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Advent 2018: A Message from
President Michael F. McLean

Posted: December 17, 2018

Advent, 2018


Dear Friends of Thomas Aquinas College,

We are approaching the end of a year that has seen much turmoil, frustration, and anger, both in the Church and in the wider world. It is difficult not to be discouraged in such times. That is why it is all the more important to recall that every year ends with a beginning. In the last month of the calendar year, we begin the new liturgical year. We enter the season of Advent.

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
Upon those who lived in a land of gloom
a light has shone.
— Isaiah 9:1

These words from the Prophet Isaiah will be read at Midnight Mass. They have been definitively fulfilled in the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Each year at this time, we contemplate that fulfillment. We look back over the long history of salvation, and we rejoice at the moment when the light pierces the darkness. We also look ahead to Christ’s second coming at the end of time, which will be seen in the same way “as lightning comes from the east and is seen as far as the west” (Matthew 24:27). On that day, the entire world will see the light.

Until that day, and especially in times like these, it can seem as if we are still walking in darkness, as if we are in a perpetual Advent. In a certain sense, that is true: there is much darkness in the world, and we are still waiting. Yet we cannot forget that Isaiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled.

We have seen a great light.

The birth of Christ is a historical event, as are His subsequent passion, death, and resurrection. These things have happened. The light has come into the world.

It is our responsibility, never more so than when we are surrounded by darkness, to live in this light and to do our best to reflect it so that others may see.

At Thomas Aquinas College, we take this responsibility very seriously. It is our mission to make the light of Christ visible in the world. Specifically, we do so by working to show it to our students, in the confidence that they will then bring it to those with whom they come into contact.

One alumnus who is working to do just that is James Layne (’08). James, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School and an attorney in Washington, D.C., began a new position this summer as counsel for Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. He wrote to us about his experience at the College, reflecting on how thoroughly our great books curriculum and classroom discussion method prepared him for law school, and above all on how the College “brought me closer to God.” He concluded:

Thomas Aquinas College … helped me to better know the good, the true, and the beautiful, and (which is perhaps even more important) helped me to desire these. TAC was a spiritual oasis for me. I think of it still as a part of home, since home is where the heart is. I think of its faculty and my classmates as family. I am extremely grateful to all of the friends, supporters, and benefactors of the College who made this possible for me. The gift you gave me is a light that I don’t intend to hide under a bushel.

I know that this light, to the extent it burns in such a one as me, is not mine and doesn’t come from anywhere inside me. It is God’s, and for His glory. It is an inheritance and gift. That light  —  and the pursuit of that light  —  burns brightly at Thomas Aquinas College.

All of us at the College strive to keep that light burning, both in our own lives and in our students’ minds and hearts. I believe that the world urgently needs that light. I believe that the world urgently needs Thomas Aquinas College.

As you have probably heard, the College will soon be expanding to New England. The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education has approved our application to operate a branch campus in the town of Northfield. I hope you share my excitement at this news, and I hope you will join me in praying for all involved in the undertaking, especially for the future students of Thomas Aquinas College, New England.

But as we look toward the future, I also hope that you will not forget what is happening in the present. I hope you will not forget our current students. Right now, they are doing the work for which the College was founded. And right now, they need your help.

The College continues to build and to grow, and we are about to do so very dramatically. But through all of the growth we have undertaken since we began in 1971, and through all of the growth still to come, our constant priority has been and will be the education of our students in the light of faith and in fidelity to the teaching Church.

Support for our Annual Fund is what makes this education possible. This year, our need is $5.9 million.

I hope you believe, as I do, that the world needs the light of Christ, and that the graduates of Thomas Aquinas College are well equipped to shine that light into our present darkness. If you do, I ask you to prayerfully consider a gift — of any amount you can afford — to help us meet our Annual Fund need for the 2018-2019 academic year.

And if you are able, please join us for Midnight Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, where we will listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah and rejoice at the coming of Christ, the Light of the World.

May God bless you.


Michael F. McLean, Ph.D.

P.S. Gifts from retirement accounts can now be made directly to the College by IRA owners who are at least 70 ½ years old. These gifts are not counted as taxable income but they do count toward annual RMD (required minimum distribution). Be in touch with Tom Susanka (email or 805-421-5928) if you have questions about this great way of helping our students.

Make a Gift Now!

Michael F. McLean
Sanjay Adhikari (’18)

“When I first came here, since I am not a Catholic, I was nervous, because it’s a different culture for me, but people have been so friendly, so charitable. It is such a blessing to live in this community, where people care about you. You make strong friendships that last a lifetime.”

– Sanjay Adhikari (’18)

Kathmandu Nepal

“I am most grateful for Thomas Aquinas College’s resolute fidelity to the Church and her teachings. The young people whom you serve certainly are being formed to think with the Church and to defend the Faith with courage and charity.”

– The Most Rev. William E. Lori

Archbishop of Baltimore

Chair of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty