Students walking passed Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas

Mission, Convictions and Heritage

St. Thomas Mission Statement

Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of St. Thomas educates students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely, and work skillfully to advance the common good.

Our Convictions

  1. Pursuit of Truth:

    We value intellectual inquiry as a lifelong habit, the unfettered and impartial pursuit of truth in all its forms, the integration of knowledge across disciplines, and the imaginative and creative exploration of new ideas.

  2. Academic Excellence:

    We create a culture among faculty, students and staff that recognizes the power of ideas and rewards rigorous thinking.

  3. Faith and Reason:

    We actively engage Catholic intellectual tradition, which values the fundamental compatibility of faith and reason and fosters meaningful dialogue directed toward the flourishing of human culture.

  4. Dignity:

    We respect the dignity of each person and value the unique contributions that each brings to the greater mosaic of the university community.

  5. Diversity:

    We strive to create a vibrant diverse community in which, together, we work for a more just and inclusive society.

  6. Personal Attention:

    We foster a caring culture that supports the well-being of each member.

  7. Gratitude:

    We celebrate the achievements of all members of our community in goals attained and obstacles overcome, and in all things give praise to God.

Statue of Arch Bishop John Ireland

The Common Good at St. Thomas

What do we mean by the common good? Fr. Chris Collins invites you to learn more about what that means for Tommies and how it relates to our mission at St. Thomas.

Students pass John Ireland Statue

Our Founder

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.

Learn More About John Ireland

St. Thomas Aquinas Icon Art

Our Patron Saint

St. Thomas Aquinas

Archbishop Ireland chose to name the college after St. Thomas Aquinas, the most influential scholar in Church history. In doing so, Ireland gave direction to the school based on St. Thomas’ work, notably his belief in the unity of faith and reason, his commitment to “inquiry into the reasons and principles of things,” and his innovative thinking.

Learn More About St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Arches

“Grant, O merciful God, that I may ardently desire, prudently examine, truthfully acknowledge, and perfectly accomplish what is pleasing to Thee for the praise and glory of Thy name. Amen.”

The Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas

Catholic Traditions and Teaching

  • Catholic Intellectual Tradition
  • Catholic Social Teaching
  • The Dignity of Persons
  • Catholic Intellectual Tradition

    The foundation of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition proposes that since God created everything, then study of any aspect of creation, especially any aspect of the human condition, is potentially a pathway to encountering God. All knowledge is unified and inseparable. When sought as a whole, wisdom is received as opposed to information being collected. This pursuit of wisdom is best done within the context of a community of scholars who pursue truth together. True discovery of wisdom is done in dialogue with others who humbly seek the truth which ultimately comes from God.

    Catholic Social Teaching

    Catholic social teaching, found in magisterial Church documents, invites us to take direct action to encounter the dignity of others and to create the conditions of solidarity within our communities.

    The principles of Catholic social teaching challenge us to think critically about ourselves and our world, fueling innovative problem solving that serves to advance the common good.

    The Dignity of Persons

    Respect for the dignity of persons is the cornerstone of the moral life. It is one of the “Seven Convictions” of the University of St. Thomas and a principle of Catholic Social Teaching.

    Encountering and responding to the dignity in others is central to being a morally responsible leader who thinks critically, acts wisely, and works skillfully to advance the common good. In other words, it is part of being a “Tommie.”

    Catholic Intellectual Tradition

    Catholic Intellectual Tradition

    The foundation of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition proposes that since God created everything, then study of any aspect of creation, especially any aspect of the human condition, is potentially a pathway to encountering God. All knowledge is unified and inseparable. When sought as a whole, wisdom is received as opposed to information being collected. This pursuit of wisdom is best done within the context of a community of scholars who pursue truth together. True discovery of wisdom is done in dialogue with others who humbly seek the truth which ultimately comes from God.

    Catholic Social Teaching

    Catholic Social Teaching

    Catholic social teaching, found in magisterial Church documents, invites us to take direct action to encounter the dignity of others and to create the conditions of solidarity within our communities.

    The principles of Catholic social teaching challenge us to think critically about ourselves and our world, fueling innovative problem solving that serves to advance the common good.

    The Dignity of Persons

    The Dignity of Persons

    Respect for the dignity of persons is the cornerstone of the moral life. It is one of the “Seven Convictions” of the University of St. Thomas and a principle of Catholic Social Teaching.

    Encountering and responding to the dignity in others is central to being a morally responsible leader who thinks critically, acts wisely, and works skillfully to advance the common good. In other words, it is part of being a “Tommie.”

    Charism chart with circles of text
    We welcome those committed to searching for knowledge and to living all for the common good.

    Our Gift to Serve

    Charism of St. Thomas

    A charism is a special gift given by the Holy Spirit to serve others. Our Charism is grounded on the vision of Archbishop Ireland, the intellectual rigor expressed in the work of St. Thomas Aquinas, and the moral guidance of Catholic Intellectual Tradition, all of which are inspired by Catholic Social Teaching.

    These sources help us to articulate our impact on the lives of students and our contributions to the broader community.

    Charism of St. Thomas (PDF)

    Living Our Mission

    Office for Mission

    The Office for Mission works to support and integrate the broad reach of the Catholic identity throughout the university as a whole.

    Campus Ministry

    Campus Ministry celebrates the diversity of faith traditions in our university community through a variety of prayer, service and educational opportunities.

    Center for the Common Good

    The Center for the Common Good integrates community engagement into the fabric of life at St. Thomas by connecting students, faculty and staff with opportunities to learn with and from community partners.

    Care for Our Common Home

    Sustainability is infused into every aspect of campus life, from academic programs and student activities to facilities and dining operations. We aim to be carbon neutral by 2035.

    Support for Mind, Body and Spirit

    Our conviction to personal attention embodies campus support services like the Center for Well-Being, which provides holistic physical and mental health resources.

    Expanding Our Impact

    St. Thomas 2025 is an ambitious, yet focused five-year effort designed to propel the university toward a new level of impact. Our Strategic Plan is a guide to help us reach higher in serving our students, our community and the world.