I still remember the first time that Fr. Rolando Dela Rosa, OP, attended the Conventual Chapter of Santo Domingo Convent last year. When the name ‘Joyful Friars’ was mentioned in relation to the Benedicere Christmas Jubilee Concert at CCP, he immediately asked; Who are the Joyful Friars? And put on the spot, I immediately answered that the Joyful Friars are the Dominican Student-Brothers who use their talents for preaching and vocation promotion.

Our membership is open to all student-brothers and is on a voluntary basis. We are groups of singers, preachers, musicians, emcees, dancers, artists and technical persons who preach together as one team. More than a regular band, we are a ‘Band of Brothers’ preaching together for the salvation of souls. And by harnessing our God-given talents and the power of modern technology, we work together to preach Jesus Christ to the world and to promote Dominican vocations.

Our group primarily sing praise and worship songs in youth gatherings while at the same time preach and promote vocations to them. And for the past years, we have been part of the Adonai for three consecutive years (2014, 2015 & 2016) gatherings of Domnet, AdoNi 2015 of Dominican School San Juan, Benedicere Concert 2016 at CCP and the recently concluded Neo-centennial Youth Retreat of the Order last January 2017 at the UST Quadri-Centennial Pavilion (Q-Pav).

The recently held Neo-centennial Retreat has been very significant for the Joyful Friars for the reason that the people who were instrumental in the group’s establishment were all present in the event. Without whom, the Joyful Friars would not have been possible. First to mention is Inggo 1587, who performed on the second day of the retreat. They are the seed of inspiration for the student-brothers and the source of the band instruments and amplifiers that are cradled in the Studentate.

Second are the student-brothers who performed also on the second day of the retreat. They are the ones who developed their talents in Studentate programs, sprees, parties, carolling for vocation promotion and praise and worship animations of MUKHA AD Level 1 Sessions. It is their passion for preaching that fuels the group to reach out to the young people. Next would be Fr. Jeff Aytona, OP, who is the organizer of the retreat. For his constant invitation for us to join the DomNet activities, especially the very first Adonai at Angelicum College Gym, Quezon City in 2014, the Joyful Friars, as we know it today has been formed.

What sets us apart from the other groups is our Dominican character. We praise, we preach and we bless. We praise by singing praise and worship songs with animations. We preach through our preachers and emcees. And we bless by praying over the people while singing to them the Dominican blessing. This is our usual format and if the situation permits, we showcase the dancing talents of the brothers as a way of promoting Dominican vocations. We are an evolving group because we are constantly innovating our ways so as to become more and more effective in this kind of ministry.

Another area we would like to explore on is the Social media tool. We know that the youth are very much into music that’s why we are considering harnessing the power of Facebook and YouTube for our preaching and vocations promotions. We are still on the preparation phase. We are still gearing up our capabilities to produce qualitymusic for our audio and video recordings. And just like Inggo 1587, we also plan to make original compositions because, presently, there is a meager resource for Catholic praise and worship songs.

This is an exciting ministry for us, brothers. We are not only able to share our talents to others, but more importantly, we can also preach and promote vocations. That is why we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who are helping out and praying for us: dear fathers and brothers, the Dominican family, our friends and benefactors. Thank you all for your active support.

Indeed, joy is our preaching and preaching is our joy. By following the footsteps of our Father Dominic, the original Joyful Friar, this is our way of responding to the Church’s call to new evangelization. Just as Pope Francis has said in his Apostolic Exhortation, we are all called to bring the Joy of the Gospel to the world. And in our own simple way, this is our contribution to this mission of love.

As we begin the new centenary of the Order, we shall continue to find new ways to preach and promote vocations to young people far and wide. With the talents of the brothers and their passion for preaching, the Joyful Friars will continue to bring the Good News to others. “We are the Joyful Friars. We praise, we preach, we bless. We are the Joyful Friars. We are preachers of the Lord.”

by Br. Reginald R. Zamora, OP

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