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Amen Corner - January 30, 2022

Amen Corner

By Kathy Kuczka

This weekend, we celebrate the feast of our parish patron, St. Thomas Aquinas, an Italian who joined the Dominican Order, also known as the Order of Preachers. Members of the Dominican Order, which includes priests, sisters and affiliated laypersons, commit themselves to studying, teaching and preaching the Word of God in every time and place. Their intellectual tradition has cultivated many leading theologians and philosophers.


In honor of our parish patron and his religious order, I spoke via email to Sr. Catherine Joseph Droste, a Dominican Sister who is the Dean of Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, also known as the Angelicum, to get her perspective on one of the greatest theologians that ever lived.


Tell me where you were born and how you came to live in Italy.

I grew up on a farm in Iowa, the youngest of 12 children. I am a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia based in Nashville, Tennessee. I entered the Congregation almost thirty-five years ago after finishing my undergraduate studies. I was first sent to Rome by my Congregation in 1997 to study theology. Later I was asked to complete the doctorate, and in 2011 I received an invitation to return to Rome to teach at the Angelicum.


What inspired you choose the Dominican Order? 

When I first considered the possibility of being a religious sister, I did not know the Dominicans. I had a desire to be a teacher and a religious, so when I met the Sisters it seemed very natural that I would ask to enter this community.


Can you talk about the influence of Thomas Aquinas on the Church?

Over the centuries Thomas has had a great influence on the Church's teaching. He was an intellectual, but his writings on virtue also give great evidence of common sense. His clarity of thought, systematic and extensive writing on a variety of philosophical and theological topics has been and is an invaluable resource for Christians of all times, of all cultures, and of all walks of life. Thus, he is called the "Common Doctor,” though he was not terribly common. But he is also called the "Angelic Doctor" and the "Doctor Humanitatis,” Doctor of humanity. These two titles complement one another. Thomas was no angel but a man of flesh and blood. He understood human nature, the struggles of sin and vice, as well as the great holiness to which each of us is called. 


How has Thomas Aquinas has influenced your life?

I consider Thomas a great friend, teacher, and intercessor.  My studies have introduced me to many philosophers and theologians - living and dead - but Thomas Aquinas teaches one how to think and how to pray.


How can Thomas Aquinas help us to live our every-day spirituality?

Thomas Aquinas is both a Doctor and a saint. His study of God was not merely an intellectual exercise. It led him to a deep union with God. He coined one of the Dominican mottos: Contemplare et contemplata aliis trader, which means "To contemplate and to give to others the fruits of your contemplation." Every person is called to contemplate God for our own growth in holiness, but also so that we can become instruments of love and truth to others. 


What do you think Thomas Aquinas would say to us if he were alive today?

Thomas would tell us to use the reason God has given us, whatever our individual capacity. But rather than tell us many things (he has already done that in his writings), I think he would ask Catholics (cleric, religious, and laity), What are you reading? Who are you listening to? What are you doing with your spare time?


Take some time today to learn about Thomas Aquinas, to contemplate, as he did, the goodness of God, and then share the fruit of your contemplation with everyone you meet. Happy Feast Day!


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