It was 2003 when Berni Neal of Capistrano Beach, Calif., first learned about Thomas Aquinas College, and “it truly has been a love affair” ever since, she says. For Mrs. Neal and her husband, Robert, the relationship was a natural fit. “We have come to appreciate more and more what Thomas Aquinas has developed, as well as its curriculum, and the rich faith that’s so alive and well on campus,” she explains.
The Neals generously dedicate themselves to the needs of the Universal Church in numerous ways. They are active with Catholic Relief Services and Stewards of St. Peter for the Papal Foundation, giving directly to the Holy Father to aid projects that fulfill his mission “to bring the Gospel to the world.” They also support several religious orders, and Mrs. Neal is a board member of the Orange Catholic Foundation.
Because of their shared interest in evangelization, Mr. and Mrs. Neal serve on the executive board of Magis, which Mrs. Neal describes as “a Catholic incubator that aims to invigorate a Catholic dialogue in the arts, culture, education, stewardship, and faith.” They have long been involved in Legatus and served as co-presidents of their local chapter in 2005. Mrs. Neal is also a board member of Mudpuddle Films, a Dominican-run organization that seeks to use new media for evangelization. Moreover, she is president of Mary’s Shelter, which provides assistance to pregnant girls, ages 12 to 18, who, as a result of choosing life, find themselves homeless.
When she is not too busy as a “full-time volunteer,” Mrs. Neal runs her own business, God Squad Athletics, which markets Catholic-themed sports apparel. Meanwhile, Mr. Neal owns and operates a real-estate investment firm, Hagar Pacific Properties. The Neals have two adult children.
Previously a member of Thomas Aquinas College’s Board of Regents,Mrs. Neal has served on the Board of Governors since 2008. She and her husband, she says, have come to see their support for the College as “a critical component of our belief in sound Catholic formation brought about through discernment, knowledge, and wisdom, but above all, grace.”