Skip to Content

The President’s Dinner 2018:
Remarks and Slideshow

Posted: May 10, 2018

Note: Each year the president of Thomas Aquinas College hosts a dinner on the Wednesday before Commencement as an opportunity for members of the faculty and staff to bid farewell to the graduating class. Below are text and audio of President Michael F. McLean’s remarks and a photographic slideshow from this year’s dinner.

 

Address to the Class of 2018

By Dr. Michael F. McLean
President, Thomas Aquinas College
May 9, 2018

In a 1981 address Pope St. John Paul II observed: “We find ourselves in a world in which the temptation towards atheism and skepticism is becoming constantly stronger; in which there is taking root a grievous moral uncertainty with the falling apart of the family and the degeneration of morals; in which a dangerous conflict of ideas and movements dominates.”

  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner
  • Presidents Dinner 2018
    Slideshow: The President’s Dinner

As he could do so well, in a few eloquent words John Paul II captured something fundamental about our times — the atheism, the skepticism, the moral degeneracy, the clamor of godless claims and ideologies, aided and abetted by media and technology. This describes much of our world, the world you are about to enter, the world in which you will work out your salvation in fear and trembling. Ours is a world desperately in need of the Gospel.

Much has been written about “evangelization” or the “New Evangelization.” Our own Archbishop has described evangelization as “the effort of the Church to bring the truths of the Gospel to the people of our time. John Paul II spoke about this, saying that we need to find new ways to talk to people; we need to speak with enthusiasm but also with the truth and with the content of the Faith … evangelization is all about bringing people before the person and the life of Jesus Christ. But it doesn’t end there. After this initial personal encounter you have to complement it with education of the faith — catechesis.”

There are two key ideas here: encounter with Christ and education in the faith … encounter and education.

What is first is “bringing people before the person and life of Jesus Christ.” I trust that the spiritual life of the College has deepened your personal relationship with Christ and prepared you to share His wisdom, mercy, and love with those you meet along the way.

You are, I think, well prepared to bring Christ to the world. You are also well prepared to be teachers of the Faith, for you have the education, or at least the beginnings of the education. You have the words; what you must do is summon the rhetorical power and eloquence, the prudence and humility, the hope and the charity to find the right words at the right time, words which truly address the suffering and struggle of the soul before you.

Here you would do well to heed the words of one of our greatest contemporary churchmen, Robert Cardinal Sarah: “Silence is more important than any other human work. For it expresses God. The true revolution comes from silence; it leads us toward God and others so as to place ourselves humbly and generously at their service.” He continues, “The silence of listening is a form of attention, a gift of self to the other, and a mark of moral generosity.”

In another of his addresses, this time to the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985, St. John Paul II said, “Heralds of the Gospel are needed, who are experts in humanity, who know the depths of the heart of man in today’s world, who share his joys and hopes, his concern and his sadness, and who at the same time are contemplatives, people in love with God. For this, new saints are needed. We must beg God to increase the spirit of sanctity in the Church and to send us saints to evangelize today’s world.”

Your education has helped to make you ready. In studying literature, philosophy, theology, and the other arts and sciences, you have developed an understanding of the human condition, of what is perennial in human experience, and have progressed toward the contemplation of God. You have the potential to be the saints the Church so desperately needs.

Your class quote is very timely: “The world promises you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” Make no mistake: Christians are called to be saints; those of you who are not Christian are called to lives of virtue. “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” says Our Lord. In Lumen Gentium we read, “All the faithful, whatever their condition or state — though each in his or her own way — are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father himself is perfect.”

You must strive for sanctity in your work, whatever it may be; you must strive for sanctity in your families, should you be called to the married state; you must strive for sanctity as priests and religious, should you be called to the priestly or religious life. Evangelization, whether new or old, requires that the world sees Christ in you, that you bring people before the person and life of Jesus Christ.

As noisy and as hostile as the world may be, as difficult as the work of evangelization may be, I urge you to go forth filled with courage and with hope, for we know Christ is with us even to the consummation of the world. We at the College have done our best to introduce you to the good, the true, and the beautiful. Now we welcome you as fellow pilgrims to a struggle — a struggle to win hearts and minds to Christ and to bring those whom you will encounter closer to the very good, true, and beautiful that you have encountered here.

Your undergraduate academic life has come to an end. It is now up to you, as liberally educated graduates of Thomas Aquinas College, to be good, to be truthful, to be beautiful and, last, but certainly not least, echoing the words of the Gospels and St. John Paul II once again, “to be not afraid.”

We are grateful to you for the work we have done together. May God bless you and may you always pray for Thomas Aquinas College.

Thank you.


 

Receive lectures and talks via podcast!

 

Get it on iTunes Available on Stitcher RSS
President Michael F. McLean at the Presidents Dinner 2018
Rev. Fr. Mark Bachmann

“What we learned about God in the curriculum — St. Augustine, the way he spoke about God, and St. Thomas’ treatise in the beginning of the Summa Theologica — really set me toward my vocation.”

– Rev. Fr. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82)

Co-founder and Subprior, Annunciation Monastery of Clear Creek

“Thomas Aquinas College is a paragon of what Catholic higher education ought to be.”

– William Cardinal Baum

Prefect Emeritus

Congregation for Catholic Education

NEWS FROM THE COLLEGE