News & Events
Dominican Institute President’s Address
- October 12, 2020
- Posted by: Webmaster2019
- Category: Uncategorized
The Dean (in absentia), The Registrar, The Chief Librarian, The Program Coordinator, Faculty Staff of DI, My dear students,
I warmly welcome each and every one of you to this inaugural Mass that marks the commencement of the 2020/2021 Academic year of the Dominican Institute. Far from being just an annual ritual, the Inaugural Mass underscores our belief that at the origin and end of every human enterprise is God Almighty. This belief in God as the source and end of all things is even more appropriate for the theological enterprise, which has become the singular focal point of the Dominican Institute following the termination of the philosophy program in DI at the end of the last academic session.
This year’s inaugural Mass takes on a particular note of gratitude. Yes, we have a special reason to express our profound gratitude to God for sparing our lives from the Covid-19 pandemic. We have no record of death of any DI staff or student to Covid-19 or any other mishap. As we thank God for his protection, we pray for the peaceful repose of those who lost their lives to Covid-19. May God grant them eternal rest.
The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic is, doubtlessly, the greatest global crisis in recent human history. Yet, every crisis comes along with great opportunities. While some individuals and institutions expend their energies bemoaning a crisis and becoming paralyzed by it, others channel their energies in exploring and harnessing the opportunities latent in that crisis. The Dominican Institute chose not to be paralyzed by it but to explore and harness the opportunities it offers. This was what informed the Institute’s decision not to suspend lectures last semester but to explore the possibility of virtual learning even when it lacked all the capacity to do so. Although, that initial attempt came with a lot of challenges, it was, nonetheless, a good and wise decision. While virtually all institutions has suffered a disruption in their academic calendar, the Dominican Institute has maintained its regular academic calendar. This, you must agree, is no small achievement given that several other institutions in the country are either still shut down or are struggling to complete the 2019/2020 academic session.
But beyond maintaining our regular academic calendar, the Institute has harnessed, and will continue to harness, the opportunities presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19 has brought to our consciousness the human capacity to accomplish much even without physical presence. The Institute has keyed into this opportunity by integrating virtual learning as a permanent feature of its pedagogical and learning method. Virtual learning, therefore, will continue to be employed even when physical classes resume. Henceforth, our students will have the opportunity of receiving virtual but real-time lectures from some of the best lecturers within and outside the continent. For this academic semester, we have two lecturers that will be teaching from the United States of America, one from Rome, another from Rwanda, and one from CIWA, PH. Of these, three are Dominicans.
To facilitate and improve the experience of virtual learning, the ICT unit of the Dominican University, led by Fr. Peter Onwe, OP has developed a unique virtual teaching/learning platform that successfully integrates both the features of zoom and goggle classroom technologies. This platform is remarkable for its simplicity and comprehensiveness. We thank Fr. Onwe and his team for this wonderful achievement.
An important lesson each of us should learn from our Institutional experience is this: Always remember that in every crisis, problem, or difficulty, there are latent opportunities. While you should acknowledge them, expend the greater part of your energy: intellectual, psycho-spiritual, emotional, etc. focusing on the opportunities latent in them. That is the key to overcoming any crisis or problem. Complaining and wallowing in self-pity do not offer solutions. They will further compound the problem. There will certainly be some difficulties that you will experience with virtual teaching and learning. Take note of those difficulties, but more importantly, seek out the opportunities latent in them, and discover ways to overcome them. This mental attitude is what drives progress and development. Let that become your own mental perspective henceforth.
As we return to the classrooms, whether virtual or physical, I would urge both staff and students to have at the back of their mind the thematic question of virtual reality and all other related issues or questions related to it. As noted earlier, it is a theme that the Covid-19 induced lockdown has thrust on us. We must explore both the philosophical and theological import of virtual reality. Today, there is need to ask if virtual experience is, indeed, a real experience. But then, does the concept of real mean the same thing today as it meant pre-Covid-19? What would be the implications of virtual reality for some of our theological positions? In short, the theme of virtual and physical experience vis-à-vis real experience must be integrated to our respective courses during this academic session. For instance, the course on ecclesiology should be able to explore the concept of virtual church. It will be a serious shortcoming if we do not explore constructive and innovative ways of relating this thematic issue to the courses we teach.
On a final note, I would like to warmly welcome our fresh students who are enrolling into the Institute for either their undergraduate or postgraduate theological studies. You must count yourselves fortunate for having been given the privilege of studying in the best theological faculty in Africa, and one of the best in the world. We have an established tradition of rigor and excellence. The testimonials of many of our alumni who are either pursuing higher studies or are in active pastoral ministries and other professional fields, both within and outside Nigeria, confirm the sound and solid intellectual foundation they received at the Dominican Institute. We are, indeed, proud of our tradition and achievements. So, you have been given a special privilege, do not waste it. Do not consider the academic demands that will be made of you by your lecturers as a burden. Accept them with a willing and cheerful spirit. Read those assigned texts diligently. Take time to write those research papers. Do not seek to cut corners. If you exert yourselves in imbibing the intellectual discipline and rigor that has become the hallmark of our Institute, you will remain eternally grateful for the privilege of studying at the Dominican Institute. I commend each and every one of you to the maternal intercession of the Great Mother of God, Seat of Wisdom and Mother of Light. May the Fathers and Doctors of the Church accompany each of you as you commence the quest for knowledge. May our search for truth, bring us closer to the Eternal Truth, who lives and reigns as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forevermore. Amen.