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Video: A Thomas Aquinas College
Tribute to Northfield, Massachusetts

Posted: May 31, 2017

“From the first moments of seeing photographs and reading the history of the campus, and even more so after setting foot on it, I have been impressed by the work God accomplished through the efforts of D.L. Moody,” observes Dr. Phillip Wodzinski.

A member of the teaching faculty who intends to relocate to Thomas Aquinas College’s planned New England campus, Dr. Wodzinski admires the legacy of the many educators who have served there before him. Most notable among these is the 19th century evangelical preacher D.L. Moody, who founded the Northfield Seminary, which later become the Northfield Mount Hermon School and occupied the site from 1879 to 2005. “Mr. Moody’s work is clearly seen in the beautiful campus, which is situated within an even more beautiful natural setting,” Dr. Wodzinski remarks.

Inspired by the legacy of Mr. Moody and others, Dr. Wodzinski oversaw the creation of the above video, a tribute to the people of Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley and their spiritual heritage. The video features footage of the Northfield, Massachusetts, campus, as well as a group of Thomas Aquinas College students singing The Everlasting Hills, a hymn by two of Mr. Moody’s longtime associates, Ira Sankey (music) and Fanny Crosby (lyrics).

“The choice of the song is not accidental,” says Dr. Wodzinski. “The chief image of ‘the everlasting hills’ is from Genesis 49:26, wherein in Jacob is blessing his son Joseph: ‘The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.’ Miss Crosby uses this image to suggest the reality of a ‘splendor’ that we ‘see but dimly now.’ We might imagine that she, deprived of physical sight almost since birth, is using what she has been told of the hills of Northfield as a sign of what it will be to live eternally in the presence of God: this is the ‘vision’ that her ‘soul with rapture thrills.’”

Contingent upon the approval of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, the Northfield campus that Mr. Moody established will become the site of Thomas Aquinas College, New England. “It seems only natural to have our Santa Paula students sing the work of two of Mr. Moody’s collaborators as a background to photographs of the lovely, historic, and soon-to-be-revived campus,” explains Dr. Wodzinski. The choir for this performance consists of members of the Class of 2018, all students in tutor Dr. David Appleby’s Junior Music Tutorial this past spring. Rising junior Francis Donnelly assembled and edited the video.

“In thinking about the roots that Mr. Moody set down, roots from which Thomas Aquinas College will benefit in its efforts to provide Catholic liberal education, I kept coming back to the idea of the connection between what we have been doing in Santa Paula and what we are about to begin in Northfield,” says Dr. Wodzinski. “This latter project would not have been possible without those original efforts of D.L. Moody.”