Faith in Action Blog
The most recent issue of Thomas Aquinas College’s quarterly newsletter featured profiles of the College’s five newest alumni priests, all ordained within the last year. Those profiles are now available online:
- Rev. Jerome Augustine Zeiler, O.P. (’00)
Dominican Friars, Province of St. Joseph
- Rev. Joseph Bolin (’01)
Archdiocese of Vienna (Austria)
- Rev. Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02)
Canons Regular of Premontre, Orange County (Calif.)
- Rev. Fadi Auro (’03)
Archdiocese of St. Louis (Mo.)
- Rev. Francis Marotti (’07)
Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.)
Br. Peter Miller (’07), Br. Robert Nesbit (’07), and Br. Patrick Carter (’05)
Thanks to all who prayed the novena posted here in behalf of Br. Patrick Carter (’05), Br. Peter Miller (’07), and Br. Robert Nesbit (’07). Those prayers have borne good fruit!
The young Benedictines — three of the 11 Thomas Aquinas College alumni living and praying at Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Okla. — all made their solemn professions on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2012. Several alumni and representatives of the College, including Vice President Peter L. DeLuca and Senior Tutor John Nieto, were on hand for the blessed occasion.
In other good news out of Clear Creek, on October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, two other alumni monks were ordained to the transitional diaconate: Br. Andrew Norton (’06) and Br. Christian Felkner (’01).
Br. Patrick Carter (’05), Br. Robert Nesbit (’07), and Br. Peter Miller (’07)
Rev. Joseph O’Hara (’92), a secular priest who has long felt a pull toward the religious life, has entered Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Okla. Fr. O’Hara is now one of 11 Thomas Aquinas College alumni living and praying within this Benedictine community, including the Order’s subprior, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82).
On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), three of Fr. O’Hara and Fr. Bachmann’s alumni confreres will be making their solemn professions: Br. Patrick Carter (’05), Br. Peter Miller (’07), and Br. Robert Nesbit (’07). Along with the announcement for the professions, Br. Patrick recently sent Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean the following note:
“Blessed be God! I pray that all is well with you and with the whole Thomas Aquinas College community. Despite the passage of time, the College does not lose ground in my affections, but rather becomes dearer and dearer to me.…
“It is with profound gratitude for the education and formation we received at Thomas Aquinas College that we give ourselves definitively to the Lord’s service here at Clear Creek. Be assured of our support and prayers both for the general intentions of the college and for your work as president.”
The Brothers ask that we pray the following:
Novena Prayer for Professions:
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy
Holy Trinity, the One God, have mercy on them
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, have mercy on them
Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, pray for them
Saint Michael and all your holy Angels, pray for them
Saint John the Baptist, pray for them
Saint Joseph, pray for them
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for them
Saints John, Thomas, and Philip, pray for them
Saint Gregory, pray for them
Saints Augustine and Jerome, pray for them
Saint Patrick, pray for them
Saint Anselm, pray for them
Saint Robert Bellarmine, pray for them
Saint Benedict, our blessed Father, pray for them
Saint Anthony of the Desert, pray for them
Saints Maur and Placid, pray for them
Saint Bernard, pray for them
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for them
Saint John of the Cross, pray for them
Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, pray for them
St. Mary Magdalene, pray for them
Saint Scholastica, pray for them
Saints Getrude and Hildegard, pray for them
Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, pray for them
All you holy monks and hermits, pray for them
All you saints of God, intercede for them
Let us pray
O God, who hast made the Immaculate Mother of thy Son to be also our mother, grant, we beseech Thee, that these who are born into the life of perfection through the vows of religion, may, by the nourishment of that same Mother, arrive at the measure of the full age of Christ. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
May God bless the Clear Creek 11!
On November 17, the Most Rev. Thomas J. Curry, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, ordained Br. Ryan Morris Wolford, C.R.I.C. (’97), to the transitional diaconate. The Ordination Mass took place at St. Sebastian Church, one of two parishes that Br. Ryan’s community, the Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception, serves in Santa Paula, Calif.
By God’s grace, Br. Ryan will be ordained to the priesthood in 2013. In the meantime, he is in Mundelein, Ill., earning a license in theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake. He previously earned his sacrae theologiae baccalaureus at the Angelicum in Rome.
