On Saturday members of the Ventura Chapter of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL) gathered at Thomas Aquinas College to contemplate the words of Bl. John Henry Newman, the example of St. Monica, and the role of intellect and virtue in the life of the Christian. “It was a blessed day,” says Robert Bagdazian, the College’s director of development. “Some 16 members of CALL and their guests joined us in prayer, fellowship, and discussion. It was like a small retreat, a chance to be spiritually recharged and fortified in our lives and vocations.”
The event began with Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, followed by a seminar in St. Bernardine of Siena Library. Two members of the College’s faculty, David Appleby and Tom Susanka, led the discussion, which centered on “Intellect, the Instrument of Religious Training,” an 1856 sermon by Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman. “Bl. John Henry delivered that sermon to the faculty of the University of Dublin on the Feast of St. Monica,” explains Mr. Bagdazian. “So he drew upon the example of St. Monica to urge these men of letters to develop virtue alongside intellect in the lives of their students. It was, after all, St. Augustine’s virtue — the product of his conversion, brought about through his mother’s prayers and sacrifice — that gave proper order, and thus greatness, to his intellectual pursuits.”
Attendees continued the conversation over lunch in St. Joseph Commons, after which they enjoyed a tour of the campus. “It was such a privilege to bring this group of great folks to the College, introducing many of them for the first time,” says Justin Alvarez (’97), a graduate and Regent of the College, an attorney, and head of CALL’s Ventura Chapter. A national organization, CALL offers spiritual formation and education for Latino leaders, while also serving as a Catholic voice on issues of cultural, social, and political importance.
“We were delighted to welcome CALL to our campus, to learn more about its mission, and to give its members an insight into our program of Catholic liberal education,” says Mr. Bagdazian. “The whole day seemed to be an embodiment of Bl. John Henry’s prayer that we ‘may excel in intellect as we excel in virtue.’”