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Our Program of Formation involves eight years of academic and ministerial training. Throughout all that time our student friars in formation depend completely on the generosity of others and so keep our benefactors in particular at the center of our prayer life. Pleased do ad your own regular donation to our continuing need. We thank you now and will continue to thank you with our prayers.
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Western Dominican Province
5890 Birch Court
Oakland, CA 94618-1626
Our Dominican School
The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA offers Masters and other degree and certificate programs rooted in the tradition of the Dominican order and our brother, St. Thomas Aquinas. Faithful to the teaching of Holy Mother, the Church, our school prepares not only young men studying for the priesthood, but also other men and women who will be the leaders of local communities of faith. Please do join in supporting this essential ministry of the Western Dominican Province.
Our Holy Father, Saint Dominic
SAINT DOMINIC, the Father and Founder of the Order of Preachers, was born at Calaroga in Old Castile, in 1170 A.D. of the illustrious family of the Guzmans. His mother, Blessed Jane of Aza, beheld him in vision before his birth under the figure of a black and white dog, holding in its mouth a torch which set the whole world on fire ; and the noble lady who held him at the font saw, as the water was poured on his head, a bright star appear on his forehead, whence, in after years, there shown forth as it were a radiant light, which filled men with respect and love. After a pious education under the care of his maternal uncle, the arch-priest of Gumiel d'Izan, the young Dominic was sent to the University of Palencia, where he specially distinguished himself by his talents, his modesty, and his tender compassion for the poor. In a terrible famine which desolated Spain in the year 1191, he even sold his books and distributed their price to the starving multitudes, and on two occasions he offered himself to be sold as a slave in order to deliver others from situations of danger.
Picture: Fergal Claddagh, OP - Used with Permission
He embraced the ecclesiastical state and joined a Community of Canons Regular of Saint Augustine, which had been recently founded at Osma, and of which he became the Sub-Prior. In the year 1203 he accompanied his Bishop, Don Diego d'Azevedo, on a political embassy to the north of Europe, on their return from which they visited Rome and asked permission of the Holy Father to go and preach the gospel to the barbarous hordes then pressing on the north-eastern frontiers of Europe. This was refused, but they were permitted instead to labor in the south of France, at that time grievously infested by the Albigenses. The hideously blasphemous doctrines of these heretics were the complete and radical negation of all Christian dogma, and struck at the very root of all social morality, whilst their undisguised contempt of authority made their existence no less dangerous to the State than it was hostile to the Church.
It was while he was thus engaged in defending the faith in Languedoc that Our Lady appeared to Saint Dominic and taught him the devotion of the Holy Rosary, by the preaching of which he gained an immense harvest of souls. One of the many miracles which illustrated this period of his life was the saving the lives of forty English pilgrims, whose boat capsized as they were crossing the Garonne on their way to Saint James of Compostella. On another occasion the written document in which he had defended the Catholic faith was miraculously delivered from the flames, whilst that drawn up by the heretics was instantly . reduced to ashes.
In the year 1206, Saint Dominic founded at Prouille, his first Convent for religious women, now known as his Second Order, who devote themselves to a life of austerity and contemplation. Gradually, too, he gathered companions around him to assist him in his apostolic labors, and in the year 1215 he again visited Rome to obtain the consent of Pope Innocent III. for the foundation of the Order of Friars Preachers. At first it was refused. In a vision of the night, however, the Pontiff seemed to see the Lateran Basilica about to fall, but supported on the shoulders of Saint Dominic. In consequence of this manifestation of the Divine will he withdrew his opposition, and in the year 1216 his successor, Honorius III., solemnly approved the new Order, and the first sixteen companions of the Saint made their profession on the Festival of the Assumption, pledging themselves to observe the Rule of Saint Augustine and the Constitutions drawn up for them by their holy Founder. These Constitutions combined the monastic observances of earlier ages with theological studies and active labors for the salvation of souls. At a later period, the Saint founded his Third Order, which at first was of the nature of a military religious Order for the defense of the Church, but which has now exchanged the duties of military service for those of penance and charity. Women as well as men are received into its ranks, and some of the sanctity of the cloister has thus passed into family and secular life. Besides Tertiaries living in their own homes, there are now in almost every part of the world numerous flourishing congregations of the Third Order Sisters, gathered together in Community under all the obligations of religious life and devoting themselves to every kind of charitable labor.
The remaining five years of the Saint's life were spent in training the disciples who flocked around him, and whom he dispersed to found the Order in every part of Europe, and in preaching in many of the towns and villages of France, Spain, and Italy. In Rome he was employed by the Pope to gather together a number of religious women then living in the city without enclosure or any kind of regular discipline. He succeeded in forming them into a fervent Community, which he established at Saint Sixtus. His miracles were very numerous, including the raising of three dead persons to life. God was pleased to grant him many wonderful visions, one of the most remarkable of which was that in which he beheld his children beneath the folds of Our Lady's mantle, and heard from the lips of his Divine Master the consoling words, "I have given thy Order to My Mother."
Saint Dominic is firmly believed to have preserved his baptismal innocence. He was pre-eminently a man of prayer, much given to the practice of penance, burning with zeal for the salvation of souls, unrivalled in humility and gentleness, and gifted with a marvelous serenity of soul, which nothing seemed capable of disturbing.
Shortly after the second General Chapter of his Order, he received an intimation of his approaching death, which took place at Bologna on August 6th, A.D. 1221, at the age of fifty-one. With his dying breath the holy Founder promised his children that he would be more helpful to them in heaven than he had ever been on earth. He was canonized twelve years after his death by Pope Gregory IX., who, as Cardinal, had been his personal friend.
O God, who has vouchsafed to enlighten Your Church by the merits and teaching of Your blessed Confessor, our holy Father, Saint Dominic, grant at his intercession that it may never be destitute of temporal help, and may always increase in spiritual growth. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Picture Credits - First: Unknown; Second: Fergal Claddagh, OP - Used with permission.