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This past weekend Thomas Aquinas College resumed its annual tradition of Summer Seminars, inviting members of the President’s Council to its California campus for three days of scholarship, friendship, and fellowship.

At these weekends, participants — the benefactors who make up the backbone of the College’s financial-aid fund — get an inside look at the unique education that they so generously help to make possible. They attend a series of classroom discussions led by the College’s president, vice president, and dean; and they participate in the spiritual life of the College at Mass and confession in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel.

Readings and discussions at last weekend’s Summer Seminar focused on the timely theme of “Catholic Teachings on Socialism and Capitalism.” In addition to excerpts from Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, participants read from Albert Einstein’s essay “Why Socialism” and Pope Leo XII’s Rerum Novarum, as well as Centesimus Annus, Pope St. John Paul II’s “re-reading” of Rerum Novarum 100 years later.

At the end of the weekend, President Michael F. McLean helped to tie these themes together in a talk he delivered to the group. “In light of Pope Pius XI’s declaration that even moderate socialism can’t be reconciled with the teachings of the Church, we are left, it seems to me, with the possibility of a capitalist or market economy informed by the social teachings of the Catholic Church, as outlined by our three popes,” said Dr. McLean. “Surely such an arrangement would go a long way toward answering the objections raised by Einstein; help those in the Friedman school see that freedom is not an end in itself, but must be ordered by an orientation to the common good and transcendent truth; and finally be a salutary message in a world plagued by disharmony and division.”

Between seminars, attendees enjoyed delicious meals and delightful conversations. At Saturday night’s dinner in St. Gladys Plaza, students played musical pieces and sang operatic arias for the group.

“After having had to forego last year’s Summer Seminar, it was a joy to welcome our President’s Council members back to the California campus,” says Dr. Paul J. O’Reilly, the College’s president-elect and vice president for advancement. “The purpose of the Summer Seminar is to express our gratitude to our friends for the life that they help to make possible for our students. And we can think of no better way to do that than to let them get a taste of that life for themselves.”

California Summer Seminar Weekend
  • All Summer Seminar attendees pose afront the Chapel
  • The attendees, gathered around the seminar table, discuss the text
  • Everyone around the table laughs
  • More discussion at the seminar table
  • Long shot of Dr. McLean at the head of the table, mid-explanation
  • Attendees chatting outdoors, with a glass of wine
  • Attendees chat before sitting down to a meal
  • Attendees talking under a sun shade
  • Six seated at the table, talking
  • Long shot of the tables, filled, set up on Gladys Patio
  • Dr. McLean proposes a toast
  • A table of attendees with Fr. Buckley
  • The tables applaud
  • Close-up shot of one table applauding
  • A student sings for the assembly
  • Longer shot of both singer and piano accompanist
  • A violinist performs for the attendees
  • Two students sing in duet!
  • Another pianist, performing
  • The singers now performing in trio!