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This month, Thomas Aquinas College will celebrate its 50th Commencement exercises, and in honor of the occasion, it will welcome distinguished speakers and celebrants to fete some 110 new graduates — the members of the Class of 2024 — on both coasts.

SneadFor the California Commencement, set for May 11 on the Santa Paula campus, O. Carter Snead of the University of Notre Dame has agreed to serve as the day’s speaker. A professor in the University’s law school, as well as a professor of political science and the director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, Professor Snead is an internationally recognized expert in law and bioethics. He testifies regularly before the U.S. Congress, state legislatures, and courts across the country on a wide variety of matters relating to medicine, science, and biotechnology; and he has advised officials in all three branches of the federal government on similar issues.

Rev Slawomir Szkredka Offering the morning’s Baccalaureate Mass of the Holy Spirit will be the Most Rev. Sławomir Szkredka, the newly installed Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles for the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region. A native of Poland, His Excellency attended seminary in Kraków before transferring to Ss. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Michigan, which has traditionally provided priests for Polish communities within the U.S. After his ordination in 2002, he served in various parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles prior to becoming a professor of biblical studies and the coordinator of human formation at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. Bishop Szkredka’s visit for Commencement will be his first to the California campus since his elevation to the episcopacy last fall.

One week after the California Convocation, on May 18, the College will hold the third Commencement at its New England campus in Northfield, Massachusetts. Serving as the day’s Commencement Speaker, as well as the principal celebrant and homilist for the Baccalaureate Mass, is a prince of the Church and an old friend of the College: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Prefect Emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura.

Raymond Leo Cardinal BurkeThe onetime bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Saint Louis, Missouri, His Eminence served as the Commencement Speaker on the California campus in 2010, whereupon he received the College’s highest honor, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion. He visited the campus again in 2016 and hosted members of the College’s Board of Governors that same year in Rome. Although Commencement will mark his first visit to Northfield, Cardinal Burke has had a deep connection with the New England campus. In 2022, he gifted the College with the sacred relic of St. John Henry Newman that is housed in the main altar, below the saint’s statue (a gift of the late Rev. Paul Lamb) in Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel.

“We are delighted that these faithful servants of the Church — one, a layman; two, bishops; and scholars, all three — have agreed to come share their wisdom and celebrate with our graduates,” says Thomas Aquinas College President Paul J. O’Reilly. “We look forward to welcoming Professor Snead, Bishop Szkredka, and Cardinal Burke, and we are grateful for their friendship.”