Fr. Augustine Thompson, OP
BA, MA, The Johns Hopkins University; BA (Philosophy), MDiv, Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology; PhD, University of California, Berkeley; STM, Order of Preachers, 2007.
Fr. Augustine Thompson was reared in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, his family’s home since before the American Civil War. He was the son of Mr. Arthur T. Thompson, a telephone installer for the New York Telephone Company and Anna Dean Leque Thompson, a registered nurse. He has one sister, Martha, who is married and has two adult sons. Educated in the Hastings Public School system, his interest in Church history was in great part due to his mother, who loved history and cultivated a deep personal piety. After college in Baltimore, MD, he went to California to pursue a doctorate in medieval history at the University of California, Berkeley, but, after two semesters, he left the program and worked in a local bookstore. During that year he met the Western Dominicans, whose novitiate he entered in 1977. He ascribes his vocation to religious life to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and his love for the Church to Saint Augustine of Hippo, whose name he took as a Dominican novice. At the request of his religious superiors, Fr. Thompson returned to Berkeley to finish his doctorate in history in 1983, while finishing up his theological studies at DSPT. Within days of his ordination in 1985, he went to Bologna, Italy, to do the research for his dissertation. He lived there for over two years. This stay gave him an abiding love of Italians and all things Italian, especially the food, history, and culture. His research and writing have included extended periods in “il bel paese,” including sabbaticals, during which he did the research for two of his books.
Fr. Thompson returned from Italy and taught in the history department of the University of California, Berkeley (1988-89); the religious studies department of the University of Oregon (1990-1999), where he also served as department chair; and, finally, as Professor of Religious Studies and History at the University of Virginia (1999-2009), where he was director of the doctoral program in Religious Studies. He also served as the director of the Newman Center at Oregon State College, Ashland OR, and assistant pastor of Our Lady of the Mountain Church in Ashland, 1989-88. After nearly 25 years of teaching in secular institutions, in consultation with his superiors, Fr. Thompson accepted the offer of a position to teach at DSPT beginning in fall 2009. His personal interests include historical novels, model railroading, hiking and walking, and, last but not least, the music of Gilbert & Sullivan. He hopes that his research and study of lay piety and the lived religious culture of the period of St. Dominic and St. Francis will open new vistas for our students, not only into the distant past of the Church but also into possibilities for her in the twenty-first century.
Medieval Church history, especially of Italy; medieval philosophy, theology, and lay piety; history of canon law, preaching, and the mendicant orders.