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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
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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.
Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
This great Doctor of the Church was born Tagaste, in the north of Africa, in the year 354. His father, Patricius, was a Pagan and only received baptism shortly before his death ; his mother, Monica, was a Saint. Seeing the extraordinary talents of his son, Patricius spared no expense to give him the best education in his power, and, when he had attained the age of sixteen, sent him to complete his studies at Carthage. The young Augustine had already fallen into bad company, and although he devoted himself with ardor to the acquisition of rhetoric and philosophy, his life was one of sinful indulgence. He embraced the errors of the Manichæan heretics, in which he continued for several years. After his father's death, when he was about twenty years of age, he returned to Tagaste and set up a school of grammar and rhetoric. Meanwhile his holy mother ceased not to weep and pray for his conversion. One day she had had recourse to a Bishop, begging him to use his influence to reclaim Augustine from his evil ways, but he only bade her continue her prayers, adding : " Go your way. God bless you. It cannot be that the child of such tears should perish."
After a time Augustine removed to Rome, and then obtained a post as master of rhetoric at Milan, whither his mother followed him. Here he became acquainted with the holy Bishop, Saint Ambrose, and frequently attended his sermons. God was meanwhile opening his eyes more and more to the emptiness of those earthly ambitions on which his heart had hitherto been set, and, after long and painful struggles with himself, he at length made up his mind to renounce sin and embrace the Catholic faith. He was baptized by Saint Ambrose on Easter Eve, A.D. 387. Towards the close of the same year he resolved to return to Africa, and was on the point of embarking when the death of his mother, Saint Monica, at the port of Ostia, caused him to delay his voyage till the following autumn.
On arriving at Tagaste, he took up his abode in a country-house, where, in company with some pious friends, he devoted himself to the exercises of prayer, study, and penance. After his ordination to the priesthood he removed, to Hippo, where he founded another Monastery, and later on a Convent for nuns, of which his sister became the first Abbess. Valerius, Bishop of Hippo, employed him in the office of preaching, and made him his coadjutor, A.D. 395; and, when that prelate died in the following year, the Saint, sorely against his own will, became his successor in the Episcopate. He induced all his clergy to renounce their property and live with him in community. He spent great part of the revenues of the Church in relieving those in distress, and succeeded in establishing amongst his flock the charitable custom of clothing all the poor of each parish once a year. He would suffer no one to defame his neighbor’s character, and, to show his disapproval of the vice of detraction, would withdraw from the company as soon as any injurious words were spoken in his presence.
Besides the admirable book of his "Confessions," Saint Augustine has enriched the Church with a vast number of learned works, sermons, instructions, and letters. In spite of habitual weak health and frequent suffering, he was indefatigable in his labors for the exaltation of the Church and for the extirpation of heresy and schism, especially directing his efforts against the Manichees, Pelagians, and Donatists. He was the oracle of his day, and is generally regarded as the greatest of the Latin Fathers.
The closing years of this Saint were saddened by the incursions of the Vandals into Africa, and his holy death took place in the year 430, whilst his Episcopal city of Hippo was being besieged by these barbarians. Humility had ever been his characteristic virtue, according to his own beautiful maxim : "Attempt not to attain true wisdom by any other way than that which God has enjoined. This is, in the first, second, and third place, humility; and this would I answer as often as you ask me. Not that there are no other precepts ; but, unless humility go before, accompany, and follow after, all that we do will be snatched out of our hands by pride. . . . Our Lord Jesus Christ was made so low in order to teach us humility."
This illustrious Doctor of the Church has a special claim on the love and veneration of the children of Saint Dominic, as they serve God under the Rule which bears his name, and which he wrote for the nuns of the Convent which he had founded. When, in the year 1215, the holy Father, Saint Dominic, applied to Pope Innocent III. for permission to found his Order, the Council of Lateran had just decreed that no new Orders were to be established in the Church ; but that, if any one desired to found a new religious House, he was to observe the rule of one of the approved Orders. The Sovereign Pontiff; therefore, though convinced of the Divine will as regarded the institution of the Order of Preachers, was unwilling to act in direct contradiction to a principle so recently laid down. Hence he bade the holy Founder return to France, and, in concert with his companions, choose one of the ancient rules which should seem best fitted for their purpose. Saint Dominic accordingly assembled his Brethren at Prouille, and, after earnestly invoking the Holy Spirit, they made choice of the Rule of Saint Augustine, under which the holy Patriarch had himself lived ever since he had assumed the habit of a Canon Regular at Osma, and which they had all hitherto observed. The simplicity of this Rule, which merely enjoins the essential virtues of poverty, chastity, obedience, and fraternal charity, rendered it a suitable basis for the Constitutions by which Saint Dominic was to mould the religious life of his sons and daughters.
Give ear, O Lord, to our prayers, and, by the intercession of Blessed Augustine, Your Confessor and Bishop, favorably bestow the effects of Your accustomed mercy on us, to whom You have given reason to trust in Your goodness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.