Father Merwyn Thomas Scholarship Fund

Great teachers change our lives, but we rarely get the opportunity to thank them.

For those of us who weren’t born math geniuses, having a professor like Fr. Merwyn Thomas, C.S.C. to help us get through Calculus is a dream come true.

He is a man who shows his love for young people through long, late office hours and almost infinite patience. His office is open when he knows most of his students are finally getting around to their Calculus homework:  from 8 until 11 PM. There is usually a line of students waiting to see him. And he meets each individual student, as Blessed Basil Moreau would have it, “where they are at.”

His students write on his whiteboard one at a time, working through the troubling problems over and over until they understand and get it right.

Please join us in honoring his contributions to the students and alumni of Holy Cross College.

Holy Cross College is establishing a scholarship fund to forever memorialize the contributions that Fr. Thomas has made to students in three decades of teaching: the 80s, the 90s and the 2000s. In total, our goal is to raise a scholarship endowment in excess of $50,000 to honor Fr. Thomas’ three decades of service to Holy Cross College. Such a scholarship would forever memorialize Fr. Thomas’ wonderful personality and dedication to his students.

As of April of 2011, we have raised over $45.000 for this scholarship. We invite all grateful alumni to contribute at least a small amount to this memorial. We need to get this scholarship over the $50,000 threshold. It would only take 44 grateful alumni pledging $50 per year for five years for us to raise enough money. Would you please be one of the 44 to honor Fr. Thomas in this way?

With Fr. Thomas in the twilight of his teaching career, it seems fitting to honor this good and kind friend who has become an institution during his tenure at Holy Cross. Fr. Thomas’ recent stroke has stirred in many of us at the college a desire to formally express our gratitude towards him. Not wanting to wait until it’s too late for Fr. Thomas to enjoy the honor, we are determined to raise a scholarship fund in his honor and present it to him while he is still active and with us. We know that he would take enormous satisfaction in such an honor.

Biography of Rev. Merwyn Thomas, CSC.

Born in Jacksonville, Florida on August 21, 1940, Fr. Thomas spent a year at Jacksonville University before transferring to Notre Dame in the fall of 1959 as a postulant residing in St. Joseph Hall (today called Sacred Heart Parish Center). After taking a year off to go to the Holy Cross novitiate in Jordan, Minnesota, Fr. Thomas returned to Notre Dame and completed his degree in philosophy in 1963. After earning three master’s degrees in Theology, Education and Mathematics, Fr. Thomas joined the Holy Cross Junior College faculty in the fall of 1980. He has remained at Holy Cross ever since. Referred to by alums as the finest math teacher – perhaps even the finest teacher – they have ever encountered, Fr. Thomas has been a friend to students for 30 years. Known for his snarky sense of humor and his late night study sessions in his office, Fr. Thomas’ selfless dedication to his vocation as a teacher and priest has helped innumerable students to achieve their dreams.

The Importance of a Holy Cross College Education Today

Today more than ever, Holy Cross College offers college students something unique and increasingly valuable: a truly Catholic liberal arts education. Holy Cross College is committed to the liberal arts, those tools of learning which, when developed, equip a student to adapt and thrive in any future situation. Liberally educated students grow into lifetime learners. They are able to more fully appreciate the goodness and beauty of God’s creation and to see the interrelatedness of all knowledge. Liberally educated students are not merely concerned with knowledge and skill, though these are very important. Rather, liberally educated students pursue a third end for education: the acquisition of wisdom. To learn and develop as a person within the context of a Catholic community of faith ensures that each student has the opportunity to grow as a child of God.

This type of educational experience does not come without a cost. Every year, we find more students who need significant financial help to afford a quality educational experience. Moreover, among the growing number of students who need help, we are finding that they need more significant help than ever. While our tuition is among the lowest of any private college in the country, it is a still a major hardship for some students. Our financial aid office is constantly barraged with requests for more aid. It is imperative that we provide additional scholarship aid to our students as soon as possible.

One challenge of fundraising at Holy Cross is that many students that attended Holy Cross when it was a two year institution tend to identify more with their final degree granting college and forget about the little college that helped them along the way. We know these alums are grateful, but in the past we haven’t been aggressive enough in asking for support. Fr. Thomas’ situation gives us the opportunity to allow our alums to show their gratitude to a towering figure in our history.

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