The theologian Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P., has been appointed rector of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, becoming the first American to hold the position.
White, who has taught at the university commonly known as the Angelicum since 2018, will start as rector on Sept. 14.
White’s appointment was announced June 10 by Fr. Gerard Timoner, O.P., Master of the Order of Preachers, on the Dominican order’s website.
As “rector magnificus” of the Angelicum, White will lead an institution where the future Pope John Paul II studied. The Polish saint earned his doctorate in philosophy from the university in 1948.
“I’m deeply honored that the order has asked me to take on this responsibility,” White, 50, told CNA. “It’s an opportunity to serve the whole Church and an opportunity to help advance the mission of the Dominican order, which is to seek the truth and to communicate with truth, charity, and in the light of Christ.”
In addition to teaching theology at the Angelicum, one of seven pontifical universities in Rome, the theologian was charged with reorganizing the university’s Thomistic Institute, which promotes the study of the Catholic Church’s Thomistic tradition.
White converted to the Catholic faith in college. Prior to entering the Dominican order’s Province of St. Joseph in 2003, he completed his masters and doctorate in theology at the University of Oxford. He was ordained a priest in 2008 in Washington, D.C., and completed a licentiate in sacred theology at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies.