Aquinas Institute of Theology and the Western Province of the the Vincentians recently entered into a ministerial-cooperation and facilities-sharing agreement to further their respective educational and religious missions.
The Vincentian (Congregation of the Mission) province office and a staff of approximately 20 moved this summer from Earth City to the Aquinas building in Midtown St. Louis, 3701 Forest Park Ave., next to Saint Louis University. Vincentian Father Pat McDevitt, provincial superior, said the new office will also be closer to one of its apostolates, St. Vincent de Paul Parish in St. Louis, as well as the Daughters of Charity and the St. Louis chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, both members of the Vincentian community, and other Catholic organizations.
The former location didn’t give the province enough visibility in the community to participate fully in the life of the Church and its service in St. Louis, Father McDevitt said.
Besides St. Vincent Parish, the Vincentians staff St. Catherine Laboure Parish in Sappington and three parishes in Perry County. A residence for retired Vincentians is located in Perryville. The province includes the western United States and a mission in the Region of Kenya.
The new site is expected to be a place of hospitality for religious and nonprofit groups. A multipurpose space will be available to the groups at no cost. Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski is scheduled to lead a dedication of the office from 1-2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, with an open house to follow.
The move also is about working with Aquinas and the Dominicans to support each other in their common mission of education and service, Father McDevitt said.
The Vincentian province also is moving its initial formation program to a recently purchased building in St. Louis on Lafayette Avenue near Grand Avenue next to the Dominicans’ Friary.
The Vincentians’ charism is to encounter Christ in people who are poor, Father McDevitt said, and not only evangelize but are evangelized by them. Members of the Vincentian parishes are “great partners” in that mission, he said. The move enables the province to have a stronger voice for the poor in St. Louis and a better opportunity to develop relationships and partnerships, Father McDevitt, explained.
Dominican Father Mark Wedig, president of Aquinas Institute, praised the partnership between Aquinas Institute and the Vincentian priests and brothers as “strengthening our respective missions by collaborating on projects where institutional and mission goals coincide, especially in the areas of education, formation and evangelization.”
With Aquinas and the Vincentians sharing the same building for their respective administrative, ministry and academic offices, the two Catholic organizations plan to also share faculty and programming, as well as local and regional outreach for the initial and ongoing formation of ordained ministers in the Catholic Church.
Father McDevitt referred to the Vincentians’ long mission tradition in the St. Louis Archdiocese and elsewhere in serving the formation and education needs of the clergy. The partnership with Aquinas “renews our mission and commitment of service to the clergy,” he said.
The Vincentian priests and brothers of the Western Province follow Jesus Christ, evangelizing the poor, in the spirit and after the manner of their founder, St. Vincent de Paul.
In word, sacrament and service they serve the poor, educate young people, form holy priests, and spread the Gospel to the world. The Vincentians of the Western Province sponsor DePaul University, the largest Catholic university in the United States, serve in 17 parishes from Texas to Alaska, preach parish missions, work as hospital chaplains, assist with the formation of future priests in seminaries across the United States and lead a mission in the Region of Kenya with four parishes.
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Aquinas Institute of Theology is a Catholic, Dominican-sponsored graduate school of theology and ministry that is part of the worldwide Order of Preachers (the Dominicans).
Aquinas serves as a Center of Institutional Studies for forming Dominican friars from the Provinces of St. Albert the Great (Central USA) and St. Martin de Porres (Southern USA) as well as for the education and formation of priests, religious sisters, and lay men and women preparing for service to the Church. Since its relocation to St. Louis from Dubuque, Iowa, in 1981, Aquinas has shared a longstanding formal agreement with Saint Louis University that allows cross-registration, joint degree programs, complete library use and access to student and health services, including the recreation center.