Aquinas Alumni and Students: Preaching, Teaching, Ministering and Leading

 Preaching the Word

Father Don Wester graduated in 2001 from Aquinas Institute of Theology with a Doctor of Ministry in Preaching (D.Min.), and serves as the pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters, Missouri. He also is Professor of Homiletics at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, and is an instructor in the Diaconate Formation Program for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Preaching is central to Fr. Wester's desire to spread the Good News: "I love being in dialogue with the people of God about God. I love breaking open the Word and letting the Word take us where it will. I love the unending power of the Word."

His studies at Aquinas helped to prepare him well for his current ministry: "I know that I would not be teaching at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary or the permanent diaconate program without this degree. But more importantly, I would not have the same relationship with God. Aquinas helped me to deepen that relationship and to cherish the gifts that God has given to all to live the Word."

“Ministry is about more than just good intentions and being kind, it takes professional education and formation to be effective and flexible in ever changing times. I admire and encourage everything Aquinas is doing in this area. Without a doubt, the future of the Church depends on leaders who can handle challenge with grace.”

Darren Eultgen, M.Div., Aquinas Alumnus 1998
Chancellor, Diocese of Great Falls-Billings



Teaching the Good News

"The association I represent has 1600 members and has trained approximately 20,000 catechists. I would not be doing this job had I not studied at Aquinas."

Mary Mirrione
Aquinas M.A.P.S.-G.G.S. alumna and Director of the National Association of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd

Anita Vincent completed studies in 2012 for a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies - Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (M.A.P.S.-C.G.S.) from Aquinas Institute of Theology, and currently directs a catechesis program at a Montessori school in Pennsylvania.

She first became interested in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd after her first son was born and she was looking at school options. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is an approach to religious formation for children with its roots in the Bible, liturgy, and Montessori educational principles. Anita found that the program was a perfect fit for her and her family. Anita, who is from Bangalore, hopes to bring this program to her home country of India.

Of the program at Aquinas, she says, "The graduate program at Aquinas expanded my theological knowledge, and more importantly, it has revealed to me a new person within myself. With this knowledge, grounded in prayer, I am more confident in taking on the responsibility of raising a new generation that is faithful to the Gospel."

 Ministering to God's People

A Center of Formation for Religious Communities

"There has been a long-standing relationship with the Sisters of Saint Joseph and Aquinas Institute. It began with our sisters, associates, and ministry partners receiving excellent education at Aquinas. It continued with our joint Vocare series and now moves into a partnership with Fontbonne University. It is truly a blessing for us."

Helen Flemington, CSJ
Province Leadership

Brother Luke Barder, O.P., a Dominican brother of the central province of St. Albert the Great. After beginning his college studies in Aerospace Engineering, he felt a pull toward philosophy and religious studies, and a call to religious life, which led to his solemn profession as a Dominican in 2012. He is currently in his fifth year of study at Aquinas Institute of Theology in the Master of Arts/Master of Divinity program, as part of his priestly formation. He anticipates that after his ordination, likely in the spring of 2014, his ministry will be one of both pastoral and academic service.

In considering the role Aquinas plays in helping prepare him for the priesthood, Br. Luke says, "From intellectual questions to pastoral situations, Aquinas has given me the experience of confronting the many challenges I know I will face in ministry, as well as the opportunity to reflect on those encounters." The diverse community at Aquinas also has brought its gifts: "Studying together with lay peers has been an important part of my formation as a future priest. The tools that have been given and the foundation that has been laid for me at Aquinas will forever be valuable in whatever future God will guide me to in my vocation."

Leadership in the Healing Ministry of Jesus

A Trusted Resource in Catholic Health Care Leadership

"Through its work with leaders in Catholic health care, Aquinas Institute has provided a sense of personal purpose and direction to hundreds of leaders in Catholic health care, and it has empoered capable business men and women to see their giftedness as a contribution to the stewardship of a vital mission of the Church."

Bill Brinkmann
Former Vice President for Mission Initiatives, Ascension Health

Deborah Simmen currently serves as System Director of Mission Initiatives for CHRISTUS Health in Irving, Texas. Her studies at Aquinas Institute of Theology earned her a Master of Arts in Health Care Mission (M.A.H.C.M.) in 2011

As a mission leader in Catholic health care, she is finds both nourishment and challenge in carrying out her mission to continuing the healing ministry of Jesus. “What excites me most is the unlimited potential as ministry leaders. Although the challenges and pace of today’s health care arena can be daunting and at times overwhelming, every day is a new adventure, a new challenge, a new way of understanding and experiencing God’s healing presence in the world.”

Of her studies at Aquinas Institute of theology, Deborah has this to say: “Aquinas offers a diverse slate of distinguished theologians and respected health care professional to instruct, challenge and mentor future leaders. I often equate my time at Aquinas as a Catholic health care learning laboratory where students are provided the opportunity and freedom to understand the tenets of the faith in a fresh context of renewed application and deeper integration. Aquinas provided for me a process and practice for lifelong learning.”