St. Thomas shares deep sympathy for the passing of Fr. Albert R. Gaelens, CSB, the 21st principal in school history who richly served the institution in a variety of capacities for a quarter-century with a legacy of selfless service.
“I will personally always be grateful to Fr. Gaelens for the unfailing and gracious generosity with which he shared of himself with me and our campus community – as priest, administrator, mentor, and friend,” said St. Thomas President Fr. James Murphy, CSB. “Fr. Gaelens was a tremendous ambassador for St. Thomas and I consider myself extremely blessed to have been able to work with, and learn from, him. His passing marks the end of an era, and he will be deeply missed.”
Fr. Gaelens’ imprint is written throughout recent St. Thomas history and his Basilian order. Beginning in 1977, his invaluable presence was vibrant within the campus community as a faculty member in theology, guidance counselor, and vice principal before rising in 1987 to succeed Fr. Charles Christopher, CSB as principal for a significant seven-year tenure. Fr. Gaelens returned to St. Thomas in January 2001 as director of alumni relations and then retired in 2007.
Fr. Gaelens’ inner strength and motivation no doubt came from his love of God. Empathy proved to be an indelible part of his character. His emphatic impact also included leadership roles at St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque and the Aquinas Institute in Rochester where he graduated in 1950 and received the meritorious service award in 2006.
Fr. Gaelens’ prestigious pedagogical career began at St. Michael’s College within the University of Toronto. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in history and Bachelor of Sacred Theology in 1955, then his Master of Education from the University of Rochester in 1957, and his Master of Arts in Theology and Religious Vocations from Catholic University of America in 1967. Fr. Gaelens was ordained from St. Basil’s Seminary for Theology in June 1960.
The annual Fr. Albert R. Gaelens, CSB Award is given to the St. Thomas graduating scholar who best embodies the school motto of Teach Me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Catholic. Basilian. Teaching Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge since 1900.