Dominicans at the University of Virginia

Fr. Brian Mulcahy, O.P., speaks about the University Parish of St. Thomas Aquinas at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. A brief video excerpt from “Word to Life,” which airs live every Friday afternoon at 1:00 PM eastern on The Catholic Channel, Sirius 159 and XM 117.

Parish History

St. Thomas Aquinas Parish began as a Newman Club and Center established as a Catholic Presence at the University of Virginia in 1943. This club acquired a permanent location at 1432 Jefferson Park Avenue by 1948. In 1959, the Newman Center was entrusted to the Dominican Friars, Province of St. Joseph, New York City.

The Catholic population of the University reached 13 percent by the early 1960’s. This population had outgrown the Newman Center. In 1962, the Dominicans purchased land at the corner of Alderman Road and Midmont Lane and plans were develpoed for a church and student center on this site.

Bishop John Russell of Richmond Diocese established St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in 1963. This new Parish, unique in the diocese, was to serve the Catholic students, faculty, administration and their families, at the University.

In January 1965, Bishop Russell and the Dominican Friars agreed to locate St. Thomas Aquinas Parish on the Dominican property on Alderman Road. The Dominicans would provide a Pastor and assistants for the parish and would also serve as chaplains at the University Hospital. The Church was dedicated on this site in October 1967.

During the last 30 years, the number of Catholic students and faculty at the University continued to grow. By 1990, it was necessary to construct a new Church to serve the expanding population of the Parish. The new Church was dedicated in November 1995. The new Parish Center was started in 2002 and was completed in the Spring of 2004.