Bishop Edward Dominic Fenwick was born on August 19, 1768 on the family plantation in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. At the age of 16, he left his family to attend the College of the Holy Cross in Bornhem, Belgium. Upon completion of his studies, and inspired by his Dominican uncle, he entered the Order of Preachers, joining the English Dominican province on December 4, 1788 as a novice where he was given the religious name Dominic. He was solemnly professed in 1790 and ordained a priest in 1796 at the Cathedral of Saint Baron, in Ghent.
Following nine years of ministry in the English province, Fenwick returned to his homeland to fulfill his lifetime dream to found a Dominican Province in the United States. Unable to receive permission from Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore to found a college in Maryland, he responded to the need for priests on the frontier of Kentucky. Fenwick, in 1806 joined with four friars in founding the first Dominican community in the United States, under the patronage of the first Dominican saint of the Americas, Rose of Lima, in Washington County, Kentucky.
At St. Rose, the friars established a school for young boys, St Thomas Aquinas College, the first Catholic college west of the Alleghenies. Its most famous pupil was the future President of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis.
Fenwick soon was called to the frontier of Ohio, where he ministered to the spiritual and educational needs of the frontier families. He is referred to as the Apostle of Ohio, recognized as an ardent preacher and minister of the Word of God in this new territory. On June 13, 1821 he was appointed the first bishop of Cincinnati and ordained a bishop on January 13, 1822. His diocese included the entire state of Ohio and the vast Michigan Territory, comprising the states of Michigan and Wisconsin.
Dedicated to education, Fenwick invited several women’s religious communities to found schools in his diocese. He established a seminary in Ohio in 1829 and in 1831 a college, known as the Athenaeum.
Fenwick died of cholera on September 26, 1832 while returning from a trip to Mackinaw Island, preaching the Word of God and caring for the many settlers and Native Americans in his vast diocese.
Fenwick High School is named after this pioneering Dominican friar and bishop who dedicated his life to the of education of young men and women.