I learned yesterday that the Provincial of the Western Dominicans, Fr. Emmerich Vogt, OP, is in Arizona for visitation. According to our constitution, the Provincial is required to visit each community and speak individually with each of the friars in the province about their ministry, their spiritual life, and any significant concerns he may have about the community or the province.
Fortunately, I'm in Tempe, Arizona, for a celebration of forty years' of service at the Catholic campus ministry at Arizona State University (more on that in another post), and the Provincial will be here today and tomorrow for that celebration, so I'll meet with him this morning in an hour or so. It will be an opportunity to talk about the Catherine of Siena Institute and my involvement with it. Although the Institute is an official place of assignation for the province, I serve at the good pleasure of the Provincial. When people ask me how long I'll be co-director, I usually respond, "As long as the Provincial and his council say I can."
This is an unusual ministry, in some ways, for a friar. I am on the road a lot. In fact, I've only been in Tucson, where I'm assigned to live in community, only eleven days so far this year. While we Dominican friars are supposed to be itinerant preachers, many friars in the U.S. are involved in parochial and campus ministry, and aren't so itinerant any more. I believe this is a very Dominican ministry, however. I have the opportunity to travel throughout the country and get a sense of the Church in the U.S. that few priests are privileged to experience. I have the luxury of focused study and the ability to dive into a topic. I have learned so much from my co-director, Sherry Weddell, and that has been a tremendous blessing. Meeting disciples across the country and hearing their stories, including the stories of them using their charisms, discerning and living their vocations, has been incredible. These are stories that need to be shared!
One of the things I'll talk over with the Provincial is a project I'm working on now, bylaws for the Institute. We have been operating as a subsidiary of the Western province and are now preparing to incorporate separately. We'll still be a place of assignation for the Province, but will have a governance structure separate from the Province. There are several ministries in the Province with a similar set-up, so this is nothing new for us. Fr. Emmerich himself founded a ministry for people with addictions and co-dependency with its own newsletter, The Twelve-Step Review, so he's very familiar with the vicissitudes of running a non-traditional ministry. This meeting with the Provincial will give me an opportunity to run a few ideas past him, as well as let him know some of the developments we're facing.
I may also get a sense of my future with the Institute. Prayers will be appreciated. After this meeting, it's back to working on another retreat, this one for Dominican sisters, bylaws for the Institute, another edition of the Institute e-Scribe, and other odds and ends.