The John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought serves as a major component of the University's Center for Catholic Studies. The Center's mission is to enhance and revitalize the Catholic character and identity of the University of St. Thomas, in particular, and to contribute to the renewal of the Catholic intellectual tradition worldwide.

By promoting the study of the Catholic intellectual tradition in all its aspects—theological, educational, philosophical, social, literary, scientific, historical and aesthetic—the center has established itself as a leader among Catholic universities. As a result of this study, the Center also seeks to provide avenues for fruitful dialogue with other religious and philosophical traditions in order to serve the common good of the larger community.

The focus of the Institute on issues related to the Catholic social tradition and its diverse expressions makes a specific contribution to this mission.