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Joseph Guinee
Joseph Guinee ('21)

By Joseph Guinee (’21)

Note: The following essay is adapted from comments made before the Thomas Aquinas College Board of Governors at its November 14, 2020, meeting.

I am excited to share my experience of Thomas Aquinas College with you today, but before I do that, I want to thank you all for the work that you have done for this school, so that we students can receive a Catholic liberal education. In particular, I want to thank you all for the work that you have done to ensure that we could have in-person classes this year, because when we went to Zoom last year, it became clear that this education needs to happen in person, and it needs to happen in a community where everyone is living and learning together. The work that you have done has given us that, so I really want to thank you for your generous efforts.

Now, when I was asked to talk about my experience at TAC — I’m going to be honest — my initial reaction was to say “no,” mostly because I knew that I loved my time here, but I didn’t know how to express that. Upon thinking about my time and reflecting on it more, I came to realize that there was one particular aspect of this school that really stood out to me, and I am hoping that I can convey that to you today.

When I was growing up, I was always told that my faith, my education, and my relationships — all the aspects of my life — were supposed to be intimately connected, united, and ordered toward God. I was supposed to be living one life.

But that was not something that I really had an experience of; my life felt fragmented. I had my faith, but then I had my life at school, then I had my friends. It came to the point where, during high school, I started to believe that the three could not be connected. They were just going to remain separate, and I was going to have to live a fragmented life.

The first time that I actually experienced and understood that not only could these parts of my life be unified — but that they needed to be — was when I attended the College’s High School Summer Program. For two weeks I lived a unified life. My prayer, my work in the classroom, my friendships — all were ordered toward the same end. From that point on, I was hooked. I knew that this was the college that I needed to come to, because I knew that it gave unity to my life. I have now spent three years living that unified life.

One particular instance of this really stands out to me. This happened two weeks ago. My friends and I wanted to take a break. We wanted to get off campus and have some fun. We took some longboards, rode them to the pier in Ventura, and then we went to the beach. We then sat down, and we started talking about what we thought the school had given to us — what the greatest skill was that we learned here. Then we started talking about what it meant for knowledge to be for its own sake. That led us to talking about the Trinity. In the end, we saw that all that we were learning at the College was ordered toward God — that’s where it all finds its end.

To me, in that moment, all three were present: I had my education, my faith, and my friends, and they were brought together.

The experience of this unity helped me to choose my senior thesis topic, which is, “Charity as the Sole Emblem of the Church.” Charity is friendship of man for God, and so it requires ordering everything that you do toward Him. TAC naturally disposes one to cultivate the virtue of charity. It orders everything that we do toward God.

The experience I have had here has had a profound effect on my life, such that I now plan to come work in the College’s Admissions Office after I graduate. I want to share with other people this experience that I have had, because I know that it will change their lives for the better. If they come here, they will not live a fragmented life. They will live an integrated life, and they will live that whole life until, by God’s grace, they reach Heaven.

Looking back on my time at Thomas Aquinas College, I want to thank you all for it — on behalf of myself, of all the students who have come to TAC, and of all the students who are still to come. The work that you all have done has allowed us to have this gift, and it is priceless.

Thank you. It has changed my life.

Mr. Guinee is from North Andover, Massachusetts.