Learning as a Dominican

Blog by Associate Paul Bonitatibus

After completing a thirty-five year career in banking, I have become quite proficient at the art of retirement. I golf (badly), spoil grandchildren (I am good at this!), travel frequently (visited thirty three countries and planning for more), do volunteer work, follow Notre Dame Football (have attended 165 games), and pursue opportunities for lifelong learning.

Have you ever enrolled in a MOOC – Massive Open Online Course? These are classes offered by universities on a variety of subjects and if you opt just for the knowledge rather than a certificate, they are generally free. Two of the more popular MOOC’s are EdX and Coursera. I have taken a Georgia Tech writing class, two classes from Notre Dame – Statistics and the Architecture of Rome, Climate Change from The University of Melbourne, The University of London’s “The Camera Never Lies,” and even the “Music of the Beatles” from the University of Rochester.

These classes have been fun and educational while providing an opportunity to interact with hundreds, even thousands, of others taking the courses worldwide. But, my most recent course, EdX.org’s “Human Rights, The Rights of Refugees” was more than just educational. It was disturbing, thought provoking, and called for action.

My grandparents were immigrants. I was blessed by their love and guidance and saw them every day of the week until I started high school. I often think of them when I hear about walls, quotas, DACA, and camps. What if they were denied access to Ellis Island in the early 1900’s?

How should we as Dominicans address the plight of refugees and immigrants? Let’s do what Dominicans do best.


Open our hearts in prayer and support

Make a difference

Inform others about the issue

Navigate the political landscape

Impact the lives of those in need



Never stop Building Peace

Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

11 responses to “Learning as a Dominican

  1. Associate Paul, below I identified the man who wrote the article Rob Rebein
    It went viral and I know him as a writer and professor. His folks live here in Dodge City where I minister.


  2. My father, the dreamer
    My father was an orphan of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. He had no birth certificate, didn’t even know that he was adopted until he joined a Babe Ruth baseball team at the age of fifteen, and a coach at a regional tournament asked for proof of his age and citizenship, and he wasn’t able to give it.
    He went to the man he knew as his father, a tightlipped farmer whose formal education ended in the 8th grade when the government closed his school down because the classes were taught in German and there was a war brewing, and asked how it was he’d never been told about any of this.
    “It never mattered,” his father shrugged. “You’re a Rebein and you work hard, the same as the rest of us. End of story.”
    That was enough for my father. He continued to work hard, and in time, he graduated from high school, went to college, got married in the Catholic Church, started a successful business, and raised seven sons, one of whom (me) studied abroad in England.
    While I was over there, I wrote to my parents, asking them to visit.
    “I don’t know,” my mother wrote back. “Your dad doesn’t have a birth certificate, so getting a passport will be difficult. We’ll try, though. We’ll make it happen if we can.”
    After a lot of effort and red tape, most all of it navigated by my mother, my father was finally issued a birth certificate (in her handwriting, no less) and, after that, a US passport, and my parents were able to visit me in England after all.
    I haven’t thought about that story for many years, but I thought about it today.
    You know, my father is a dreamer, too. He lived so much of his life in the dark or flying under the radar. He worked hard, kept his head down, did his job as best he could.
    But the thing is, when push came to shove, the country he knew as his own accepted him. Yes, he was white and the child of US citizens, the grandchild of naturalized immigrants. But he was undocumented all the same.
    I wonder what my family, my home parish, my hometown would be like if by some stroke of wickedness or freakish fate my father had been deported as a teenager. What a huge, generational loss that would have been.
    I’ll never know, of course, because it didn’t happen. My father was allowed to continue dreaming, and he’s still dreaming to this day.
    I hope today’s dreamers get their chance, too.

  3. Associate Paul, below I identified the man who wrote the article Rob Rebein
    Did his article come through to you? It went viral and I know him as a writer and professor. His folks live here in Dodge City where I minister.

  4. Thank you, Paul. You have some very good advice. I especially like the ending piece on how you see a Dominican can make a difference.

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