“I would just like to express my thanks to God for my Thomas Aquinas College experience,” Br. Ryan writes. “Four years’ studying Aristotle, and a good start in St. Thomas, have proven invaluable to my subsequent education; but most of all I am thankful that my time at the College led to my conversion to Catholicism and my eventual pursuit of the priesthood.”
Please keep Br. Ryan your prayers!
This Friday, November 30, will mark the first anniversary of the death of Matthew Wise (’06). To pray for the repose of his soul, an alumni priest, Rev. John Tom Mellein, O.P. (’99), will offer a private Mass at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. All who are in the area are invited. The Mass will be held at 8:00 a.m. in Caldwell Chapel.
Please continue to keep Matthew, his family, and his loved ones in prayer throughout the week.
Lost in the ongoing political debate over marriage is a more fundamental question, namely, where does marriage come from? Does the state have the power to define what marriage is, or does the definition precede and transcend the state — something government cannot alter?
Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), a regular guest on the Catholic Answers Live radio program, takes on this question and others in a recent episode titled, The Nature of Marriage.
Marriage, Fr. Sebastian says, “comes about as a result of nature,” and as such is not subject to human redefinition. “The state doesn’t have the right to define triangles. The state doesn’t have the right to define dogs and cats. They are what they are. So the state doesn’t have the right to define marriage,” he explains. Moreover, for government to claim authority in this instance is to assert for itself “absolute power” over marriage “and, as a consequence, family life, because the foundational relationship in any family is the relationship of marriage.”
The show is available both in streaming and downloadable form on the Catholic Answers website, as are these other episodes featuring Fr. Sebastian:
- Open Forum for Non-Catholics (December 9, 2011)
- How Biblical Inspiration Works (October 21)
- The Role of Logic in Apologetics (May 7)
- Are You Predestined? (February 10)
- The Nature of Prophecy (December 6, 2010)
- Can Doctrine Develop? (April 26, 2010)
His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, greeting Rev. John Higgins (’90) last year with a popsicle and a soda at the completion of Fr. Higgins’ 50-mile walk to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
One year ago, Rev. John Higgins (’90), pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Peekskill, N.Y., walked 50 miles from his church to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in midtown Manhattan to raise money for his parish elementary school. This weekend, he will undertake that same journey.
Fr. Higgins’ 2011 pilgrimage raised $77,000 for the 225 students of Assumption School, many of whom live under the poverty level. This year he hopes to top that total. “It’s about 110,000 steps to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and we hope to get a dollar for every step that we walk, making our goal $110,000,” he writes. “I think we can do it!”
Help sponsor Fr. Higgins’ walk for Assumption School either online via PayPal, or by sending a check to:
920 First Street
Peekskill, NY 10566
ATTN: Walk 2012
Godspeed, Fr. Higgins!
Starting tomorrow (Saturday, September 29), EWTN is sponsoring a Novena to the Mother of God for the United States, seeking Our Lady’s intercession and Our Lord’s blessing on the country as we approach the upcoming elections. The novena has the nihil obstat of one of the College's graduates, Rev. Gary Selin (’89), the formation director at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.
The inspiration for the Novena, says Fr. Selin, came from its author, Rev. Frederick L. Miller, S.T.D., of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland, who spent last year in sabbatical at St. John Vianney. During that time, the two priests discussed the state of the Church in America, the elections, and what Catholics could do for their country.
“I was concerned, as the year was going on, that we Catholics in the U.S. — starting with us clergy, but also the lay faithful — were not looking at the election enough from the spiritual perspective,” Fr. Selin recalls. From there, he and Fr. Miller thought of the Novena, which, in keeping with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom this summer, would “continue that spirit of prayer and fasting for our country.”
It was important to both priests, says Fr. Selin, that the Novena call upon the aid of the Blessed Mother. “I know from history and my own personal experience,” he notes, citing events from the Battle of Lepanto to the fall of Communism, “that when we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary in time of great need — when we go to Jesus through Mary — Jesus has come through with very special graces.”
Thus the timing of the Novena to the Mother of God for the United States, which begins on the Feast of the Holy Archangels (September 29), and concludes on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7), just prior to the start of the Year of Faith (October 11). “Coming into an election, where so much is on the line for the Catholic Church and for our country with regards to attacks against religious liberty, the attack against the beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony and even the marital act,” Fr. Selin explains, “we’re callings upon God through the intercession of Mary for very special graces on our country.”
