Jan. 27, 2015
Community Encouraged to Teach with Mercy During St. Thomas Aquinas Mass
Very Rev. Ken Letoile, O.P., prior provincial for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, delivers the homily during the St. Thomas Aquinas Mass Jan. 27.
Members of the Catholic University community were encouraged to become “merciful teachers who wake up the world” during the University’s annual Mass in honor of St. Thomas Aquinas, held Jan. 27 in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The Mass, which is held annually on or aorund the feast of University patron St. Thomas Aquinas, was celebrated by the Very Rev. Ken Letoile, O.P., prior provincial for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, with more than 50 concelebrants from CUA, the Dominican House of Studies, and neighboring seminaries and consecrated religious houses of studies. Patrick Lofton, executive vice president of the National Catholic Educational Association, served as lector.
“Mercy salts and lights the world with God’s presence, with his love, with his goodness,” said Father Letoile. “Indeed, for St. Thomas, it is a sign of God’s incredible goodness that He allows us — each of us — to be agents of mercy and goodness in the lives of others, that He wills for us to carry His love and His perfection to others so that we might be ever more like God, and so be instruments in the flourishing of our neighbors.”
Referencing St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae, Father Letoile talked about the importance of mercy in education, saying that the teachers who stand out over time are the ones who demand the most of themselves and their students, while also giving personal attention when needed.
“Isn’t it this combination — academic excellence and personal interest — that awakens every student to a potential that realizes he or she is indeed fashioned in God’s image and likeness?” Father Letoile said. “Receiving the gift of mercy from a teacher, every student begins to learn what mercy is and how to give it to others.”
While teaching with mercy can “open the mind of the student who desires to know and open the heart at the deepest level to experience the love of Jesus,” it can be challenging for educators.
|Faculty, staff, and students fill the Great Upper Church of the Basilica.
“One of my revered Dominican teachers once told us that before he entered the classroom he would pray for grace he needed to love the students he was about to teach,” Father Letoile said. “That’s the humility and faith that is key to our call to be merciful teachers.”
This year’s Mass was broadcast live on EWTN and CatholicTV. Cosponsored by CUA, the Dominican House of Studies and the National Catholic Educational Association, it was held in celebration of National Catholic Schools Week for the third year in a row.
At the end of Mass, University President John Garvey reflected on the studies of St. Thomas Aquinas.
“Thomas’s example shows that the academic vocation is not a game. It’s not something we win by racking up the highest GPA or making the most clever arguments,” President Garvey said. “For St. Thomas the goal of studying theology was to acquire the knowledge we need to direct our lives toward God, our final goal. … How we study, Thomas recognizes, must be connected to how we live.”