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Deal Hudson: St. Thomas Aquinas on the Bronx River Parkway

By Deal W. Hudson
July 23rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Once again, I was losing consciousness and feeling cold.The door opened and I felt myself being lifted out of the car, placed on a stretcher, and put into the back of the vehicle.  Suddenly I heard a woman's voice, with a noticeable Irish accent yelling, "You've got to get yourself together, right now!"  By startling me, she had brought me back to consciousness. Then, I found myself whispering, "Thomas, Thomas, Thomas....."  After uttering his name I became
entirely cogent and conscious of what was happening to me.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - I would guess that most Catholics look at the sanctity of St. Thomas Aquinas as being primarily intellectual in character, given that he was the greatest Christian intellectual of the Middle Ages, which lasted 800 years. 

I have been one of those, ever since the day my first reading of the Summa Theologica accelerated my journey into the Catholic Church. That was in 1980, and I was received into the Church in February, 1984 taking the name, "Tomaso" in tribute to the Angelic Doctor who had opened my eyes.

Five years later I would learn that St. Thomas was a great deal more than a saint who oversees the works of the intellect.

It was a beautiful September afternoon in 1989, and I was driving south on the Bronx River Parkway to the new faculty reception at Fordham University. I was driving in the middle lane a few mph below the speed limit. It was around 3pm, so the traffic was very light. 

Out of the corner of my eye, in the side view mirror I saw a car coming very fast in the left lane. Just as the car passed me, it swerved in front of me -- I assume the driver was trying to impress me with his driving skill. Well, his car clipped the front left fender of my mine turning my car 45 degrees to the right and towards a steel guard rail. 

I looked at the rail and my speedometer, which read 40 mph, and said "goodbye" to my wife Theresa and sixteen-month old daughter Hannah. I wasn't wearing a seat belt.

My car hit the guard rail and bounced backwards into the middle of the parkway.  I was very surprised to still be conscious but blood was streaming down my face and onto my (brand new!) sport coat.  I was very dazed and just sat in my car as other cars whizzed around me. 

I was starting to lose consciousness when the door opened and a kind off-duty firefighter started to take care of me, applying pressure to the deep wound in my scalp, telling me he had to leave but that an EMS vehicle was on its way.  I didn't want him to go, but shortly after I did hear the sound of the ambulance approaching.

Once again, I was losing consciousness and feeling cold.

The door opened and I felt myself being lifted out of the car, placed on a stretcher, and put into the back of the vehicle.  Suddenly I heard a woman's voice, with a noticeable Irish accent yelling, "You've got to get yourself together, right now!"  By startling me, she had brought me back to consciousness.

Then, I found myself whispering, "Thomas, Thomas, Thomas....."  After uttering his name I became
entirely cogent and conscious of what was happening to me.

It was a quick ride to the North Central Bronx Hospital, where after several hours of waiting, a female resident freshly arrived from Mississippi, applied double stitches to my scalp, which was almost removed, and my forehead.

Theresa took me home later that evening, and young Hannah was put in my arms.

Can you imagine the feelings of being reunited with both of them after having been certain I would never see them again. It had been my first reading of St. Thomas Aquinas that reactivated my journey into the Catholic Church, and it was St. Thomas that kept me a living member of the Church that day on the Bronx River Parkway.

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