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About Pius V

Pope St. Pius V is our patron Saint and hero. A humble shepherd boy raised by the grace of God to papal dignity, he was a man of great intelligence, indomitable will, and adamant virtue. He was a ruler, reformer, and leader like no other. He gave the Church the Roman liturgy, the breviary, the second-most recent catechism, and the tradition of the Pope wearing white (he kept his habit!). Of course, he is most famous for the battle of Lepanto. He sent a mere 20,000 Christians against the vast (and undefeated) Turkish fleet, and every man in the Pope’s fleet had received the Sacraments, and all were saying the Rosary. Their miraculous triumph carved an enduring place in history and established a new invocation in Our Lady’s litany: Mary, Help of Christians.

Our Beginnings

So, what does this say about our chapter, formed under the protection of this mighty Saint? Are our names synonymous with great intelligence, indomitable will, and adamant virtue? Well, maybe not exactly synonymous! We’re more like the handful of Christian sailors St. Pius sent against the invincible Turks. We’ve got the Sacraments, the Rosary, the Order, and our mighty patron sending us out against the Culture of Death. But we didn’t always have such a strong sense of mission.

Our group was founded in 1993, just as the Catechism of the Catholic Church was first released. Excitement was high for the Catechism, so when members of St. Martin de Porres chapter in downtown Baltimore decided to form a satellite group in the suburb of Catonsville, what would be more natural than to name ourselves after the Dominican responsible for the first catechism?

Energy and enthusiasm flourished, as the group, meeting at a high school outside Baltimore (run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia Congregation of Nashville), grew in leaps in bounds. Starting with only four members, the pro-chapter expanded to include over a dozen postulants and novices within less than a year; in fact, with visitors and guests, some early meetings saw more than 30 people attending! And the news that one of these young members was leaving to go to the First Order only added to our exuberance.

Perhaps we grew too fast. Maybe the aspirants didn’t get a proper explanation of what the Dominican Order was. Or possibly their formation just didn’t shape the pillar of community well enough. Whatever the case, Dominican meetings soon became an opportunity for arguments about roles, authority, identity, and even the purpose of belonging to the Third Order and the pro-chapter. The membership of our pro-chapter imploded at a frightening rate, and by the summer of 1996, only three members were still attending, none of whom had made perpetual profession, and at least one not at all sure that he should.

Bob Dufour

And at this point, we must introduce Bob Dufour. Bob, one of the stalwart three who remained as these trials continued (and the only one whose history traced back to the St. Martin de Porres chapter), happened to wear a black-and-white cross pin to a seminar on leading RCIA. When two acquaintances asked what the cross meant, he described the Dominicans with such love and devotion that he added two more members to the chapter.

Bob was, although not yet perpetually professed, the leader of the pro-chapter at this point, and he also took on the role of postulant and novice master. He taught the postulants and novices not only how to say and pray the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours), but how to love it. Even at general meetings, questions would come up about the Psalter, the Commons, the Ordinary, or the Propers, and it was always Bob who patiently led us through the proper pages. He always led the songs, too, for he was gifted with a beautiful and powerful singing voice that had a uniquely pleasing timbre. During the time of the new members’ formation, he finally made his perpetual profession, as did two other men.

The five of us struggled to find a group apostolate. For a number of years, we seemed too small to even have one. So we met and prayed and studied, and lived out our Dominican charisms in individual apostolates. Some worked against euthanasia, others defended life in the womb; some of us proclaimed the Word as lectors, others proclaimed the truth as RCIA teachers; some wrote and others gave talks; but we hungered for a community apostolate. None was forthcoming. The closest we could get was a unified effort at recruitment; even so, over the next five years, we only attracted one new vocation.

Eventually, the two members Bob had attracted made their perpetual professions. Then, at the next meeting, Bob suddenly announced that since we now had four members eligible to hold elected office (besides himself), he was stepping down as prior. An election was held two months later, and all at once, Paul Boben was our prior, and Bob was just a professed member with no extra responsibilities. (Although he soon took on extra responsibilities at the Regional and Provincial levels, once they realized he was available!)

Bob had held the position of prior for seven years. In that time, he had spent enormous energy in recruitment: he had helped develop pamphlets to leave at parishes, he had visited RCIA meetings at other parishes to teach about Third Orders, he had introduced a website, and he had personally encouraged fellow loyal Catholics to consider Dominican life. He oversaw the doubling of the membership of the chapter, from three members up to six. But his biggest effort was yet to come, as we would soon see.

Finding Our Apostolate

Paul’'s tenure began in a spirit-filled way that bore much fruit. In his first several months, he met with all of the members of the chapter individually, getting their sense of where the pro-chapter had been, where it was headed, and their "vision" for its future. Following these individual meetings, we scheduled a "Day of Recollection." Instead of a mini-retreat led by a priest, this was a day started with a Mass, followed by hours of discussion and hard work on the topics that had been discussed individually. During the meeting, the apostolate came. It took two interrelated forms: the first is fasting and prayer one day each week, the second is a monthly letter writing campaign in which we support the truth of the Church'’s teaching. We write to a public figure or media outlet either commending them on a particular vote or statement, advising them to act in fidelity to the Truth of the Gospel, or criticizing and correcting incorrect, harmful statements they have made. In this way, we more fully live out our motto, Veritas, Truth, for through our apostolate of letter-writing, we bring the truth to the marketplace of ideas. The letter-writing is our battle of Lepanto against the Culture of Death, and in this fight, the Rosary is the most effective weapon of all.

Other important reforms came from the meeting as well; specifically, we formalized our procedures for handling visitors, re-invigorated our recruitment efforts with new fliers, and trained members in the usage of an Internet message board set aside for the use of our pro-chapter. Additionally, we approved a virtually all-new formation program, one that focuses on spiritual classics, Church documents, and published writings by Dominican writers. (Soon after the Day of Recollection, St. Pius V Pro-Chapter was given approval to pilot this program for postulants, novices, and our professed members.)

Unfortunately, Bob was unable to attend this meeting. One month before the Day of Recollection, Bob was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and he started chemotherapy and radiation treatments within a week of his diagnosis. This was his big effort, his sacrifice: he offered up his suffering for many intentions, but one key intention was the growth of the pro-chapter.

Sadly, Bob passed away in the summer of 2003, on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. He was buried in white. (He kept his habit.) He has now joined Mary, Help of Christians, as our intercessor. He is a reminder that the primary mission of our Third Order is the salvation of our own souls. Bob was a virtual storehouse of information in life, equally at ease discussing Scripture, the life of St. Dominic, or fine points of dogma. Now, he lives on literally in heaven, but he lives on with us figuratively as well: he was the novice master for three of our members; he contributed heavily to the pro-chapter’s new formation program; and his beautiful singing voice echoes still in the minds of his brothers and sisters in St. Dominic.

Our Chapter Today

As for the rest of us, we have continued our annual Day of Recollection, expanded our web site, administrated several sets of elections, and acquired a permanent religious promoter.

We currently support two main apostolates (the Pope St. Pius V lecture series, and the Tuesday fast), not counting this website. We are also promoting the Confraternity of Angelic Warfare and teaching people how to pray Liturgy of the Hours. Now, we have sixteen promised members, two novices, two postulants, and increasing numbers of visitors to our chapter.

On December 1, 2012, through the intercession of St. Dominic and Bob Dufour, we were notified we would be elevated from pro-chapter to full chapter, pending some approvals. With continued prayers, and after overcoming a few hurdles, we became a full chapter in March of 2016. We continue to pray and grow spiritually as well as have an active role in our community.

Pius V is our patron, our inspiration, and one of our primary intercessors, along with Mary, St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Siena, and God's faithful servant Bob. May we all join them one day. Amen.

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