“Magnificent!” That was the word of the day from so many Caldwell Dominican sisters when discussing Caldwell University’s November 11th Opening Mass to celebrate the beginning of the 800th Jubilee Year of the Dominican Order. As Sister Patrice Werner, Prioress of the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell, pointed out in her welcoming remarks, “The Jubilee is a celebration of the entire Dominican Family – friars, nuns, sisters, lay members, laity…. For Caldwell Dominicans, the celebration of these 800 years is also a renewed call to laudare, benedicere, praedicarae – to praise, to bless and to preach. We are proud and honored to be part of the worldwide Dominican Family, to claim as our own Dominic’s passion for truth. The mission has not changed.”
The Mass began with the sisters processing in arm-in-arm with Caldwell University students who wore commemorative t-shirts for the day. For many of the sisters, this procession evoked powerful emotions of past, present and future – a representation of the sisters’ legacy and future rolled into one moment. Sister deMontfort Kinchellagh commented, “This 800th Jubilee celebrates our past, but this Mass today represents our hope for the future through these young people.” Sister Pat Wormann added, “This anniversary reminds us that the mission is much bigger than any of us. Dominic’s spirit is as relevant today as it was 800 years ago.”
Celebrant Father Kenneth Letoile, OP, Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Joseph, New York, reflected on the timeliness of the 800th Jubilee coinciding with the Holy Year of Mercy and that the Order’s ability to “thrive after 800 years is a tremendous gift.” He continued, “Our mission is ancient, but ever new.”
Before the Mass closed, Dr. Nancy Blattner, President of Caldwell University and a Caldwell Dominican Associate, remarked on the university’s indebtedness to the Sisters of Saint Dominic and its foundress, Mother Joseph Dunn. She said, “Each student who studies here, each faculty member who teaches on campus, and each staff member who works at the university understands that we are part of the Sisters’ vision and of their legacy…. If we all understand this tie and work to maintain and strengthen it, we will be fulfilling the vision of our foundress and play an important role in the continuation of the Order of Preachers as begun by St. Dominic 800 years ago.”
The Caldwell Dominicans anticipate the Jubilee Year ahead will be a “year acceptable to the Lord” and look forward to continuing Dominic’s mission.