Alumni in PhoenixIt was a reunion of sorts for Thomas Aquinas College alumni living in greater Phoenix on April 13. St. Mary’s Catholic — the oldest diocesan high school in Arizona, now six years into a spiritual and academic renaissance — hosted a reception and seminar for TAC alumni in the area.

“We were there to do a workshop at St. Mary’s, which is offering a great books component in its curriculum,” explains Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87), a tutor at the College and executive director at the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, which assists schools that seek to adopt a classical curriculum. Working alongside Dr. Seeley was Dr. Arthur Hippler (’89), a member of ICLE’s board of directors and the chairman of the Religion Department at Providence Academy in Plymouth, Minnesota. “We thought it would be a good idea, during our visit, to invite alumni to get together in a seminar,” says Dr. Seeley, “because there are so many Thomas Aquinas alumni in Phoenix area now, particularly those involved in teaching at the elementary and high school level.”

Indeed, there are currently 13 alumni working at St. Mary’s alone, and many more at the burgeoning consortium of Great Hearts classical academies throughout Arizona and the southwest. Some 40 graduates, their spouses, and members of the St. Mary’s faculty attended the reception and seminar.

“I thought it was a great event,” says Dr. Seeley. “We had a nice gathering beforehand, where it was good to see some old faces and reconnect, and then we had a great discussion.” The readings for the night were the “Mary and Martha” accounts from the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John. “We examined how challenged Mary was, precisely because of her intimate love for Our Lord, that He didn’t come when they sent word for Him, and what a great suffering that seems to have been for her,” days Dr. Seeley. “And we saw that Our Lord’s weeping was not simply for Lazarus’ death, but also for the distress that death causes, especially in how it challenges the faith of those who love Him.”

Among those in attendance was the College’s director of gift planning, Thomas J. Susanka (’76). “A gathering of TAC alumni always refreshes and reinvigorates the missionary soul, but I must say this one was especially encouraging to me,” says Mr. Susanka. “What most pleased and inspired me was the unspoken, abiding gratitude these young-ish people have for the enduring good of their TAC education and their commitment, in turn, to bringing serious, Catholic liberal education into the lives of the young people they teach.”