About St. Tom’s
St. Thomas Aquinas serves as the Catholic Center at Purdue University. Our parish engages the youthful energy of all its members to nurture their faith journey across all generations through liturgy, spiritual and intellectual formation, stewardship, and justice with peace. We joyfully welcome all who wish to meet life’s challenges through lived faith in Jesus Christ.
St. Thomas Aquinas is the Roman Catholic presence at Purdue University. We are a vibrant and diverse community of students and resident parishioners. We are welcoming to all, a beacon of peace and God’s love, and a model of Jesus Christ to the local community at Purdue University, the Greater Lafayette area, and the world. We value spiritual and intellectual formation and take action to be a source of church leadership.
Purdue Catholic Campus Ministry began in 1906 when the Catholic Club was founded. Students traveled across the Wabash River to attend services at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Lafayette. The Newman Club was chartered in 1927. In 1928, Reverend Leo Pursley was assigned as associate pastor of St. Mary’s Church and to work with Purdue students.
Fifty years ago, Fr. Thomas Heilman had a vision to establish a student center at Purdue University to serve the spiritual needs of Catholics attending Purdue University. That vision became reality when the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel was dedicated in April, 1951. Fr. Heilman’s vision called for adequate space and facilities for programs, faith sharing and for social as well as educational activities.
By 1963, St. Thomas Aquinas faced the challenge of meeting the needs of a growing Catholic population on campus. At that time the seating capacity of the worship area was expanded from 350 to 1,200. Large meeting rooms in the lower level provided study areas and space for religious programs.
The year 2000 saw the arrival of the Dominican Friars from the Province of St. Albert the Great in Chicago. Today, the Center is under the leadership of Fr. Thomas McDermott, OP and is among the largest parish/campus ministries programs in the nation. St. Tom’s serves over 815 resident parishioner families and the nearly 13,000 Catholic students attending Purdue. St. Tom’s provides over 35 ministries and programs to its membership that not only benefits the church but both the local and internal communities. It is this mix of resident and student parishioners that create a vibrant community. The home atmosphere created by the residents parishioners make St. Tom’s one of the great memories the Purdue students take with them into their lives.
Find out more on our Wikipedia page.