A Dominican’s day—timeless and timely

By Carol Schuck Scheiber; photos by Father Lawrence Lew, O.P.

What is daily life like inside the church, office, and home of a religious order priest?

The community sings as they process out of church

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Image: The community sings as they process out of church at the end of Mass. The non-ordained brothers wear the habit from which they get their popular name in England, Blackfriars.

What does a priest in a religious order do all day? The answer varies widely, of course, depending on the person and his community. But no matter how it is answered, the real truth may be just below the surface—that is, in the deeper meaning and context of what a priest does. What is the spirit behind his prayers, the sacraments he celebrates, his teaching, his preaching? And what is his community like? How do members of the religious community guide, support, and join him in all that he does?

As a Dominican, Father Robert Gay, O.P. belongs to a religious order that dates to the early 1200s when Saint Dominic began preaching and teaching the Christian faith. The Dominican order has since spread throughout the world and includes both men’s and women’s communities, as well as lay associations. The many Dominican religious institutes run high schools, colleges, and universities, and are immersed in diverse ministries beyond education.

As a member of Oxford, England’s Blackfriars Priory—a community involved in higher education—Father Gay’s daily responsibilities range from involvement in the lives of students, to teaching, to serving as bursar for Blackfriars Hall at Oxford University, his main job. His day is punctuated by the rhythm of morning, midday, and evening prayer and daily Mass. Through it all, he strives to live up to the community commitment: “preaching the love and mercy of God” in word and action.

Gay reviews cash accounts with the hall secretary
Father Robert Gay, O.P. reviews cash accounts with the hall secretary. 
Gay (at left) and his confreres in the choir area.
Gay (at left) and his confreres in the choir area.
Gay walks to his office at Blackfriars Hall.
Gay walks to his office at Blackfriars Hall. The Dominicans run a permanent private hall (or college) at Oxford University, and the Dominican priests in Oxford all have jobs in the hall as lecturers or administrators.
Washing dishes after dinner is a communal activity—all part of the life of this community of Dominicans.
Washing dishes after dinner is a communal activity—all part of the life of this community of Dominicans.
The community begins conventual Mass in the evening
The community begins conventual Mass in the evening at Blackfriars, as it fits in with the university schedule, and it allows friars and lay students to attend.
Gay gives a lecture at Blackfriars Hall
Gay gives a lecture at Blackfriars Hall; he specializes in bioethics and moral theology.
Gay walks up stairs in monastery
Gay retires to his cell at the end of the day.


Related article: vocationnetwork.org, I am a brother to 2,000 college students, Vision 2004.

Father Lawrence Lew, O.P.
Father Lawrence Lew, O.P. is a Dominican in the Priory of St. Albert the Great, where he serves as Catholic chaplain for the Universities of Edinburgh, Napier, and Queen Margaret in Edinburgh, Scotland. 
2016 © TrueQuest Communications

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