2 October 2023: The Dies Natalis of ITI Catholic University

Opening of the New Academic Year under New Leadership!


This year on October 2, the traditional beginning of the academic year, the University in Trumau commemorated its founding in a special way. Father John Saward (Sts. Gregory & Augustine Church, Oxford), one of the co-founders of the ITI, not only celebrated the solemn opening Mass in the Byzantine Chapel of the Schloss, which was filled to capacity, but also recalled Thomas Aquinas as the "Doctor of the Little Way" in his brilliant keynote address "Giving Wisdom to Little Ones."


Ceremonial Matriculation with a Record Number of New Students

The new rector of the university, Prof. DDr. Bernhard Dolna, and the new vice-rector and dean, Prof. Dr. habil. Michael Wladika, presided over the matriculation. Thirty seven students from the USA, China, Australia, and Nigeria as well as Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Georgia were enrolled in their first semester. The university is growing steadily and the Studium Generale and Bachelor of Liberal Arts programs are particularly popular. As always, the wonderful ITI Choir provided the musical accompaniment. Following the academic ceremony, an Agape was served in the Schloss courtyard in glorious weather.

Tradition and Innovation

The new Rector of the University, DDr. Bernhard Dolna, theologian and Judaist, is no stranger to the university. He has known the school for many years and has served not only as an instructor, but also as dean. At his side, the new Vice-Rector and Dean, Dr. habil. Michael Wladika, has also long been part of the academic faculty. The new leadership represents not only the university's unique curriculum, which has proven itself many times over, but also innovation. With publications and conferences on important socio-political issues, the university expresses its position in the proven academic tradition and thus also appeals to a broad audience.


“If You Do Not Become like Little Children…”


Last but not least, back to our roots, to the sources that make studying at the ITI a formative event for each individual. First and foremost, back to one of the most important teachers of the Church, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and thus to the remarks of Father John Saward.


Father John introduced his speech with the statement, “In intellect, Thomas surpassed all the other Doctors, but in his heart he remained a child.” To support this claim, he continued:


In the spring of 1270, powerful men from the church and university gathered in Paris for a debate to outdo Brother Thomas. But he had stood among them "like the image and likeness of the child Jesus among the scribes," disarming them with the force of his arguments and putting them to shame with the gentleness of his manner, that "impressive courtesy" for which Dante had praised him in Paradise.


“Here, then, is the paradox of St. Thomas Aquinas,” the keynote speaker pointed out. The Angelic Doctor, whom Gui described as “another Moses, leading the faithful out of Egypt’s darkness,” is a man of childlike humility, a follower of what St. Therese of Lisieux, the youngest of all Doctors, calls the "Little Way."


First, Father Saward said, we must answer an objection. Wisdom is the perfection of the intellect. But childhood of its nature is a state of intellectual imperfection, the condition of those who are still growing in mind and body. Therefore, there can be nothing childlike about wisdom.

In the words of the Apostle: “Do not become children in understanding, but in malice be children” (1 Cor. 14:20). But we are speaking of these same qualities of humility and freedom from malice that Jesus Himself commends when He calls us “to be converted and become as little children,” if we wish to enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 18:3).

Three Types of Wisdom


“Wisdom is the knowledge of the highest causes and the capacity to make judgements in light of them. But the highest cause of the whole universe is almighty God. Therefore, the man who has the knowledge of God is the wisest of all. There are three such wisdoms. The first is one we acquire by the use of reason alone (metaphysical wisdom), another we attain through reason enlightened by faith (theological wisdom), and a third comes to us, when we love God by charity, as a gift infused by the Holy Spirit (mystical wisdom).” Thus commented Father Saward on this topic.

“When we leave early childhood behind, we find ourselves in a state of tension between reason and desire, and the positive qualities we had in our tenderest years – our simplicity, our capacity for wonder and play – are lessened and may even be lost. Now, it is the very lack of these qualities that makes it difficult for us to raise our minds to the sublime truth of metaphysics and natural theology. The fool who says in his heart, ‘There is no God’ is, then, a man, in Georges Bernanos’s words, no longer ‘faithful to the child he used to be’.”

Seventy years ago, in Leisure: the Basis of Culture, Josef Pieper showed that, for the greatest thinkers of antiquity, the pursuit of wisdom requires leisure, which he defined as “a receptive attitude of mind, a contemplative attitude … not only the occasion but also the capacity for steeping oneself in the whole of creation.”

In addition, Father John also referred to a phenomenon that is more relevant today than ever before - reducing education to equipping young people with the “skills” to get a well-paid job. The sacred authors of Scripture and the greatest of the Greek philosophers insist that wisdom is reserved for those leisurely enough, playful enough, to devote themselves to the true, the good, and the beautiful without a care for the material benefits of the world of work.

“Dear students of the ITI, such education – leisurely and playful, liberal and liberating, Catholic and contemplative – is the education that – I use the word advisedly – you enjoy,” Father John said to the students in a strengthening and encouraging manner, concluding by emphasizing:

“Time and again, for seven hundred years, the Popes, up to and including Benedict XVI, commended St. Thomas, commanded us to ‘go to St. Thomas’. Here is the perennial philosophy and theology, wisdom for every age. Thomas and Thomism are younger than deceit, younger than error, and give wisdom to little ones.”