Questions for…Nicholas Crowe OP
A couple of months ago, Brother Nicholas Crowe OP started in his role as Vocations Promoter for the English Province. In this online interview we find out about Brother Nick’s current apostolate and the inspiration behind his work.
Nicholas, what are your current responsibilities in the Order?
At the moment, I co-ordinate the Dominican Youth Movement in the UK. We run a series of events up and down the country aimed at students and young adults. The next one is a Scripture study weekend at the Carmelite Priory, Boars Hill (just outside Oxford) from the 4th – 6th December. I am also the vocations promoter and director for the English Province of the Order of Preachers.
Which great Dominican provides the inspiration for your work?
Saint Thomas Aquinas is my great intellectual hero. It was through studying Saint Thomas that I first began to see how the teachings of the Church weave together into a coherent vision of the Christian life that has at its core the summons to follow Jesus. I suppose all of my work in some form or other is aimed at helping young people to hear that same call to discipleship in their own lives.
What is your biggest challenge for the year ahead?
When it comes to work with young people the biggest challenges are often the most exciting projects. From an organizational point of view World Youth Day will be a big deal, but also a wonderful opportunity. Closer to home, we ran our first ‘Illumination’ retreat at Leicester last weekend for students and young adults and another is planned for the new year. This is a new project that we hope will complement our more theologically focused study weekends by offering a more all-round formational experience. We had a great start in Leicester and hope the coming year will give us the chance to share the riches of the Dominican tradition with university groups all over the UK.
That sounds very exciting. But I wonder: how do you find a balance between your prayer life, community life and your mission?
I think the key to maintaining a balance between prayer, common life, and mission is to establish really good habits. I find that the best time for prayer is first thing in the morning so I make sure I have a good long stretch of prayer before settling down for work for the day. London is a small enough community for our common life to be somewhat informal. We all cram around the coffee pot each morning once we’ve finished prayer, we all have dinner together in the evenings, there are two weekly gatherings called ‘recreations’ where we all meet in the common room to have a chat and maybe a beer and so on. These things just happen as part of the community’s routine of living and working together. Mission, however, requires a bit more of a pro-active approach. Ideally, we would always be on the lookout for opportunities to preach the Gospel. This enthusiasm for a continual sharpening of one’s apostolic edge is something that I think needs to be deliberately chosen and cultivated, and it relies on our religious life in general being well balanced. Without time to pray, study, and relax one can easily become jaded.
Finally, Advent is almost here, Christmas is on the horizon. What book would your recommend for Christmas?
What about some spiritual reading? I would recommend ‘St. Bernard’s Three-Course Banquet: Humility, Charity, and Contemplation in the De Gradibus’, Bernard Bonowitz, OCSO, Liturgical Press 2013.