New England


On Tuesday, March 7 — the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas — the campus of Thomas Aquinas College, New England, came together for an all-day celebration of the College’s patron.

The day began, fittingly, with Mass in Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel. Two dozen altar servers processed down the aisle, followed by members of the faculty, clad in academic regalia, then, finally, the chaplains, flanking the celebrant, Rev. Michael Sherwin, O.P., director of the Institute of Spirituality at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

Photos: Mass for the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas
  • Fr. Sherwin at the pulpit
  • The tutors listen
  • Another view of Fr. Sherwin at the pulpit
  • View down the aisle as Mass takes place
  • Closeup of the same
  • Fr. Gurtler at the pulpit
  • The four priests around the altar
  • Another view of the same, with incense clouds in the foreground
  • Kneeling altar servers at the Sanctus
  • The four priests face the altar before the recessional
  • Altar servers recess behind the crucifer
  • The tutors process out
  • Another view of tutors recessing
  • Another view of tutors recessing
  • The four priests recess


In his homily, Fr. Sherwin reflected on St. Thomas’s humility. When his superiors reassigned him from teaching at the prestigious University of Paris to a much simpler position at the Dominican priory in Orvieto, Italy, the sainted friar responded with the confidence that “in every event in our lives, God’s Providence puts us in the right place,” said Fr. Sherwin. “He lived to perfect himself in a quiet and humble way.”


Fr. Sherwin eats with students at brunch


After Mass and brunch, students, faculty, and guests converged on Dolben Auditorium for Fr. Sherwin’s St. Thomas Day Lecture, his third for the College and first for the New England campus. This year, Father addressed the need for St. Thomas’s lucid wisdom in our muddled times, recalling three other periods when the Angelic Doctor’s clarity proved indispensable: the 14th century controversy surrounding William of Ockham’s rejection of universals, the theological and political turmoil of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, and the 19th century denial of nature, spearheaded by Friedrich Nietzsche.


Fr. Sherwin lectures
Rev. Michael Sherwin, O.P.


“The principles of Aquinas’s natural philosophy reveal little, but what they reveal are the very qualitative aspects of the natural world, the neglect or denial of which has led to the crises of modern times,” said Fr. Sherwin. “We need to rediscover the natures of things, which Thomas’s humble philosophy of nature can provide.”

In the evening, after a dinner of tri-tip steak, students and faculty gathered in the Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati Student Center for Trivial Quadrivial Pursuits, a competitive, madcap game based on the College’s classical curriculum. Per tradition, the students were divided into three teams named for the three arts of the classical Trivium: Grammarians, Logicians, and Rhetoricians.

Photos: Trivial & Quadrivial Pursuits
  • The Irish team makes its entrance
  • The tutor panel sits in judgement
  • Team Alaska enters
  • The tutors chuckle at an answer
  • The students look on with enthusiasm
  • Four cheer
  • The tutors chuckle at an answer
  • Students pose
  • The tutors chuckle at an answer
  • Dr. Coughlin reads a question
  • A student does push-ups
  • Enthusiastic cheering from Team Israelites
  • A student rolls the megadie
  • One team confabulates
  • The tutors chuckle at an answer
  • Cheers from the students
  • More cheering
  • The ref attaches cubes to team leader mortarboards
  • Wild cheering
  • The tutors sit in judgement
  • Thumbs-down from the tutors
  • Cheering from the students
  • Team Israelites parades about

The Grammarians entered first, with team captain Georgiana Egan (’24) playing the part of Moses, leading a group of Israelites through an enthusiastic ocean composed of her teammates. Next, the Logicians entered the scene as a group of wild Irishmen, headed by Ben Domnarski (’23), who engaged in a heated “argument” with a Scotsman in front of the judges. Finally, Casey Kirk (’23) brought in the Rhetoricians, dressed as Alaskans, who waved rally signs as they stampeded into the room.

The tutors sat in judgment, posing arcane questions from the curriculum — but were more than a little susceptible to sophistry and enticements, usually offered in the form of desserts. After two hours of frantic team powwows, boisterous objections, and tutor venality, the Logicians came out on top, setting a record: Mr. Domnarski has been on a winning team every year of his time at the College!

Even the famously somber St. Thomas would have cracked a smile on the day’s proceedings.