Anthony John Mario DaGracaPinto’s path to a faith-based career as St. Thomas University’s Director of Campus Ministry was unlike any many have probably ever seen. Before he entered the Pontifical College Josephinum seminary in Columbus, Ohio, he was a race car driver. As a race car driver he visited every continent in the world, except Antartica, and experienced driving a car over 200 miles per hour. Born into a devout Catholic family, faith was always part of his life but never at the center. While pursuing a love interest, Pinto found himself volunteering with The Order of the Missionaries of Charity, an organization founded by Mother Teresa. It was through this volunteer experience that Pinto found his true calling to serve God and others.
What is it like being the STU Director of Campus Ministry? Working as the STU Director of Campus Ministry has been more than I could have asked for. It is incredible how God leads us into roles which utilize so many of our talents and experiences. From speaking with the football team about what it means to have Catholic virtues, to organizing retreats and other faith-based events, every day is different. I am in the unique position where my time in the office is always centered on trying to have our Catholic identity at St. Thomas flourish. There are many people here at STU that have a solid faith background, but we can all grow in our relationship with God. Helping our community build that relationship with God is what my office strives to do. It truly is a ministry for everyone here at STU.
What do you like most about your role and what you get to do? Without a doubt, what I like most about my role as Director of Campus Ministry is that no matter what the task is, it is centered on God. It is not about me, the staff, or even STU, but ultimately it all leads to God who is bigger than all of us.
Can you tell us more about your time as a race car driver? I like to tell the joke that I had too much fun in my twenties so God put me in a seminary for my thirties. Racing cars allowed me to travel the world, meet people from literally every walk of life, and just push myself mentally and physically to the limit every day. There is nothing like the feeling of going over two hundred miles per hour and being told that a race car will feel more stable if I just went ten miles an hour faster! Like many careers that involve a certain degree of risk, there is a brotherhood attached to the industry. I will always be a part of that brotherhood, and I believe it genuinely prepared me for the even greater brotherhood that I experienced as a seminarian.
How has faith been a part of your life? Why is it important to you? My faith has been a part of my life since I can remember. I was born into a devout Catholic family where we couldn’t have dessert until we had prayed the rosary. As a younger man my faith was always present but not at the center of my life. I allowed the world to tell me what fulfillment meant. I tell people now that luckily I still left the window open for the Holy Spirit to work within me by attending Mass and other church activities. I personally believe that there is nothing more important to me or anyone than their faith. I try to include God and His will in any decision I make whether at work or on my personal life. God has literally given us life and sustains us in His love, and now I try to live my life growing into the man he sees me as, not how the world would like to see me.
The St. Thomas University Campus Ministry hosts Mass at the Chapel of St. Anthony located on the STU campus in-person and online at 12:15pm every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and at 6:00pm every Wednesday. They also host many other events throughout the semester including a Rosary Walk every Wednesday at 3:00pm starting at the Main University Library.