OVER THE COURSE of my Catholic Studies master’s degree program, I took classes in Catholic thought and culture, philosophy, theology, art and history. With my undergraduate degree focused primarily on the sciences … not only was I challenged, but I also experienced a progressive deepening of my faith and my understanding of the Church, and I was awakened to a call to take a leadership role in the renewal of Catholic culture in all aspects of my life, both at work and at home. … My studies have also helped me be a better husband, and I hope a better father, peer, citizen and businessman, and most importantly a better Christian.

— Nathan Metzinger, master’s degree student and emcee for the evening’s events

I HAVE TO SAY THAT, after 25 years at St. Thomas, I have never been more hopeful about the future of the Church in this country or about the Catholic identity of St. Thomas. This is a remarkable generation of young Catholics and interested men and women of other faiths who are coming together on this project.

When I’m asked by people what is required to create a successful program, my answer is very simple, but often very difficult to achieve. We are singularly blessed at St. Thomas. First, I think you have to have a vision, a coherent vision of Catholic Studies. Second, you have to have a faculty with talent and commitment and generosity of time and energy. Third, you have to have some money. You don’t have to have a lot, but you have to have some, and we have been very blessed here at St. Thomas with a number of very generous people. Fourth, you have to have a president who understands what you’re doing. We owe Father Dease a great debt for the support he’s provided throughout all of the work of the Center. He has long called it one of the centers of excellence of the university, and without that support, we simply could not have developed the kind of institutional profile in the way that we have. Finally, I would say again that the local bishop has a central role to play. Archbishop Roach and Archbishop Flynn have been very supportive to me directly and to our work as a whole. … So we owe many debts tonight. And of course, as well, finally, the prayers of so many people who have supported us over these years, and believed in the work we are doing, has been critical to our success.

— Dr. Don Briel, director and Koch Chair of the Center for Catholic Studies

I REMEMBER IN 1991, when I was given the honor of leading St. Thomas as president, in the speech I gave at my installation I challenged the university community to work with me to find concrete ways in which we could renew and invigorate our Catholic character, and enable us to be more effective in carrying out the Catholic mission of St. Thomas. Well, the very first person to respond to that challenge … was a bright, young, articulate professor of theology, who began to share with me some fascinating practical and tangible ideas for what could be done in response to my challenge. His name, of course, was Don Briel. I found his dreams about creating the country’s first program in Catholic Studies intriguing – certainly a bit daunting – but also exciting. Our thriving Center for Catholic Studies has become a very significant and tangible way for this university to express its Catholic character and more effectively carry out its Catholic mission. On behalf of this university, thank you.

— Father Dennis Dease, president of the University of St. Thomas

I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY a few years ago of going to John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio … to meet many representatives from various Catholic universities from throughout the country. When I told them of my association with the University of St. Thomas, always they would say to me, “that is the flagship of Catholic Studies.” … And I was so very proud on that occasion to realize that we were the first, and that all of these other great universities are looking to the University of St. Thomas to see how it is done and how well it is done. So tonight I thank you, I salute you. I salute all of those who have made this possible, all of the wonderful benefactors. All you need do, if you seek a monument – a bearing of the fruit of your endeavors – just look around you, many of them are here tonight. Thank you and blessings, blessings always.

— Archbishop Harry Flynn, archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis