The Oakland-based Western Dominican Province announced Dec. 4 it had made the “painful decision” to withdraw from Most Holy Rosary Church, which serves a thriving parish, including an elementary school of 3,000 families.

Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, has pledged his support “to make this as smooth a transition as possible.”

The Dominican province said in the letter it began discerning in 2014 the need to the build up its communities. It needed to balance being faithful to their common life and ensuring their ministries were well-staffed.

“We also saw the reality that we are an aging province and simply do not have enough friars to properly staff our ministries,” the letter said,

The letter-writers are encouraged by 24 students and novices in formation, but noted that it takes six to eight years to prepare a student for ordination and pastoral ministry.

During his time as provincial, Very Rev. Mark Padrez, OP, said, there have been 21 funerals and “not even close to that many ordinations.”

Most Holy Rosary is the only parish from which the Dominicans are withdrawing this year. It is their last parish in the Diocese of Oakland. Last year, the Dominicans withdrew from St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Berkeley, which they had served since 1923, and from ministries at the University of California’s San Diego and Riverside campuses.

“We’ve been there for 143 years,” said Father Padrez. “This was not an easy decision.”

But it was a decision rooted in the Dominican charism, Father Padrez said.

“We need to be careful and remember who we are,” he said. “We are called to community life, study and prayer.”

That community life is thriving in some of the places the Western Dominicans serve: There are 11 members of the Dominican community, not including novices, at St. Dominic Parish in San Francisco; seven in Seattle and Los Angeles; and six at St. Dominic Parish in Benicia.

Full story at The Catholic Voice.