by Nicole Patano ’22
Featured Guest Writer
Under the white robes, every friar has a unique story. Katie Burdick ‘22 and Sahrah Rajeh ‘22 have been sharing these stories on their WDOM radio show, “Beyond the Habit.”
Fr. Isaac Morales, O.P., appeared on the show on Oct. 20 to discuss his identity as a Dominican friar and as a member of the Providence College community.
Fr. Isaac is a relatively new addition to the St. Thomas Aquinas Priory. He was ordained in May 2018 and began his professorship that autumn. Despite this, he is well-known on campus; a fedora is his staple accessory, and he even wears a Marvin the Martian wristwatch.
Fr. Isaac’s name encapsulates his character perfectly. While he first said he chose “Isaac” as his religious name for practical reasons, such as being able to transition easily between English-and Spanish-speaking ministry, there appeared to be more to the story.
Not only does Isaac represent the characteristic of obedience of the Dominicans by willingly offering himself as a sacrifice in Genesis: 22, his name means laughter. Anyone who knows Fr. Isaac knows he does a lot of that.
The full religious name Fr. Isaac chose is Isaac Augustine, with Augustine as his devotional name. Like Saint Augustine, Fr. Isaac attempted to oppose God’s will for a good portion of his life. Although he suspected he was called to priesthood in college, he did not want to be a priest at all; he wanted to get married and have a family. He said in one sense discerning his vocation was a gradual thing, but “in other ways it was like a lightswitch flipped on.” When he told his mom he was looking into joining the Dominican Order, she told him, “It’s about time.”
Most of Fr. Isaac’s family is supportive of his vocation, and he tries to visit them whenever he can. He is Latino, but most people do not know that his great-grandmother was Lebanese.
When Fr. Isaac did an AncestryDNA test, he discovered that he was 11 percent Middle Eastern. He joked, “That’s how I got the schnoz.” People will often mistake him as Jewish, which is hilarious to him as such a devout Catholic.
The one word Fr. Isaac used to describe himself was “goofy.” He does not find goofiness and the life of Catholic devotion to be mutually exclusive. In fact, he said they are necessarily related. “The goal [of religious vocation] is happiness and human flourishing,”he said.
One of his personal goals for PC students is for them to see that faith is not opposed to human flourishing and happiness.
Fr. Isaac is primarily a faculty member of the theology department, but he has three “moonlighting gigs” as chaplain of McVinney Hall, the women’s soccer team, and the Board of Programmers (BOP). He finds being part of this formative time in students’ lives to be the most rewarding aspect of his role at the College.
Visit him at a BOP event, take a class with him, join him for Baking with Fr. Isaac every month in the McVinney kitchen, and you will see that his love for God and his students comes through in everything he does on campus.
Regardless of your religious background, if you are interested, ask him about attending vespers in the priory. It is sure to be an experience you will not soon forget.