Archbishop John Ireland
St. Thomas was founded in 1885 by the great Archbishop John Ireland (1838-1913) on land given to him by William and Elizabeth Finn. Ireland was a leading figure in the Catholic Church and indeed in American politics during his life. As a child, he immigrated with his family from Ireland during the Great Famine, arriving in the United States among the masses of nineteenth-century refugees. Indeed, he founded St. Thomas in large part to serve the immigrant community in Minnesota. Ireland named his new school after St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), the most influential thinker in Catholic theology/philosophy.
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