Mary McCrae is a Dominican Associate based in South Africa. In her article, she talks about her reasons behind becoming an Associate.
I was very blessed for my formative years which were strongly influenced by the Capuchin Priests and Holy Cross Sisters while my adult journey was nurtured by the Dominican Sisters with whom I worked as a teacher.
When I retired at the end of 2006, I realised that personal enrichment was now entirely in my own hands and I needed to find opportunities for this. Accepting an invitation to join the Dominican Associates provided an ideal opportunity. It has helped me to remain part of a supportive spiritual community, enriched by the fellowship, sharing and encouragement of fellow associate members.
Trying to remain conscious of and carry out St Dominic’s mission of Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare, in daily life is challenging in today’s secular world but with the support, motivation and encouragement from fellow members this becomes possible.
I enjoy the opportunity provided for communal prayer and praise during each gathering, particularly occasional excerpts of the Prayer of the Church (Divine Office). Various guest speakers including Dominican Sisters and a visiting Lay Dominican Brother, have provided personal testimonies regarding their particular mission encounters. Others shared valuable insight on interesting topics within their particular field of expertise e.g ‘The Role of Women in Islam’ by Fr Clohessy.
Study and reflection of mission-conscious documents has been important to me and I would never have taken the time to read them on my own without the encouragement of the Associates. Such articles include ‘Go tell my brothers by Fr Bruno Cadora (Dominican women and evangelisation), Africae Munus and what is at stake for Mission in the Church family of God in Africa which was initiated during the period of Pope Benedict.
This has helped me to keep abreast of current social teachings of the Church and helped to me become aware of possible personal contributions in my present circumstances. Some insight into the special charism of Pope Francis’ was gained by reflecting on his address in St Peter’s Square on 18th May 2013 entitled ‘The New leader’. More recently having been encouraged to read ‘The Joy of the Gospel’ an Apostolic Exhortation by Pope Francis, I have become more conscious of Pope Francis’ view of ‘mission’ and his call for missionary transformation, the manner in which he revisits and places a new focus on concepts and aspects of church life which have been taken for granted and in some cases even lost momentum. The urgency in his call for a ‘new evangelisation’ in the Church and for each of us to realise that we have an important role to play in spreading the Gospel, motivates one to become involved. One feels urged to “go out and get one’s shoes dusty” even in some small way.
We were privileged to view two very inspirational films. ‘The Way’ provided an opportunity for reflection on a number of aspects or interpretations of life as a journey. Although I had seen the film ‘A few Good Men’ while on circuit, viewing this a second time and as a group enabled me to see detail I had previously missed. Somehow images and values portrayed in both these films often creep back into the consciousness and provide food for reflection.
I am very grateful that during this twilight phase of life, I still experience a wonderful sense of belonging to and acceptance by the Dominican Community – knowing that there is care, concern, love and prayer support among members of the group is very encouraging. I look forward to continued spiritual growth and further insight into ways of spreading the Gospel or the reawakening of Mission and Ministry in keeping with the needs of our present time.