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An inside look at D.C.’s Dominican House of Studies

Dominican House of Studies Tour

The Dominican House of Studies | Fair Use via YouTube

J-P Mauro - published on 10/08/23

The Dominicans give young men a realistic look at the life of a seminarian, in video hosted by a relatable young priest with a down-to-earth style.

Over the summer, the friars of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., produced a brief video that offers a tour of the building and a Q&A with a young priest. Viewers are treated to the beautiful sights of the chapels where Dominican friars and priests celebrate Mass and pray, while the off-the-cuff tone of the conversation gives a genuine glimpse of the daily life of a Dominican. 

The tour is led by Father Simon Teller, whom Aleteia readers may recognize as the fiddle player for the Hillbilly Thomists. While his thoughts are of heaven, his responses to questions are down-to-earth and relatable. The unscripted nature of the interview keeps Fr. Teller on his toes, but his youthful appearance belies a wealth of Catholic knowledge that allows him to quickly and thoughtfully respond to each query.

Beginning in the pure white halls of the Dominican House of Studies, Fr. Teller introduces himself, saying he was ordained in 2021, after six years of studying to become a priest of the Dominican Order. While he walks, the interviewer peppers in a variety of questions, which Fr. Teller fields on the spot — explaining why the halls are arranged in a square (monastic tradition) and identifying Catholic figures represented in the various statues that they pass. 

It is here as well that Fr. Teller explains that entering the priesthood does not mean that one must abandon their other interests. For many young men who resist the call to discern a vocation, the thing that holds them back is the thought that they will no longer be able to pursue their passions — but this is not the case. Fr. Teller, for instance, has a love of bluegrass music that he continues to explore, only now his talent helps to support his order. 

The tour heads into St. Thomas Aquinas chapel, where the seminarians study and practice celebrating Mass. Fr. Teller explains that there is a whole class devoted to teaching prospective priests everything from how to hold the sacred vessels to how to give homilies, as well as how to perform sacraments like baptisms. While it can be a little stressful to put on a “practice” Mass in front of one’s peers, Fr. Teller admitted that his time pretending to say Mass as a child prepared him well for this aspect of seminary

The most breathtaking sight of the entire video comes when Fr. Teller takes the viewer into the main chapel, where the Dominicans gather for all of their community prayers. He explains why the choir stalls are facing each other (so that the brothers can chant the prayers back and forth) as well as several other features of the chapel, from the raised altar to the rood screen. He said the Dominicans pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily, but they also attend Mass, pray the Rosary, and meditate as a community. 

There’s much more waiting in this short video to spur devotion in the curious minds of young Catholics, including Fr. Teller introducing viewers to his familial brother, Fr. Jonah Teller – who is also a Dominican priest. They also give a look at the library where seminarians study, as well as a peek at the extensive archives of the Dominican House of Studies. 

See the full tour in the video above, and be sure to share it with any young men you know who may be discerning a vocation to become a Catholic priest or a Dominican friar. Visit the Dominican House of Studies’ website to learn more.

Tags:
DominicansPriesthoodVocations
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