As part of the newly proclaimed Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke visited the campus of Thomas Aquinas College on Saturday, January 16, offering words of encouragement to “all who are committed to the educational mission of the College, and thus to the transformation of our culture.”
The Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, His Eminence arrived on campus in the morning to offer a “day of recollection” for members of the Order’s Los Angeles location and leaders of its Western Association. He then remained well into the evening, during which he spoke at an All College Dinner, held in his honor, on the subject, Genuine Catholic Education and its Power to Transform Our Culture.
“Throughout his 40 years of service to the Church and the faithful, Cardinal Burke has been a valiant champion of the truth,” said Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean. “We are delighted by his visit, and pleased by this opportunity to show him our gratitude and appreciation.”
Divine Mercy and Forgiveness
Cardinal Burke began his visit by leading a conference for some 45 Knights and Dames of Malta in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. In a one-hour talk, entitled “Divine Mercy and Forgiveness,” His Eminence explained that Divine Mercy, though boundless, can never contradict Divine Justice. Moreover, to avail oneself of it more fully, the believer must humbly and persistently seek repentance. Fittingly, the College’s chaplains heard confessions immediately after the talk, while the conference’s attendees prayed the Rosary.
Next the Cardinal served as the principal celebrant at a Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Joined at the altar by Msgr. Sabato Pilato, chaplain of the Western Association of the Order of Malta’s Los Angeles Location and superintendent of high schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. “Through the maternal care of the Virgin Mary, we come to understand more fully the extraordinary nature of our ordinary life because it is lived in Christ,” said Cardinal Burke in his homily. “We are led, with Mary, to know God’s call in our lives and to respond, as she did, with an undivided heart.”
Following a luncheon in the campus coffee shop, the Knights and Dames reconvened for an afternoon session in the Chapel. Msgr. Pilato spoke about the many indulgences that His Holiness Pope Francis has made available during the Year of Mercy. The day of recollection then concluded with Adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, followed by Benediction.
Education and Cultural Renewal
That evening, many of those who attended the day of recollection joined members of the College’s Board of Governors, Boards of Regents, and faculty — as well as guests from the Santa Barbara and Ventura/North Los Angeles chapters of Legatus — for a reception honoring Cardinal Burke in St. Bernardine of Siena Library. The group then moved to St. Joseph Commons, site of the All College Dinner and Cardinal Burke’s much-anticipated address.
“It pleases me greatly to address you this evening as a means of manifesting, once again, my profound esteem for the Catholic higher education which is imparted at Thomas Aquinas College,” began His Eminence. The Cardinal first visited the College in 2001, when he was the Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and then again in 2010 when, as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, he served as Commencement Speaker. “It has been my privilege to know the work of the College for many years now, and to witness how it remains ever faithful to its Catholic identity.”
Throughout his address, in which he examined the role that education must play in renewing the Church and evangelizing the culture, His Eminence repeatedly cited the College and its alumni as evidence of the good that genuinely Catholic education can achieve. “I have been witness to how graduates of Thomas Aquinas College are effective, joyous, and courageous agents of the transformation of culture in their homes and in their various areas of endeavors,” he said. “It is my hope that my presence and words may in some small way contribute to the continued and increased inspiration and strength of a work which is essential to the transformation of our culture.”
Afterward the Cardinal remained in St. Joseph Commons, where he met with students and offered them blessings. “Cardinal Burke was very gracious and generous with his time,” says Dr. McLean. “The not one, but two standing ovations he received are a strong indication of just how appreciative this community was for his visit, his encouragement, and his four decades of steadfast leadership in the Church.”