10:04 AM

Student Scholar Salvatore Aquila Bets on His Intellectual Abilities and Wins!

Salvatore AquilaA special invitation landed squarely in University of St. Thomas-Houston student Salvatore Aquila's inbox. The young scholar opened the email to learn that his article, "Priests and the Line of Adam: The Imago Dei as Dominion" (abstract below), was accepted to the prestigious University of Notre Dame's Fall Conference hosted by the De Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture this November. 

Presenting a paper at this conference is rare for a person without a Ph.D, and Aquila, a senior at UST, submitted the abstract as a long shot. He wrote the paper on his own time to offer for the conference. 

"When I found out," Aquila said, "I was very surprised. I was ecstatic. My clarity toward my vocation as a student and my pursuit of intellectual life were profoundly affirmed. The opportunity to present in a professional academic setting will offer me a path forward and a taste of true upper-level work. I hope to live up to the honor gifted to me."

Aquila plans to graduate in May 2023 with a BA in Criminology, Law & Society, a BA/MA in Theology, and minors in Philosophy and History. His career goal is to become a theologian and work as a professor, researcher or consultant in theology.

The young man has a list of people who have shaped him. He credits his driving discipline and formation to his UST education and several professors who strongly influenced him, saying the Theology Department is "truly a jewel of the UST experience and what makes it such a premier place."

  • "I am deeply indebted to Sr. Theresa Marie Chau Nguyen, OP, who has been responsible for much of my undergraduate theology education," Aquila said. "She has tempered me intellectually and gifted me with a view of theology that is not only intellectual but also deeply spiritual. She taught me that a theologian is one who prays." 
  • "Dr. Jon Kirwan has also shaped my education and life by constantly taking chances on me in my academic career and always encouraging critical thought." 
  • "Dr. Theodore Rebard has given me a foundation in metaphysics and philosophy that has been invaluable as a tool in my research and for always driving me to ask the ultimate questions." 

Aquila is also grateful to others for nurturing his formation and spiritual and intellectual life. 

"Viri Deia men's group I met through UST, is crucial in my human formation. Those late nights engaged in fruitful conversation and community will always be remembered as my fondest memories at UST. The Dominican Fathers of Holy Rosary nurture my spiritual and intellectual life, and the beautiful liturgies and wisdom of the friars are indispensable. 

"Finally," he said, "the most thanks to my mother and father (Diane and Dr. Dominic Aquila), who have introduced me to the intellectual life and given me the discipline to endure it. Their insistence on having dinner together as a family and conversing with my siblings and I has been the most fundamental formation." He is the 10th of Diane and Dr. Dominic Aquila's 11 children.


Priests in the Line of Adam: The Imago Dei as Dominion

St. John Chrysostom held a unique position among the Fathers of the Church on the imago Dei in man. Chrysostom finds the imago Dei in man’s dominion. This position may seem to be in conflict with the more common interpretation of the imago Dei as the intellectual aspect of human nature, but this paper will show its accordance with the greater tradition of the Fathers. In order to understand dominion as the imago Dei, we must throw off our modern definitions of dominion and property given by thinkers such as John Locke and Francis Bacon and favor a more classical approach to the understanding of these concepts. It is only in the recognition of a true dominion that man may take his place as co-creator, priest of the cosmos, and image of God. In this paper, I will show the question of dominion as central to man’s universal call as priests of the cosmos against certain spiritualist conceptions of holiness that are fundamentally gnostic. This view accounts for the physicality of man as proper to the human soul and not merely accidental, showing God’s image in all parts of human nature. Further, the work of Charles De Koninck in metaphysics will aid in our understanding of dominion as imaging God in his account of the impulse of matter toward the spiritual.