Dominicans host first-annual Cloisters Gala in support of preaching

By Christina Gray

The Dominican Friars hosted a fundraising garden party on April 22 to advance the order’s mission in an apostolic age.

Established in 1216, the Dominicans are a preaching order dedicated to contemplation and study, serving in a variety of apostolates that address spiritual and intellectual poverty.

Friends and supporters of the order were joined by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and Bishop Michael Barber, SJ of Oakland.

The first annual gala was held on the grounds of St. Albert’s Priory, the house of studies for the Western Dominican Province in Oakland. The event specifically honored two devoted Dominican allies; Dame of Malta Dorothy Portner with the Archbishop Alemany Award, and theologian and author Dr. Scott Hahn with the O Lumen Award.

“Celebrating those who help us in our apostolic mission is truly rewarding,” said the Very Rev. Christopher Fadok, O.P., Prior Provincial of the Western Dominican Province. “Their example inspires the friars and is a light to others working to build the Kingdom of God.”

The Alemany Award is named after the first Archbishop of San Francisco, Father Joseph Alemany, O.P. The award is given to those who have shown exemplary Christian service in helping advance the Dominican mission in the West.

Portner’s friendship with the Dominicans began in 1975, according to Father Michael Sweeney, O.P., a past president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (DSPT).

Portner has been “particularly invested in the education of our young friars,” said Father Sweeney, who presented the award. She provided the chapel for the school, he said, “that we might always keep in mind the love of Christ we, as Dominicans, are to proclaim to the world.”

The O Lumen Award is named after the antiphon the Dominicans sing each night in honor of St. Dominic – O lumen ecclesiae (O Light of the Church). The award is given to those who, like St. Dominic, have advanced the evangelization mission of Christ’s Body and have been a true light of the Church.

Honoring Dr. Hahn with the 2023 O Lumen Award was a special privilege for the friars, as many of those present were formed by his writings and lectures. Dr. Hahn is a Protestant convert and the author of more than 40 books, including “Rome Sweet Home.”

“Dr. Hahn’s books have become a staple of the American Catholic home,” said Dominican Father James Moore, vicar provincial for advancement. “I myself, and many of my brothers, have had our priesthood enriched and our preaching strengthened because of his immense contributions to the Catholic intellectual tradition.”

Hahn is the Father Michael Scanlan Professor of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also the founder and president of the St. Paul Center, an apostolate dedicated to teaching Catholics to read Scripture from the heart of the Church.

In his acceptance speech, Dr. Hahn gave thanks to God and to his wife of 43 years, Kimberly, for the invaluable life of faith they have shared together. Calling himself a “closet Dominican,” he thanked the friars for their defense of truth and their proclamation of Jesus Christ who is the Truth.

(Edited from a press release provided by the Western Dominican Province.)

Christina Gray is the lead writer for Catholic San Francisco.

Pictured above at the Dominican Friars’ Cloisters Gala at St. Albert’s Priory in Oakland are from left to right, the Very Rev. Christopher Fadok, O.P., Prior Provincial of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus; San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone; and theologian and author Dr. Scott Hahn. (Photo courtesy of the Western Dominican Province)