Lasting Impressions of Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli

Father Samuel Mazzuchelli

With trumpets blaring (figuratively), the 2014 spring semester has commenced.  After a few days of classes, I am pumped to have returned to campus for the sole reason of growing closer to my Dominican family.  Life is filled with so many darn amazing possibilities, to expand one’s many horizons and fill the heart with ever-more joy. Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli is a legend of Dominican success.  His sufferings and joys were the beginning steps toward bringing countless opportunities to River Forest.   

As the ship neared the Boston harbor, Fr. Mazzuchelli was relieved to have survived the intrepid journey across the Atlantic from his beloved homeland of Italy.

As a man of innovation and integrity, Fr. Mazzuchelli fulfilled numerous roles during his lifetime of 57 years.  He believed in education for all and had the courage to speak the truth.  Here at Dominican we look to his courage, and that of others, as we proclaim our motto Caritas et Veritas.

Fr. Mazzuchelli may have traveled to new territory in North America with the mindset of a priest, but he became known for other equally important roles. He designed and assisted in the building of numerous churches. He worked with the locals to cultivate the land. Countless nights he spent behind his telescope, partaking in the beauty of astronomy. The founding of Santa Clara Academy in Wisconsin – which would one day become Rosary College and later Dominican University now located in Illinois – took a great deal of administrative work on his part. Fr. Mazzuchelli involved himself a variety of activities. The students of Dominican are to follow in his footsteps. Besides coursework, students have so many opportunities to distinguish themselves as Stars. Are you called to spend time volunteering with our homeless outreach opportunities, while also participating in Eco Club? Will you tend to the student-gardens on campus, while writing for the Dominican Star student newspaper?

The indigenous people of the upper Midwest along with the daughters of frontier families made up the majority of students at Santa Clara Academy. By going against the norm of educating European males he was among the pioneers in this area. He set up a curriculum of reading, writing, science, and even the arts. Fr. Mazzuchelli is well known for the indigenous prayer books he translated, showing a particular interest in knowing the local cultures. The heart of the Dominican experience is in the classroom, where the academic efforts of all students are to be praised. Do you have the humility and experience to work for the Academic Enrichment Center as a tutor? Do you have an interest in pairing up with a student in the English Language Services program, with the goal of helping a student to improve his/her reading, writing, and above all, speaking?

Fr. Mazzuchelli was horrified by the genocide of Native Americans, as a so-called necessary evil in the work of territorial expansion. He wrote to Wisconsin territorial delegate George Wallace Jones, stating that the European whites acted unjustly by betraying treaties made with the natives. He pointedly condemned the government’s underhanded dealings done for the sake of the wealthy few. Fr. Mazzuchelli once preached that the discontentment and unrest of all American people was due to the sins of the entire nation. College is the time for students to become active citizens, which means a willingness to learn about the politics that affect our nation so heavily. Will you write to your state representative, to state your opinion on matters such as undocumented students, the MAP grant, or health care reform? Do you have an interest in joining the Student Government Association?

Dominican Stars are each called, just as Fr. Mazzuchelli, to serve his or her community in a variety of ways, to recognize and affirm the academic efforts and success of all people, and to diligently speak one’s mind about important matters that affect the entire nation. I will conclude this reflection with a quote from Fr. Mazzuchelli, “Let us wake up then… and set out for any place where the work is great and difficult.”