Nearly twenty years ago, when he was a layman, several Dominican friars from all over the world invited Fr. Corwin Low, OP, to a small convocation at the house of studies of the Toulouse province in France.
Before he entered the Dominican Order, Fr. Corwin studied electrical engineering and computer science. He used these skills to build a consulting company specializing in computer network security, and the friars in France wanted him to share his knowledge with the Order.
Through his presentations and discussions, Fr. Corwin unknowingly kindled a flame for technology and computer networks in the heart Fr. Michael Akpoghiran, OP, a student at that time from the Nigerian Province. Upon returning home, Fr. Michael labored to build a network services company called Verbum Networks, headquartered at his house of studies in Ibadan, Nigeria.
Fast forward almost two decades, and Verbum Networks is a cornerstone, along with the Nigerian’s schools of Philosophy and Theology, of the recently formed Dominican University, headquartered in Ibadan.
This university is the only Dominican-run institute of higher learning on the entire African continent, and it aspires to be counted in the company of the greater Catholic universities of Europe and North America.
With backing from the Master of the Dominican Order, the Very Reverend Bruno Cadoré, this institution educates not just Dominicans and religious, but lay people alike. The schools of Business Administration and Computer Science have already taken an unprecedented number of students with many more expected.
Throughout these past two decades, the Nigerian province has been growing at a rapid pace, so much so that they have regularly provided missionary services to dozens of dioceses in the UK and North America, where vocations had been waning. Yet, because of their growth, they have still needed to rely on preaching missions.
Some OPWest.org Readers might have already been blessed to have meet some of these friars through these missions, or from the ministries that they staff. I can assure you, these friars have been grateful for all the financial support that they have already received, especially from our own Dominican Laity.
Last year Fr. Michael asked Fr. Corwin to come to Nigeria again and to see what the Dominican University is, to offer some lectures, and to hopefully kindle in his heart the passion of the Dominican charism as it is played out in Africa.
Fr. Corwin accepted the offer, traveled to Ibadan, and lectured in Computer Science, Computer Networks and the Catholic Ethics of Doing Business.
With our Dominican identity, grounded in a Thomistic tradition, they hope to attract more intellectual resources from the West to help in their mission of educating the people of Africa, to allow them to fulfill their dreams, and to bring them and their families out of poverty.
As Dominicans, our mission is to spread the truth, or to reveal the truth. After all, our motto is Veritas. Conventional wisdom is to do this through preaching and teaching. But many of our most beloved saints, such as St. Martin de Porres and St. Juan Macías, have seen that this is also possible through a proper balance of justice and mercy.
Freedom is a fruit of truth. And if we can aid the Church in Africa through academic teaching and resources for higher learning, particularly with our brothers in Nigeria, we actually get to do both.