The Dominican Friars of the Western Province have had a special relationship of mutual support and collaboration with the Polish Province for many years. Friars from Poland serve at our ministry sites and join us every year to study alongside our friars in formation. This summer, we were able to renew our exchange and send Western Province student brothers to Poland. This is an important formative experience for our student brothers as they experience the richness of the Church and the Order in a different context.
Seven hundred ninety-nine years! Founded by St. Hyacinth in 1223, the Dominican cloister and community in the heart of Krakow has been around for seven hundred ninety-nine years. That priory, which I visited for the first time earlier this summer, is a concrete witness to the continuous history of the Catholic Church and the Dominican Order. As like attracts like, so in the early 1200s the holy preacher St. Dominic attracted to himself holy men like St. Hyacinth and Bl. Ceslaus, who, in turn, attracted so many men to the Dominican Order that it quickly flourished in Poland.
As part of a truly intergenerational, international order, Br. Scott Norgaard, Br. Cassian Smyth, and myself – Br. Antony Augustine Cherian– were given the blessing and privilege of experiencing for ourselves the Gospel witness of the Polish Dominican friars, past and present.
For example, in the city of Warsaw our Dominican brothers invited us both to St. Hyacinth’s Church and to St. Dominic’s Parish, founded in the early 1600s and the early 1900s, respectively. We celebrated Mass with our brothers at the tomb of St. Hyacinth in Krakow and the tomb of Br. Ceslaus in Wroclaw; we prayed at the birthplace of St. Hyacinth in Kamien Slaski and the site of the martyrdom of Blessed Sadoc and companions in Sandomierz.
We walked through halls which hundreds of years of Dominicans have walked through, and walked on a multi-day pilgrimage across southwestern Poland with Polish brothers who are taking the same classes as us, praying the same prayers as us, reading the same books as us, even enjoying many of the same jokes as us – differences in language notwithstanding.
Amidst all the enjoyment of this fraternal visit, one lesson stood out to me: the Gospel mission hasn’t changed since Christ first commissioned His apostles to go out to all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all He had commanded them.
Languages may vary, buildings and cities may change, but the promise of Christ that He will be with us always – even to the end of the age – is the source of the Apostle’s mission, the foundation of St. Dominic and St. Hyacinth’s preaching, and the wellspring of the prayer and ministry of every Dominican brother and sister around the world today.
Br. Antony Augustine Cherian, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE