Another look at Monsignor Thomas Wells

frwells5Several GetReligion readers have sent me information linked to my recent post on the lasting influence of the late Monsignor Thomas Wells, an influential Roman Catholic priest in the Washington, D.C., area whose murder shocked the region back in 2000. I want to pass along one or two, since it is clear that his impact on others was personal, spiritual and intellectual. That's a potent mix. First, click here to read a personal tribute to Wells by the philosopher Thomas Hibbs, author of Shows About Nothing: Nihilism in Popular Culture from The Exorcist to Seinfeld and other works. Hibbs is currently dean of the Honors College at Baylor University, which means that I cross his path from time to time when visiting my family in Central Texas. Hibbs writes:

Fr. Wells was the perfect priest, friend, and advisor for me. He steered me in the direction of the great teachers of the Catholic faith, Augustine and Aquinas, Merton and von Balthasar. He also taught me the crucial connection between learning and living, a connection almost universally neglected or mocked on college campuses. His sense of humor was an antidote to my adolescent anxiety and sense of self-importance. He liked to say what a rotten student he was, but he was a gifted teacher, with a remarkably clear and forceful mind, a mind that could instruct little kids, challenge doubting teens, and give and take with those studying for advanced degrees in philosophy and theology. Above all, it was his sense of wonder and joy at the wisdom of our Catholic heritage that had the most abiding impact on me.

Some of the priests friends and parishioners have collected some of his writings at a website that, even though the graphics seem to be messed up a bit, has materials that offer readers a glimpse of what he was about. It seems that his grave has become a site of pilgrimage and prayer.

Ponder and enjoy.

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