Discovering Dominican heritage

Mount group’s journey to France follows in the footsteps of St. Dominic
August 04, 2017

The Mount Saint Mary College southern France travelers, mathematics professor Mike Daven and administrative assistant Theresa Brundage.


While their coworkers reflected on Mount Saint Mary College’s recent Commencement ceremony and began preparations for the next semester, mathematics professor Mike Daven and administrative assistant for education Theresa Brundage followed in the footsteps of the 13th century saint Dominic de Guzman via a nearly three-week pilgrimage in France.

St. Dominic made innumerable contributions to Christianity more than 800 years ago, all while living a simple, joyful life. About seven centuries later, the Dominican Sisters founded Mount Saint Mary College, using as a guideline the four pillars of Dominican life: study, prayer, service, and community.

Daven and Brundage joined others from the Mount’s sister Dominican colleges for study and travel. They followed Dominic’s missionary trail throughout southern France, including Fanjeaux, birthplace of Dominic's Order of Preachers. They also enjoyed a short stay in Paris.

RIGHT: Theresa Brundage of Mount Saint Mary College examines a statue of Dominic found in the fields near the monastery of Sainte Marie de Prouilhe, where Dominic established his first community of nuns in 1206. 

“Learning so much about the history of when St. Dominic lived and preached and seeing just how much has remained is one of the many things that I will always keep with me,” said Brundage.

“To me, the biggest impact was visiting these locations along with other people in higher education – we were all students for this trip,” noted Daven. “There was so much to see over the 18-day trip, but we had excellent tour guides throughout.”

The tradition of St. Dominic’s order includes respectful dialogue and the search for “veritas” (truth) in all facets of study and life. With this in mind, Daven enjoyed discussing faith and scholarship with his peers. They grew together academically and spiritually, he noted, and created lasting friendships.

“My faith is very important to me, and while I am not a Catholic, I appreciated hearing about how the Dominican Order grew as a part of that tradition,” he said. “I enjoyed connecting with some of the other participants and talking about the common challenges we share at our different institutions.”

For Brundage, St. Dominic set an example in scholarship and faith that can be applied to everyday life.

“It is very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day living and lose sight of who founded the Dominican Order and what St. Dominic would want from us today,” she explained. “Prayer, study, community, and service can easily be incorporated in my life. Making even minor changes makes me a better Dominican.”

The pilgrimage was jointly sponsored by Mount Saint Mary College and the Dominican Sisters of Hope in Ossining, N.Y. The trip was also made possible through the planning efforts of the Mount’s Catholic and Dominican Institute.