Aquinas students take leadership roles with University Catholic

Aquinas College students Pat McMahon, left, and Daniel Kane Jr. have been appointed to leadership positions with University Catholic, the campus ministry for college students in Nashville. 

Two students at Aquinas College, senior Pat McMahon and sophomore Daniel Kane Jr., have been selected to serve on the board for University Catholic, the campus ministry for college students in Nashville. 

“UCAT has four dimensions, Spiritual, Apostolic, Human, and Intellectual,” said Kane, who serves as co-head of the Intellectual Dimension with Vanderbilt student Roman Brasoveanu. “These dimensions were created with the UCAT mission statement, ‘Proposing Jesus Christ and Forming His Disciples,’ in mind,” he said. 

Kane is looking forward to adding a Thomistic voice. “I plan on facilitating talks which will present a foundation of the Church’s tremendous intellectual work, primarily philosophy and development of church doctrine, with the hopes that it will inspire my fellow students to begin their own study of the topics we present,” he said.  

Talks, round-table Socratic dialogues on current issues, and guest lectures are some of the typical fare at Intellectual Dimension events.  

McMahon, an Aquinas history major and newly appointed head sacristan for UCAT, got involved in the campus ministry as a freshman. He was looking for off-campus housing and approached the FOCUS missionaries at University Catholic for some leads. Once settled in Nashville, McMahon began to attend the Sunday Frassati House dinners and Mass on the Vanderbilt University campus with other Catholic students.  

Pat McMahon, a senior at Aquinas College, is the head sacristan for University Catholic, the campus ministry for college students in Nashville. 

At UCAT he found good Christian friends who were also navigating the challenges of growing closer to Christ in college. 

Time spent with the FOCUS missionaries has raised some questions for McMahon. “Who is my mission field?” A strong missionary approach to discipleship characterizes FOCUS formation on college campuses.  

“My campus doesn’t really need to be preached to,” McMahon said, referring the majority of his classmates and professors at Aquinas who are Dominican Sisters. “My campus is pretty solid. I think they know the Lord and are on the boat.” 

The liturgical life at UCAT, study at Aquinas, and prayer at St. Jude Chapel on the Aquinas campus, just a few feet from his classrooms, have been for McMahon the needed atmosphere in which to develop his spiritual life.  

McMahon found ways to live discipleship in the University Catholic community by serving his peers. “I began to take on roles within the campus ministry itself.”  

McMahon served as co-head of the Intellectual Dimension for 2019-20. He enjoys serving as sacristan and being part of the leadership team for the UCAT Awakening Retreat each fall.  

Even with these ministry opportunities, McMahon said, “I consider myself served rather than serving University Catholic.”  

Involvement has been the result of his growing desire to be close to Jesus. McMahon is currently discerning a priestly and religious vocation, finding support and guidance in the Melchizedek Project discernment group for men led by UCAT chaplain Father Gervan Menezes. 

Father Menezes also serves as the episcopal master of ceremonies for Nashville Bishop J. Mark Spalding. This is not lost on the students who attend UCAT. “Having your campus minister be so close to your diocesan bishop,” McMahon reflects, “Bishop Spalding really does feel like a father. He just came and spoke at our retreat.” 

Kane and McMahon are joined at UCAT by other Aquinas lay students.  

“UCAT has been a major force in my life since I moved to Nashville,” Kane said.  

University Catholic ministers to students from university campuses in the Diocese of Nashville. Its faith community currently includes students from Vanderbilt University, Belmont University, Aquinas College, and others. Information about how to get involved can be found at their website, universitycatholic.org