Our History

The History of St. Thomas of Villanova


Our school’s namesake, St. Thomas of Villanova, was born Thomas Garcia in Castile, Spain in 1488, and derived his surname from Villaneuva de los Infantes, the village where he was raised. The son of a miller, he grew up middle class by today’s standards, but his parents instilled a yearning to help the poor, a characteristic that became his legacy.

At just 16 years old, he studied at the University of Alcala, where he studied Theology and Philosophy, and later served as a professor. In 1516, he joined the Augustinian Friars and in 1518, was ordained a priest.

In 1545, after being appointed Archbishop of Valencia, he traveled throughout his diocese to preach with zeal and affection, especially about charitable causes. Known as the “father of the poor,” he never ceased caring for orphans and the sick, feeding all who came to his door. His supernatural gifts, like healing the sick and multiplying food, were also recorded.

He continued almsgiving until his death in 1555, when he gifted all of his money to the poor. His canonization took place in 1658, and his feast day is celebrated September 22.

STV School boasts a rich history, steeped with scholarship, innovation and philanthropy.

Our School: Always Moving Forward

Since its inception, St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic School has followed in the footsteps of this scholarly and charitable saint, continuously discovering ways to not only meet but exceed the academic and spiritual needs of its student body, while promoting civic and benevolent responsibility, both locally and globally

After the Parish formed in 1961, three Sinsinawa Dominican nuns—Principal Sr. Josef Riordan, Sr. Carolus Sciase and Sr. Amatus (Susanne) Klein—opened the school in September 1963 with only grades 4, 5 and 6. After solving space constraints, the school expanded to include grades 4-8 in 1965.

In 1971, Principal Sr. Patricia Ann, who believed parents should actively participate in their children’s school life, organized the first meeting of the St. Thomas Home-School Association. Today, this group is called the Family School Association (FSA) but continues to exemplify and advocate for strong parent-school connections.

In 1972, Charles Swangren became the first lay principal, and over the next four decades, a selection of dedicated principals shared their unique gifts to shape the school into what it is today, each building on the successes of their predecessor.

In partnership with the church, who built the Fr. James Rowley Activity Center in 2003, the school utilizes a state-of-the-art gymnasium and its facilities to grow its physical education courses and its award-winning sports programming, as well as host a number of student performances, educational and social events and assemblies.

At the heart of every one of our school’s advancements since 1963—from the development of a full-day preschool and kindergarten programs to up-to-date technology tools and cutting edge collaborative desks and workstations—is innovation.

In the spirit of St. Thomas of Villanova, the school’s administrators, teachers, students and parents never cease to look for ways to grow, improve and better serve the educational, spiritual, social and emotional needs of children.