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Senior Reflections: Generations of Blessings

Posted: May 22, 2015

Note: The following essay is adapted from comments made before the Thomas Aquinas College Board of Governors at its May 15, 2015, meeting.


By Rocky Brittain (’15)

President McLean, members of the Board of Governors, good afternoon and thank you for this opportunity to tell you a little bit about myself and to thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for our beloved college.

I am the fourth oldest of 11 children, and for over two decades my family has been immeasurably blessed by Thomas Aquinas College. In the summer of 1992, my father, Tommy, told my mother, Melissa, that although they had recently welcomed their fourth child, and despite having just finished his master’s in English, he wanted to pursue a bachelor of arts at a small Catholic college in California.

At this point in my parents’ lives, neither was a practicing Catholic. My father had left the Faith in his late teens, and my mother was raised Protestant. Despite the peculiarity of my father’s new idea, however, they came, and my father graduated from Thomas Aquinas College in 1996, three days after the birth of his fourth son and sixth child, Zachariah. In addition, my mother converted, and my father came back to the Faith in the middle of his Sophomore Year. So long before my journey through Thomas Aquinas College, the history of the College and the Brittain family is rich and beautiful.

My father always encouraged us to attend the College, but he did not make us. Nevertheless, his two oldest daughters and now his two oldest sons are graduates; and his fifth child, Anthony, will be a Sophomore in the fall. I know it is one of my father’s greatest gifts of thanksgiving that all of his children have been lovingly nurtured by the same tender mother as he was.

I did not always want to come here. I was a gifted athlete in high school and a state champion in track and field, and I was eager to not squander these gifts. As my Senior Year waned, however, my desire to pursues athletics in college mysteriously dwindled as well. When applications were due, I applied only here. I did not know what to expect; I only knew that my siblings and my father loved it, and that it was going to be difficult.

Nevertheless, I almost immediately saw God’s providence at work. I fell in love with the intellectual life to a degree that I was not expecting. During my time here, that love has only grown. I remember being so impressed with the clarity of Euclid, the insight of Fabre, and the beauty of Homer. It is safe to say that from my Freshman Year I knew that I was destined to read these kinds of works for the rest of my life.

It was not until my Sophomore Year, however, that my zeal and interest became more focused. In St. Augustine’s Confessions, I experienced a depth of understanding, a spirituality, and a love for Christ that I had never known, and I thought to myself, I need what St. Augustine has.

Thomas Aquinas College has taken that revelation I had and shaped, nurtured, and developed it. I have loved reading Milton, Darwin, Shakespeare, Einstein, Dostoyevsky, Kierkegaard, and even Kant, but my heart and soul have been captivated by the crown jewel of the intellectual life, Sacred Theology. Through reading saints like John of Damascus, Augustine, Anselm, and especially St. Thomas Aquinas, it became very clear to me that reading these types of works in particular is what I needed to be doing.

This love of the intellectual life, and especially theology, has only been strengthened by the wonderful community here. I have been so blessed that during these very important years of my life I was welcomed into a deeply Catholic community that is utterly devoted to the one true church. I owe Thomas Aquinas College so much. Almost all of the good things in my life I have the College to thank for. My parents gave me my faith, but I made it my own within the walls of this chapel. I have found something that I am good at and that I love, and I will pursue that love further at Ave Maria University where, this fall, I will enter the master’s program in theology. It is here where I met my beautiful fiancée, Caitlin, whom I will marry next month.

I have great cause to love Thomas Aquinas College, and so I have a tremendous duty to thank you for all of your time, financial support, and prayers, The good you have done and will continue to do for Christ’s church will not go unnoticed, and the Lord is never outdone in generosity. May God continue to bless this holy place, and may your hearts always burn with the fire of Christ’s love. God bless you.

Mr. Brittain is from Tempe, Arizona.

Rocky Brittain ('15)
Brooks Braden

“At my alma mater and in the Marines, hard work and high standards are the norm.”

– Major Brooks Braden (’97)

Judge Advocate, U.S. Marine Corps Reserves

“May God bless Thomas Aquinas College for its excellent performance as a Catholic college since its foundation in 1971, a college where parents can send their children and be sure that this college is maintaining the best ideals of our faith and is giving not only information but formation.”

– Francis Cardinal Arinze

Prefect Emeritus

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments