The Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion, an award established by the College’s Board of Governors in 1975, is a means of recognizing those Catholics who have shown, through their lives and work, an extraordinary dedication to God and His Holy Church. Each recipient has demonstrated unfailing adherence to the Magisterium as well as influential leadership in advancing the teachings of the Church. The Medallion is awarded by resolution of the Board of Governors on behalf of the entire College community.
Below are the remarks delivered by College President Michael F. McLean before Chairman of the Board of Governors R. ScottTuricchi awarded the medallion:
Introduction of Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion Recipient
By Michael F. McLean
President, Thomas Aquinas College
May 11, 2019
In just a few weeks, we will celebrate the great Feast of the Ascension, when Our Lord departed this world for His Father’s kingdom. Before taking leave of His apostles, He charged them with a solemn mission: To “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:15).
Today we have with us a successor of the Apostles who, in a manner they could not possibly have imagined, is following their example and carrying out Our Lord’s parting mandate to a remarkable extent.
Bishop Robert Barron is the founder of Word on Fire, a global media ministry through which he shares the message of the New Evangelization, using the tools of new media to draw people into — or back to — the Catholic Faith.
The Wall Street Journal has dubbed him “The Bishop of Catholic Social Media,” where he is the second most-followed Catholic leader in the world — behind only the Pope. He has 1.7 million Facebook followers and 128,000 Twitter followers. Through his digital platforms, he reaches 25 million unique people each year, and 33 million viewers have watched his YouTube videos. Bishop Barron is also a prolific writer and the author of 16 books, as well as the creator and host of the Catholicism documentary series, aired by numerous PBS stations and now widely used in parishes and classrooms across the country.
As Bishop Barron often recounts, his vocation to the priesthood stems from his discovery, as a freshman in high school, of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae. From that day on, he has been a student of the Angelic Doctor, allowing his method and teachings to form his mind, to take root in his soul, and to imbue all of his efforts to “proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
In 2015, when it was announced that His Excellency had been appointed as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, we here at the College hoped and prayed that he would be assigned as the Episcopal Vicar of the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region. When the news came that he would indeed be our regional bishop, there was great rejoicing.
Prior to Bishop Barron’s appointment to Los Angeles, he was a member of the theological faculty at Mundelein Seminary for 20 years, and then served as rector there for three years. Ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1996, he holds a master’s degree in philosophy from The Catholic University of America and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris. He has served as a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, and as scholar in residence at the Pontifical North American College, the latter two of which are both in Rome.
Over the past four years, we have been pleased to welcome Bishop Barron to campus on a number of occasions, and today we are delighted to have him as our Commencement speaker and the recipient of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion, the College’s highest honor.
I would now like to ask the Chairman of our Board of Governors, Mr. Scott Turicchi, to come to the podium to read the Board’s resolution and to present the Medallion to Bishop Barron.