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Fr. Dominguez calls on Holy Spirit as new chaplain for diocesan Spanish Charismatic Renewal

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Youth Apostles Father Ramón Dominguez is all about inspiration and motivation.

As director of the Don Bosco Center in Manassas, Father Dominguez depends “on the good graces of the Holy Spirit every day” to help motivate and mentor Hispanic middle and high school students. Many are at risk of being drawn into gang activities, so he and his staff help teens stay connected and engaged in their studies, their faith lives, their families and their culture.

There’s a spectrum of how people relate to God. Some people want to have quiet adoration and some want praise and worship. ... The Catholic Church has a very deep richness for all of its members. And that makes us stronger together. The charismatic movement is one of those facets.” Youth Apostles Father Ramón Dominguez

His reliance on the Holy Spirit is one of the reasons Father Dominguez was excited to be named chaplain recently for the diocesan Spanish Charismatic Renewal, whose prayer groups also rely on the Holy Spirit for inspiration.

The Charismatic Renewal has been described as a “current of grace” that warms and energizes the church, much as it did with the early Christians after the first Pentecost. Participants call on the Holy Spirit “to inflame the hearts of members and individuals so they can go and live and love others as they should, and inspire them, and draw them to the church and to Christ and his love,” said Father Dominguez.

“As Catholics, we need to encourage and support that,” he said. “Other denominations capitalize on the emotionality of some of these things, but they lack the access the Catholic Church has to the sacraments. We seek to provide both.”

Father Dominguez was named chaplain after Father José Eugenio Hoyos, longtime director of the diocesan Office of the Spanish Apostolate and chaplain for the Spanish Charismatic Renewal, began a six-month sabbatical to Colombia last November. The new director of the Spanish apostolate, Joel de Loera, is a layperson — the first to serve in that role.

“I am grateful for Father Ramón being named chaplain and I look forward to working with him and the Charismatic Renewal,” de Loera said.  “I came back to the church through a charismatic retreat (in Oklahoma), after being away for almost 10 years. I’m happy to work with them and want to support them.” 

Father Dominguez was born in Cuba, but his family came to the United States when he was 5 months old, and he grew up in Connecticut and Maryland. Even so, he says he can make “a killer flan” with his grandmother’s recipe. He was a mechanical engineer for eight years before becoming a Youth Apostles priest.

“The kids are surprised I know stuff about science,” he said. “I say, ‘It’s because I’m a priest. But also because I have a degree in engineering.’ I do like algebra, I have to confess.”

Before coming to the Arlington diocese in 2004, he served in Fall River, Mass., where he worked with the Spanish apostolate and was administrator of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe and St. Hedwig parishes. He also worked closely with the Missionary Guadalupanas of the Holy Spirit sisters there.

“There’s a spectrum of how people relate to God,” he said. “Some people want to have quiet adoration and some want praise and worship. Some want to do the rosary. But others want a song in between each mystery. The Catholic Church has a very deep richness for all of its members. And that makes us stronger together. The charismatic movement is one of those facets.”

Father Dominguez said that over the years, the events of the Spanish Charismatic Renewal have “seen a migration to larger gatherings on the diocesan level,” but in the past year those large events have not been possible because of the pandemic.

He’s begun meeting with small groups and hopes to “re-center” activities on the parish level, “to have members really present and active at their parishes so their efforts to renew the faith begin at home,” he said. “How can they take these gifts and live them out in the community in which they are, with a joy and a vibrancy? That is what the charismatic movement is seeking. I am very excited to help them to refine that vision.” Larger events can resume when restrictions are lifted, he added.

In addition to running the Don Bosco Center, Father Dominguez assists at several Spanish Masses around the diocese and serves as chaplain for the campus ministry at Shenandoah University in Winchester, among other ministries. He hopes to draw on his contacts to create a network of parochial vicars who can be present in parishes to help Charismatic Renewal groups become “part of the fiber of the local community.”

He trusts that it will all come together if he just keeps praying and listening to the Holy Spirit.

“The Holy Spirit has no boundaries — he’s going to show up where he needs to,” Father Dominguez said. “Definitely he’s been working overtime.”


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021