April 17, 2019
10,000 Ojai Road
Santa Paula CA 93060
Media Contact: Anne Forsyth, Director of College Relations
(805) 525-4417, ext. 5931



SANTA PAULA, CA—April 17— The Most. Rev. Robert Barron, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and founder of Word on Fire Ministries, has accepted President Michael F. McLean’s invitation to serve as Thomas Aquinas College’s 2019 commencement speaker on Saturday, May 11, 2019 on the school’s California campus. During the graduation ceremony, Bishop Barron will be awarded the school’s highest honor, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion.

“We are grateful that Bishop Barron, who has been a faithful friend and champion of the college since becoming our regional bishop in 2015, has agreed to join us for our 45th commencement exercises,” says Dr. McLean. “We are honored that he will be part of this important day in the life of the college and for the members of the class of 2019.”

As the Episcopal Vicar of the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region, Bishop Barron is responsible for overseeing the portion of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles that includes the college’s California campus. In the past few years, he has visited the campus several times, notably serving as the 2016 convocation day speaker. “It is always a joy to come here,” he said during that visit, calling Thomas Aquinas College “one of the premier liberal arts colleges in the country and the pride and joy of the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region.”

Bishop Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, which has produced hundreds of YouTube videos, garnering some 35 million views worldwide. Second only to Pope Francis in terms of followers, the Wall Street Journal has dubbed Bishop Barron “The Bishop of Catholic Social Media.” He has produced and hosted several award-winning documentary series, including Catholicism¸ The Mass, and Catholicism: The Pivotal Players. He is also the author of numerous books, essays, and articles on theology and the spiritual life. In light of his success as a teacher of the Catholic faith, his brother bishops elected him in 2016 to chair the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.

A disciple of St. Thomas Aquinas, Bishop Barron received a master’s degree in philosophy from The Catholic University of America in 1982. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1986 and served for the next three years as associate pastor at St. Paul of the Cross Parish in Park Ridge, Illinois. In 1992, he earned a doctorate in sacred theology from the Insitut Catholioque de Paris. He then joined the faculty of Mundelein Seminary, where he went on to serve as rector from 2012 until his appointment to the episcopacy in 2015. He has also served as a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame (2002) and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (2007), as well as scholar in residence at the Pontifical North American College (2007 and 2010).

“As a priest, bishop, and leader in the U.S. episcopacy, Bishop Barron has been a tireless and effective voice of the New Evangelization, bringing the salvific word of Christ to audiences that might otherwise never encounter it,” says President McLean. “Our board of governors, therefore, on the advice of our faculty, will award him the college’s highest honor, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion, during the graduation ceremony.”

At commencement, His Excellency will serve as the principal celebrant and homilist at the baccalaureate Mass beginning at 8:30 a.m. in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, and then deliver the commencement address at the graduation ceremony, which will take place on the academic quadrangle at 11:00 a.m.

Members of the class of 2019 hail from across the United States and abroad. Having completed the college’s rigorous, four-year curriculum — including mathematics, natural science, language, literature, philosophy, and theology — each graduate will receive a bachelor of arts in liberal arts. They will go on to a wide variety of pursuits such as law, medicine, business, military service, education, public policy, technology, and journalism, as well as the priesthood and religious life.

About Thomas Aquinas College

A four-year, co-educational institution, Thomas Aquinas College has developed over the past 48 years a solid reputation for academic excellence in the United States and abroad and is highly ranked by organizations such as The Princeton Review, U. S. News, and Kiplinger. At Thomas Aquinas College all students acquire a broad and fully integrated liberal education. The College offers one, four-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. 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. Graduates consistently excel in the many world-class institutions at which they pursue graduate degrees in fields such as law, medicine, business, theology and education. They have distinguished themselves serving as lawyers, doctors, business owners, priests, military service men and women, educators, journalists and college presidents. The College will open a second campus in Northfield, Massachusetts in August 2019. For additional information, visit