The Mission Mandates in Puerto Rico
The Socius of the Master of the Order for Apostolic Life fr. Prakash Lohale, OP, visited the General Vicariate of the Holy Cross in Puerto Rico in the month of October 2013. Brother Prakash was able to come across most of the ministries in which the Dominicans in Puerto Rico realize their mission, despite their small numbers—there are only 14 friars solemnly vowed. Thus, the Socius for Apostolic Life had the opportunity to visit the Bayamón Central University and its Graduate School of Theology (CEDOC), the Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas (Elementary and High) and Santa Rosa High, the House of Preaching San Vicente Ferrer adjacent to Our Lady of the Rosary Convent, and the parishes of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (Cataño), Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Catherine of Siena, Santo Domingo de Guzman, Invention of the Holy Cross (all in Bayamón) and the Shrine to St. Martin de Porres (Cataño).
On Thursday, October 10th, fr. Prakash met in CEDOC with a good group of representatives from the various fraternities and associations of the Dominican Laity in Puerto Rico. During the gathering, he shared with attendees a reflection on the "Mission Mandates" of the Order, as they were addressed in the last General Chapter of Trogir, especially the "Salamanca Process". After the presentation, the lay Dominicans in Puerto Rico had the opportunity to share their experiences with fr. Prakash, including the diversity of charisms of each specific fraternity.
A similar dialogue was held by the Socius for Apostolic Life with in a fraternal meeting with the friars on Friday, October 11. During that morning, fr. Prakash spoke to the friars about some ways to contribute to the dialogue on the "Mission Mandates" of the Order. A special time was devoted to discuss how to implement the "Process Salamanca" establishing a deeper dialogue between the academic work of the university mission of the friars in Puerto Rico and the pastoral fronts in Bayamón, Cataño (north Island) and Yauco (South Island).
The Dominican friars in Puerto Rico founded Bayamon Central University (UCB) in 1961 as a branch of the current Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. Since 1970, UCB has autonomy with license by the Department of Education of Puerto Rico, as well as regional accreditation by an U.S. agency. In 1991, with the implementation in Puerto Rico of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, it was recognized as a Catholic university by the Puerto Rican Conference of Bishops, along with the other two Catholic universities in the country. The University has five academic colleges and a school of theology, 65 different professional programs among certifications, associate, bachelors and master degrees. The Graduate School of Theology (CEDOC) is affiliated to the Faculty of Theology at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome and professionally accredited by the Association of Theological Schools of U.S. and Canada, and offers theological and ministerial training to three dioceses and several Religious congregations in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and U.S. Hispanic seminarians.