SANTA PAULA—April 26, 2013—On Saturday, May 11, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo  will serve as commencement speaker at Thomas Aquinas College’s annual graduation exercises. The archbishop of Galveston-Houston will also receive the school’s highest award, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion , in recognition of his lifelong fidelity and service to the Catholic Church.
“Cardinal DiNardo has shown great fidelity to Christ in shepherding the faithful of his archdiocese and in his leadership among his brother bishops, particularly with regard to the sacredness of human life,” says President Michael F. McLean. “His presence at Commencement will be a great honor for the College and a special joy for our graduates.”
Cardinal DiNardo will address the largest graduating class in the College’s history — 91 men and women who hail from across the United States and abroad. Having successfully completed a rigorous, four-year curriculum that includes mathematics, natural science, Latin, literature, philosophy, and theology, each graduate will receive a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in liberal arts. These new alumni will go on to a wide variety of pursuits including law, medicine, business, military service, education, and the priesthood and religious life.
Graduates of Thomas Aquinas College are noted by employers as well as professional and graduate school professors for the strong intellectual and interpersonal skills they attain through the college’s unique great books program. Says Brian Kelly, Dean of the College, “Our focus on the original texts of the greatest thinkers — authors like Euclid, Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas — really hones the mind and accustoms it to think in terms of principles; and our small, discussion-based classes ensure that students are actively engaged in their own education, working together with their peers in a constructive and respectful way. As a result, not only do they make a good beginning in a lifelong pursuit of wisdom, they also acquire remarkably strong analytic skills and a distinctive ability to collaborate with colleagues.”
Cardinal DiNardo will preside at the 9:00 a.m. Baccalaureate Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Commencement will follow at 11:30 a.m. on the academic quadrangle. During the commencement program, the college will also award the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion to its head chaplain, Rev. Cornelius M. Buckley, S.J. , in recognition of a lifetime of faithful service to young people on Catholic campuses in California and Washington.
Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, the second Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, is the spiritual leader of more than 1.3 million Catholics. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has the largest number of Catholics of the 15 dioceses in Texas. In recognition of this growing faith community and a lifetime of Catholic leadership, Pope Benedict XVI elevated Cardinal DiNardo the College of Cardinals in 2007, making him the first Cardinal Archbishop from the Southern United States and one of approximately 120 cardinals. In both this Archdiocese and as a member of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal DiNardo is known for his constant efforts to unite a multicultural, multilingual flock of Christian faithful to live out the Gospel with passion and enthusiasm. Cardinal DiNardo and his twin sister were born in Ohio in 1949. The family, including two more siblings, moved to Pittsburgh, where he graduated from the Jesuit Bishop's Latin School. He then studied for the priesthood at St. Paul Seminary and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in philosophy from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He went on to receive theological degrees from the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he later taught. Cardinal DiNardo was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1977. He worked for the Congregation for Bishops in Rome from 1984 to1991, then returned to Pittsburgh to again be a parish priest. In 1997, Cardinal DiNardo was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa. He became Coadjutor Bishop of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese in March of 2004. When Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza retired in 2006, the Pope appointed Daniel DiNardo an archbishop and, on November 24, 2007, elevated him to become the first-ever cardinal from Texas. Cardinal DiNardo is the chair of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities and is part of the Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He serves on the Board of the National Catholic Partnership for Persons with Disabilities, a position to which he brings a certain empathy, contending as he does with significant hearing loss in both ears. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Catholic University, is an advisor to the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, is a member of the Pontifical Council for Migrants. Cardinal DiNardo's motto is "Ave Crux Spes Unica," taken from a Latin hymn dated to the year 609, and means, "Hail, Oh Cross, Our Only Hope."
Now in its 41st year, Thomas Aquinas College has developed a solid reputation for academic excellence in the United States and abroad. At Thomas Aquinas College, there are no majors, no minors, or electives because all students acquire a broad and fully integrated liberal education. The College offers one 4-year, classical curriculum that spans the major arts and sciences. Instead of reading textbooks, students read the original works of the greatest thinkers in Western civilization — the Great Books — in all the major disciplines: mathematics, natural science, literature, philosophy, and theology. Rather than listening to lectures, they engage in rigorous Socratic discussions about these works in classes of 15-18 students. The academic life of the college is conducted under the light of the Catholic faith and flourishes within a close-knit community, supported by a vibrant spiritual life. Genuinely committed to upholding civic virtue and leading lives dedicated to the good of others, Thomas Aquinas College graduates enter a wide array of fields where they are a powerful force for good in the Church and in the culture. Well-versed in rational discourse, they become leaders in education, law, medicine, journalism, public policy, military service, and business. In addition, a steady 10% of alumni go on to the priesthood or religious life.