The Province of St. Joseph is one of the four provinces of the Dominican Order in the United States, and its territory stretches from New England to Virginia, and westward to Ohio. In August, the province welcomed 14 new novices into the community.
Ahern told CNA that she and other parishioners do not view the situation as a “zero sum game” that necessitates the departure of the Dominicans.
“It should be that the archdiocese can work together with the province so that the spiritual fruits of St. Mary’s can continue to thrive under the direction of the Dominicans,” she added.
The presence of the Dominican friars, said Ahern, “has greatly blessed our family and the families of the parish.” She said that her parish has “been gifted friars of the highest virtue and charity,” who have “brought a level of reverence to the liturgy that many of us never experienced before.”
“It's hard to articulate just the depth of their influence on our lives,” said Ahern. “We are especially grateful for the good example they have given us during this difficult time of humility, prayer, and reverence for the hierarchy of the Church.”
The Dominicans may, in the future, have some sort of presence within the Archdiocese of Hartford, but what that is remains to be seen. According to Walker, the archdiocese “asked the Dominican Province to consider three new ministries in the Archdiocese as an alternative to St. Mary’s.”
“As each of these would entail a radically new configuration of the Dominican life and mission in the Archdiocese, the Dominican Province has decided to evaluate these new offers at our next provincial chapter, which will take place in June of 2022,” he said.
But for now, while they wait to see what happens next, Ahern and other parishioners of St. Mary’s are relying on the wisdom of another Dominican: St. Catherine of Siena.
“She has been an example to us during this time of confusion and dismay,” said Ahern. “We hope that both the provincial and the archbishop feel the power of our prayers for them both. We look forward to seeing what fruit God will bring out of what feels like a tragedy at this point.”
The Archdiocese of Hartford did not respond to CNA’s request for comment in time for publication.
Christine Rousselle is a former DC Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. Prior to working at CNA, she was the managing web editor of Townhall.com; she has a BA in political science from Providence College.