Author: Sam Cabot

Lighting the Path

How the Dominican House of Studies Empowers Teachers to Send His Light Into the World

Sam
Sam Cabot
Sister Maria Catherine

It could be argued that there is no higher call than providing young souls with the Light of Christ so that they may draw on that power throughout their lives. Imparting the ability to discern good from evil is invaluable in a world where the differences between the two are increasingly blurred.

Dominican House of Studies’ alumna Sister Maria Catherine heeds this call. As a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia, she instructs third through eighth graders daily at St. Mary’s Catholic School, a parish school in South Carolina.

Using lessons and instructional methods she honed and acquired at the Dominican House of Studies, she guides young people to an understanding of their value and purpose as children of Christ.

Formation at the DHS

Growing the faith of children and supporting families in their mission to bring Christ into their hearts is the mission of the Sisters of St. Cecilia. Women who enter the Nashville Dominican Sisters either have a bachelor’s degree in education or earn one after joining the community. To increase their effectiveness as teachers, the sisters remain devoted to studying and growing their knowledge of Christ throughout their religious lives.

Sister Maria Catherine came to the Dominican House of Studies to earn her master’s degree through an intensive five-year summer program. The Friars developed the program for sisters to study and understand the thoughts and teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologiae.

“I had already studied St. Thomas somewhat,” Sister Maria Catherine recounted, “but studying that with the Friars really brought me to understand Thomas’s love for scripture and to learn how to walk with my brother Thomas in a deeper understanding of the truth that the Lord’s giving in the scriptures.”

Understanding St. Thomas’s vision helped her see the whole plan of God and comprehend the richness of the life of holiness in Jesus that the Lord has in store for each of us. Gaining this deep personal knowledge has been foundational in Sister Maria Catherine’s continued devotion to God and her mission.

“The Friars taught me how to take St. Thomas as a guide in understanding myself,” she said, “and enriching my own vocation of belonging to Christ enhanced my service to the families and children I teach. I learned how St. Thomas explains the truth of the person so clearly, and it has enabled me to articulate the truth more clearly and guide young souls to the joys of Christ.”

Teaching the Children

Sister Maria Catherine finds great blessing in shining the light and directing young people to overcome the distractions today’s world bombards them with. All the technology they use, the entertainment they consume, and the activities they participate in to fill their time do not fill the hole in her students’ hearts.

“These kids never have the time to stop and see the bigger picture,” she said. “They never get a chance to ponder their direction and see the true beauty of life. The world has filled them with a need to have their time constantly filled with empty things, and there is a lack of seeing that every moment can have meaning if we allow Christ to give light, meaning, and joy to every minute.”

Empowering students to grasp this truth is no small feat. Sister Maria Catherine blends the knowledge her students have been given by loving parents in their home with the enlightenment she has acquired at the Dominican House of Studies and throughout her religious life. Through her joy and zeal, students move from knowing who Christ is to developing a personal relationship with Him. Establishing that relationship forms a greater understanding of their destiny in God and with God.

“We heavily focus on the magnanimity of the soul,” she said. “We make sure they understand that the Lord has a call for them and a purpose for them and that responding to His call has an impact on the whole world. It’s not just that Jesus loves them. It’s that He has a mission for them. He’s using them in ways they can’t even see. They light up when they come to understand that their life has a divine purpose.”

The Reach of Her DHS Formation

Gifted educators teach in the manner they learn. At the Dominican House of Studies, Sister Maria Catherine experienced firsthand the power of reading, discussing, and growing in knowledge as a group. During her studies, she realized that the discussions and questions that came up with her Sisters were similar to those of her students.

The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia often incorporate the Socratic method into their teaching, and the growth Sister Maria Catherine experienced through this style at the DHS refined her technique and purpose for employing it in her classroom.

“I really like to teach kids how to read a text in depth and learn how to analyze and dissect something meaningful and substantial,” she stated. “Then I have them discuss it with their peers. They learn to trust that they can think, reason, and know the truth of their faith.”

The impact of this knowledge is more substantial than bringing one young soul to Christ.

“It’s definitely effective for their personal conversion,” Sister Maria Catherine continues, “but it also teaches them how to evangelize and bring more souls to the Joy and Light of Christ.”

Why The Work of the Dominican House of Studies Matters

St. Dominic believed that God wanted truth and knowledge to be the typical path to salvation and wanted all to have it. The Dominican House of Studies continues St. Dominic’s mission by equipping Sisters and Friars with the tools they need to evangelize Christ’s Light to the world.

“I love the imagery of St. Dominic with his torch setting the world on fire with the love of Christ,” Sister Maria Catherine shared. “I am grateful the Lord saw fit to invite me to DHS and be a part of His process. Refining my knowledge of His Word and strengthening my bond with Him has prepared me to bring as many souls to Him as possible by spreading His joy and filling the holes in the hearts of the children I teach.”

Sister Maria Catherine moves young people to eschew the hollow distractions of the world and instead fill their hearts and minds with the solid Word of Christ. Those who receive His Word will influence others to seek the same joy and happiness.

Consider yourself and your circle. You may not have the same opportunity to evangelize Christ’s love to young people as this great sister and DHS alumna does, but pray for His guidance in finding opportunities to bring more souls to Him in any way you can.

Sam
Sam Cabot