Monday, September 10, 2007



Ms. Joyce Calagos

Peace and Justice Promoter

Lay Provincial Council

Western Dominican Province


Dear Joyce:


            This purpose of this letter is to clarify some of the issues raised in your letter as a response to the Boise Chapter’s letter on Social Justice.  First, you are in my prayers that you find yourself in good health soon!


            With regard to your letter, I believe you missed the point.  The original letter from the Boise Chapter was a call to discuss this matter as a Province.  There are patently obvious problems with the social justice efforts that have failed to be seriously guided by Gospel principles or in consultation with members at the chapter level.   The criteria mentioned in your letter used to pick social justice issues are not based upon any standards or virtues essential to the Gospel, and the criteria also ignore many issues pertinent to the local chapter membership and embrace many subjects on which the membership either has a differing reasonable opinion or for which the membership feels no identity.  Further, many of the issues are political--not religious.   If the Social Justice effort is to reflect Gospel values and be relevant among the membership of the Dominican Lay people—as well as the institutions the Order is attempting to influence—these legitimate and timely concerns must be faced and not rejected in total.  Our Chapter has been, and continues to be, in prayer about this fundamental problem. 


            Please review the letter again.


            I authored the letter.  The Blessed Margaret of Castello, OP Chapter in the Boise area unanimously approved the letter.  It was written carefully in the effort to be equally charitable yet truthful about the problem with the social justice movement within the Order that represents the lay people.  It was not intended to insult or provoke. 


With regard to your note, you have confused the term liberal in its more traditional meaning with the contemporary political and social meaning of liberal that is often used on a more permissive and unprincipled basis.   Certainly, Our Lord liberated all of us from sin, but he is no more a liberal in the political sense than he was a conservative. 


Of course, you should be proud of your education.  I am too.  A lot of hard work goes into the effort.  However, the matter at issue is not the education level of anyone, but the fact that many ordinary Dominicans feet that the Justice and Peace groups of the Order are irrelevant and/or out of step with the membership as noted above.  These groups cannot deny this reality.  To continue to ignore the lay membership only adds to their insignificance and irrelevance.  For the Social Justice effort to be effective, these folks must become relevant, and therefore must come to terms with the actual and vital issues, and the members of the lay people in the Order of Preachers—a democratic tradition laid down hundred of years ago. 


            Finally, if you read the letter carefully, you will note I used abortion only as an example.  It is certainly not the only issue out there, yet it should not be ignored as it is largely being done presently


            Members of the Lay Provincial Council are encouraged to conscientiously consider these concerns as set down in the letter from the Boise Chapter, and to establish criteria based upon Gospel standards and Provincial concerns.  The Boise letter is not the final say in the matter.  It only begs that the men and women of the lay Order of Preachers of good will ponder these valid concerns.


            Thank you kindly.


            In our father, St. Dominic,




            John C. Keenan, J.D., O.P.L.

            Formation Director

            Blessed Margaret of Castello, OP Chapter





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