Alongside 74 diplomas, Thomas Aquinas College dispensed its highest honors to friends and benefactors at this year’s California Commencement.

The Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion

Bishop Conley and Scott Turicchi
Bishop Conley and Scott Turicchi

Conferral of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion, an award established by the College’s Board of Governors in 1975, recognizes 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.

This year, the College was pleased to award the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion to the Most Rev. James D. Conley, Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, and the presiding prelate and Commencement Speaker. As a priest of nearly 40 years, and even more so as a successor to the apostles in Denver, Colorado, and now in Lincoln, Bp. Conley has proven himself “a faithful shepherd and a true teacher,” in the words of Dr. Paul O’Reilly, the College’s president.


Order of Saint Albert

The College established the Order of St. Albert in 1998 under the patronage of St. Albert the Great, who taught St. Thomas Aquinas. Membership in the Order recognizes those benefactors whose generosity to Thomas Aquinas College has been exceptional. Members of the Order of St. Albert are awarded a cast bronze bust of St. Albert the Great modeled on the statue that stands in the academic quadrangle on the California campus, just outside the science hall, and their names are engraved on its plinth.

Richard and Maria Grant
Richard and Maria Grant

Few have deserved membership in the Order so much as Maria Grant and her late husband, Richard. Mr. and Mrs. Grant “have contributed generously to our financial aid program and to endowments to support that program,” said Scott Turicchi, chairman of the Board of Governors, at the induction ceremony. “In recent years, they decided to include the College in their estate plan to help secure its future well-being.”

But their contribution has been more than financial: the Grants have given deeply of their time and talent, as well. Mrs. Grant served on the Board of Governors for 20 years, including 6 as chairman, and both she and Mr. Grant were keen to do all they could to “nurture the College’s growth, development, and expansion to New England.” Their generosity has, indeed, been nothing less than exceptional. “For all that the Grants have given us,” said Mr. Turicchi, “we are forever in their debt.”