Your donations make
a real difference
for the friars of the Western Dominican Province and their ministries.
Simple, Safe, Secure
Donations made easy
Please visit our
Keeping the Light Shining Bright
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.
You are called.
Are you called to Religious life?
Click here, and discover what it means to become a preacher of truth!
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.
Fr. William Dempflin, OP
The friar who would come to be known as "Padre Blanco" was born in the southwest German kingdom of Württemberg on November 18th, 1838. Wilhelm Eugen Germanus Dempflin was baptized at his home in Wiblingen, today part of the city of Ulm, on November 25th by the pastor of his parish church, St. Martin, a famous Baroque basilica of the former Benedictine abbey there. William was the sixth and youngest child of Karl Leopold Dempflin (born 1793 at Munderkingen), a notary of the royal judiciary (königlicher Gerichtsnotar), and his wife, Amalia nee Buchholz (born 1806 at Weingarten). They had married at Weingarten in 1830, and the witnesses at their wedding (a countess and the bride's father, a forestry official who would also be one of William's godparents), the various godparents to their children, together with the occupations of their own parents and grandparents suggest that the young Dempflins were a family of some means and education. In 1846, just before William's 8th birthday, the family moved some 20 miles to Laupheim.
William immigrated to Guatemala at 18 years of age and worked there some 10 years as a miner. In 1866 he entered the Dominicans there, but, when the government suppressed all religious orders, he came with six confreres to Alta California. In 1875 William made solemn profession and was ordained a priest in California. In 1886 he became a U.S. citizen. For almost 20 years, Fr. William worked in Alta and a bit in Baja California among the native Americans: a ministry that otherwise was often neglected. He organized his horseback travels up and down the central valleys of California so that he could visit each small Indian group at about the same time each year. Large enough in stature to be noticed in any case, Fr. William would don his white habit before entering the village whence the name, Padre Blanco. His dedication to securing the rights of the Indians led to serious threats against his own life. In 1894 he set off for Latin America again amid great fanfare. The General Vicar here, Pius Murphy, had assigned him to the Province of Mexico on March 6, 1894. William received faculties from the Archdiocese of Guatemala at the end of May, 1894; he seems to have been working in Tacana as late as March of 1895.
Sometime toward mid-1895 William visited his home region in a now unified Germany, and in September he conferred in Vienna with the Master General, Andreas Frühwirth, about the state of the Order in the Americas. William returned to San Francisco in November of that year, hoping to establish in Alta California a novitiate for Guatemala and Mexico. When this plan did not work out, William returned to Guatemala, where he worked until 1908, the last three years in a parish at the port of Livingston. In spring of 1908, William moved to El Salvador. In October 1908 William was assigned the administration of the parish at Verapaz. In 1909 and again in November, 1910, the Dominican had his faculties renewed for the diocese of San Salvador. As late as May of 1912 the bishop there was counting on Dempflin's help.
At some point in 1912, William was forced to journey to New York City with a view towards attaining medical help. He was admitted to a hospital there, where our fr. Bill Lewis, who enthusiastically had served Fr. William in San Francisco as an altar boy, was now able to visit him before he died on December 3, 1912. William's remains were buried in the section reserved at Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, Long Island, for the Dominicans of St. Vincent Ferrer's priory in Manhattan. Among the Dominicans, Fr. William is remembered as a determined pioneer of Hispanic and native American ministry. Among many groups of California Indians, Padre Blanco was venerated for generations as one of the founders of their religious and cultural identity.
-- Richard Schenk, OP
Date of Birth
Date of Profession
Date of Ordination
Date of Death
November 18, 1838
June 18, 1872
December 7, 1875
December 3, 1912