Please pray for the repose of the soul of the Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin, and a longtime friend of Thomas Aquinas College, who died Saturday night after suffering a cardiac event three days earlier.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Bishop Morlino, who, just last spring, served as our Commencement Speaker,” says President Michael F. McLean.  “He was on that day, as he was throughout his 44 years as a priest and bishop, courageous in proclaiming the truth, not unlike the lion depicted on his coat of arms.”

A native of Northeastern Pennsylvania and a graduate of the Jesuit-run Scranton Preparatory High School, Bishop Morlino was ordained to the priesthood for the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus on June 1, 1974. He held degrees from Fordham University, the University of Notre Dame, the Weston School of Theology, and the Gregorian University. He became a priest of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1981, and Pope St. John Paull II made him Bishop of Helena, Montana, in 1999, where he served until his appointment as Bishop of Madison in 2003.

His Excellency first visited the College’s California campus in 2007, when he helped to inaugurate the new academic year by serving as Convocation Speaker. When he returned as Commencement Speaker last spring, he also served as the principal celebrant and homilist at the Baccalaureate Mass. His Commencement Address was picked up by news organizations throughout the world because of its forthright and charitable defense of the Church’s teachings on marriage and human life, challenging the graduates to be “politically incorrect.” Fittingly, on that day the College presented him with its highest honor, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion, in recognition of his lifelong fidelity to the magisterium.

“When I look around our country — and honestly, when I look around the Church — I am not comforted by what I see,” His Excellency admitted during his homily. Noting his own mortality, he urged the graduates, as the future of the Church, to remain hopeful, however trying the present circumstances. “I don’t know if I will live to see it, but the Holy Spirit, in virtue of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, is going to pull the Church out of the doldrums in which She lives. And the Holy Spirit is going to show forth in the Church the greatness of His power,” he added. “You are part of the solution.”

Inspired by his words, members of the Class of 2018 — and all the College’s students and alumni — now must carry on his legacy in the service of Christ.­

“At his core, Bishop Morlino was an apostle of the Truth that God makes known to us through both reason and revelation,” says President McLean. “Please join us in praying for his eternal rest and for the consolation of  all his loved ones, including the faithful of Madison.”