans in 1954, and was assigned to Nigeria after his ordination, where he spent his life building up the Province of St. Joseph the Worker. He most enjoyed teaching philosophy, theology and Sacred Scripture to seminarians and helping the poor, especially those who had psychological problems. His favorite scripture quote is from 1 Corinthians 4:7, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”

What drew you to the Dominicans?

I was drawn to the Dominicans by the example of the priests at Fenwick when I was a student.

What aspect of Dominican life do you find most fulfilling and why?

My many years serving in Nigeria allowed me to work with individuals facing difficulties, and it was the ministry of helping others that gave meaning to my work.

 

What has been an unexpected blessing in your current ministry/stage of formation?
A blessing in my life at St. Pius V Priory in Chicago, IL is spending more time with the Brothers in the community. I have also had the honor of serving on the Admissions Board for the past several years and have enjoyed being part of the vocation process.

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Fr. Luke Barder, O.P. - Pastor, St. Dominic Parish

What drew you to the Dominicans?

I could easily respond with “the habit” or “their history” or “their charism,” but honesty compels me to say that it was their fraternity. I met the Dominicans at St. Thomas Aquinas at Purdue University, then kept on running into Friars across the country. Their life together, study together, prayer together, and way of engaging everyone gave me a mirror of myself, how I could be happy, and who I could be.

What aspect of Dominican life do you find most fulfilling and why?

The opportunity to encounter a vast variety people, enter their lives, engage in the deepest, most difficult, and most relevant aspects of their lives and issues of the world, and witness the work of God through them, as well as through me. Then being able to go home, share, and pray about those experiences with my brothers.

 

What has been an unexpected blessing in your current ministry/stage of formation?
The unquestionable miracle of the ease, support, guidance, and providential machinations of God that I have witnessed through those I minister to and with during these first few months of assuming my new leadership role at the Parish. I am humbly thankful and awed at how difficult situations find resolution and often set the stage for great blessing and growth.

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Br. Ed van Merrienboer, O.P. - Blessed Sacrament Parish, Madison, WI

What drew you to the Dominicans?

I was educated by the Dominican Sisters in New Orleans who were joyful and compassionate women. They did not limit themselves to teaching in the school but were very involved in the daily lives of our families. This apostolic spirit attracted me to join the Dominicans to share in this joy and compassion.

 

What aspect of Dominican life do you find most fulfilling and why?

Most of my life I have either been in teaching ministry or serving the poor through projects. In both areas I have been most blessed to be part of my students’ lives, making their faith come alive. It is a great opportunity in teaching to help young people discover how much Jesus Christ loves and cares for us. When working with the poor, their profound faith in God’s mercy has challenged me to grow deeper in faith and charity.

 

What has been an unexpected blessing in your current ministry/stage of formation?
Part of my present ministry is to be a companion with those who are nearing the end of their earthly life. Often just sitting with them in their final hours, holding their hands, and preparing them to experience the fulness of God’s love is also preparing me for my death.

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Fr. Brian Zuelke, O.P. - Associate Chaplain, University of St. Thomas

What drew you to the Dominicans?

Fundamentally, the mission of preaching, teaching, and evangelization, the life of study, the possibility of community life, the disciplines of regular observance, and the opportunity for a deeper life of prayer.

 

What aspect of Dominican life do you find most fulfilling and why?

Ministry is very fulfilling, especially because of the variety of works I can participate in: campus ministry, teaching theology, summer expedition retreats, media projects, etc. I also love the demands that community life makes on me as a brother: the challenge to love and to give generously to the life of my community.

 

What has been an unexpected blessing in your current ministry/stage of formation?
It is an honor to serve the students at the University of St. Thomas, many of whom are striving to grapple with the most profound questions of life.