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Thomas Aquinas College's Chapel Cornerstone to be Blessed by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome

SANTA PAULA, Calif.—On Wednesday, September 3, 2008, the cornerstone of Thomas Aquinas College’s newest building, Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. In attendance were the chairman of the board of governors, Maria Grant; her husband and the executive director of the Dan Murphy Foundation, Richard Grant; members of the board of governors and their spouses; and president of the college Dr. Thomas Dillon. The blessing occurred just after the Holy Father’s Wednesday audience at St. Peter’s Basilica. It extended also to a cylindrical module (to be inserted in the cornerstone) that contained lists of benefactors to Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel—more than 2,300 to date—as well as the names of students, faculty, alumni, governors and other friends and benefactors of the college. Transportation and handling of the 765-pound limestone cornerstone, quarried in Indiana, was under the direction of Excel, a division of DHL; a generous donation from one of the college’s benefactors covered related charges.

Says Dr. Dillon, “It was a singular honor to present our chapel’s cornerstone to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, and we are most grateful for his blessing. Having been blessed by Pope Benedict, on the feast day of Pope St. Gregory and at a site under which rest the very bones our first pope, this cornerstone will serve as a sign of our resolve to be always faithful to the Chair of Peter and the Magisterium of the Church.

Dr. Dillon adds, “To have had Pope John Paul II’s blessing on this chapel project as it began, and now our present Holy Father’s blessing as it nears completion, is a special grace. As a token of our gratitude to Pope Benedict, I have sent him a spiritual bouquet with thousands and thousands of prayers pledged for him from our students, faculty, and alumni. In addition, marble renderings of the coats of arms of both pontiffs will be inlaid in the multi-colored marble of the main aisle of the Chapel, one at each end.”

In the evening following the blessing of the cornerstone, a dinner celebration with members of the board of governors was held at Residenzia Paulo VI. Guests of honor at the dinner were: Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Cardinal Francis Stafford, Apostolic Penitentiary; and Archbishop Raymond Burke who had just moved to Rome from St. Louis, Missouri, to take up his new post as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.

The cornerstone will be installed in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel on October 27, 2008. The cost of this unique building—traditional in design, but modern in materials and techniques—is $23 million. Please visit the college’s website to view design drawings, current photos, and a “virtual tour” DVD, here.

ABOUT THOMAS AQUINAS COLLEGE: Ranked the #5 “Best Value” in the country for 2008 and 2009 among all private institutions in the United States by The Princeton Review, Thomas Aquinas College is a four-year Catholic liberal arts college with a fully-integrated curriculum composed exclusively of the Great Books, the seminal works in the major disciplines by the great thinkers who have helped shape Western civilization. There are no textbooks, no lectures and no electives. Instead, under the guidance of faculty members and using only the Discussion Method in classes of no more than 20, students read and discuss the original works of authors such as Euclid, Dante, Galileo, Descartes, the American Founding Fathers, Adam Smith, Shakespeare, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Einstein, Aristotle, Plato, St. Augustine, and of course, St. Thomas Aquinas. Graduates consistently excel in the many world-class institutions at which they pursue graduate degrees in fields such as law, medicine, business, theology and education. They have distinguished themselves serving as lawyers, doctors, business owners, priests, military service men and women, educators, journalists and college presidents.