Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena

A Parish of the Archdiocese of New York served by the Dominican Friars

November 12, 2016

Looking at the Shape of a Dominican Parish – Pastor’s Reflection (November 13, 2016)

Last week in these pages I tried to articulate the spiritual foundations of a Dominican Parish.

  • Among these, the concept of “order” itself provides the bedrock. Since the Friars and Sisters live within the Dominican way of life, they will tend to generate ministries in which the community provides unity and continuity, not an individual.
  • The Dominican Community possesses a fraternal or sororal character, especially in its governance. Any of its endeavors will feature consultation before, collaboration during, and review after. Thus, while a Brother of the Order serves as Pastor, he will seek to integrate conversation into signifiant decision making, especially through the councils and committees of the parish. Such an approach accepts real deficits of efficiency in exchange for allowing consensus to emerge.
  • This approach to affairs relies on a spiritual backbone of assertive non-dominance in which members of the parish community contribute gifts of authority, talent, wealth, and personality. While they might otherwise use these gifts to achieve and retain pre-eminence, among us they employ them sacrificially so that the group as a whole may thrive.

I would like now to build upon these foundations to set out what I view as essential elements of the culture of our parish. These are things I have learned over the last six years of being a pastor; and the last two years of our parish merger have brought them home to me with ever greater clarity. What follows is a draft for your consideration. The final will follow in due course. Like any norms these statements point to what we have achieved and make explicit what we have not yet accomplished.

Our Parish derives life from the charism of the Order of Preachers.

  • The celebration of the Liturgy takes pride of place
  • With the reverence due to this encounter with God.
  • With the awareness demanded by our common baptismal priesthood.
  • With the concentration on the Word of God called for by all who love study.
  • With the humility that avoids triumphalism.
  • We foster personal prayer and devotion by keeping our churches open, encouraging the rosary and Eucharistic Adoration, and by giving our shrines and side altars adequate attention.
  • The Life of Study plays a central role in the life of the Community of the Parish.
  • Projects of common study are integral to our common life.
  • These will include Sacred Scripture, and other topics of ecclesial significance.
  • Study marks our formation programs at all levels. The presentation of doctrine always makes social and liturgical connections.
  • We try to make study a habit of mind, leading to a contemplative regard for persons, situations, and things.
  • In the running of councils and committees we follow a fraternal pattern of seeking consensus.
  • While the Community of the Parish receives benefactions gratefully, we regard parishioners as members of a community rather than as donors to a charity.

Our Parish is essentially diverse.

  • Our parish life stands at a crossroads of classes, ideologies, ethnicities, and generations. The Order, the city, and the neighborhood each possess a cosmopolitan character and the life of our parish embraces it.
  • The diversity of the local church matches that of our environment. Alternative types of architecture, music, and preaching are available to Catholics in our area, and we acknowledge they may use these to their benefit.
  • We challenge ourselves to welcome all who Christ sends, without partiality.

Our Parish is only complete as part of the Catholic Church

  • We are never in competition with other Catholic entities. It fulfills us to work in concert with the parishes that neighbor us, and with other ministries serving God’s People.
  • We maintain an open and cooperative relationship with the Archdiocese of New York, of which we form a part.
  • Especially through the Cardinal’s Appeal, Second Collections, and the work of our Social Concerns Committee, we seek to be attached to and responsive to the world around us

Our presence beyond ourselves reflects the Missionary Imperatives of the Order of Preachers.

  • We regularly hold events open to the wider public.
  • We undertake efforts to reach the unchurched and the lapsed.
  • We are as generous as we can be in making available the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Our Parish seeks a way of careful stewardship

  • We seek to meet ordinary expenses through ordinary income.
  • We practice financial transparency within the parish and with the Archdiocese.
  • We practice discipline in undertaking capital projects as they are needed and according to a coherent strategy.
  • We have careful regard for the artistic heritage confided to us in our two beautiful churches.
  • Our strategies of investment feature fiduciary caution and take account of Catholic teaching.
  • We practice justice in the compensation of employees.

Please ponder these points at your leisure. At some point after the turn of the year, the Pastoral Council will begin to wrestle with them. When finalized, they will become part of a public document so that we can always hold ourselves accountable.


Fr. Walter