Today is a memorable day for us Dominicans and for the Church at large: It is the feast of St Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, Patron Saint of Catholic Schools and Universities. The celebration has begun, and fittingly so, with the academic activity programmed for this morning. As in the good times, we used to hold on this day some academic activity (circle, lecture, exercise) to mark the occasion and highlight the relevance of the Doctor of the Church who so much has influenced and continues today influencing the magisterium of the Church. We are proud that he is our brother.

Today’s program is simple but very meaningful for us. It includes basically three things, namely,

  • The official inauguration of the recently established Centre of Institutional Studies for the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Convent of St. Dominic Macau in China by the Master of the Order on September 4, 2011;
  • Fr Fausto Gomez lecture on The place of Study in our Dominican Order and henceforth in our lives; and
  • Celebration of the Mass in honor of St Thomas Aquinas, graced by the presence of His Excellency, Most Rev. Joseph Lai, Bishop of Macau. During the Mass, the Reading of the Appointment of the Moderator of the Center of Studies in the person of our Brother Joseph Luis de Miguel will be read.

When fourth months ago, in September 2011, I received the document through which the Master of the Dominican Order established The Center of Institutional Studies for the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Convent of St Dominic, Macau in China I realized that we were writing history. Something extraordinary was there: A Studium Generale in Macau! A dream many of our former missionaries would have longed to hear. We are privileged to witness it and hopefully appreciate its implications.

What is a Centre of Studies? A Center of Studies is basically a community of learning and formation. These kinds of Centers enjoy their own personality, and great importance is attached to them in the Dominican tradition. To the point that our legislation states that each Province shall have its own Center of institutional studies.(LCO 233 §I)

We, the Province of Our Lady of the Rosary are not an exception: we have always had one; furthermore, even more than one at a given time in history, in different parts of the world, depending on where our House of Studies was. The latest was in Madrid, San Pedro Martyr which for 50 years fulfilled a splendid mission in the formation of this present generation of missionaries. But today the situation has changed and our provincial Studentate is here in Macau. And since new situations require new solutions, our Center of Institutional Studies is here in Macau, too.

You may ask, what is the specific significance of this Centre for our Province? It has a great significance for us Dominicans and also for the Church:

  1. In the first place, it addresses our academic needs at this moment in history, bound as we are to provide our numerous students with the required philosophical-theological formation in accordance with the Dominican tradition.
  2. In the second place, this Centre is called to become a reference point for the Province in this part of the world in fulfilling the important tasks of promoting scientific learning and of keeping us in touch with other academic institutions and with the university world of the region.
  3. Finally, this Center has also for us a practical significance, as an internal coordinating platform for the studies of those students of ours who are taking their institutional courses in other nearby places, as well as an important aid in facilitating transcript of records, accreditation of studies, needed documents for visa purposes, etc. The establishment of this Centre is a much-needed institution and quite timely at this point in history.

Brothers, Sisters, Friends: I truly appreciate your presence here this morning. You are supporting this project and giving us great encouragement. And if the establishment of this St Dominic Center of Studies is history, your presence here at this moment is history, too. Thank you very much.

May our Brother St Thomas Aquinas, known for his holiness and learning, help us to grow in wisdom by his teaching and in holiness by imitating his faith. Amen.

Inauguration Address. January 28, 2012 by Fr Javier Gonzalez, OP