Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

Dominicans at Work: The Achievements of America’s Western Province

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Aug 26, 2013

Since writing The Pride of St. Dominic: Muscular Renewal, I have been correctly taken to task for presenting the American Western province of the Dominican Order in a negative light. My essay tended to minimize previous problems in the Eastern province, which was the chief subject of the piece, while highlighting previous problems in the West. When I mentioned that the disparity was no longer so great, it sounded like I was damning with faint praise.

Everything I wrote about the strong renewal in the Order as a whole, and in the original American Province of St. Joseph in particular, was quite correct, but a number of priests of the Western province wrote to lament my inadequate portrayal of their work. They corrected my misidentification of the notorious Matthew Fox as a Western Dominican (he was of the Central province, though he did operate—illicitly—in the West). And they provided ample evidence that the West—the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, founded in 1840—has its own contemporary success story to tell.

I have updated the original article to eliminate any unfortunate false impressions, but I believe justice demands that I make particular mention of positive developments in the West. Here is a short list good news in the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus:

  • Per capita among the American provinces, the West has the highest rate of service in the (impressive) international centers of the Order—the Angelicum in Rome, the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, and the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem. The President of the only Catholic university in Germany is a Dominican of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, who is firmly committed to authentic renewal there.
  • The graduate Philosophy program in the West is unique in the United States. Firmly rooted in Aquinas, it is reportedly not only very good but also thriving.
  • Fathers of the Western province, forming a band of brothers called Western Dominican Preaching, preach throughout the United States and the world, including Frs. Emmerich Vogt and Brian Mullady, who may be well-known to many readers from their presence on EWTN.
  • As the Western province is fairly small (150-160 friars), the 20 brothers currently in formation there is a very respectable number, which speaks well of the Province’s ability to attract vocations.
  • The Western House of Studies is the only one in the United States where the brothers can learn not only the reverent celebration of the liturgies of the post-Conciliar period but also the old Dominican rite. To me, this recalls that saying of Our Lord’s, “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Mt 13:52).

I repeat that the pace of renewal in the Church is, at long last, increasing daily. It is a pleasure to see an ancient order leading the way. The Domincians, after all, were first approved by Pope Honorius III in 1216. As I quoted Fr. Gabriel Gillen to say in my original article, they “are rising again.” It is also good to know that so many outstanding Catholics pay attention to what we write here on, and that they are willing to help us to make things right if we get things wrong.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: nwschmid - Aug. 28, 2013 3:45 PM ET USA

    I have been a parishioner of a Dominican parish in the Western Dominican Province for over 11 years. The friars young and old work tirelessly to teach and preach the Truth in a variety of ways to reach all in our metropolitan area; many come from all over for confession, to attend the many Dominican Rite Masses, and to hear homilies that are in line with Church teaching. Having met the newly ordained, and a number of those in formation, I am thankful for the thriving Western Dominican Province.