“We’ve come together to celebrate 20 years of the Catholic Studies program, to celebrate, praise and give thanks to Jesus Christ,” spoke Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, in his Mass at the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas this past fall.

Dolan joined 600 guests of the Center for Catholic Studies on Oct. 26 at the University of St. Thomas to celebrate 20 years of Catholic Studies at the university.

The anniversary gala began with a Mass during which Dolan called attention to Pope John Paul II’s “law of the gift,” noting “that we are most fully ourselves, most fully alive and most fully human when we give of ourselves completely.”

A dinner was held after Mass in the university’s James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall in the Anderson Student Center. Dr. Don Briel, director of the Center for Catholic Studies, spoke and received a standing ovation for his contributions to the center.

Dr. Julie Sullivan, president of St. Thomas, presented Dolan with an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree. In his remarks Dolan gave high praise to the university’s Catholic Studies in Rome program, which gives Catholic Studies students the opportunity to take courses at the Dominican Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum).

Dolan said he especially valued how the Rome program “gives your kids box seats” to the lives and work of the popes and what is at center of the Catholic faith today. He mentioned in particular the last three popes, who he believes have focused on restoring and rejuvenating the church: John Paul II on its soul, Benedict on its mind and Francis on its heart. “Rome is the best classroom of them all,” he concluded.

Dolan kept the celebratory spirit of the evening stoked with a constant stream of lighthearted jokes and provocative insights that were a lively integration of intelligence and humor.

Additional videos of the gala and Mass can be found on the Center for Catholic Studies website. The following two individual videos were shown during the gala and illustrate “Life in Sitzmann Hall,” and “The Gift of Rome.”

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