We, Oakford Dominican Sisters, are an international Congregation founded in 1889 in South Africa. We belong to the large Dominican Family of Friars (Priests, Brothers), Sisters, Nuns, Women and Men of Lay Communities and the International Dominican Youth. Worldwide and in many ways, we continue to live and to hand on the Dominican way of life "Contemplari et contemplata aliis tradere", that is, "Passing on to others the fruits of our contemplation".
Our official name is: “Dominican Congregation of St Catherine of Siena of Oakford, Natal”. Rooted in the mission of Jesus, we are formed in the spirit of St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena. Our spirituality is profoundly biblical and ecclesiastical. We recognize our special mission in our approach to life:
- On the way with those who are seeking, standing up for those who are suffering, praising God with those who believe.
- Open to the world, committed to justice and peace, living unity in diversity.
- Becoming fully human, a woman, who gives herself completely to God in the freedom of the vows.
Our daily lives are based on the four pillars of Dominican life:
- Prayer: Common and private prayer (e.g. the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Hours, private contemplation)
- Study: Study of the Bible and those sciences that are of service to us in our ministry
- Community Life
- Ministry: Preaching the Word and in service to the people
Domingo de Guzmán (Dominic) was born in 1170 in Caleruega, Spain. He studied theology and philosophy in Valencia. When Spain was desolated by famine, Dominic sold his precious manuscripts to feed the hungry. In 1195, he became a member of the Canons Regular in Osma. In 1203, he travelled with his Bishop Diégo de Acebo to secure a bride in Denmark for the Prince. On the journey, he discovered that numerous people were adopting Albigensianism, a belief that all material things were evil. Inspired by his animated debates to lead those who had gone astray back to the faith, he started to gather others to help him hold disputations from town to town, eventually forming what would later be called the “Order of Preachers”. St Dominic was best known as a joy-filled, compassionate and humble man committed to contemplation, austere living and continual study.
The Dominican Order, officially known as the “Order of Preachers”, was founded by St. Dominic in 1216. The Dominican Order is a worldwide confraternity within the Catholic Church. It is also known as an itinerant and mendicant Order. St. Dominic believed it was essential that his followers live a simple life, rooted in prayer and free to move where the needs were greatest. Living the Dominican charism means seeking the truth of the gospel and proclaiming it in love - preaching.
To preach, in the Dominican understanding entails the study, contemplation and preaching the Word through proclaiming it, above all, through the testimony of life. Every single member and the community as such are committed to this preaching.
St. Catherine of Siena
was born on 25 March 1347 in Siena, Italy. At the age of 16 she became a Dominican Tertiary. She lived a mystical life and was also very active in caring for the poor, the sick, the dying and the prisoners. The hardships of her fellow human beings touched her heart. Her activities quickly attracted followers who helped her in her mission to serve the poor and sick. She mediated in the dispute between warring political parties and called in moving words for peace and reconciliation in order to promote peace among the states (cities and princes of Italy). She became a counsellor to many people.
The church of her time suffered from many abuses. She reminded priests of their duties and was constantly calling for the reform of the Church and all Christians of all classes to repent. She undertook many journeys to initiate the internal reform of the Church and to persuade the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon, where he lived in exile. She suffered for the church, without becoming the Church’s opponent or a revolutionary. All her actions arose out of her closeness to God, especially her love of Christ, as well as out of her fidelity to the Church and her love for her fellow human beings.
Catherine died on 29 April in Rome. She was buried in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, where she is still revered today, and was canonized in 1461. She was proclaimed doctor of the church by Pope Paul VI in 1970. In 1999, she was named co-patron of Europe by Pope John Paul II.