January 27, 2023

aquinasmass232.jpgCatholic University celebrated the Patronal Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas with an annual Mass in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday, Jan. 26.

At the conclusion of Mass, University President Dr. Peter Kilpatrick shared his reflections on what Aquinas can teach the campus community about how to grow in knowledge and wisdom by loving God and loving our neighbor. 

“The intellectual life implies a search for truth, which is what we are all striving to achieve at this University. By maintaining the fellowship of friends, we are able to better search for truth, which helps us to understand why we should be good to one another. Friendship has the ability to lift people up and help them succeed.” said Kilpatrick.

The Mass began with an academic procession, featuring University faculty dressed in their academic regalia. The celebrant and homilist was Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P., president of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception (PFIC) at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. He was joined by concelebrants from the Dominican House of Studies, Catholic University, the Basilica, and others. The mass was livestreamed and broadcast on EWTN. 

Saint Thomas Aquinas is known for his extraordinary contributions to theology, philosophy, and law and is revered for his holiness. As one of the preeminent figures in the history of Western thought, he is honored as a Doctor of the Church and as patron saint of universities and scholars.                        

Fr. Petri’s homily was focused on the purpose of our God-given rationality, explaining that Aquinas “believed that every person is given the capacity and the principles to know, to retain, and to understand truths.”              

“The pursuit of learning is most satisfying when knowledge and truth are sought for their own sake, because this is the fulfillment of what our minds are made for,” said Fr. Petri.                                        

Fr. Petri explained that the search is fulfilled through knowledge of the truth who is God.  

“It is more than just a pursuit of facts or figures. It is the pursuit of knowledge, of truth. St. Thomas was clear in that our minds can know reality. In fact, that is one of the ways he thinks about truth. ‘Truth,’ he says, ‘is the conformity of mind to reality.’ Truth is not something we find within.” 


Senior philosophy major Marie-Sophie I Brackstone said that the Mass is foundational to the experience of the University’s students.

“It always moves me to attend these school-wide Masses and to see the faculty process through the upper church in their regalia,” Brackstone said. “Ultimately, their work is good only insofar as it seeks that union with God. Our faculty are a great example of what it means to pursue God through intense studies. Students may admire their professors, but before God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are all called to humble ourselves and to praise the goodness of God.”

Watch the Mass in full: