History of the IFAT and ITTA

 

The St. Thomas Aquinas Theological Institute (ITTA) and the Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophical Institute (IFAT) are the property of the Clerical Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right Virgo Flos Carmeli – SVAVFC, linked by charism with the International Private Association of Pontifical Right Heralds of the Gospel.

The ITTA and IFAT are canonically erected in the Diocese of Bragança Paulista and have the benefit of public juridic person in the Church. The specific purpose of the institutes is to promote the philosophical and theological formation of candidates to the priesthood of the SVAVFC.

The Institutes originated from among the first members of the Heralds of the Gospel in the 1960s, much before its canonical erection as a Private Association of the Faithful. Through their commitment to evangelization, the members encountered the need to deepen their knowledge of Catholic doctrine, thus acquiring profound theological training.

Subsequently, during its founding journey, in which the charismatic figure of Monsignor João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, EP is outstanding, this initial group of Heralds associated themselves with specialists in Theology and Philosophy, especially professors holding chairs of philosophy and theology at Salamanca: Rev. Arturo Alonso Lobo OP, Fr. Marcelino Cabreros de Anta CMF, Fr. Victorino Rodríguez y Rodríguez OP, Fr. Esteban Gómez OP, Fr. Antonio Royo Marín OP, Fr. Teófilo  Urdánoz OP, Fr. Armando Bandera OP, etc. Hence, from the very outset, the philosophical and theological studies of the Heralds have had a predominant Dominican influence.

The development of evangelization activity, and the abundant admission of new members led to the organization of a standard course entitled the “St. Thomas Aquinas Theological Course” in 1982 under the guidance of the above mentioned theologians.  Later, it was used as a basis for the “Ratio Fundamentalis Instituionis Sacerdotalis” of 1967 and, further on, it was added to the curriculum and academic guidelines as suggested by the document of the CNBB, “Basic Guidelines for the Formation of Priests in the Church in Brazil.”

From 1988 to 1999 two six year terms of philosophical-theological training were accomplished modeled after studies in the Angelicum in Rome. More than 40 alumni of these courses have received priestly ordination. In the Holy Year 2000, the studies of the “St. Thomas Aquinas Theological Course” were reorganized to accommodate an increasing number of students, as well as heightened structure and continuity of course terms.

With the Papal Approval of the Heralds of the Gospel on February 22, 2001, the Association experienced such rapid growth that the course was transferred from the São Paulo centre to new premises outside the city, in the scenic mountain region of the Serra da Canateira, located in the Diocese of Bragança Paulista. On August 15, 2005, the bishop of that diocese, the Most Rev. José Maria Pinheiro, acknowledged the Course by erecting two Diocesan Institutes—one Philosophical and the other Theological—with the recommendation of affiliating them with an Ecclesiastical University.

The St. Thomas Aquinas Theological Institute and the Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophical Institute entered its current phase in 2006 when Bishop Benedito Beni dos Santos, then Auxiliary Bishop of São Paulo and overseer of the seminaries of the Archdiocese, was nominated General Supervisor of Education of the Heralds of the Gospel. He is currently Bishop of the Diocese of Lorena (SP) and a member of the Episcopal Commission for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Episcopal Conference of Bishops of Brazil—the  CNBB . In 2009, after approval of the Pontifical SVAVFC, The Bishop of Bragança Paulista, the Most Rev. José Maria Pinheiro, graciously accepted the request of transferral of ownership of the ITTA and IFAT from the Heralds of the Gospel to Virgo Flos Carmeli. With this transfer, the Superior General of the said Society assumed authority of the Institute.

In 2011, IFAT is presently offering a three-staged comprehensive philosophy course with 18, 20 and 24 male students respectively, totaling 62 students. A similar number is projected for 2012, taking into account the number of students registered in the last year of high school at the International College Heralds of the Gospel.

Currently (2011) the ITTA is operating first, third and fourth year of theology are functioning, with 19, 9 and 13 students respectively, totaling 39 students. For the 2012 year it is projected that 24 entrants will have completed philosophical their studies.