DOMINICAN PROVINCE OF ST DOMINIC

Masthead Image
Dominicans of Canada

cornerThe General Chapter in the Order of Preachers

 

fr. A. D'Amato, O.P.

The General Chapter, which is the highest authority in the Dominican Order, is an assembly of friars representing the Provinces of the Order, coming together to discuss and define matters pertaining to the good of the entire Order. When necessary it elects the Master of the Order. From the very beginnings of the Dominican Order, one can distinguish two types of General Chapter: Chapters of Provincials and Chapters of Diffinitors. To these is added the General Chapter, comprised both of Provincials and Diffinitors.

General Chapter Providence

The General Chapter is above all a legislative assembly. A proposal becomes law for the whole Order only after having had the favourable vote of the three successive Chapters. These three Chapters thus constitute, in a certain sense, a unity, since it is in this triad of Chapters that, according to the spirit of the Order, the entire legislative power resides. The mechanism of the three successive Chapters is provided for in Dominican legislation with an aim of: a) stopping a new law from taking effect by way of improvisation or as the expression of a tendency of only one assembly; b) providing time for reflection on the opportuneness of the new law; c) avoiding facile and frequent changes which might create "confusion and bring ridicule upon legislation" (Humbert of Romans).

The Chapters of Provincials and those of Diffinitors have equal power and equal rights. Each Chapter, independently, has faculties of proposing a law and for approving or not approving a law proposed by the preceding Chapter. The two types of assembly differ only in composition: one is formed of men of government (the Provincials) and the other of representatives from the grass roots (Diffinitors). The Dominican Order is the only one of all religious Orders that enjoys such a "bicameral" rule and the only one that has given full legislative power to an assembly formed entirely of representatives from the grass roots.

The institution of Chapters formed only of Diffinitors was suggested in order to avoid a situation where men busy with the government of Provinces (the Provincials) would have to undertake long journeys too often and consequently, be too long absent from their proper headquarters. The origins of this institution sprang from the communitarian and democratic spirit of the Order. The Chapter of Diffinitors allows the representatives from the grass roots to participate, in full freedom and autonomy, in the formation of laws of the Order and to bring to it that way of seeing things proper to those not in government. Superior see a norm in quite their own proper way, and people at grass roots level see things in quite their own proper way.

The democratic spirit present in all Dominican legislation regarding the General Chapters is also evident in the fact that in the Elective Chapter, for example, for each Provincial elector, there are two or three electors representing the grass roots of each Province. A democratic spirit so clear and advanced as that of the Dominican Order is unique in the history of religious legislation. Humbert of Romans, the fourth successor of St. Dominic in the government of the Order, attributed this to the fact that the Order is formed of educated people.

In addition to its primary legislative function, the General Chapter has also had, from the very beginning, a disciplinary function: it judges, punishes, deposes from office, etc. The Chapters, naturally, also treat of contemporary problem, but always with reference to the life and mission of the Order. They also are competent to give directives and orientations to the entire Order about the best way of living the charism proper to the Order and to reach the men and women of their own day in the most fruitful way. The General Chapter, which brings together the representatives responsible for the entire Order, is the best way to reflect in a community way in the apostolic ministry of the friar preacher in the social reality in which he lives.

Present day problems are discussed in the General Chapter, always in reference to its specific job: legislation. The General Chapter, for example, give orientations and suggestions and above all harmonises the norms of the entire Order so that all its members can live a religious life ever more faithful to the spirit of their Founder and can present to men and women of every era the message of the Gospel in a more appropriate and effective way.

(Text: Fr. A. D'Amato OP. This text was published on a special number of IDI, April-May 1983, and of May 1992, on the occasion of the Elective General Chapter of Rome and of Mexico)

 

|
EnglishFrench
site search by freefind

Today's Good News

A commentary for each day of the month from the Dominicans of Ireland.

The Word

A daily dose of Dominican preaching from the General Curia in audio format.

audio

Dominican Institute of Toronto

372, Huron Street

Toronto (Ontario) Canada M5S 2G4

telephone : (416) 595-5665

fax : (416) 596-1017

Click here to access our website

Dominican University College of Ottawa

University degrees in Philosophy and Theology

For more information :

Visit our Website

96 Empress Ave., Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 7G3

Tel.: (613) 233-5696 #330 Fax : (613) 233-6064

info@udominicaine.ca

Institut de pastorale des Dominicains is specialized in the formation of pastoral workers, laity and priests, and offers university degrees in pastoral ministry and liturgy.

Adresse:

2715, chemin de la Côte Sainte-Catherine, Montréal (Québec), Canada, H3T 1B6

Email:

secretariat@ipastorale.ca

tel.: (514) 739-3223 #323 fax: (514) 739-1664

Visit our Website

For over 60 years, the Canadian Dominican Friars have spread the devotion to the Apostle Saint Jude. for more information, please:

Visit our Website

Sunday Mass

Anticipation Saturday: 5:00pm

8:00am 9:30am 11:15am 1:00pm 7:00 pm

5:00pm Youth Mass

St. Mary's Parish
5251 Joyce St.

Vancouver, B.C.
Canada  V5R 4G8
 
Contact Information: 

Phone: 604-435-9611
Fax: 604-439-9413
Parish Office email: stmarys@telus.net

Parish Website

 

Provincial Office

2715 ch. de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine,
Montréal (QC)
Canada H3T 1B6

For any comments about the website Write to:

Provincial Webmaster

Contacts in Ontario and British Colombia

Toronto

Priory of St Thomas,
372 Huron Street,
Toronto (Ontario)
Canada M5S 2G4

telephone: (416) 595-5665 fax: (416) 596-1017

Ottawa

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Convent,
96 Empress Avenue, Ottawa, ON,
Canada K1R 7G3

telephone:(613) 232-7363 fax: (613) 236-3869

Vancouver

Community of Saint Mary 3396 Auftrey Av.
Vancouver (BC)
Canada V5R 4V9

telephone: (604) 437-1852
fax: (604) 437-1852

St. Mary's Parish:
téléphone: (604) 435-9611

Our mission

Our Constitutions define our mission in the following way: "The principal reason we are gathered together is that we dwell together in harmony and have one mind and one heart in God, in other words, that we be found perfect in charity. . . Our Order is known to have been founded from the beginning expressly for preaching and the salvation of souls. ...This end we ought to pursue, preaching and teaching from the abundance and fulness of contemplation in imitation of our most holy Father Dominic, who spoke only with God or of God for the benefit of souls."

 

logo