Feast of St. Thomas at the ITI Catholic University 29 January 2024

O29th January, St. Thomas Aquinas was honored as one of the patrons of the ITI with a special afternoon of festivitiesAt this occasion, an invitation was also sent out to the faculty and students of the Benedict XVI University in Heiligenkreuz, in order to “cultivate and deepen both academic exchange and the spirit of friendship. It seems to be the need of the hour to take such steps, because no theological faculty is an island.” – as ITI rector Dr. Bernhard Dolna emphasized in his welcome address.


As a sign of this solidarity, the rector of the university in Heiligenkreuz, Dr. Wolfgang Klausnitzer, celebrated Holy Mass in the university's Byzantine Chapel, which was filled to full capacity. Afterwards, the academic part of the celebration took place in Riley Hall.


Teaching: One of the Highest Forms of Intellectual Life


In his opening address, ITI rector Bernhard Dolna pointed out that St. Thomas Aquinas was a pure person, humble, simple, peace-loving, devoted to contemplation, temperate, and a lover of poverty. He himself repeatedly emphasized that the perfection of life lies “in inner rightness”. He saw teaching as one of the highest forms of spiritual life, because in teaching the vita contemplativa and the vita activa are linked.

The ceremonial address was given by Sr. Emmanuelle Borchardt, ITI graduate of the year 2022 and currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Fribourg. In her lecture, “The Art of Clear Thinking to Heal a Crazy World,” the speaker used a number of aspects of the life of St. Thomas and his approach to philosophy and theology to demonstrate how relevant his thinking is for us today. Through the permanent but ranked relationship of all creatures to God, the human mind created by God is able to grasp the essence of things. This also means that created reality is viewed in its network of cause and effect, and above all in its dependence on its primary cause. Using other aspects of St. Thomas' writings, the speaker demonstrated his crystal-clear rationality and precision, but also his synthetic approach that comprehensively integrates tradition, demonstrating how timeless, present, and relevant for today, the saint’s thinking is.


Renewal Through Old Sources


Following the ceremonial address, ITI dean Dr. Michael Wladika emphasized the great importance of going to the sources for teaching at the ITI as a whole. “Today, in any case, the real new findings are the old ones. The thought of St. Thomas from the 13th century is much newer and youthful than the vast majority of later thought.


Get-together: Heiligenkreuz and Trumau


After this brilliant ceremony, the university invited everyone to an agape in the halls of the Schloss, which were beautifully decorated by students. The physical well-being of the guests was also taken care of. Deep into the night and despite the coldit was not just the delicious food and wonderful wine that kept warm, but above all the friendly and lively exchange of those present.


The collaboration between the two universities will continue fruitfully in the near future with a conference on the life and work of Romano Guardini (31st May/1st June 2024).


Ceremonial Address: 


Sermon (in German):