Introducing Fr. Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P., Catholic University’s chaplain and director of Campus Ministry! You will see Fr. Aquinas walking around campus and celebrating daily Mass, so please take the opportunity to welcome him to our Cardinal Community. He’s looking forward to meeting and serving each of the students here at Catholic University.
Fr. Aquinas took a few minutes out of his busy schedule getting ready for students’ return to the University to tell us more about himself and Campus Ministry’s plans for the academic year.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
What drew you to the priesthood and what brought you to Catholic University?
I grew up in South Louisiana, in the heart of Cajun Country. I entered seminary after high school, and after philosophy studies in Louisiana and theology studies in Boston I was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Lafayette in 2002. Three years later I entered the Dominican Order. St. Dominic's ideal of the mixed life of contemplation and action is what drew me to become a Friar Preacher.
As a Dominican, I have studied, preached, and taught in various assignments, including serving as the most recent prior of The Dominican House of Studies, which is right across the street from campus. Now providence brings me to Catholic University and I couldn't be more grateful to God for this gift to serve the Cardinal community.
Three of the priests who will be on campus soon to serve as associate chaplains are fellow Dominicans: Fr. Hugh Vincent Dyer, O.P.; Fr. Joseph Martin Hagan, O.P.; and Fr. Frassati Davis, O.P. A fourth, Fr. Teodosio “Teo" Bre a, is a priest of the Saint John Society. For those who are not familiar, what does it mean to be a member of these religious organizations?
The Order of Preachers, commonly called the Dominicans after our founder Saint Dominic, is an 800-year-old religious order whose members combine monastic observance, fraternity, and rigorous study to preach for the salvation of souls.
The Saint John Society is a 20-year-old religious community whose members combine asceticism, fraternity, and rigorous study in order to evangelize peoples and cultures, especially those alienated from the Gospel.
The material realities of our two communities are different, but their form is the same. We share one goal: the preaching of Jesus Christ to all.
The Conventual Franciscans led Campus Ministry for many years. How do you hope to build on their ministry?
For nearly a quarter century, the Conventual Franciscans led Campus Ministry with humility, love, and zeal. They leave behind a strong pastoral legacy, especially in caring for the poor, the forgotten and the marginalized. The efforts of the friars — and of Fr. Bob and Fr. Jude in particular — will bear fruit for the Church and the world for years to come.
The new priests coming to campus will honor and continue their legacy. We will give particular attention to the preaching and teaching of the faith, as well as to the worship of God in the liturgy. Through these works in particular, and through service to the poor, we want to help everyone on campus become a friend — or a better friend — of Christ.
What are your desert island reads?
The Bible would be a given. You probably also would expect me to say the "Summa Theologiae," which I would absolutely have. Three other books I would want with me are St. John Cassian's "Conferences," Dante's "Divine Comedy," and my old college “Riverside Shakespeare.”
Follow Fr. Aquinas on Twitter: @FrAquinasOP