Aquinas Center

Aquinas Center was developed as a collaborative effort with the parishioners of St. Thomas Catholic Community, neighbors in South Philadelphia, and many people of good will from partnering organizations and agencies. The former convent was re-purposed to be a welcoming place that offered mutual support to fostered shared understanding across cultural divides. The building was dedicated January 27th, 2013 at a large multilingual ceremony. In late summer 2013, five individuals were invited to serve as the founding board of directors to guide the formation of the nonprofit corporation. Meet the team here.

Our Mission and Values

Aquinas Center builds unity in diversity, supports learning, and inspires thoughtful action. Hospitality, solidarity, responsiveness, and transformation are the four core values that animate and advance this mission.

We extend hospitality by:

  • Inviting and engaging people
  • Emphasizing inclusiveness
  • Creating a welcoming space
  • Developing opportunities for people to share gifts and talents
We practice responsiveness by:

  • Advocating for the most vulnerable
  • Engaging in dialogue for the purpose of understanding
  • Heeding the call to global solidarity
  • Equipping leaders with training and tools to seek change
  We practice solidarity through:

  • Respect for one another
  • Care for creation
  • Support for local businesses
  • Fair compensation for workers
We experience transformation through:

  • Listening to one another
  • Sharing meals and fellowship
  • Cultivating an awareness of God
  • Exercising creative action for the common good

group cropped header

Our Activities and Programs

Over 550 people use the center weekly for activities ranging from community organizing to sacramental preparation to leadership training to English classes. Leadership for parish and center programming is shared by different cultural communities including: Indonesian, Vietnamese, Latin American, African American, Filipino, and Anglo-Europeans.

Urban Immersion and Service Learning

Aquinas Center hosted the first group of college students for a social justice weekend in January 2013. In the year that followed, over 600 students and adults have joined our community for prayerful retreats, leadership development, and urban immersion experiences that include volunteer projects, policy presentations, and reflection. That number is on track to increase by 50% in fiscal year 2015, which represents a strong base of external supporters who are growing in cooperation and solidarity with our diverse neighborhood in order to achieve a more integrated and mutually understanding society. Recent groups include: Villanova University, Clinton Presbyterian youth group, Merion Mercy High School, Misericordia University, Cornell College, Georgetown University, St. Joseph’s University, and Rutgers University Camden. Learn more about these experiences here. Contact our Encounter Coordinator at (267) 702-3454 or e-mail Encounter [at] for current rates.

Education, Advocacy, and Supportive Services

Aquinas Center provides space for a wide range of social service programs, meetings, workshops, and other community development type activities. Some of these are ongoing, while others are individual stand alone activities. We have many program partners who utilize the center’s space to offer weekly or monthly services through a formal partnership agreement. Some of these include:

  • Community Literacies Project with University of Pennsylvania faculty and students who facilitate language and literacy support for immigrant families in the neighborhoods
  • La Puerta Abierta – Free bilingual (Spanish/English) mental health counseling
  • PA Fight for Driver’s License campaign – Indonesian and Spanish language groups
  • Bethanna/CUA – CUAs ensure that local solutions and resources are more accessible to children and families. They develop connections to formal and informal neighborhood networks that can strengthen and stabilize families.

Please contact Aquinas Center today for more information or to schedule a tour of the center. Stay connected through our email list. Click here to sign up.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s