Faith Matters: Faith and science: No contradiction here

  • The Chapel at Thomas Aquinas College in Northfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Rev. Greg Markey, chaplain at Thomas Aquinas College in Northfield, in Sage Chapel. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Chaplain, Thomas Aquinas College, New England Campus
Published: 8/16/2019 10:00:31 PM
Modified: 8/16/2019 10:00:17 PM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader in Franklin County offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com)

After years of preparation, Thomas Aquinas College in Northfield will be opening its doors this week to its first students on our new New England campus. The Northfield campus is the second one for Thomas Aquinas College. The first was founded in 1971 in Santa Paula, Calif. To officially begin the semester, the freshman and sophomore classes will joyfully welcome Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield on Saturday, Aug. 24, for the Mass of the Holy Spirit and Convocation.

As a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, I was honored when Thomas Aquinas College contacted me earlier this year, asking if I would consider being the first chaplain to the new campus. Through the years, I had formed good relationships with many people associated with the College, so for me, there was already something familiar with becoming the chaplain; and after 20 years of priesthood, serving as a pastor and seminary professor, this looked like a new, and promising adventure.

Thomas Aquinas College was founded as a four-year, Roman Catholic college dedicated to forming young men and women in the Great Books tradition. Rather than reading textbooks, the students only read primary sources, letting the authors speak for themselves. Furthermore, the classes are kept small, with a seminar-style atmosphere. By the time students graduate, they have read and discussed the works of the most influential thinkers that built Western civilization, such as Euclid, Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Kierkegaard and Einstein.

One of the most important questions that students are asked to think through is the relationship between faith and science: Is there a contradiction between the fundamental principles of science and the fundamental principles of the faith? In today’s highly secular culture, learning how to think through these thorny questions regarding nature and God is invaluable. Ultimately, one comes to recognize that the Author of science is the same Word that became flesh, “and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), and there is no contradiction between the two. Thomas Aquinas College is confident that Catholics have nothing to fear from modern science.

We are thrilled to be located on the beautiful campus of the former Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies, which was founded in 1879 by D.L. Moody. Both the rolling hills on the banks of the Connecticut River and the turn-of-the-century Victorian buildings provide an ideal atmosphere for studying the great books.

Furthermore, the response of the people I have met in the stores and on the streets has been nothing but welcoming; this would include not only Northfield, but also the surrounding towns of Greenfield, Turner Falls and Winchester, N.H. People are happy to have the historic campus alive once again.

The mission of Thomas Aquinas College here in Northfield will be the same as it has been in Santa Paula: using the great books of Western civilization to train young men and women how to think. After nearly 50 years, the college has earned a solid reputation for both academic excellence and fidelity to the teachings of the Catholic Church. It has a long track record of success with its graduates entering into the fields of teaching, medicine, law, science, military service and technology, but perhaps most importantly, raising Catholic families who live their faith and give back to the community.

We look forward to radiating Christ’s love and truth to the Northfield community that has warmly welcomed us.

About Sage Chapel

Sage Chapel was constructed in 1909 on what was then the campus of the Northfield School for Girls. Thomas Aquinas College is now renovating the century-old church and adapting it to Catholic worship. While this work is being completed, services are being held in a temporary chapel on the campus. When complete, the Mass schedule will be posted on the College’s website: https://thomasaquinas.edu/masstimes.


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