Twice each year, when seniors read Russian novels as part of the seminar curriculum, Thomas Aquinas College’s Lithuanian librarian, Viltis Jatulis, hosts a soirée, like those portrayed in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The centerpiece for these gatherings is an elegant vessel — a century-old Russian samovar.

The samovar, a copper urn used for heating water and serving tea, and its accoutrements come from St. Petersburg, where they were made in 1906. They are the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Shore, local ranchers who are members of the President’s Council. The Shores presented the samovar to the College in 1996, and Mrs. Jatulis has been using it to entertain seniors and their tutors ever since — as she did earlier this semester just prior to their discussion of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov

In the above photo, the samovar sits on an ornate drop-leaf burl wood table, also a gift of the Shores, which is used each year at Commencement to hold the graduates’ diplomas. The icon depicting St. Christopher, on the left side of the table, belongs to Mrs. Jatulis and dates back to the 18th century.

Through the generosity of the Shores and the creativity of Mrs. Jatulis, the College’s students are given a taste — literally! — of the life and times described in two of the great novels they read as part of the College’s unique curriculum.

 

Posted: February 15, 2012

russian tea samovar
Christopher Sebastian (’13)

“In our classroom discussions, we are not only given free rein to speak, but free rein to think. No question is off the table. Anything that can bring a more full understanding of the truth is welcomed and encouraged.”

– Christopher Sebastian (’13)

Livonia, Mich.

“This is truly a Catholic center of learning because it reverberates with the ecclesial life of faith, a faith which unfolds the richness of reason and is given fervent expression liturgically, sacramentally, and through prayer, acts of charity, and a passion for justice.”

– The Most Rev. J. Michael Miller

Archbishop of Vancouver

Former Secretary, Congregation for Catholic Education