Following establishment of the Vice Province of Bolivia in 2013, where we had served for decades, friars of the Province of St. Albert the Great have expressed strong interest in serving another mission territory. I am pleased to announce that our Province has recently made a significant commitment to minister among the people of Puerto Rico by assuming responsibility for the Vicariate of the Holy Cross of Puerto Rico. Allow me to share with you how we have come to this historic decision.
The Dominican missions in Puerto Rico have been under the auspices of, first, the Dutch Dominicans and then for the past several years, the Province of Colombia. These early Friars founded churches, chapels and schools on the island of Puerto Rico, which strained the resources of these provinces for a number of reasons beyond their control. Over the past twenty years, the four American Dominican Provinces frequently considered affiliation with this American territory.
After my re-election as Provincial in 2019 and with the support of our Provincial Chapter and Council, the Syndic of the Province and I made an exploratory visit to Puerto Rico in November to meet Dominican friars on the ground and to visit ministries across the island. We gained significant knowledge of the works and needs of the men serving in Puerto Rico. Here are just a few examples:
- Need for a Promoter of Vocations to recruit and increase the number of native-born friars to serve the people of Puerto Rico.
- Hope for friars to work at the University of Bayamón, founded by Dominicans in 1961, where we are needed as chaplains, in campus ministry, and as professors of Philosophy and Theology.
- Significant need for pastoral ministers in two sizable Dominican parishes (both with grade schools and high schools), and at the Dominican retreat center.
- Critical need for infrastructure repair and development, including housing and churches under the care of friars, damaged or destroyed by hurricanes and earthquakes.
I returned to Puerto Rico in late January to meet once again with the Dominicans serving there, along with the Master of the Order joining us from Rome. Following that meeting and moved by such great need and an awareness of the significant challenges ahead, the Province of St. Albert the Great agreed to begin serving the people of Puerto Rico in the months and years ahead. We are most grateful for the work of the men who have gone before us and remain there even to this day. Friars from the province have enthusiastically accepted this new challenge. Several are prepared to leave the U.S. mainland and begin their work in Puerto Rico.
We will not do this alone. We will depend on our many friends and benefactors, as we always do, to keep us in prayer and to help us address the needs of our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. Counting heavily on your prayers and support, we invite you to join us in this transformational mission ministry.
*top photo: José Santiago, OP at the Church of the Holy Rosary in Yauco (South part of the Island)