“You are entering an increasingly secularized culture, with powerful forces against those who would urge a dependence on God,” Archbishop José Gomez said May 14 during his commencement address at the Santa Paula liberal arts institution. “Their goal is to get to a post-Christian society in which all are liberated from depending on God, a goal that is motivated by individual freedom. I believe this goal is a seductive illusion — a trap.”This mindset, the archbishop said, “will be a challenge to you, graduates. You are going into a world where more and more people live without an awareness of the need for God in their lives.” And many, he added will demand that people hide or relinquish their faith in God in order to participate in society.The answer? “You have a duty,” he told them, “to confront this culture by proclaiming your belief in God’s goodness and love, to promote a new dialogue of reconciliation between faith and reason.” He noted that some people doubt whatever they cannot see or have clearly proven. “Pope Benedict XVI has spoken of the limitation of reason, how some have decided to limit themselves to knowing only what they have experienced. That is, if we cannot see God with a telescope, or the soul with an MRI machine, faith is a waste of time.“But that is like trying to fly a plane with one wing. Is this the reality we want to accept? What about the reality of the Eucharist and the sacraments? Reason is a great gift from God, but reason alone cannot give us the whole truth. The world needs eyes of faith, the faith that tells us that the divine creator of us is the God of love.”Blessed John Paul II, Archbishop Gomez pointed out, called Catholics to “participate actively” in the new evangelization “in all areas of life. That is your mission, your great challenge — to make God knowable to all people.”Prior to his commencement address, Archbishop Gomez presided at the Mass of graduation for an overflow assembly at the Our Lady of the Holy Trinity Chapel, and was presented with the St. Thomas Aquinas Medallion by Dr. Michael McLean, college president. The Medallion is presented to Catholics who have demonstrated by their lives and work “extraordinary dedication” to God and Church.Additionally, the college inducted Kathleen Burke into the Order of St. Albert. A longtime healthcare worker and nutritionist who has served many years at Thomas Aquinas, Burke was cited for her “innumerable” corporal and spiritual works of mercy through gifts and service to the college.And the college paid tribute to the Marcus Reno Berquist, a founder, tutor and governor of Thomas Aquinas College who died last fall. He authored the college’s founding document, “A Proposal for the Fulfillment of Catholic Liberal Education.Said Dr. Ronald McArthur, the college’s founding president, “We could rely on him to keep us securely grounded in the study of Aristotle and St. Thomas, without which our college could never have achieved its purpose.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0603/sbaquinas/{/gallery}