For every one person who becomes Catholic, six leave the faith.
"Any way one looks at these statistics, one must conclude that we are hemorrhaging young people from religion in general and Catholicism in particular," the bishop said.
Disbelief in the teachings of Christianity is the principal reason for people leaving the faith. They find Christianity "intellectually untenable," Barron said.
However, he suggested that Thomas Aquinas College graduates are "specially qualified for the arduous task of engaging the army of skeptics who have wandered from the Church." The graduates' contemplation of great intellectuals is good in itself, but at this moment it should give rise to "active evangelization and compelling apologetics."
Barron drew on St. Thomas Aquinas' reflections on the virtue of magnanimity, "the quality of having a great soul," and the vice of pusillanimity, faintheartedness or fear of attempting moral excellence.
"It seems to me that the entire purpose of the programs here at Thomas Aquinas College is to produce magnanimous people, young women and men of great souls, capable of high moral achievement, willing and able to undertake arduous tasks for which they will rightly merit great honor," he said. "Thomas Aquinas College has no interest in giving rise to pusillanimous graduates, men and women with small souls, who would shrink from the difficult moral challenge of the present time."
He told the graduates they faced "arduous tasks" and "choppy seas," but he encouraged them that they had been prepared.
"Your four years here have given you great souls. Let them be unleashed!" his commencement address concluded. "God bless you all!"