Theology for a Missionary Church

June 10, 2021

American Dominican named Rector Magnificus of the Angelicum

ROME – The Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome has named a new Rector Magnificus, Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P. 

The Congregation for Catholic Education has given approval for the appointment by fr. Gerard Timoner OP, Master of the Order of Preachers, of fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP as Rector Magnificus of the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome.  Fr. Thomas Joseph, a member of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph (USA), is currently the director of the Angelicum’s Thomistic Institute and professor of theology.

Fr. Thomas Joseph notes that “the Angelicum is a university especially dedicated to the universal mission of the Church. Building on the Dominican tradition of harmony between faith and natural reason, the university seeks to cultivate a deeper understanding of Christianity, and the doctrinal life of the Church, in ongoing conversation with traditions of philosophy, law, and social doctrine. St. Thomas Aquinas is our touchstone in this effort.”

The university currently has approximately 1,000 students from nearly 100 countries, with representation of seminarians, priests, religious and lay students alike. As fr. White notes, “The Angelicum is a school of future missionaries, where students can study theology so as to be in the service of a missionary Church. Growth in knowledge of the mystery of Christ is meant to lead to growth in love, and the two together form an integral witness to the Catholic faith. This aim resonates deeply with what Pope Francis has wrote recently in a letter addressed to the Dominican Order on the occasion of the 800 year anniversary of St. Dominic’s death, ‘In our own age, characterized by epochal changes and new challenges to the Church’s evangelizing mission, Dominic can…serve as an inspiration to all the baptized, who are called, as missionary disciples, to reach every ‘periphery’ of our world with the light of the Gospel and the merciful love of Christ.’”

The new rector succeeds fr. Michał Paluch OP, whose vital initiatives helped renovate or found anew the university’s Institute for Ecumenical Studies, the St. John Paul II Institute of Culture, and the Thomistic Institute, while also creating new scholarship lines, recruiting new professors, and renovating infrastructure of the university.


Fr. Thomas Joseph was born in 1971 in Atlanta, Georgia (USA). He graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in religious studies (1993) and completed his M.Phil, and D.Phil. at the University of Oxford in theology (2003).  In 2003 he entered the Dominican Order’s Province of St. Joseph, where he was ordained to the priesthood in 2008 in Washington, D.C. He completed an S.T.L. at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies, where he also served as a professor of theology for 10 years. He was the founding director of the Thomistic Institute in Washington D.C, an institute for intellectual evangelization on secular university campuses, now present on over 60 campuses across the US and Europe.

Since 2018, fr. Thomas Joseph was charged by the Master of the Dominican Order to teach theology at the Angelicum and to reorganize the Angelicum’s Thomistic Institute in order to help promote the study of the Thomistic tradition at the heart of the Church. This new institute fosters theological research and engagement with other philosophical and theological traditions, as well as contemporary sciences. 

Fr. Thomas Joseph has been a member of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas since 2011. He is the co-editor of the theology journal Nova et Vetera (English edition), and a Distinguished Scholar of the McDonald Agape Foundation. He’s the author of several books, including Wisdom in the Face of Modernity: A Study in Thomistic Natural Theology (2011); The Incarnate Lord: A Thomistic Study in Christology (2015); Exodus (2016); The Light of Christ: An Introduction to Catholicism (2017), and The Trinity: On the Nature and Mystery of the One God (forthcoming in 2022). 

This announcement first appeared on the website of the Dominican Order, here.

For more information about the Angelicum, visit the university’s website, here.

More News & Events