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Rev. Bruno Cadoré, O.P. (middle) and Rev. Michael A. Mascari, O.P. (right)
thank Matthew Santos '14 after a tour of PC's campus.

‘Brother Bruno,’ head of Dominicans worldwide, visits Providence College

Rev. Bruno Cadoré, O.P. — the 86th successor to Saint Dominic, who founded the Dominican Order of Preachers in 1217 — spent three days visiting Providence College, the only college in the United States founded by Dominican priests.

“Brother Bruno,” as he prefers to be called, followed a full schedule of official duties that included meeting with each Dominican on campus. But he also involved himself with students, celebrating Mass for them in St. Dominic Chapel and meeting with a group of them in the Campus Ministry Center.

During a dinner at the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas on campus, Matthew C. Santos ’14 (Cumberland, R.I.), president of the Friars Club, a student service organization, sat next to Brother Bruno. When the meal was over, Brother Bruno surprised Santos by picking up Santos’ plate with his own and clearing it away.

“He seems very emblematic of a call to service,” said Santos, who led Brother Bruno and Rev. Michael A. Mascari, O.P., a former member of the PC Board of Trustees, on a tour of campus the next day. Santos said Brother Bruno especially enjoyed seeing the Angell Blackfriars Theatre in the Smith Center for the Arts and stopping to speak with people he met along the way.

“Brother Bruno was very kind and walked with an air of humility,” Santos said. Both Brother Bruno and Father Mascari “were interested in the ways in which PC students felt the impact of a uniquely Dominican education and how many students, in my estimation, chose PC because it is a Catholic institution,” he said.

Brother Bruno, a native of France, was a physician specializing in medical ethics before entering the Dominican novitiate in 1979. He earned a doctorate in moral theology in 1992. In 2010, he was elected to a nine-year term as master of the order. He oversees 6,000 Dominican priests and brothers worldwide, 3,000 nuns in cloister, 25,000 apostolic sisters, and 140,000 lay Dominicans.

Though he is an ordained priest, Brother Bruno prefers to be called “brother” because “there is only one father,” he explained.

“What does it mean to control human life?”

During an interview, he discussed his recent meeting with Pope Francis and his impressions of the new pope.

“I was very happy and very moved to have a meeting with the one who is the successor to St. Peter,” Brother Bruno said. “I asked for the support of the pope and if we can help his service of the Church.

“All that he’s telling us, all that he’s doing, he’s not doing just for us to look at him, but for us to find how to do the same and be inspired by his example,” Brother Bruno said.

“He’s talking about human situations. When we are in close contact with our friends, in society, we are touched by real experiences. I can say a lot of things about the poor, but if I live among the poor and have one poor friend, I can think” as a poor person would.

Brother Bruno has spoken about the need to open a dialogue between faith and science. Many people are alive today because of advances in medicine and technology, making health sciences — “the sciences of life” — vitally important, he said.

“The feeling we have is that life can be mastered and controlled, which is true — and wrong,” said Brother Bruno. “From the point of view of faith, the attitude is to be grateful for life, but we are grateful and we control it, at the same time. What does it mean to be grateful and control it, all at the same time? We need to sit around the table and discuss: What does it mean to control human life, without forgetting that life is first a gift?”

And life sometimes is not only a gift from God, but a gift from human intelligence, he added.

“God gives human beings the ability to participate in this work of creation,” Brother Bruno said.

Whatever challenges face the world, they are improved by conversation, he added.

“Conversation has not the goal of saying ‘he’s right,’ ‘she’s right,’ ‘he’s wrong,’ ‘she’s wrong.’ The goal is to say, ‘This is a common matter for human society.’ Then we are together facing the common matter. We are free to have different opinions, but I am not interested in different opinions. I am interested in the common good.”

As master of the order, Brother Bruno said his job is to listen to Dominicans, who were  “formed to be a family of brothers operating everywhere in the world to evangelize the word of God,” and to promote the sense of community and common vocation.

He spends his visits “listening to them — to be touched by their work and the grace in each of these brothers. This is wonderful. When you meet the other, you meet the grace of the Lord working within him.”

— Vicki-Ann Downing

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