At Vanderbilt University, the mission of our University Catholic (UCat) campus ministry contends with both an aggressive secularism and a deep apathy towards the search for truth. This spring, God’s providential aid came through our partnership with the Thomistic Institute of the PFIC and its distinguished speakers. Two engaging lectures were given on our campus, both of which drew large crowds of students, Catholic and non-Catholic, from Vanderbilt, Belmont University, and Aquinas College.
The first was a presentation by Dr. William E. Carroll of Oxford University titled “The Challenges of Evolution and the Metaphysics of Creation” in which Dr. Carroll showed us how seeming contradictions between evolutionary theory and belief in a Divine Creator can be reconciled by the metaphysics of creation as developed by St. Thomas Aquinas. Our second speaker was Professor Thomas Hibbs of Baylor University whose presentation titled “How to Be Happy: Virtue and the Path to Human Happiness” was a challenging reflection on conceptions of happiness and the integral place of mercy in the life of the virtuous person. Both events were marked by a noticeable sense of joy and were followed by lively conversations between students and our guest speakers.
These events displayed the riches of our Catholic intellectual tradition and opened up new horizons for many students who had not considered the interdependence of faith and reason. As a recent graduate, I am encouraged by knowing that the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas will continue to have a forum on Vanderbilt’s campus. The students and administration of UCat are grateful for the indispensable and excellent ministry of the Thomistic Institute. They look forward to facilitating further opportunities for students to encounter Jesus Christ and His Church through more events in the fall.