Thomas Aquinas was the youngest of nine children born to noble parents in the Kingdom of Sicily. Following the tradition of the times, five-year-old Thomas was sent to the Abbey of Monte Cassino to train among Benedictine monks. He continued his studies with the Benedictine at the University of Naples but became interested in serving with the Order of Preachers, the Dominicans. They emphasized a life of spiritual service among the people rather than the solitude of the monastery.
Thomas Aquinas eventually became a great scholar and writer, especially in the area of reconciling faith and reason – religion and science. He also tried to show how believers of God should act in the world to fulfill the divine plan for all creation. After completing his education, St. Thomas Aquinas devoted himself to a life of traveling, writing, teaching, public speaking and preaching. Religious institutions and universities alike yearned to benefit from the wisdom of “The Christian Apostle.”
Today, St. Thomas Aquinas is honored as the Patron of Catholic Schools, and the last week of January, which incorporates his feast day, is celebrated as Catholic Schools Week in all Catholic dioceses in the United States. The legacy of his impact upon Catholic social teaching is significant too. His defense of the poor and call to charity are among the most eloquent teachings of the church.
Cross Catholic Outreach is rooted in this long tradition of theology and ministry exemplified by St. Thomas Aquinas, and we promote the compassionate care for the poorest of the poor as we serve throughout the world.
In honor of Catholic Schools Week, let’s especially remember the Church’s efforts in the developing world to educate and empower the children of the poor. One example is Shambu Catholic Kindergarten, a Cross Catholic Outreach project that relies on our support to bless Ethiopian children with a basic education and daily nutritious meals. Read all about them in our project catalog!
-Fr. Bernard Olszewski