MEDITATION OF THE DAY
New Wine in the New World
My Lords and Gentlemen: Actuated by motives congenial to the feelings of every well-wisher to his native country, I beg leave to submit to your approbation, and solicit your patronage of a plan calculated, I hope, to promote instruction, morality, and religion in America.
A native of Maryland, I entered the holy Order of Saint Dominic at Bornhem [in Belgium], with the view of endeavoring, as soon as I should be duly qualified for so arduous an undertaking, to establish in my native country a seminary of religious men…who, actuated by an apostolic spirit, might effectively labor to plant religion and virtue in the widely extended continent of America.
The Revolution on the continent, and its attendant calamities, have long delayed the execution of the plan; but, at length, it has pleased God to remove every obstacle, and place me on the eve of bringing it into effect. My superiors at Rome and here give me every possible encouragement, and all necessary powers and faculties. The Right Reverend Doctor Carroll, Bishop of Baltimore, promises his warmest support to the undertaking, and in a letter he has honored me with, presses the execution of the plan, and adds that it is only from such an establishment he can hope for a sufficient supply of zealous and exemplary laborers in the vineyard of the Lord….
These fair prospects encourage me confidently to hope that Almighty God will enable me to execute a plan, of which the sole object is to promote his greatest honor and glory and the good of my neighbor…. I trust this undertaking will meet your full approbation, and, to enable me to execute it, humbly beg the assistance of your charitable donations, which, however small, will be received…and will be ever most gratefully acknowledged by me, and, I hope by many who will long look back to their first benefactors with all the gratitude and veneration due to founders.
I am, with due respect…your most obedient and humble servant.
Bishop Edward Dominic Fenwick
Bishop Fenwick († 1832) was an American Dominican priest and the first Bishop of Cincinnati, Ohio. The above text is from a letter to potential benefactors in England. [From Edward Dominic Fenwick Papers 1803-1832, Founding American Dominican Friar and Bishop. © 2005, William Luke Tancrell, o.p., New York, NY. All rights reserved.]