by Patricia Mathson
Celebrating Saint Thomas of Villanova
Father of the Poor
Feast Day: September 22
[CLICK HERE] for a Saint Page about St. Thomas of Villanova that your learners can take home to share with their families.
Thomas of Villanova is known as the Father of the Poor. He cared about people who were sick, homeless, and living in poverty. He said, “If you want God to hear your prayers, hear the voice of the poor.” He lived his life with love for others as Jesus teaches us.
Learned from His Parents
Thomas was born in 1488. As a child, he lived in Spain near the town of Villanova, where he went to school. His mother and father taught him to care about other people, especially those in need. Despite his poor memory, he continued in school and even became a university teacher.
Fed Hungry People
Thomas felt that God was calling him to be a Catholic priest, so he joined the Augustinian Order in 1516. He was ordained a priest and later became an archbishop. Thomas was concerned about people who were sick. He was given money to furnish his residence but, instead, gave the money to a hospital.
Reached Out to Those in Need
Thomas cared about people living in poverty. Each day he fed hundreds of hungry people who came to his door. He started a boarding school so that poor children could get an education. He sheltered orphans who had no place to go. In 1555, Thomas became sick and died. The life of St. Thomas of Villanova inspires us to reach out to people in need.
What Can We Do?
*Let’s talk about the life of St. Thomas of Villanova. Who taught Thomas to care about others? Why did he decide to give up teaching? What did he do with money he was given for furniture? Who did he help each day? How did he help children? How can we be like St. Thomas of Villanova?
*Let’s look up Matthew 22:39 in the Bible. What does it say about caring for others? Let’s look up 1 Corinthians 16:14. What does it say about how we should act? Let’s look up Romans 15:7. What does it say Christ did and that we should do, too?
*Let’s role play different ways we can reach out to help others. (Suggest the following: help a child who falls off her bike; help a classmate pick up things that fell out of his backpack; help at the parish food pantry; reach out to a child who is new to your class or your town or even your country.)
God our Father, thank you for the way St. Thomas of Villanova showed us to love others. Open our eyes and our hearts so that we may see the needs of others and reach out a helping hand, like he did. Amen
Patricia Mathson has many years of experience in faith formation as a DRE. She holds a Master of Religious Education degree from the University of Dallas and currently is the children’s ministry coordinator at a family shelter in Des Moines, IA. Patricia is the author of many books including Prayers and Activities on Service (Twenty-Third Publications).
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This article was written by the Catechist Staff and appeared in Catechist magazine, January 2013.
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