They are known for their intellects, their gifts for public speaking and teaching, their skill in being good confessors, and their commitment to promoting human freedom.
Thousands of these Dominican friars, together with the nuns and lay people who share their dedication, are preparing to celebrate their 800th anniversary next year.
In 1216, a Spanish priest named Dominic Guzman founded the Order of Preachers, a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church in which priests preach for the salvation of souls. From November 7, 2015 to January 21, 2017, the Order of Preachers worldwide and the Dominican Province of Saint Joseph in the United States will commemorate this Jubilee year with several special events.
One of those events is Settlers of Ohio: A History of Service to the Soul of the People, an exhibit now on view at the Ohio Statehouse.
Dominican friars are identified by the black cloak they wear over their white habits. One of those is displayed alongside a series of illustrated panels introducing viewers to the history of the Dominican order, its accomplishments, and some of its members, including St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope St. Pius V and St. Catherine of Siena.
Visitors to the exhibit can listen to recording of present-day Dominican student brothers singing O Lumen, a hymn to St. Dominic that is sung nightly. A copy of Holiness, a painting by Ohio artist Bernadette Carstensen commemorating the 800th Jubilee, is also on display. Copies of the painting and the CD are available for purchase in the Statehouse gift shop.
In 1808, Reverend Edward Dominic Fenwick, OP and a handful of fellow Dominican priests were the first Catholic clergy to arrive in the state of Ohio, and they started a church in a log cabin in Somerset. In the years that followed, they taught settlers, helped them farm and cultivate the land, and established communities in Cincinnati, Columbus, Youngstown and Zanesville. Today, the Dominican Order continues to carry out its mission of studying, praying and preaching for the salvation of souls through its ministries in educational, ecological, hospital and diocesan parish settings. The Statehouse exhibit presents dozens of photographic representations of how the Dominicans fulfill their motto, Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare (“To Praise, To Bless, To Preach”).
St. Patrick Church in Columbus is one of those parishes that the Dominicans have led since 1885. In 1851, Irish Catholics living in Columbus formed a new congregation in honor of their homeland’s patron saint and built a Norman Gothic church with towers patterned after the castles of their homeland on the outskirts of town. A mud road leading from Union Station, the railroad station near North High Street, to St. Patrick’s became known as the “Irish Broadway” until it was finally paved and designated as Naghten Street.
Inside the church, Irish and Dominican features are everywhere. The stained glass window on the left side of the sanctuary depicts St. Dominic receiving the Rosary, a devotion that began with the saint’s preaching and continues as an important part of the Dominican order.
The church features a shrine to Blessed Margaret of Castello, a member of the Dominican order who was born blind and lame. The shrine includes a reliquary that holds a major relic of Blessed Margaret’s heart.
An inlaid maple and walnut shield of the Dominican Order adorns the space in front of the altar, which was given by Bishop James Hartley to commemorate the role that St. Patrick Church played in his life. Hartley, bishop of the Diocese of Columbus from 1904 to 1944, attended St. Patrick Church and its school as a child.
Solid oak pews are carved with shamrocks.
Kneeling pads at the communion rail and at shrines throughout the church were needlepointed by members of the parish’s Women’s Club in a project that my mother and I were allowed to help with for a time.The church was also the site where the Dominican Fathers established a preparatory school that became known as Aquinas College High School. It educated over 6,000 young men from 1905 until it closed in 1965.
Settlers of Ohio: A History of Service to the Soul of the People will be on display in the Map Room of the Ohio Statehouse until November 30. A special Jubilee Mass will be held on Saturday, November 14 at 5:00 p.m. at Saint Patrick Church. The Apostolic Nuncio-Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito C. Auza, will be the principal celebrant and homilist. A gala and special viewing of the exhibit will follow at 6:30 p.m. at the Ohio Statehouse.
Other Dominican Jubilee events include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaking on January 7, 2016 at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC about St. Thomas Aquinas and law. From June 2-9, 2016, the Dominican Province of Saint Joseph will take a pilgrimage to northern Spain and southwestern France, where St. Dominic was born and where he founded the Order of Preachers. For more information, see http://jubilee.opeast.org/