Fr. Selin adds, however, that the act of transforming a nation must begin with our own, interior conversions. “First and foremost in this whole issue of the election, we have to start with ourselves, asking: How have we been faithful to God’s commands? How have we lived a deep prayer life, avoiding sin, growing in holiness and in our dedication to the Holy Eucharist? Then our public acts will be a beautiful overflowing of that commitment of faith.”
Fr. Selin has long had a devotion to the Blessed Mother. His senior thesis at the College was titled, “Mary: Archetype of the Church.” The Mother of God, he says, “has always been close to me in my vocational discernment and leading me here.” Likewise, she must play a role in the future of the nation: “Work has to be done in the public sphere — and that’s the work of the lay faithful to get out there, and we priests have to preach and encourage — but we cannot forget Our Lady.”
Eastern Oklahoma Catholic, the magazine of the Diocese of Tulsa, recently ran a story (PDF) about the life, prayer, and work of the Benedictine Monks at Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey. Ten of the 40 brothers in this rapidly growing community are Thomas Aquinas College alumni, including the Abbey’s subprior, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82).
The Eastern Oklahoma Catholic story reports on the progress of the monks’ ambitious, long-term building project, and also offers an insight into the leaven that these cloistered religious can be for the surrounding community:
“The balanced life of prayer and work provides an example to the modern person of how to praise God, respect His creation, to love one’s neighbor, and practice the reasonable use of material goods. While our vocation does not allow us the time to live as Benedictine monks, their piety reminds us of our own call to pray in our work and, when our work is finished, to take the time to pray.
“The ministry of Clear Creek is certainly a blessing to the Diocese of Tulsa. In just over a decade, they have had a formative influence on the faithful, providing a window into a world where men are engaged in a constant search after God.”
May God continue to bless Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey!
The Very Rev. John M. Berg, F.S.S.P. (’93), with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in 2009During a plenary session at the International Seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Denton, Neb., the General Chapter of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) re-elected the Very Rev. John M. Berg, F.S.S.P. (’93), to a six-year term as Superior General. Fr. Berg is the Fraternity’s third Superior General, having been first elected to the position in 2006 at the age of 36.
The Fraternity includes 228 priests and 154 seminarians serving 117 dioceses in 16 countries. Its members represent 35 nationalities, with an average age of 36. A society of pontifical right founded by Bl. John Paul II in 1988, it has three pillars: fidelity to the See of Peter, dedication to the extraordinary form of the Mass and all the sacraments, and emphasis on the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas as a clear basis for presenting the Faith.
When he graduated from Thomas Aquinas College in 1993, Fr. Berg’s classmates elected him to be their class speaker at Commencement. In that address he remarked, “We have a duty to bring to the world the Catholic faith just as we have received it, in part, here. We must show others that knowledge of the Divine does illumine all other knowledge, and that the tenets of the Faith are reasonable.… We must also live a moral, Catholic life in all of our dealings with society, and pass on the beautiful traditions of the Church to others in the community in which we live, whether that community be small, as a family, or large, as a town.”
Providence has so disposed it that Fr. Berg now has the opportunity to heed his own admonition in an eminent way. In his role as Superior General, he once explained, “My main duty is to the priests and seminarians of the Fraternity. I am responsible that they have the means set out by our constitutions — and, therefore, the Church — to achieve holiness. I must ensure that our seminaries are well staffed and well ordered, and I must place our priests in work that will provide them appropriate formation. Then it is my task to contact them frequently, in a fatherly manner. In addition, I make the financial and material decisions for the order with the aid of a general council.”
It is a tremendous responsibility, but one for which he has proven himself well equipped. Please keep Fr. Berg and the Fraternity in your prayers as he begins his second term.
Marianna Bartholomew has published an article with the Catholic News Agency about a sign of springtime in the Church — the return of hand-stitched altar linens at Blessed Sacrament Church in Lincoln, Neb. The linens are the handiwork of faithful parishioners in a newly established “Order of Martha,” an organization which boasted as many as 6,000 members in the 1960s, but by 2005 had dwindled to only five known groups nationwide. At the heart of this story is the priest who recognized two needs — one material, one spiritual — and by bringing them together inspired a group of committed laywomen who make beautiful vestments and altar cloths to be used in the Mass.
That priest is Rev. Brendan Kelly (’85), the pastor of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Bee, Neb., and a teacher at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Lincoln.
The story begins in 2008 when Fr. Kelly, who was then assigned to Blessed Sacrament, discovered that the girls in his church took a keen interest in its tattered and aging altar linens. Remembering his grandmother’s participation in the Order of Martha, and mindful of the great joy its members took in offering themselves at the altar in this way, Fr. Kelly established a new chapter. The chapter has since sewn linens for Blessed Sacrament as well as for the College’s Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel.
This new Order of Martha has also borne great spiritual fruit — which you can read all about in Mrs. Bartholomew’s wonderful story.
By God’s grace there are now 58 priests among the alumni of Thomas Aquinas College!
Rev. Joseph Bolin (’01)
On June 15, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, His Eminence Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, laid hands on Rev. Joseph Bolin (’01), ordaining him to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ. “In high school I studied mathematics and computer science and received several awards and fellowships for further study in these areas,” reflects Fr. Bolin on an Austrian website (see electronic translation). “But I decided instead to go to Thomas Aquinas College in California, so as to become well-equipped for life — no matter what profession I should choose — by studying the liberal arts and philosophy.” It was during his time on campus, Fr. Bolin adds, that “I heard the call to follow Christ in a special priestly ministry.”
Numerous photos of the ordination, which took place in Vienna’s Cathedral of St. Stephan, are available online. Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean attended the ordination, where he saw several alumni, including Ginger Mortensen (’96), director of development for the International Theological Institute in Trumau.
Rev. Francis Marotti (’07)
Eight days later, on June 23, His Excellency Paul J. Bradley, Bishop of Kalamazoo (Mich.), ordained Rev. Francis Marotti (’07) at St. Augustine Cathedral. The chairman of the College’s Board of Governors, R. James Wensley, was there to witness the ordination, joined by Vice president for Development Paul J. O’Reilly and tutor Brian Dragoo. A recent graduate of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Fr. Marotti twice had the honor of chanting the Gospel at papal Masses while he was still a deacon. He now will serve as a diocesan priest in his hometown of Kalamazoo.
Rev. Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02)
That same day, some 4,500 miles away, the Most Rev. Cirilo B. Flores, Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego (center), conferred the Sacrament of Holy Orders upon Rev. Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02, right) at Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. His Excellency also ordained one of Fr. Okapal’s fellow alumni Nortbertines, Frater Nathaniel Drogin, O. Praem. (’01, left), to the transitional diaconate. College Governor Andrew Zepeda was in attendance, as were three members of the faculty: Director of Admissions Jon Daly and tutors David Arias and Tom Kaiser. The following morning Fr. Okapal offered his first Mass at St. Michael’s Abbey Church in Orange, Calif., with Deacon Drogin assisting.
Over the weekend two alumni of Thomas Aquinas College were ordained to the sacred priesthood, bringing to 55 the total number of alumni priests!
First, on Friday, May 25, the Most Rev. J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, ordained Rev. Jerome Augustine Zeiler, O.P. (’00) at St. Dominic Church in Washington. D.C. The following day, the Most Rev. Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis, conferred the Sacrament of Holy Orders upon Rev. Fadi Auro (’03) at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
Fr. Zeiler is the fifth alumnus of the College to become a Dominican priest. After graduating from the College in 2000, he pursued graduate studies at the University of Dallas, then entered the Order of Preachers in August, 2005. He earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology and a Master of Divinity at the Dominican House of Studies and a Licentiate in Philosophy at the Catholic University of America. His first priestly assignment will be as a parochial vicar at St. Gertrude Parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Born in the United Arab Emirates, Fr. Auro is the child of Iraqi Chaldean Christians who moved to the United States at the start of the first Persian Gulf War in 1991. While studying at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, Fr. Auro first met Raymond Cardinal Burke, then the Archbishop of St. Louis, who invited him to become a seminarian in the archdiocese. Fluent in several languages, Fr. Auro is a “bi-ritual priest,” able to offer the Mass in both Eastern and the Latin Rites.
Fr. Zeiler and Fr. Auro are the first of five alumni who are set to be ordained to the priesthood this summer. The others are: Rev. Mr. Joseph Bolin, Class of 2001 (Diocese of Vienna, June 15); Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti, Class of 2007 (Diocese of Kalamazoo, June 23); and Frater Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem., Class of 2002 (Norbertines, June 23).
Last weekend St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., was the setting for Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite for the first time since adopting the vernacular shortly after Vatican II. Serving as celebrant was Rev. John Paul Erickson (’02), Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Worship for St. Paul and Minneapolis. More photos from the Mass are available at the New Liturgical Movement website.
After graduating from the College in 2002, Fr. Erickson returned to his native Minnesota as a seminarian. In 2006, he was ordained to the holy priesthood at the hands of the Most Rev. Harry Flynn, Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He then went on to serve as an associate pastor at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, the Church of Saint Vincent de Paul, and the Church of Saint Agnes. Since 2008 he has served in his current position as the Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Worship while still assisting at Saint Agnes.
Fr. MoriartyNotably Fr. Erickson will soon be working with a new pastor at Saint Agnes — his fellow graduate, Rev. Mark Moriarty (’95). Ordained to the priesthood in 1999, and currently the pastor of Mary, Queen of Peace in Rogers, Minn., Fr. Moriarty has been named the new pastor of Saint Agnes effective July 1. He will be replacing Rev. John Ubel, the newly appointed rector of the Cathedral of Saint Paul and pastor of the Cathedral parish .
A professor of philosophy at St. Michael’s Abbey Seminary in Orange County, Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), recently appeared on Catholic Answers Live, where he discussed The Power and Purpose of Celibacy. As a regular guest on the nation’s top-rated Catholic radio program, Fr. Sebastian has covered a wide range of topics, both philosophical and theological. Past episodes are available for streaming/download via the Catholic Answers website:
- Open Forum for Non-Catholics (December 12, 2011)
- How Biblical Inspiration Works (October 21, 2011)
- The Role of Logic in Apologetics (May 7, 2011)
- Are You Predestined? (February 10, 2011)
- The Nature of Prophecy (December 6, 2010)
- Can Doctrine Develop? (April 26, 210)
“Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified. He has risen, He is not here; see the place where they laid Him.”
At Pope Benedict XVI’s Easter Vigil Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, the honor of proclaiming the above words belonged to an alumnus of the College, Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti (’07), who chanted the Gospel (Mk. 16:1-7). The proclamation can be found at the 96:30 mark in the video below:
Rev. Mr. Marotti, a transitional deacon from the Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.), is currently studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. In January he was honored to chant the Gospel at the papal Mass of the Epiphany.
Please remember to pray for Deacon Marotti who, God willing, will be ordained to the priesthood on June 23.
“I am responsible for all the souls within the boundaries of my parish,” says Rev. John Higgins (’90), pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Peekskill, N.Y. “That is an honor, but it is also humbling and challenging, to be responsible for their salvation before God.” It is a responsibility Fr. Higgins takes seriously. He has the blisters to prove it.
At 5:30 on the morning of November 10, 2011, Fr. Higgins offered the early Mass at Assumption, then put on a pair of sneakers and began walking. At the end of the day, he reached the Archdiocese of New York’s St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, where he spent the night, and then resumed his pilgrimage the next morning. Late that afternoon, he finally arrived at his destination — St. Patrick’s Cathedral in midtown Manhattan.
Read the full story.
A transitional deacon for the Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.), the Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti (’07) is currently studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. In January he proclaimed the Holy Gospel at the papal Mass of the Epiphany in St. Peter’s Basilica. (See video, below, at about the 32:20 mark.) God willing, he will be ordained to the priesthood this June 23.
Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean recently asked this future priest about how the College prepared him for his vocation. Deacon Marotti provided a brief, spontaneous answer and then, after more reflection, sent a more detailed, written response, which we publish below with his permission:
“I would like to give you a more complete answer to your question about how Thomas Aquinas College has prepared me for seminary. That it did prepare me well is clear from the fact that I was not even required to attend a minor seminary before coming here to Rome — the College is intellectually and spiritually formative in a way that rivals actual seminaries.
“It would be hard to say that this or that particular thing was most helpful in preparation for the holy priesthood, because the whole four-year period of study, prayer, and fraternity formed a solid integrated whole — the study of philosophy, theology, literature, science, language, the intensely Catholic atmosphere on campus, the frequency and reverence of the celebration of Holy Mass, the example and guidance of the good and holy tutors and chaplains. All of these parts benefit from the others, and the whole would suffer were any of these to be removed.
