Imagine driving south from the sun dappled Ojai Valley toward tiny Santa Paula, passing orange groves, avocado ranches, and what passes for a Mediterranean landscape, fo0llowing a curvy mountain pass to the view of what can only be described as a jaw-droppingly stunning example of the mixture of Renaissance and Spanish Mission architecture in a fifteen thousand square foot chapel, Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel, gleaming in a rosy California sunset.
The Chapel is the heart of this campus and it is an exceptionally inspiring building. Remember, this campus is as close to the middle of nowhere as any campus in Ventura County could possibly be, and this chapel has the gravitas of the Weiskirche in Bavaria. Parking near the chapel the visitor will begin to see that there actually is a campus that has grown up beyond the chapel. The college is relatively new, founded in nineteen seventy-one in response to what was seen as a crisis within the Catholic Church. The general progression in the culture to extreme secularization and permissive social behavior, especially in colleges and universities, was at odds, some in the Church believed, with the principles of rigorous intellectual exercise and precepts of the faith itself. It may not be immediately obvious to the casual visitor, but the reestablishment of the Socratic response to the Great Books was revolutionary within the framework of contemporary Catholic education. Saint Thomas Aquinas, the thirteenth century Dominican scholastic, held two opinions that have clearly been central to the mission of Thomas Aquinas College – truth is true wherever it is found (thus the Great Books) and the world can be known as it is (thus the sciences).