Dominican Education is rooted in the great traditions of the golden age of Europe, the 13th century, when St. Dominic founded his Order to defend the Church against the errors of the time. It was in the schools and universities of mediaeval Europe that part of the battle was fought. It was here that the Dominican Order gave to the Church and to the world, some of the greatest intellectual giants of all time, among them St. Albert the Great, the patron of scientists and his pupil, St. Thomas Aquinas, under whose patronage the Newbridge College is placed.
The motto of the Dominican Order and of Newbridge College is Veritas (which means Truth). It is the Dominican tradition to teach “all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is loveable and gracious, what is excellent and admirable” (St. Paul to the Philippians 4:8). A Dominican school, therefore, seeks to pass on to its pupils not only skills for earning a living but values for living life in a way that shows respect for what is noble and true. Young people formed in the Dominican tradition are taught to assess things at their true worth and to cherish only what is good. They are helped to approach society in a way that is both generous and critical. They are to become Christian citizens, dedicated to the establishment of a society which values peace and justice for the sake of the kingdom of God above all other things. They are to be unflinching in their rejection of what is ignorable and unjust. Dominican pupils are challenged to acquire an appreciation of the finer things in life, so that though these experiences they may come to adopt as their own those values taught by Christ who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”.
“The glory of the living God is man fully formed”. This statement of St. Irenaeus, one of the Fathers of the Church, could be said to underpin and inspire the Dominican vision of education. We do not see ourselves merely as teachers: we consider that our vocation is a wider one, that we are educators, that it is our role to help to form the young people in our care and to do this in co-operation with their parents. Thus all aspects of the young person’s character are to be taken into consideration and to be stimulated and developed.
In practical terms this means that while a very special emphasis must be given to the academic/intellectual development of the pupil, growth in other areas must also be fostered. This is seen to be an integral part of the function of the school. These other elements of the character include the spiritual, the social, the moral, the aesthetic and the physical.
The spiritual formation of our pupils of central concern to us. This is approached in two ways. In the first place the ethos of the school actively supports and promotes the values mentioned above. These values are given practical application in the quality of relationship between staff and pupils and among the pupils themselves. These values are explicitly set before the pupils as ideals and the example of the staff, Dominican and lay, seeks to show them at work. In the second place, a comprehensive programme of religious instruction is in operation. This is complemented by various other experiences, e.g. annual retreats, the celebration of the sacraments, etc.
The Dominican Order has behind it some seven centuries of intimate contact with the whole of cultural Europe, in schools, colleges and universities. In Ireland this history has seen the Dominicans deeply involved in the first university in Dublin, in the 14th century. It has seen them establish schools throughout the land, from Ussher’s Island in Dublin to the most remote areas of County Mayo. This tradition of Dominican education has been cherished down through the centuries and for almost a century and a half has been concentrated in Newbridge College. In addition to all that is done explicitly in the classroom, it is the hope of the Dominican Community that some of this noble tradition will rub off on our young men and women and will help them to grow into adults of whom their parents, their school, their country and their church will be proud.