The Aquinas Institute is a mission of the Diocese of Trenton to the Roman Catholic Community at Princeton University. Its main purpose is to meet the spiritual, sacramental and pastoral needs of the undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty and staff of Princeton University. This mission includes opportunities for service, community building through socials and athletic activities, retreats and by way of a presentation of Catholic intellectual life through seminars, workshops and presentations offered by well-known Catholic faculty of Princeton University and guest speakers and presenters. A highlight of the Aquinas Institute is its position toward Evangelization. Through its Ministry of Evangelization, the Aquinas Institute prepares its community members to be active proclaimers of the faith and sharers of the Good News of Jesus Christ through small group sharing, prayer and Bible study. This ministry trains leaders in the New Evangelization and sends them out into the world. Our mission is to allow every student who comes to Princeton University an opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ while a student or member of the Princeton University community.

We pray the prayer of Thomas Aquinas:

Grant me, O Lord, my God
A mind to know You;
A heart to seek You;
Wisdom to find You;
Conduct pleasing to You;
Faithful perseverance in waiting for You,
And a hope of finally embracing You.


By this prayer, we summarize the mission of the Aquinas Institute and strive to lead the Catholic Community of Princeton University in an understanding of St. Thomas Aquinas’ four pillars as presented in his prayer:

1) Principles-The formative principle of the Aquinas Institute is an on-going search for God in and through Jesus Christ. This principle leads to the an openness to God’s will, a willingness to know Him, love Him and to serve Him, which leads to the principles of love of neighbor, care for the poor, compassion and reconciliation, and above all the principle and virtue of mercy.

2) Prayer-All things begin with prayer and will end with prayer. The Aquinas Institute encourages its community members to be vigilant in prayer. The Most Blessed Sacrament is present in Princeton University Chapel and can be found in the transept. It is here that all are welcome to come before our Sacramental Lord and find solace, hope and joy. Twice a week Holy Hours are held, information on these can be found in the section of the website entitled “Aquinas Events.” These afford the community time for contemplation and intercessory prayer, as well as intimate time to listen and speak to God truly present before our community and the world. There is also time available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession).  

There are opportunities for Small Group Prayer and informal gatherings in which the Liturgy of the Hours is prayed and when the rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet are prayed.

3) Practice-The greatest prayer of all is that of the Eucharist, and the main way that we are know is through our practice of the faith, the attendance of weekly or daily Mass. Mass is held daily, Monday through Friday in the Transept of the Princeton University Chapel. This begins at 12:00 noon and ends by 12:30 PM. We are aware of the time constraints placed upon students and faculty, thus it is held within a thirty-minute period. It is a deeply prayerful half-hour beginning with the praying of the daily Angelus. Though it is only a half hour, the priest offers a well-prepared homily that highlights the readings of the Mass and applies it to our call to holiness.

Sunday Mass is offered twice on Sunday, at 4:30 PM at the main altar of the Princeton University Chapel and at 10:00 PM at Murray-Dodge Hall. Both Masses encourage full participation by those in attendance and through the Catholic Choir’s excellent leadership at the 4:30 PM Mass and a student-led ensemble at the 10:00 PM Mass, the spirit of worship and prayer excels.

4) Perspective- It is important that the students, faculty and staff, step away from the hectic pace, that is Princeton University, and find the proper way to look at one’s personal life and the ongoing saga that is life in general. Through retreat time, our students are encouraged to step off campus and find refreshment. The annual retreat takes place in February. It is student led and fosters much time for personal prayer and contemplation combined with shared prayer and fellowship along with personal time with a spiritual director/confessor. 

Through various socials, the Aquinas community has an opportunity to learn more about one another, celebrate the great festivals of the Liturgical Year, and celebrate the events in our lives, such as the welcoming of our newest members on Holy Saturday at the Easter Vigil. Our RCIA program has led many students to Christ through entrance into the Church and the reception of the Sacraments. We encourage any student interested in becoming a Catholic or are interested in completing their sacramental preparation to contact the Coordinator of RCIA. Contact information is available on this website.

Finally, our newest perspective is that of Catholic Intellectual Life, this program, newly formed is an extensive program encompassing the full academic year. It brings Seminars, lectures and presentations on Catholic intellectual topic, such as Catholic Philosophy, Catholic social teachings, morality, all presented by top-notch Catholic laymen and clergy. More information on this can be found on this website.

If you are considering a contribution to the Aquinas Institute and would like to talk to someone first, please contact Fr. Gabe Zeis, T.O.R.