.- Friends and admirers of Thomas Aquinas College president Thomas Dillon gave thanks for his life’s work and expressed condolences to his family following news of his death in a car accident in Ireland. He and his wife Terri, who suffered minor injuries in the accident, were traveling in Ireland on behalf of the college. They were attending a conference for the International Council of Universities of St. Thomas Aquinas in Limeric.
Dillon, 62, had been president Thomas Aquinas College for 18 years.
Dr. Jeffrey O. Nelson, president of St. Thomas More College in Merrimack, New Hampshire, said the college was “saddened” by his passing but celebrated his “remarkable” life.
“Tom will be remembered as a builder of the Church in America through his tireless labors to secure Thomas Aquinas College as a permanent institution of academic excellence and fidelity. He was a generous counselor to many of his peers in Catholic higher education. He was a champion of the revival of small-scale, Socratic liberal arts education, and was a gifted teacher and administrator. Our prayers are with his wife, Terry, his children, their spouses, and his grandchildren. I am confident that today he is enjoying the eternal love and peace of the Risen Jesus."
The college will offer a Mass for the repose of Dillon’s soul on Monday.
Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS), offered “heartfelt” condolences on behalf of the organization’s directors, staff and friends.
“Dr. Dillon was one of the ‘founding fathers’ of the new wave of authentic Catholic higher education in the United States,” Reilly said. “What he achieved at Thomas Aquinas College is truly remarkable, culminating with last month’s consecration of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, now the magnificent centerpiece of the college’s campus and a clear indication of Dr. Dillon’s primary motivation as an educator and college leader.
“Under Dr. Dillon’s leadership, Thomas Aquinas College rose to the top of national college rankings. Dr. Dillon courageously rejected secularization and popular trends that have contributed to the decline of American higher education. Instead, the college’s rigorous Great Books program has been admired by educators worldwide.”
Reilly described Dillon as “kind, gracious, intelligent, determined” and “irrepressibly proud” of Thomas Aquinas College students, faculty and staff.
He said that Dillon’s commitment to Catholic teaching and practice were “essential” to CNS’ decision to recommend the college as a model Catholic institution in its book “The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.”
“May God grant Thomas Aquinas College a new patron in His eternal care,” Reilly concluded.