— College Graduates Largest Class in 35-Year History —
Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, was the Baccalaureate Mass homilist and Commencement Speaker at the College's 32nd Commencement on May 13, 2006. SANTA PAULA, Calif.—On Saturday, May 13, 2006, members of Thomas Aquinas College's class of 2006 were granted the degree of bachelor of arts in liberal arts in recognition of their successful completion of the College's rigorous program of Catholic liberal education. Hailing from across the United States and abroad, 78 graduates received their diplomas from the presiding prelate and commencement speaker, His Excellency Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. This was the largest graduating class in the college's 35-year history.
In his commencement address, Archbishop Migliore spoke about the proper pride the graduates should take in the work that God has brought to completion in them. Commenting on the breadth of their studies at the 4-year institution, he went on to say, "In your study of physics, you most likely came across that famous quote by Archimedes: 'Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand, and I can move the earth.' Our world, our society desperately needs a jolt. Thomas Aquinas College strives to give its students 'the lever long enough,' in the form of the highest level of education. In addition, you have the most important element, 'the place to stand' to use that lever, that is, your personal, communal, and ecclesial relationship with God. Now, it's up to you to make good use of that lever."
Earlier in the morning, Archbishop Migliore was the principal celebrant of the Baccalaureate Mass. In his homily, the Apostolic Nuncio urged the graduating seniors to live the words of the Gospel - literally: "One time live the word that speaks of justice, another time a word that speaks of forgiveness, another one that expresses communion with our brothers and sisters, and yet another word that speaks of prayer. Threading together our experiences and knowledge of these words…we are clothed with the word of God; our mind, our thoughts, our affections, our will is conformed to that of Christ."
In recognition of Archbishop Migliore's extraordinary dedication to God and His Church, the Board of Governors of the College awarded him the St. Thomas Aquinas Medallion, the college's highest honor. Past recipients include Cardinal Arinze, Cardinal Schönborn, Cardinal Dulles, and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Commenting on the Archbishop's visit, president Tom Dillon said, "Since being ordained to the priesthood in 1977, Archbishop Migliore has faithfully served the Church as a member of the Vatican Diplomatic Corps. It was, therefore, an honor to have with us on this joyful day one who for nearly all of his priestly life has been at the forefront of the Church's mission to advance Christ and His teachings among the nations of men."
The class of 2006 chose as its class speaker, Thomas Waldstein of Gaming, Austria. In his remarks, Mr. Waldstein commented on the finite character of human wisdom noting that though it is an end in itself, it is also a tool to understanding the Catholic faith. "In his Incarnation," he said, "Our Lord has revealed to us truth far surpassing the natural power of human reason. This is the wisdom that we have sought in these past four years."
Reflecting on the good beginning they had made in the life of wisdom through studying the works of the greatest masters of human and divine wisdom, including Homer, Aristotle, Euclid, Kepler, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, he reminded his classmates they must spend the rest of their lives continuing this pursuit of wisdom in their graduate studies, work, family and parish. He cautioned them, though, to follow the example of their patron, St. Thomas, and seek it with humility, not pride: "Let us not be sluggish in following the Lord," he said, "but in whatever state of life we enter, let us pour out our lives in love of neighbor for the love of God that our lives may be united to the sacrifice of Christ, an acceptable offering to the Lord."
Mr. Waldstein plans to enter a Cistercian seminary in his native home where he will study and prepare for the priesthood. He is one of six graduates of the class of 2006 who will enter seminaries both here and abroad. Other graduates plan to pursue advanced degrees in law, medicine, nursing, journalism, education, philosophy and theology at institutions such as Northwestern, Purdue, Princeton, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Chicago.
As they had been urged by Archbishop Migliore to be humble in their achievement but to take pride in all that God has accomplished in them during their four years at Thomas Aquinas College, members of the class of 2006 rose at the end of the ceremony to sing the stirring hymn that has been sung by graduating seniors at the college's 31 previous commencement ceremonies: Non Nobis Domine, "Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory."