Thursday, August 30, 2012


What's DSPT stand for again?

The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology.

Is it run by people from the Dominican Republic or something?

No, it's an apostolate of the Western province of the Order of Preachers, commonly known as the Dominicans.

Huh? what's an apostolate?

An "apostolate" is a term for an operation or place of ministry of a religious order, diocese, or other Church body. It comes from the Greek word meaning "to be sent out" that supplies the root for the word "apostle." This might help: the Latin equivalent word might be "missio," so think "mission" or "missionary" and you'll see.

OK. But why is this Order of Preachers called "Dominicans"?

After their founder, St. Dominic Guzman.

Wait, why are we talking about this guys? I thought we were talking about the school.

Well, since their name is in the school, and they founded it and run it, they're sort of important to the whole enterprise.

Do tell.

Well, way back in 1851, the Dominican Order founded a house of studies for their friars in Monterey, California.

(Wait, real quick: what's a friar?)

("Friar" is the term for their members used by orders like the Dominicans and Franciscans. It derives from the Latin word "frater" meaning "brother.")

(OK, thanks. Go on.)

That went along until 1932, when they moved the house to Oakland and incorporated it as the College of St. Albert the Great.

They moved the whole house!?

No, idiot, they moved their "house of studies." Think of the Earl of Grantham moving his "household" from the country to London for the season.

A. What are you, Bud Abbot? What are you calling me an idiot for? B. You've watched too much Downton Abbey.

A. You're right, I apologize. B. It is not possible to watch too much Downton Abbey. May I continue?


In 1962, the Graduate Theological Union formed, a consortium of small religious schools that combined in order to provide their students with more resources. The College of St. Albert joined the GTU in 1964, and received their accreditation from the state of California that same year.

What's all this College of St. Albert talk? Who's this St. Albert fellow when he's at home anyway?

The school officially changed its name in 1976 from the College of St. Albert the Great to the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology. St. Albert the Great was a Dominican priest and later a bishop who lived in the 13th century. He was a great thinker of his time: philosopher, theologian, natural scientist. He is probably most famous for having been the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. It was through Albert's encouragement and recognition of Thomas's gifts that Thomas began to excel in his studies and became perhaps the greatest theologian in the Church's history.

The DSPT takes as its model for teaching that relationship between Albert and Thomas: personal, involved, open to investigating any question fully and fairly, always seeking the truth through the lights of human reason and divine revelation--fides quaerens intellectum, "faith seeking understanding."

Now I'll open the floor. Questions?


  1. Can I just say that I think your "questioner" is pretty darn funny. Lots of info I didn't know thanks. Now address what the other schools in the GTU are, and what resources they share, please. :)

  2. Yes, my interlocutor did happen to be myself... perhaps then it was an "intralocutor."

    GTU Member Schools

    American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW) - American Baptist Church, USA

    Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) - Episcopal Church

    Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology (DSPT) - Roman Catholic Church

    Franciscan School of Theology (FST) - Roman Catholic Church

    Jesuit School of Theology (JST) - Roman Catholic Church

    Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) - Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

    Pacific School of Religion (PSR) - Multi-denominational

    San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS) - Presbyterian Church (USA)

    Starr King School for the Ministry (SKSM)- Unitarian Universalist

    They have a shared library, and students from any school can take courses at any of the others. Those are the two big things, I think.

  3. And that library, by the way, is one the best theology libraries in the US (even if it isn't the prettiest). I know at least three Notre Dame theology profs to make annual visits to Berkeley to use it.