Very Rev. Charles E. Bouchard, O.P.
Prior Provincial Central Province, USA
Catholic education is one of the great legacies of religious communities in the United States. At all levels – elementary, secondary and university – religious orders of women and men (but mostly women) founded and staffed thousands of schools that formed generations of Catholics.
Why did they do this?
There are two important reasons. The first was to preserve the faith. The founders of our schools, especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries, realized that the faith would not be passed on unless there was a focused effort to instruct young people in it. This was such an important priority that in many cases schools were built before parish churches were. Many Catholics remember going to Mass in the school gym or basement until a proper church existed.
These schools were also an important way in which the Church helped recently arrived immigrants make the transition from “the old country” to their new American home. The neighborhood in which I live in Chicago has dozens of Churches that were originally “national” Churches. They served Polish, Italian, Slovak, Lithuanian, Irish, German and French communities until they eventually blended into the community around them. This process continues today with new waves of immigrants from central Europe, Latin America and Mexico.
But our schools were not just about religious education or social services. They were also about knowledge itself. The sisters who taught in these schools taught arithmetic, language arts, music, spelling, and science. They did so out of the conviction that God’s plan is known not only through the Bible and our religious tradition, but also through secular knowledge. Especially for Dominicans, whatever is true, whether it is science, economics or geometry, gave us a glimpse into the mind of God. For them, there was no issue of a conflict between faith and science. There was only one truth, but it was refracted through theology, art and science so that we could know it in many different ways.
This summer issue of DomCentral Quarterly pays tribute to our Dominican schools and the impact they have on our lives.
You’ll read about a veteran elementary school principal, a laywoman, and a first year Theology teacher, a young friar. You’ll learn about how we as Dominicans pay for the education of our friars at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis
We’ll share the inspiring story of one of our most committed donors and his personal connection to the Order of Preachers. You’ll hear from one of our newly ordained priests and his first assignment in Denver; and you’ll hear from a novice who will make his first profession of vows this month and then head off to study theology.
Finally, we want to
point out a new opportunity to continue reading about the Dominican Friars, Central Province, and to join the conversation online through a digital version of this magazine available at
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