Doing Good Things

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, ( 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:

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  • Kat

    Tex, thanks so much for writing this great tribute to FT! It’s been on my mind, and you did a great job describing FT and his impact on so many of our lives. My Princeton experience would have been completely difference without Father Tom and Aquinas – I thank God regularly for them.nWe’ll all miss knowing that FT is “doin’ good things” at Princeton, but I am confident that God will provide a wonderful successor for him.

  • Anonymous

    It’s hard to imagine who could replace him…

  • Mary Alice

    While things will change at Princeton, I am excited and hopeful for the future, and glad that he can stay to ease the transition, and also thankful for Deacon Lovejoy, who contributes so much to the community as well. I am also really pleased to see that FT is taking on this very important responsibility for the bishop. Just think, with all the good he did at Princeton, and as personable as he is, what a help and inspiration he will be to the clergy of the diocese!

  • Mary Alice

    I really like what FT has to say here about the importance of faith and reason working together. He brought many great, intellectual speakers to campus and helped me to bring my faith and education together. One speaker in particular, Janet Smith, changed my life and the lives of many others who heard her that day.

  • Tex, thanks again for posting this, I would not have known about the transition otherwise. I share in everyone’s gratefulness to God for FT, his service to God and his example: he certainly affected my life in a significant way…God bless his transition this summer and his continued work.

  • lol! I knew the post was about Fr Tom simply by reading the title: Doin’ good things!nYay for Fr Tom! A loss for Princeton but a gain for the diocese. nn

  • Kathy

    As a friend tou00a0Fr.u00a0Tom’s successor, Fr. David Swantek,u00a0I can assure you that you are receiving an excellent priest who will give his allu00a0to serve the people of God throughu00a0Princeton University. nnAs I read all of your fine tributes to Fr. Tom, it is nice to hear that Fr. Tom was so beloved by his community.u00a0Know thatu00a0the communityu00a0to whichu00a0Fr. David Swantek currently ministers is truly devastated by his transfer (despite the fact that we all knew that someday this would happen). nnWe hope that the Princeton University Community welcomes Fr. David Swantek with much joy. We,u00a0whou00a0are friends withu00a0Fr. David, know that the Princeton Community will soon thank Godu00a0for His goodness inu00a0sending you so worthy a successor to Fr. Tom.nnYou are all fortunate that you will have Fr. Tom remain on campus (despite his new position) for at least another year. nnMay both Fr. Tom and Fr. Dave be successful with their work in the vineyard of the Lord.