The Dominican Friars
The friars at Saint Catherine’s are members of the Order of Preachers, AKA “The Dominicans” and we are members of the Eastern Dominican Province. There are many provinces throughout the world, which together comprise the Order. The Order of Preachers was founded in 1216 by St. Dominic de Guzman in response to a then desperate need for informed preaching. Against a heresy which denied the dignity of our humanity, St. Dominic trained a group of preachers who would serve the Church in its affirmation of the world as the place where Christ is discovered.
The Dominican Province of St. Joseph was founded in 1805 by Fr. Edward Dominic Fenwick, OP.
In 1806, the first priory of the Province was established near the town of Springfield, Kentucky. It was dedicated to the Dominican saint, St. Rose of Lima.
As early, as 1808, Fr. Fenwick began visiting Catholics scattered throughout Ohio. The focal point of the Ohio missions was the settlement of Somerset with about twenty Catholics.
Four young men were ordained as the first Dominican priests in the United States in 1816.
The first Catholic church in Ohio was built in 1818. St. Joseph’s in Somerset would soon eclipse the mother priory of St. Rose as the center of life in the province. Beginning, in 1834, it became the provincial House of Studies where for the next seventy years, men would be trained for the priesthood. Formal recognition of St. Joseph as a studium of the Order came in 1841.
Fr. Fenwick was chosen first bishop of Cincinnati in 1822. The next son of the Province to be made bishop was Richard Pius Miles who became the first bishop of Nashville, Tennessee in 1837.
The parish of St. Dominic in Washington, D.C. was established in 1853; St. Vincent Ferrer in New York City in 1867; and St. Mary’s in New Haven, Connecticut in 1886; and in 1897 our own St. Catherine of Siena. In terms of the intellectual life of the Province, a turning point occurred in 1905 with the building of a new House of Studies in Washington, D.C. It was raised to the status of Pontifical Faculty of Theology in 1941. Dominican commitment to the intellectual apostolate continued with the establishment of Providence College in 1917. Located in Rhode Island, Providence College opened its doors in September 1919 to receive its first seventy-one students.
Beginning in 1990, the friars of St. Joseph established a Dominican presence in Eastern Africa. The particular focus of their missionary activity is the formation of candidates for the priesthood.
Presently, there are friars involved in various ministries such as hospital chaplaincy, media work, education, parishes and retreats – any ministry in which the Word can be preached. The seed that was first planted by Fr. Edward Dominic Fenwick has grown into a vigorous plant which continues to bear fruit both here and abroad.