Category: Lighting the Path

Lighting the Path

Bringing His Knowledge to the World


St. Dominic was inspired by the conviction that knowledge is the surest path to Christ. He established his order to ensure that those who understood Christ most deeply could share their understanding with those needing light. Communally, all souls would grow together on God’s enlightened path and enjoy the eternal rewards of faithfulness.

The Dominican House of Studies (DHS) exists to perpetuate the mission of St. Dominic. Our revered institution receives learned individuals seeking to better understand Christ’s role in their lives, increases their knowledge, and then sends them into the world so that they may bring more souls to Him.

Current DHS doctoral student Father Thomas Aquinas Pickett, OP, embodies our mission. A self-described “cradle Catholic,” he was born to faithful parents who ensured he remained mindful of the worth and purpose of his soul.

Coupling the foundations of his parents’ teachings and the spiritual gift of intellectual curiosity bestowed upon him by God, Father Pickett has embarked upon a life’s quest for understanding. Acquiring knowledge is edifying for him, but his greatest desire is to share this knowledge to edify others.

Gaining and Sharing the Light

While spirituality and faithfulness were always present in his home, the world outside those four walls was much different.

“I grew up in an area where there are a lot of non-Catholics,” he recounted, “and they would either ask me questions or challenge me on certain things. It was imperative for me to articulate my faith. There were many misconceptions I had to correct.”

While he did not understand how people could lack such clarity, he learned that the perfection of God’s truth provided every answer he would ever need. This clarity set him on the path of a relentless pursuit of the light of Christ.

A Cradle Catholic’s Quest

As he matured, Father Pickett was most intrigued by the elements of his faith that he least understood.

“I was always intrigued by the mysteries of faith, not just to absorb what I was taught, but to question, understand, and challenge the tenets of my faith,” he reflects.

This profound curiosity led him to explore the depths of theological and philosophical questions as a philosophy student in his college years. This was particularly evident in his desire to understand prayer and its relationship with God’s plan.

“I started wondering if God knows everything already,” he shared, “why are we talking to Him? Or, if everything is following His plan, are we trying to change it when we’re praying? What does prayer actually do?”

In this period of questioning, he discovered the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, which profoundly transformed his understanding of prayer, God’s providence, and the essence of truth.

The Dominican Way

The Dominican Order’s commitment to preaching and teaching provided the perfect pathway for deepening his pursuit.

“St. Thomas Aquinas, with his analytical approach to theology, offered a framework that truly resonated with me,” he stated. “The Dominican Order’s charism of contemplation and sharing the fruits of that contemplation was exactly what I was looking for.”

This pursuit was not merely intellectual but a spiritual quest to live out the truths he discovered.

Formation at the Dominican House of Studies

The Dominican House of Studies has played a crucial role in refining both his intellect and spirituality. Here, he has learned that to share Christ effectively with others, he must first embody the Gospel’s truth in his own life.

“Theology at DHS is not just a subject of study but a way of life that demands a commitment to holiness,” he recalled.

“I remember a professor telling me very explicitly early on that theology can’t just be an academic discipline,” he continued, “to be a theologian requires knowing, loving, and serving Christ. Without that, you are doing an academic exercise, but without the grace necessary to truly understand what you are learning.”

Spreading the Word

Upon completing his doctorate at DHS, Father Pickett will serve as a professor at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California. His deep knowledge and inspirational message will edify and enlighten others dedicated to holy service. His students will share the Holy Gospel armed with the truths they need to bring souls unto Christ.

As Father Pickett prepares to teach and form future Dominicans and evangelists, his story stands as a powerful witness to a faith that seeks understanding—a faith unwilling to settle for easy answers but instead dives deep into the Gospel’s heart.

“My journey from a curious child to a dedicated friar and theologian highlights the communal aspect of our pursuit of Christ. It’s not just about seeking answers for ourselves but for the entire world,” he explained.

A Beacon of Light for the World

His narrative is a vivid reminder that the path to Christ is both deeply personal and inherently communal. It underscores the importance of seeking Christ for personal enlightenment and as a mission to bring truth and clarity to others.

“I hope my story serves as a beacon of light for those navigating the seas of doubt and confusion, offering a path that leads to truth, clarity, and ultimately, to Christ Himself,” he concludes.

Through his journey, we are reminded of the transformative power of faith that seeks understanding, the importance of living the truths we discover, and the profound impact of sharing those truths with the world. His life is a living embodiment of the Dominican mission, illuminating the path to Christ in a world in desperate need of truth.

If reading Father Pickett’s story inspires you to support our mission to share refined knowledge of Christ with the world, please click here to support the Dominican House of Studies.

Lighting the Path

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

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 Cabot