As a constitutive part of their vocation, Dominicans have always embraced the life of study. From the beginning of the Order and St. Dominic’s first missionary efforts among fallen-away Catholics in Southern France, Dominicans have realized that the proclamation of the Gospel requires both a profound understanding of Scripture and Christian tradition, as well as a presentation of our faith that is intellectually engaging and morally persuasive. For this reason St. Dominic sent his brothers to the new universities of Europe, to Paris, to Bologna, and to Oxford, to study, to teach, and to obtain the academic training that they would need to serve the Church as compelling preachers of God’s word.
Dominican study therefore is always directed toward our mission of preaching, teaching, and salvation of souls. At the same time, Dominican study has a contemplative aspect to it. Dominicans believe that in our daily reflection upon the Word of God, in our attempt to engage the perennial questions asked by philosophy past and present, and in our examination of the world around us we come to a deeper grasp of truth, Veritas, and to a personal knowledge of the One who is Truth himself, Christ Jesus Our Lord. Because our study draws us to prayer and our prayer for others leads to study, Dominicans believe that our preaching and teaching are truly occasions for us to encounter God’s grace.
This Dominican approach to study has remained at the heart of the Order for almost eight hundred years. Our contribution to the Church’s mission of preaching and preaching is witnessed in the lives and works of such luminaries from the past as St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Albert the Great, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Vincent Ferrer and Francisco de Vitoria. This tradition has continued among such twentieth-century figures as Marie-Joseph Lagrange, Herbert McCabe, Marie-Dominique Chenu, Yves Congar, Santiago Ramirez, Emilio Sauras, and Edward Schillebeeckx.
Dominicans today make clear our commitment to rigorous study in service to the Church through such academic centers and projects as the Leonine Commission in Paris, the École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem (EBAF) in Jerusalem, the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, ESPACES in Brussels and other European cities, the Institut dominicain d'études orientales (IDEO) in Cairo and Domuni. The Order also sponsors many other institutions of higher learning, and Dominicans carry out our age-old mission of teaching and scholarly research in theological and philosophical faculties throughout the world.