HYDE PARK — Beginning last year and continuing through next year, a trio of significant anniversaries will honor the legacy of Saint Thomas Aquinas. July 18, 2023, marked the 700th anniversary of his canonization. This year, the Church will commemorate the 750th anniversary of his death, and in 2025, the 800th anniversary of his birth.
On Jan. 28, the feast day of the Angelic Doctor, as he is sometimes called, St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Hyde Park commemorated their patron saint with a variety of events that started the day before.
“We wanted to join the universal celebration of the jubilee 2023-2025 that the Vatican promulgated honoring the death, canonization and birth of St. Thomas,” said Father Rogelio Felix-Rosas, the parish administrator.
According to EWTN, last year, Pope Francis sent a letter to the bishops of the Diocese of Sora-Cassino-Aquino-Pontecorvo, where St. Thomas was born; the letter also was addressed to the bishop of the Diocese of Latina, where Aquinas died at the Abbey of Fossanova; and to the Bishop of the Diocese of Frosinone, home of the saint’s family’s castle. In the letter, Pope Francis emphasized that the Doctor Communis (another title for St. Thomas) is “a resource for the Church of today and tomorrow.”
The Vatican has granted a plenary indulgence with the usual conditions of receiving the Sacrament of Confession, Communion and prayer for the intentions of the pope, to those who participate in the jubilee celebrations of St. Thomas Aquinas from Jan. 28, 2023 to Jan. 28, 2025, according to op.org, a website for the Order of Preachers, the religious order to which Aquinas belonged.
At the parish in Hyde Park, a children’s art exhibition opened the celebrations. Then, parishioners participated in a procession to obtain the plenary indulgence at the parish in front of a relic and an image of the saint, which were in exposition at the church entrance.
A presentation about the saint was offered by Jose Manuel Flores Eudave, former professor at Colegio Juan XXIII and former professor at Colegio Parroquial Nuestra Señora del Refugio in Argentina.
“We scheduled these activities so our parishioners can participate and learn about St. Thomas Aquinas,” Fr. Felix-Rosas said. “We have taken very seriously this jubilee by offering different activities for all our parishioners, younger ones and adults. We designed this triple centenary to discover or rediscover St. Thomas Aquinas.”
The parish opened its celebrations of its patron saint in December with a conference by Father Joseph Minuth, administrator of Holy Family Parish in Ogden, who talked about the saint’s canonization, Fr. Felix-Rosas said, adding that he expects next year the parish community will be celebrating the 800 years of the birth of the saint. “This is also a very special and unique occasion,” he said.
Other plans include additional conferences. “We have been talking to our brothers at Saint Catherine of Siena [Newman Center in Salt Lake City, which is staffed by Dominicans], so they can share their experiences about St. Thomas,” Fr. Felix -Rosas said.
Because this is also a year focusing on the Eucharist, parishioners are singing the “Adoro te devote” – a prayer written by St. Thomas – at the end of every Eucharistic celebration, Fr. Felix-Rosas said.
The celebration of their patron saint reminds the parish community about the importance of their spiritual life, he said.
“This day we honor in a special way our patron saint,” he said at the Jan. 28 celebration. “This day all who belong to this parish community should thank God for being here, for their baptism, for being able to live physically and spiritually (through the Sacrament of Penance and the Eucharist) and die in the Church, specifically in a parish family.”
Celebration of a patron saint is for everyone who belongs to a parish, he said. All “who reside in it, physically and spiritually, gathering in prayer, attending the celebrations, listening to the homilies, and participating in the different activities such as the catechism [classes], gatherings and pilgrimages” are part of the parish. “A patron saint celebration is an opportunity for all to feel as a parish family community, to have an open communication with their priests and to live in a particular spirituality.”