At its 2013 Commencement exercises on May 11, Thomas Aquinas College awarded its highest honor, The Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion , to two men who have dedicated their lives to the service of the Church and its people: His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and Rev. Cornelius M. Buckley, S.J..
The Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion, an award established by the College’s Board of Governors in 1975, is a means of recognizing those Catholics who have shown, through their lives and work, an extraordinary dedication to God and His Holy Church. Each recipient has demonstrated unfailing adherence to the Magisterium as well as influential leadership in advancing the teachings of the Church. The Medallion is awarded by resolution of the Board of Governors on behalf of the entire College community.
Below are the remarks delivered by College President Michael F. McLean in presenting the medallion:
Nearly every year since our first commencement in 1975, we have taken a moment during the graduation ceremony to pay tribute to those who have faithfully served Christ and the Church in an extraordinary way. This is a fitting time to do so, for we hope that as our graduates go forth from the College, they will emulate our honorees in their own lives.
Today we award the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion to two individuals who have given their lives to the priesthood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
In this Year of Faith, we are blessed to have among us today Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston. We are deeply grateful to His Eminence for traveling to our campus to preside at this joyful event when we graduate the largest class in Thomas Aquinas College’s history.
Raised in Pennsylvania, Cardinal DiNardo shepherds a flock of nearly 1.5 million souls in southern Texas, where the Church is flourishing. In 2007, he was created a cardinal by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, becoming the first in the 120-member College of Cardinals to represent a diocese from the American South.
In addition to caring for the priests and laity of his archdiocese, Cardinal DiNardo is a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Council for Migrants, and he is a Trustee of the Catholic University of America. His Eminence is also active in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, serving on a number of its committees and recently completed his service as chairman of its Committee on Pro-Life Activities. In this office, he spoke eloquently and courageously for the defense of the most innocent among us. He has exhorted the American faithful to prayer, education, and action to bring about a culture of life in our country. You will find, Your Eminence, that the graduates before you — and all our students — are zealous laborers in this vineyard of the Lord, and are most grateful for your leadership.
Cardinal DiNardo adopted a motto in 1997 when he was ordained a bishop for the Diocese of Sioux City in Iowa: Ave Crux Spes Unica. This is a line from a 7th century Latin hymn and is translated “Hail, O Cross, Our Only Hope.” It expresses the deep and profound Christian belief that it is the Cross of Christ that is the standard we must follow in all that we do.
While for all Catholics it is the case that our hope is in the Cross of Christ, it is eminently so for the cardinals of the Catholic Church. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explained at a recent consistory, “From now on, [these cardinals will] work with me in governing the universal Church … to be a witness to the Gospel to the point of sacrificing their own life: this is the meaning of the red color in their clothes.”
In recognition, therefore, of Cardinal DiNardo’s lifetime of self-sacrifice for Christ and His Church, I ask the Chairman of our Board of Governors to come forward to bestow upon Cardinal DiNardo the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion.
Our next honoree is a beloved member of our community to whom the College owes a great debt of gratitude. In the nine years we have been blessed to have Fr. Cornelius Buckley among us, he has served the students, faculty, and staff of the College in innumerable ways, giving unstintingly of himself to one and all — and always with great cheer. Above all, he has been an alter Christus for this community — administering the sacraments, nourishing our souls with the Word of God, and bringing to our altar each day the Real Presence of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
A native Californian, Fr. Buckley was ordained a Jesuit in 1962. He holds master’s degrees in history and philosophy from Gonzaga University, and a doctorate in history from the University of Paris, Sorbonne. A scholar, an author, and a teacher, Fr. Buckley has devoted much of his life to the education and spiritual well-being of young people. In the early 1970s, he served as president of St. Ignatius Preparatory School in San Francisco, and then as dean of the University of San Francisco. Fr. Buckley then taught at the University of Santa Clara and at Gonzaga University, before returning to the University of San Francisco to spend more than 20 years teaching in the St. Ignatius Institute.
Fr. Buckley has also served as director of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and as a trustee on the boards of the University of San Francisco and St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, Calif.
It was a joy to honor Fr. Buckley as he celebrated his Golden Jubilee  last year, and it is a joy to bestow upon him today the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion.
Posted: May 14, 2013