The Dominicans


The Dominicans

In the early 13th century a Spanish priest named Dominic de Guzman, while traveling with his bishop, encountered the Cathar heresy spreading through southern France. Cathars believed that the physical world was evil. They denied the incarnation of Christ, the efficacy of the Sacraments and the goodness of creation. St. Dominic recognized the need for educated and prayerful men to preach the truth of the Gospel to Cathars and bring them back to Christ. Gathering a band of 16 preachers, he founded the Order of Preachers in Toulouse, France, in 1216.

In his approval of this new Order, Pope Honorius III noted that the need for educated apostolic preaching extended beyond the region of southern France. Within a year, St. Dominic split his band of brothers and sent them into Spain and northern France for further education and to continue the work of preaching the Gospel. By the time of his death in 1221, there were more than 200 Dominican Friars living and preaching throughout Europe.

In the centuries that followed, the Order spread to Africa, Asia and the Americas. Today, there are more than 5,000 Dominican Friars. They continue the mission begun by St. Dominic of preaching everywhere the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is done with fullness of mind and openness both to the Spirit of God and to the hearts of those to whom the word of God is being preached.

The Western Dominican Province

In 1850, the first Dominicans came to the west coast of the United States during the California Gold Rush. Fr. Peter Augustine Anderson, OP. celebrated the first Catholic Mass in the goldfields and established the first parish in what became the city of Sacramento. During this time, the city of San Francisco became the seat of a new diocese. The first bishop selected in 1850 was the co-founder of the Western Dominican Province, Fr. Joseph Alemany, OP.

Presently, there are 150 Dominicans assigned to 18 communities in the western US and Mexico. The friars have houses in every major city in the West extending north to south from Anchorage, Alaska to San Diego, California and east to Salt Lake City, Utah. The province is formally called The Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

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