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by Andrew Grumbine (’24)
Senior Address
Commencement 2024
Thomas Aquinas College, California


Friends, family, faculty, staff, benefactors, and all who have made this community and the life we share possible — on behalf of the Class of 2024 and the students of Thomas Aquinas College, I would like to thank you all for the gifts of your time, talent, and treasure. You have allowed for the existence and growth of a community that fosters a deep love of the true, the good, and the beautiful.

Andrew Grumbine ('24)This love is personal, but it is not private; it is common, but not commonplace. It is a love that calls to be shared, and when it is shared, it is not diminished, but greatly increases. It is a love that blossoms into friendship, and friendship of the best kind. Over the last four years, we have all experienced such a love, and made many such friendships. As Aristotle says, “To the extent that people share in community, there is friendship.” And so again, to all who have made possible this community and the friendships produced, thank you. We will always remember and appreciate such a blessing.

Now it seems only right that a Class Speaker speak to his class, so please forgive me for turning my attention mostly to my classmates for the rest of my time up here. You guys are wonderful people, both individually and as a group, and it’s a great honor to be up here delivering this address to you. Thank you for this honor. That said, the task is also quite daunting, considering the 49 previous graduations and their 49 previous speakers. Since I can’t hope to fill the shoes of the speakers who have come before me, I’ll just have to stuff newspapers in and call it good.

“We have spent the last four years formally training in the pursuit of the truth. Friendship brings a certain perfection and sweetness to this pursuit, and the goal of life is a friendship with Christ.”

As I was thinking about what to focus on for the speech, and making precious little progress, an observation of my good friend Peter Bockrath (’24) came to mind. Many of the Senior Thesis topics that our class wrote on revolved around friendship, either directly or tangentially. Upon further reflection, I realized that this theme was not only present in our theses. It was present in the curriculum; in the discussions; in the friendly chats outside of class. It became apparent to me that friendship must hold some place of significance in human life.

Just as I was about to get my idea patented, I found out that I was a couple thousand years late to the draw. Aristotle puts it thus: “Friendship is a thing most necessary to life, since without friends, no one would choose to live, though possessed of all other advantages.” So it seems the central role of friendship in life is a pretty well-known and agreed-upon reality. Even a bitter nihilist like Nietzsche can see the importance of friendship: “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” This is proof of Fr. John Winkowitsch’s observation this past Convocation day about gold nuggets of truth being everywhere.

Now, at this point, you may be feeling like Fr. Marczewski listening to a long-winded confession: “‘Oh father, I feel so bad. Father, I have been struggling with this and that.’ So what? I’m not here to absolve your feelings. Get to the point.”

Well, here’s the first point: Friendship is a crucial part of a happy life. The truer and more perfect the friends, the better the friendship, and the happier the life. Now, if one friend is the perfection of all goodness, truth, and beauty, shouldn’t the goal of the other be to grow as close to this friend as possible? Our Lord calls everyone to have this friendship with Him.

So, whether you are called to the single life, marriage, or the religious life, friendship with Christ is the center of your vocation. Within this, He also calls you to be a friend to others as He is to you, to share this great joy with others. We are called to live our Christianity in every breath we take, serving Our Lord in every word and deed.

We have spent the last four years formally training in the pursuit of the truth. Friendship brings a certain perfection and sweetness to this pursuit, and the goal of life is a friendship with Christ, which necessarily involves bringing others to Him. What all of this means for us, I think, is that each and every one of us is called to leave this place with a mission: to spread love of the truth. You and I cannot leave TAC and be stagnant in this: The world needs you now more than ever. In a time like ours, where evil runs wild and takes many shapes and sizes, the truth is desperately needed.

“Above all, we must love. Love like your life depended on it. Think, speak, and act in love. Leave in love.”

This is all very easy to say, but doing is harder. Living in the truth means being recognized by evil and bitterly hated because of it. It means dying to yourself every day, decreasing so that Christ may increase. This sounds daunting, and that’s because it is. But I believe we have been prepared for the challenge. Covid graduations from high school, and the rough start at TAC our class had freshman year, are just a few of the challenges that we have been met with, and we are stronger for them. You are ready to go out and renew the face of the Earth.

So be not afraid, friends! We have been given great gifts, and we must use them. We must trust, often blindly, but never halfheartedly. Above all, we must love. Love like your life depended on it. Think, speak, and act in love. Leave in love.

It seemed appropriate to me to conclude with the final words that we read in Senior Seminar. It is a prayer of Socrates and Phaedrus to the gods. I have modified it to address the One, True God:

Is it not surely appropriate to pray to God before leaving? … O, beloved Lord, grant that I may become beautiful within and that all my outer possessions be in friendly concord with the inner. May I regard the wise as wealthy, and may I have as much gold as only a sound-minded person could bear or carry. …

Pray, join me in this prayer too, for friends have all things in common.

Let us go.


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