SALT LAKE CITY — On a Sunday during which Saint Catherine of Siena/Newman Center celebrated the feast day of Saint Dominic, the parish also welcomed three members into their chapter of Lay Dominicans and saw two others make temporary professions. In addition, Beth Schrock made her life profession to the Lay Dominicans.
Lay Dominicans have been part of the Order of Preachers since it was founded by St. Dominic Guzman in 1217. These lay men and women commit to the order’s four charisms: apostolic works, community life, prayer and study.
"We’re people who live the life of the Dominican Order," said Paul H. White, moderator of the Lay Dominicans, St. Catherine of Siena Chapter. "We try, to the best of our ability ... to live our daily lives as we are part of the Dominican family."
That means attending Mass regularly, praying the Divine Office and the rosary, abstaining from meat on Fridays throughout the year and observing specific fast days. They also gather at least monthly for a chapter meeting and commit to ongoing faith formation.
"We preach through our apostolic works," said White, a professor at the University of Utah who became involved with the Lay Dominicans in 1995. "One of the things I love about our chapter, our community, is that we are very different. We’re quite diverse in opinions, in age, in outlooks and experience, but that’s our common bond."
One of the chapter’s newest members is Danny Schoenfeld, who was received on Aug. 12 along with Antonella Kelly and Erich Mille. Schoenfeld, who is married with an 18-month-old child, first inquired about the Lay Dominicans about the time his son was born. "It just fit into my faith life," he said. "It means to me just living my faith a little bit more – not just coming to church on Sunday from 10:45 to 12 o’clock. It’s being an example of Christ in your daily life to the people around you."
The two members making temporary professions were Karen Kelly and Barbara Bannon, who is the chapter’s formation director.
"Here at the Newman Center our community of Lay Dominicans is a close community and it’s a wonderful support system," Bannon said. "If you ever need help from somebody, they’re there, but also in terms of your prayer life it’s very supportive in that way, too."
Deepening her prayer life was the primary reason Bannon joined the chapter four years ago, she said. She was involved with the parish’s social services, but "I’m a Martha rather than a Mary, [and] I felt ill at ease with my prayer life."
The Lay Dominicans start their meetings with Evening Prayer and end with Night Prayer, which helped her get into the practice of prayer, she said. One thing she particularly likes is what she sees as the flexibility in the Lay Dominican rule: "You do what you feel you can do in terms of praying and good works and study.... I wasn’t going to feel pressure that I wasn’t living up to something."
Eight years after inquiring into the Lay Dominicans, Beth Schrock made her life profession. "I’m quite thrilled about it," she said, adding that she has learned a lot about the Catholic Church during her studies. In addition, "I feel the graces of God from being a Dominican.... My Dominican family prays for me all the time and I really hear those prayers. It’s also brought me a number of good friends that I would never have met because we just don’t go in the same circles."
Inquirers are welcome at the monthly meetings of the St. Catherine of Siena Chapter of the Lay Dominicans. For information, contact Paul H. White, 801-673-2450, email@example.com, or Barbara Bannon, 801-583-4289, firstname.lastname@example.org.