“The best way I can describe how Thomas Aquinas College helped me in discerning my vocation and preparing for the priesthood is to say that it forms one to think according to the mind of the Church. It does so in a way that is unique: by exposing the student not only to the Catholic Tradition, but also to those foundations and principles which preceded and prepared for the flowering of the Catholic faith and Western civilization as a whole, along with those currents of thought which are inimical to the same faith and threaten the Church today. The education and life at the College was indispensable for giving me a Catholic mind, a mind that is enthusiastically committed to promoting and defending holy mother Church, and committed to the rich intellectual, cultural and spiritual tradition which she possesses.
“The thoroughly Catholic mindset which one acquires at the College obviously benefits even further from studying in the Eternal City, so close to the Tomb of the Apostle Peter, and close to his successor, the Pope. The daily encounters with the tombs of other saints and martyrs only increases the love and devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ and His body the Church. For this, I will be eternally grateful to Thomas Aquinas College.”
The Most Rev. Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York, celebrates with Rev. John Higgins (’90).
Over on his blog, Catholic Peekskill, Rev. John Higgins (’90), pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Peekskill, N.Y., tells the story of his successful, 58-mile walk to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to raise money for his parish school. The blog also includes a video depicting highlights from Fr. Higgins’ journey.
In total, Fr. Higgins raised more than $60,000 for Assumption School. He writes:
“As I laced up my sneakers and began to head off along the pre-dawn road, I couldn’t help but think about Jesus and all the walks He took in his short time here on Earth.
“In a world full of cynicism, Jesus walked to bring optimism. In a world devoid of hope, Jesus walked to bring joy. In a world full of suffering, Jesus walked to bring healing. In a world full of hate, Jesus walked to bring love. Jesus walked.
“As a Catholic Priest, I am called to act in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), most especially during the Sacraments but, it is important to note that we are all called to be ‘other Christs’ for the people in our lives, to imitate Him as we make our way in the world. We are all called to take our own ‘walk’ toward Christ—our own pilgrimage of love.
“Sometimes that journey will be easy, filled with consolation and peace. Other times, that road will be steep and we will need every ounce of strength to get up that hill; we’ll feel alone and unworthy and it won’t be our feet that do the walking but our faith!
“But we all must do it; we are a called to do it—to make our own pilgrimage to His heart.”
It is not too late to support Fr. Higgins’ efforts. Send your tax-deductible donations to: Assumption School, 920 Monsignor Ansbro Way, Peekskill, NY 10566.
- Related: The Walking Priest
The video above comes from last Friday’s Mass of the Epiphany, offered by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Basilica. At about the 32:20 mark is the proclamation of the Holy Gospel, chanted by Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti (’07), a transitional deacon from the Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.), who is currently studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. What a tremendous honor!
Please remember to pray for Deacon Marotti, who is scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood on June 23.
The fourth and final profile in our ongoing series about the College’s newest alumni priests is Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist. (’06), a Cistercian monk at Stift Heiligenkreuz in Vienna Austria. Be sure to also read our previous profiles of Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02), Rev. Joseph Dygert (’02), and Rev. Jonathan Perrotta (’95).
The next profile in our ongoing series about the College’s four newest alumni priests is Rev. Jonathan Perrotta (’95), parochial vicar at the Church of the Holy Family in Grand Blanc, Mich. Read our story about Fr. Perrotta to learn about his life, his vocation, and his ministry. Also be sure to see our previous profiles of Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02) and Rev. Joseph Dygert (’02).
The Most Rev. Paul J. Bradley, Bishop of Kalamazoo, hands over a Book of the Gospels to Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti (’07) at his 2008 ordination to the transitional diaconate.
Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti (’07) reports that he will be ordained to the priesthood on June 23, 2012, for the Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.). That same day, another alumnus, Frater Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02), will also be ordained, bringing to 54 the number of the College’s alumni priests.
“I would certainly appreciate prayers!” writes Deacon Marotti. Please pray for him and for all of the College’s alumni priests and seminarians.
Periodically, the Catholic Answers Live radio program hosts a show that is directed specifically toward non-Catholics — whether fallen-away believers, Protestants, atheists, agnostics, or adherents of any other faith. Only self-identified non-Catholic listeners can call in during these shows, asking questions about the Church, its teachings, and its truth claims. Sometimes the callers call out of genuine curiosity about the Faith; other times they call out of hostility, hoping to “stump” the host and guests. Invariably, it is a lively exchange.
