Our school is named in honour of a Spanish Augustinian, Thomas García (1486-1555), the son of a miller who was born in the village of Villanova de los Infantes, Castille, Spain.
Thomas studied at the University of Alcalá where he received his master's degree in 1509, and the insignia marking him as a doctor shortly thereafter. In 1512, he became a professor of philosophy at the University of Alcalá.
In 1516, Thomas was offered the chair of philosophy at the prestigious University of Salamaca, where the Augustinians had founded a monastery in 1377. Thomas declined the chair and instead entered the Augustinian Order in that city.
Ordained to the priesthood in 1520, Thomas was soon asked to assume administrative positions in the Order.
Thomas' many gifts, especially his scholarship, powerful, uncompromising oratory, skills as a mediator and administrator, and sensitivity to the feelings and needs of others, brought him to the attention of Emperor Charles V, who appointed him court chaplain and then archbishop of Valencia in 1544.
The intellectual legacy of Thomas is reflected in his constant demand that all learning must be inspired by the desire for God. Thomas celebrated learning as an activity that ought to make a difference in the community and in the world. He emphasized that justice and love are the guiding rules of virtue and learning.
Thomas was known as "father of the poor." He established social programs on behalf of the poor, including boarding schools and high schools for poor young men. For girls he provided dowries enabling them to be married with dignity. For the hungry, he created a soup kitchen in the Bishop's palace, and for the homeless he provided a place to sleep. In an Advent sermon, he states "Rejoice, then, you poor people; shout for joy, you needy ones; because even if the world holds you in contempt you are highly valued by your Lord God and the angels." His love of the poor extended to all creation. Thomas' teachings, scholarship, and special concern for the impoverished inspire Villanova College's mission of seeking faith, excellence, discipline, and sacrifice.
Source: The Mission and Heritage of Villanova University: Catholic and Augustinian, (2000), pp. 27-28