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Faculty Experience Summer Study in France for Dominican Institutions

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Music Department Chair and Professor Nan Childress Orchard and her husband Music adjunct faculty member Joseph Orchard joined faculty, staff and students from other American Dominican universities and colleges in June for the annual Summer Study in France program.

They attended seminars and experienced the historic sites in the south of France and Paris focusing on St. Dominic and the Order of Preachers.   The workshops included topics such as Dominican values, St. Dominic’s travels and the history of the Dominicans.

They explored the historic village of Fanjeaux, where Dominic arrived in 1206 and took on a mission of itinerant preaching of the Gospels, and where he founded the women’s monastery of Prouille, which became the cradle of the Order of Preachers.

The group visited Carcassone, the location of the Basilica of St. Nazaire where St. Dominic preached; the ruins of Montesegur, which was a formidable base for the (rebel) Cathars or Albigensians; the Basilica of St. Sernin and the Couvent des Jacobins in Toulouse, where the Dominicans were made the guardians of the Catholic faith, and the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Cécile in Albi, built almost entirely of brick.

Nan and Joe appreciated the tour and remarks in Toulouse by Father Renaud Silly, O.P., provincial promoter of Dominican Holy Places and a biblical scholar, and having the opportunity in Les Jacobins to stand in front of the tomb of the great Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Joe, who teaches the Music and Contemplation course at Caldwell, was interested to learn how “Dominic’s way was fundamentally catechetical” in instructing the Cathars about their misguided beliefs about Jesus Christ. “They needed to be led back to the truth about God and about themselves.”

Nan was inspired to look more closely at how the Dominican charisms of study and contemplation could inform her in engaging students to be more focused on having a “servant attitude”, even if they are not religious.  “How can I encourage Dominican values for my students to help them play more of a role in service?”

Dominic engaged people in dialogue, said Nan.  That is an example for faculty today.  “How can I engage my students in dialogue when they don’t expect it?”

The cohort stayed at Notre Dame del Abbaye in Carcassone, an abbey that was converted to a guest house run by Ursuline sisters. They enjoyed the group’s company and “a sense of humor was always welcome,” said Joe.

In Paris, they visited Versailles and went to Notre-Dame de Paris and the gothic royal Sainte Chapelle, with its display of stain-glass windows.

Nan and Joe attended Mass and Vespers at the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Notre Dame and enjoyed a lovely concert by the Cathedral’s children’s choir.