The Coat of Arms for the University of Ottawa includes the Latin Phrase “Deus Scientiarum Dominus Est” – “God is the Lord of all Science.” If you look up the word science in the dictionary or wikipedia you’ll find a meaning something to the effect of “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” But this definition of science is not likely the definition that the Oblate priests had in mind in 1848 when they founded the University of Ottawa. Science before the 19th century was understood as “the knowledge of nature and the things which are true for every community, and the name of the specialized pursuit of such knowledge was philosophy.” The coat of arms for the university might be better translated as “God is the Lord of all Knowledge/Study/Investigation” to reflect the academic context of the 19th century.
This coat of arms still sits front and centre above the grand entrance into Tabaret Hall. Most students don’t notice it, and if they do, it is likely because they have an appreciation of historical adornment more so than an appreciation for the motto itself. But the OCRCC is very conscious of the coat of arms and in our work we hope that we are continuing a legacy that was a part of the original vision of these Catholic founding fathers. In all of our work, reflection, activities and leisure we hope to continually instill within our community a sense of the Lordship of God in all of life and a vision for how their lives and callings are a valuable part of God’s redemptive work.
As a campus ministry, one might even say that our calling at uOttawa mirrors the Biblical narrative. In scripture, the church (called out ones) is given a redemptive calling that is based upon a vision of a good creation. The church is constantly trying to understand how to be an agent of reconciliation according to that vision. In a parallel format, we know that the original vision of the University of Ottawa was one of deep exploration of God’s world. As a ministry, we feel that we are called to be reconciling agents according to the original vision which stated that “God is the Lord of all Science.” We hope that you will hold us in prayer this year as we “creationally” live out that calling.