If you visited Princeton anytime in the last 16 years, chances are you were blessed with an encounter with Father Thomas Mullelly. Father Tom, or FT, is an iconic figure on campus. While I know our readers extend well beyond Princeton, I also know that each of the builders has been bolstered in our faith, prayer and apostolate by our beloved Father Tom. There are few on campus of any denomination or creed who do not know Father Tom. As head of the Aquinas Institute, Father Tom has presided over Princeton’s Catholic chaplaincy since 1995. There is daily Mass in the University Chapel, Bible studies, RCIA programs, fellowship meetings, retreats and many opportunities for service through Aquinas and motivated by Father Tom.
It is hard for me to imagine a generation of Princeton students who will not know Father Tom, though, I am sure, the stories, legends and catchphrases will live on. But this is to be the case. Father Tom has been named the Episcopal Vicar for Clergy for the Diocese of Trenton. He will be leaving in July to fulfill this very important role at the request of the Bishop of Trenton.
While his successor has yet to be announced, we already know that Father Tom has left a legacy.
A legacy of Princeton alums, students, professors, olympians, administrators, janitors and athletes alike.
FT has presided over the reception into the Catholic Church of several builders and presided at many of our weddings. Whether for confession (anytime), a triple blessing, retreats, or a cup of coffee at Small World, Father Tom made himself available to students on top of his other responsibilites. He was the first person I met that exemplified what it is to be Christ-like, a servant and friend to everyone while always proclaiming the truth. Father Tom tirelessly defended human dignity and justice in a setting that didn’t always like to hear such truths. He inspired us all to fight the good fight, no matter what it cost.
We can play a part in sustaining the legacy left by Father Tom. The Aquinas Institute receives no funds from the university. To that end an endowment has been created on the Aquinas alumni website, (doinggoodthings.org) to ensure the sustainability of the Aquinas Institute and its programs. Here is the brochure. If you are an alum who has been helped in your journey by Father Tom, we encourage you all to contribute in honor of the man who has never let up Doin’ Good Things.
Father Tom, all the builders wish you the best as you serve in obedience to the bishop. While it’s sad to think of Princeton without your presence, we must, as always, keep attaching ourselves to the vine and doing good things. We know you will continue to do so and our prayers are with you.
Here is a video of a televised interview with Father Tom: