The Friars Behind the Radio Station in New Bedford
Written by Linda Andrade Rodrigues on September 1, 2009
NEW BEDFORD — Wearing a simple gray robe and sandals, Father Dominic enters the newsroom of the city newspaper. He walks slowly with head bent, and surrounded by cubicles, computers and harsh fluorescent lighting, he is an anachronism, otherworldly — 13th century meets 21st.
He is the bearer of glad tidings, yet he speaks so quietly the listener strains to hear. The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate will celebrate the sixth anniversary of Perpetual Adoration at Our Lady’s Chapel with a seven-hour Eucharistic Adoration Prayer Vigil beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday. The prayers will be offered for priests and religious. Everyone is welcome, he whispered.
Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration is the adoration of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Worshippers believe that Christ is present in the consecrated host exposed in the monstrance.
Father Dominic serves as an adorer during the 3 to 4 a.m. hour.
“It is quiet time just to talk in a personal way to Jesus, a time of intimate conversation while growing in love for Jesus and Mary,” he said. “We receive grace and gain strength, and our prayers benefit the whole community of New Bedford.”
At 43, Father Dominic has spent his life in search of the richness of religious life. He entered the community at 32 and was ordained at 38.
“It was a dream come true,” he said. “I found my place, a sense of peace.”
Born and raised with two sisters and two brothers in Brockton, Father Dominic said that he underwent a conversion experience at 14.
“I started to be good,” he said smiling. “I wanted to be perfectly good.”
When the family moved to Duxbury, a period of loneliness ensued. He said that he left behind a circle of friends and had a lot of time on his hands.
“I had nothing to do,” he said. “I felt very out of place.”
He began reading the Bible, especially the Gospels and words of Jesus, and prayed the rosary. He said that he was inspired by St. Dominic Savio, the boy saint revered for his holiness, who died at 14.
Accepted at Bentley College, Father Dominic majored in accounting.
“I come from a long line of accountants,” he said.
However, he soon found out that college dormitory life did not mesh with his religious beliefs.
“I put a statue of the Virgin Mary on my shelf, went to Mass twice a week, prayed the rosary and did a lot of spiritual reading,” he said. “I lived in a secular atmosphere, and I was a fish out of water.”
He said that he then realized he had a vocation.
“I wanted to do something with my faith,” he said.
He applied to the seminary of the Oblates of Virgin Mary in Boston, and was accepted, studying liberal arts for three years.
“I thought I would finish, but they said I was too introverted, too quiet, that I didn’t have a vocation,” he said. “I couldn’t really talk to people. I had a difficult time talking. I recognized that I needed to learn things.”
Father Dominic enrolled at Stonehill College as a communications major, studying for two years.
“It didn’t really help,” he said. “I always wanted to be social, but that was never God’s plan.”
He thought that perhaps his vocation was to be a diocesan priest. He applied to the Boston diocese.
“I didn’t get in,” he said. “They said I needed more experience. I went to the Fall River diocese. I applied to the diocese of Nebraska.”
They turned him down.
“To be a diocesan priest, you have to be with the people, preach the word,” he said.
Father Dominic went back into the secular world, working for nine years at Pioneer Mutual Funds in Boston.
“I did a lot of business writing,” he said.
And then he met Father Rosario, a priest who belonged to a religious order in Italy. He urged Father Dominic to visit Our Lady’s Chapel in New Bedford.
“So I came here, and I liked the life,” Father Dominic said. “It was strict, a lot of prayer, penance.”
He applied and was accepted in 1997 and was sent to Our Lady of Guadalupe Friary in Connecticut. After his second year, he began studying for priesthood. He finished his studies in Italy, making his vows and being ordained in March 2003.
Father Dominic left Italy and was assigned to America, but then was reassigned to Australia. He lived in community with two brothers, serving for 4 1/2 years.
“It was a good fit,” he said. “I was happy. The weather was beautiful. I celebrated Mass every day, gave homilies and did carpentry, renovating old school buildings.”
Reassigned to Our Lady’s Chapel, Father Dominic arrived here on June 24, 2008.
“I live a more meaningful life,” he said. “Our Lady is our life. We have a very close relationship that deepens every day. We serve others. It is a special life, not for everyone, that God calls certain people to. We live for heaven.”
Any individual or group who would like more information about the Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration program is encouraged to stop by the chapel and speak to one of the friars. Adorers commit for one hour a week.
Those who would like to explore a vocation in the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate community are invited to speak to Father Dominic by stopping by or calling Our Lady’s Chapel at (508) 996-8274.