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A glimpse into the life of a Dominican parish

Thursday, October 10, 2019

By Br Pablo Rodríguez Jordá | Br Pablo recently spent three weeks in St Dominic's, our priory in London, helping at the parish. He recounts some impressions from his time there.

Over the last three weeks, I have been welcomed by our community in St Dominic's priory in London, where I was on placement to help at the parish. It is an established custom of the studentate that during the summer we are sent to support the work of the different priories of the province. Although the London summer placement enjoys long-established fame for the so-called 'Peter Harries experience' (i.e. helping Fr Peter Harries OP in his work as a chaplain at University College Hospital – an intense and rewarding apostolate), I found my place rather among the many-faceted demands of parish life.

My first week began with visits to the residents at two nursing homes near our parish, where Fr Leo Edgar OP celebrates Mass every week. Although attended mostly by many who used to come to Sunday Mass at St Dominic’s, several non-Catholic residents also join in what becomes a happy weekly occasion for all to be brought together by God’s mercy. After Mass, Holy Communion is taken to those who, due to ill health or mobility limitations, are unable to attend but still desire to receive the Sacrament. It was fascinating to meet some parishioners who could remember as far back as three generations of friars at St Dominic’s, as well as a greatly rewarding experience.

A view of the interior of St Dominic's Parish Church.

During my first few days I also visited the two neighbouring Catholic schools that are served by Fr Oliver Keenan OP as chaplain. A Mass was offered at our church to mark the opening of the academic year at St Dominic’s School, whereas Rosary School I visited to take part in the assembly that elected the Mini Vinnies Reps for the coming months (you can learn more about the Mini Vinnies here. They even have a song). As a Spaniard, I must confess I was slightly mystified by the concept of a ‘school assembly’, something I have only experienced in Britain. I was particularly impressed by the perfect coordination of such a joyful morning choreography, with the students processing into the sports hall with the comic seriousness only children are capable of, while the Mini Vinnies song played in the background; the silent expectation caused by the unusual presence of two grown-up men dressed in long black and white robes; and then, the greeting of the Headmistress to the assembly, answered by all the students in seamless synchrony, professionally-executed tempo: 'GOOD-MORN-ING-MISS-ES-CATH-ER-INE.' A truly amusing and endearing occasion.

In sum, my time in London included a plethora of apostolates: I attended the yearly blessing of graves at a nearby cemetery, brought Holy Communion to housebound parishioners, received pilgrims visiting the Rosary Shrine, participated in the sung Latin Mass in the Dominican Rite, went to a Sacred Music concert held at the parish church…

Who took those pictures of Fr Thomas's running around Regent's Park, you may wonder? Well, have a guess...

One of the highlights was with no doubt supporting the Catholic Society from Imperial College London at their stall in this year's Fresher’s Fair. Hesitant though I initially felt as a humanities student walking into a science-and-engineering-only college, I was warmly received by the students. The Treasurer’s email of invitation to the event was sent on behalf of the ‘Imperial Catholic Society,’ which ‘should make you feel at home, you Spaniard,’ a fellow friar in London said caustically to me. The Freshers’ Fair was marked by the relaxed atmosphere and healthy openness among the students of all the confessional societies: a member of the Buddhist Society would leisurely wander over to the Christian Union, while a Catholic had a coffee with someone from the Islamic Society. However, the day was probably most touching for me because of the happy memories it brought from the first Freshers’ Fair I ever attended, as a newly-arrived Erasmus student at Southampton University, already five years ago.

My time at St Dominic’s London couldn’t have come to a more fitting close than with the Pontifical Mass that was celebrated on the 6th October, Rosary Sunday, the patronal feast of the priory. This became, quite literally, my final act in this play, since immediately after the Mass I took my luggage and made my way to Blackfriars Oxford, to prepare for the imminent beginning of a new term.

Below are some photos of the stunning parish church:

Altar of Our Lady of Lourdes

Statue of Our Lady in the Chapel of the Annunciation

Chapel of the Nativity

Chapel of the Ascension

Statue of Our Lord before the sanctuary

Statue of St Dominic

Chapel of the Assumption

Afternoon light coming through the stained glass panels

Rosary Altar: St Dominic receives the Rosary from Our Lady

Chapel of St Joseph

Photos by Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P.

Br Pablo Rodríguez-Jordá O.P.

Br Pablo was born and grew up in Alicante, Spain. He first lived in the UK as a student of History and English at the University of Southampton, and after graduating worked as a language teacher in Oxford, where he met the Dominicans. He entered the novitiate in 2017. Reading the works of Thomas Merton was a particular catalyst for his calling to the religious life. Similarly, reading G. K. Chesterton, J. R. R. Tolkien and J. H. Newman led him to the practice of the faith earlier during his university years. He is interested in languages, 19th century literature and the history of English Catholicism. | pablo.rodriguez@english.op.org


You can find more information on the Rosary Shrine and St Dominic's Priory here

See also our previous series on Dominican Priories.


Matthieu Baril commented on 27-Oct-2019 10:31 AM
Thanks for the blog Br Pablo!
Just one comment: the image labeled Our Lady of Fatima is actually Our Lady of Lourdes

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