Some 300 old friends and classmates reunited in California Saturday night for Thomas Aquinas College’s annual Alumni Weekend festivities, with guests traveling from across the country to take part.

As twilight fell on the Santa Paula campus, alumni gathered on the academic quadrangle for dinner and a reception. With Peter Colarelli (’92) serving as emcee, the evening’s program unfolded. On hand to celebrate his 20th reunion,  Rev. Joshua Mayer (’03) offered the invocation, after which President Paul J. O’Reilly (’84) delivered remarks about the Prayer to the Holy Spirit, which opens every class at the College.

“These are discouraging times. If we rely on our own efforts, it can be even more discouraging,” said Dr. O’Reilly. “But if we have confidence that God wants to re-create us in grace, so that He can empower us to be His instruments to renew the face of the earth, then we should have confidence and peace that the good will prevail.”

A highlight of the evening was the annual raffle: This year’s prizes included a signed copy of Angela (Andersen ’87) Connelly’s new bookThe Crowded Table 2; wine from Distaff Wine Co.; a basket of assorted Verso L’Alto coffees; handmade embroidery from Jessica (Kelsey ’99) Haggard; an original painting by Nathan Dunlap (’12), and — as the grand prize — a complete hardbound set of St. Thomas’ Summa Theologiae.

Marking his 10th reunion, Rev. Max Nightingale (’13) offered a final benediction to conclude the reception, but alumni lingered deep into the night, making the most of each other’s company.