On the 21st of August 1715 he summoned all the preachers in the Cevennes and Lower Languedoc to a conference or synod near the village of Monoblet.
Before he left Paris he had thrown himself with ardour into the controversy raging between the university and the Friar-Preachers respecting the liberty of teaching, resisting both by speeches and pamphlets the authorities of the university; and when the dispute was referred to the pope, the youthful Aquinas was chosen to defend his order, which he did with such success as to overcome the arguments of Guillaume de St Amour, the champion of the university, and one of the most celebrated men of the day.
This influence was due not only to his publications, but also to the "school" or classes for the training of clergymen which he conducted for many years at his home and from which went forth scores of preachers to every part of New England and the middle colonies (states).
As followers rapidly increased they were compelled to hold their own Sunday services, and this naturally led them to appoint as preachers godly laymen possessing the gift of exhortation.
These followed their ordinary avocations on week-days, but on Sundays preached to congregations in their own immediate neighbourhood, and hence were called local preachers as distinguished from travelling preachers.