College Welcomes First Students at Thomas Aquinas College, New England!
August 24, 2019
On the morning of August 24, Thomas Aquinas College, New England, held its inaugural Convocation exercises, welcoming 28 freshmen and 30 sophomores from some 20 states and 5 countries — the very first students on the Northfield, Massachusetts, campus.
The morning began with a Mass of the Holy Spirit in the newly renamed Our Mother of Perpetual Help Chapel, with the Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield, serving as the principal celebrant and homilist, “We gather here in great solemnity, giving thanks to Almighty God for the opening of Thomas Aquinas College on the East Coast of the United States,” His Excellency said in his homily. “The witness of the Thomas Aquinas College community is needed here in Northfield and well beyond. Well versed in our Catholic Faith, you will be called to be the prophets of our own age, an age that is currently in despair, seeking the good news that brings true freedom of life in Christ and His church.”
Over the last several months, workers have labored to adapt the campus’ century-old chapel for Catholic worship, adding a central aisle, kneelers, a tabernacle, and holy-water fonts. Although it will not formally be dedicated until additional renovations — such as the installation of confessionals and a permanent altar — are completed, His Excellency nonetheless blessed the building as part of the Convocation Mass. “May this chapel, dedicated to Our Lady, be the true home of Thomas Aquinas College,” he prayed, “drawing many to come here to be united with Jesus, Mary’s Son, Our Lord and Savior, and source of all knowledge.”
After the Mass, the congregation made its way to the campus flagpole, where members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars raised the flags of the United States and Thomas Aquinas College, New England. “I’ve dreamed many a day of raising the TAC flag over Northfield,” said President Michael F. McLean.
Also present for the occasion was Donald G. Glascoff, Vice-Chair of the Board of the Northfield Mount Hermon School, which occupied the College’s New England campus until consolidating operations onto its Mount Hermon campus in 2005. As a gesture of neighborliness, Mr. Glascoff presented Dr. McLean with a 400-year old edition of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae, thereby, as he described it, “giving Thomas Aquinas to Thomas Aquinas.”
The group of roughly 400 students, faculty, governors, and friends of Thomas Aquinas College then gathered for the Matriculation Ceremony in the Moody Auditorium. There, as Director of Admissions Jon Daly called each student by name, the students came forward, one at a time, to greet President Michael F. McLean and Bishop Rozanski. They then signed their names in the campus registry, thus beginning their tenure as students at Thomas Aquinas College, New England.
In addition to the new students, the College acknowledged the eight founding tutors of the New England campus: Associate Dean Thomas J. Kaiser, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Patrick M. Gardner, Dr. Michael A. Augros, Dr. Sean B. Cunningham, Dr. Josef C. Froula, Dr. Margaret I. Hughes, Dr. Paul K. Shields, and Dr. Stephen F. Shivone. With Bishop Rozanski leading them, these educators renewed the Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity, which they first made as new tutors on the California campus.
Dr. McLean then delivered his Matriculation Address, announcing “a new chapter in the history of Thomas Aquinas College” and pledging to work with the College’s friends and neighbors in the region. “We are, in our own way, giving new life to the educational vision that animated this campus in the beginning,” he said. “In so doing, we hope to continue to forge friendships with the citizens, and with the Catholic communities, of Northfield, the Pioneer Valley, and all of New England.”
Bishop Rozanski next gave his remarks to the freshmen and sophomores. “It is, indeed, fortuitous that Thomas Aquinas opens here in New England at this Northfield campus at this time,” His Excellency said. “It is a time when Massachusetts, and New England, and indeed our whole country need the light of the Gospel, need the rays of hope that come from faith, to give to us new life, new hope, in the Gospel message.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Dr. McLean proclaimed the start of the College’s 49th academic year — its first in New England. Continuing a tradition from the California campus, the students responded with loud applause. Members of the faculty and Board of Governors then processed out of the auditorium as all sang “Immaculate Mary” in joyful anticipation of the new year, now at hand.
New England Convocation 2019 -- Mass
New England Convocation 2019 -- Flag-raising
New England Convocation 2019 -- Matriculation Ceremony