Whenever discussing with fellow alumni my position as president of the Thomas Aquinas College Alumni Association, certain questions invariably arise, such as: “What is the Alumni Association?” To answer that, we must first understand the ends for which the association exists.
I often say that outside of the normal course of the Catholic life, besides marrying my wife, the best decision I ever made was to attend the College, and even meeting my wife was contingent on first attending. The deepening of my faith, the unique education I received, the friendships established — all of these invaluable gifts were made possible by the existence of the College.
As we read in the Ethics, friendship is based on what is held in common — and how much do we have in common, whether it is politics, religion, family life, or the goat-stag. Beyond that, the sorts of things we have in common are of the highest order. We share a commitment to the natural law, to right reason, to wisdom, to the common good, to faith. Hence our friendships transcend those of just pleasure and utility (though we possess those, too), for we are concerned with the good and pursuing it together.
However, all of these are not enough in themselves to constitute friendship, for as Aristotle remarks in the Ethics, “Friendship depends on community.” This is another reason why the Alumni Association exists: to cultivate community so that true friendship may continue to thrive among us. The alumni dinners, Alumni Day, the alumni website — these are all tools by which we aim to strengthen the community so that we may live out the call of friendship in justice and charity to one another.
Not too long ago, the larger-than-life Dr. Ronald McArthur gave a talk on the importance of Thomas Aquinas College in the world. He argued that the education received at the College is uniquely important because of both the curriculum and the methodology. If he is right, then those of us who are products of this education have a special duty. As Our Lord teaches us in the parable of the talents, “To those who have been given much, much will be expected.” If we truly believe in the unique nature and the importance of the formation we received at the College, then we must also accept the great responsibility that comes with it.
As somebody whose main occupation doesn’t directly deal with reading and teaching the great books, I can vouch for how difficult it is to maintain discipline in continuing along the path of wisdom. Yet I truly believe that it is not only those of us whose vocations are directly tied to the intellectual life who are responsible for engaging the world in this manner. Perhaps through the Alumni Association, we can mutually encourage one another to respond to the call we received when undergoing our formation at the College.
The Alumni Association is, therefore, an organized community of alumni of Thomas Aquinas College who come together for the purposes of supporting our alma mater, each other, and the Church. The end of the Alumni Association is the same as each of our individual ends as alumni. For as we read in the Politics, all men desire to be self-sufficient, yet none of us is, and it is because of this desire that we enter into communities. The purpose of the Alumni Association is to accomplish together those duties we possess as alumni which we cannot accomplish on our own.
I hope that all of you, according to your ability, will involve yourselves with the life of the Alumni Association, ensuring that we may continue to achieve our most noble goals as a community. Thank you, and God Bless.
Jonathan Monnereau (’05)
Alumni Association President
Alumni Association President Jonathan Monnereau (’05, right) at an Association brunch to celebrate the 2010 inauguration of Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean