In his plan for the Order, St. Dominic included as an essential element study ordered to the ministry of salvation. The sisters should continue their study throughout their lives. …Study nourishes contemplation and helps the religious to fulfill the Gospel counsels with an intelligent fidelity. (Constitutions of the Congregation)
Dominican study is a special gift of the Order. It is a gift for each of us as consecrated religious women who take on the responsibility and the joy of studying sacred truths. At the same time it is a gift to the Church, providing a means for these truths, contemplated through faithful and assiduous study, to be passed on to others. For this reason study is both formative and fruitful for the Dominican soul. Like prayer, it is a necessary means for union with God, involving all the soul’s powers, integrating and ordering them in a specific way under the intellect. Study nourishes the mind and trains the will to search for and enjoy the truth. This love then lends itself to the flowering of zeal for the salvation of souls.
We know that the nature of man is such that education is beneficial to the whole person and also the community in which the person lives. For the teaching apostolate, study is indispensable. As Dominican Sisters and teachers, we are expected to know and teach the truths of the faith, as given to us by the Magisterium. This responsibility requires that we know, live, and breathe what the Church teaches and believes. To this purpose, we receive an intense program of both initial and ongoing formation consisting of study and prayer. The first four years of study in the novitiate include a foundation in philosophy and theology involving the study of Scripture, doctrine, Dominican history and charism, Church history, the evangelical counsels, prayer and the spiritual life. The next seven years of our Dominican life have a special emphasis on the spiritual growth of each sister, with a detailed program of study for each particular year. Ongoing formation includes a program of study of the rich patrimony of our Congregation, the Dominican Order and the Church, as well as special days of discussion and retreat. These fruitful days are a concrete expression of the importance of study in our life together, providing a time of rest and recreation that are so necessary for fruitful study.
We also work toward specialized degrees in education, administration, and specialty areas according to each one’s gifts. With the joy and asceticism that comes with it, personal study is an integral part of our life, enriching our relationship with the Lord and inspiring the holy desire for the salvation of souls.
Over the past few decades our Congregation has developed a number of community studies. Each year we focus on a particular document or idea for a community study. Each week we have a study night, which can take the form of a special reading during dinner, an hour of private reading, or a group discussion.
As consecrated women religious, we are called to be witnesses, always ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us. Study helps us to keep our vows with an intelligent fidelity and to be zealous for the salvation of souls. Many times we are asked about our faith and we must be able to respond in truth and in love. Enriched by the knowledge of Truth, we carry the gift of Dominican study with us throughout our lives, and it becomes an essential means of union with the Lord.