Image Courtesy of the Catholic University of America
By Zachary Lichter and Anna Harvey
On June 21, 2022, the Catholic University community received an email announcing the appointment of Father Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P., to serve as CUA’s University Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry.
A native of Louisiana, Fr. Aquinas was ordained a priest in 2002 for the Diocese of Lafayette. In 2005, he entered the Dominican Order, fulfilling a desire that first arose in his heart during his seminary studies. When in his first year as a Dominican it came time to choose a religious name, Fr. Jeremy—as he was known then—submitted several options to his novice master. Among them was “Aquinas,” which the novice master chose for him.
St. Thomas Aquinas is a model and guide for Fr. Aquinas. He considers St. Thomasto be a teacher, brother, friend, and spiritual patron. He says that it is a privilege to teach St. Thomas to the students at the Dominican House of Studies. Fr. Aquinas remains devoted to St. Thomas’s intellectual legacy, whose study continues to leave him in ‘awe.’
Before becoming the university chaplain, Fr. Aquinas completed his doctoral studies in moral theology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. His dissertation was on St. Thomas’s doctrine of the common good. Fr. Aquinas also is the senior editor of the religious website Aleteia.org, and he currently teaches theology—principally the courses on the virtues—at the Dominican House of Studies, where he serves as the Prior of the community. Because he has lived across the street from campus for seven years, Fr. Aquinas is familiar with the culture of CUA, having already participated in many events on campus and at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Guilbeau stated that due to his new duties as chaplain, the time spent within his other obligations may change as necessary.
“I’m looking forward to being on campus and preaching Jesus Christ to students in both the undergrad and graduate communities,” Fr. Aquinas said. “Participating in the life of the university community will offer a lot of exciting opportunities. Celebrating the sacraments and ministering to souls in an academic environment fits well with the mission of the Dominican Order.”
During his tenure as Director of Campus Ministry, Guilbeau plans to continue popular events such as the Freshman Retreat, House Mass, CUA on Tap, and Cardinalpalooza. As Fr. Aquinas and his Dominican brothers assume the charge of campus ministry, they want to focus on two things. The first is preaching the Gospel, which is born of prayer and is aimed at the intellectual formation of students in the faith. They also look to further develop the liturgical and devotional life on campus. They hope that these two emphases will expand and deepen the charity, social services, and community outreach that Campus Ministry already does.
“I think the Dominican House of Studies’ proximity to CUA will play a significant role in how the Dominicans will help improve Campus Ministry,” said rising sophomore computer science major, finance minor, and house minister John Cardillo. “They already have a large amount of exposure not only to Campus Ministry but also to CUA as a whole. I believe that this preexisting knowledge will guide the Dominicans as they plan for what changes to make during this upcoming year.”
Fr. Aquinas will be joined on campus by three of his Dominican brothers: Father Joseph Hagan, Father Hugh Vincent Dyer, and Father Frassati Davis. Beginning this year, Campus Ministry will also have a fifth priest, Father Teo Brea, a member of the St. John Society, an order dedicated to the New Evangelization. Father Theo and Father Frasatti speak Spanish, and Fr. Aquinas hopes that they will expand Hispanic ministry on campus as much as possible.
“After reading the email about Father Aquinas, I am excited to see how learned he is,” said rising sophomore mechanical engineering major and resident minister Michael Bellacicco. “He has received a doctorate in moral theology and was also the prior, or ‘superior,’ of the Dominican House of Studies just across the street from our campus. This is a comfort since he, in his order, has already shown strong leadership and a thirst for knowledge of the Faith. I think they will be able to spread the truth of the Gospel on our campus uniquely and, I pray, will help bring many on campus to experience the love of Christ.”