On Monday’s 3:00 p.m. (PT) “Open Forum for Non-Catholics,” the guest charged with answering these questions will be Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), a Catholic Answers Live regular. No doubt, he will be well-prepared: Speaking at Thomas Aquinas College’s 40th Anniversary Gala in September, Fr. Sebastian said, “as a guest on Catholic Answers Live, I listen to sometimes very diverse questions from people around the world about the Catholic faith. At the College, of course, we have the seminar method of education. So I feel that I have been really blessed with that capacity to hear someone and understand what he is saying and to try to address his questions in a way he can understand.”
Related: Previous appearances by Fr. Sebastian on Catholic Answers Live:
- How Biblical Inspiration Works (October 21)
- The Role of Logic in Apologetics (May 7)
- Are You Predestined? (February 10)
- The Nature of Prophecy (December 6, 2010)
- Can Doctrine Develop? (April 26, 2010)
Three alumni of the College who are currently pursuing graduate studies in Rome gathered in the Eternal City last week to celebrate Thanksgiving with some 30 other expats. Pictured above are Frater Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02), Marie Nuar (’02), and Frater Nathaniel Drogin, O. Praem. (’01). Frater Maximilian studies at the Angelicum; Miss Nuar and Frater Nathaniel are students at the Gregorian.
The friends have extra reason to be grateful this year. On June 23, 2012, Frater Maximilian is scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood as a member of the Norbertine Order at the Mission San Juan Capistrano Basilica in Orange County, Calif. His confrere, Frater Nathaniel, will be ordained to the diaconate at the same Mass.
Next up in our series about the College’s four newest alumni priest is Rev. Joseph Dygert (’02), parochial vicar at Ave Maria Catholic Parish in Parker, Colo. Read the profile of Fr. Dygert to learn about his life, his vocation, and his ministry. Also be sure to see our previous profile of Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02).
Two alumni who regularly promote and defend the faith in the public square have new offerings:
On the CatholicVote website, theologian Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) has spotted some unsettling themes in retail catalogs (the cover of which is shown on the right).
Then, taking to the airwaves, Rev. Sebastian Walshe , O.Praem. (’94), a professor of philosophy at the Norbertines’ St. Michael’s Abbey Seminary in Orange County, has made one of his periodic appearances on the Catholic Answers Live radio program. The show, How Biblical Inspiration Works, is available online both in streaming audio and as a podcast.
This past summer, four graduates of Thomas Aquinas College were ordained to the priesthood, bringing to 50 the number of alumni priests in the College’s first 40 years. Over the next several days, we will be publishing profiles of these four new priests, starting today with Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02), parochial vicar at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish and the chaplain at Hayden Catholic High School, in Topeka, Kan.
We have received the following letter from Rev. John Higgins (’90), pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Peekskill, N.Y. Fr. Higgins will be walking 58 miles in support of his parish school later this month. Please support him his efforts!
Dear Family and Friends,
Everyone who knows me knows that Assumption School in Peekskill is the joy of my heart!
That’s why I’m taking my joy to the street and walking to St. Patrick’s Cathedral from Peekskill. Not just because Assumption School really, really, needs the financial help, but also in celebration and thanksgiving for the gift of Assumption School!
On the morning of November 10, I’ll leave Church of the Assumption for St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, where I will spend the night and set out for St. Patrick’s on November 11. My goal is to offer a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral at 6:30 p.m. on November 11.
My pilgrimage is part of a larger fundraising effort being undertaken by the Assumption School’s Advisory Board — $105,000 for 105 Years of Assumption School (“105 for 105”).
I would be most grateful if you would sponsor me as I make this prayerful and celebratory journey.
I ask you, if you can, to sponsor me by making a pledge. I will add your contact information to my sponsor sheet with the amount pledged and Assumption School will send you the invoice. Every little bit can help.
Your donation will go a long way to helping families hit hard by the economic downturn continue to send their children to Assumption School.
These are challenging yet grace-filled times and, I know, God can never be outdone in generosity!
Rest assured of my prayers for you every step of my way!
God bless you!
Father John Higgins
PS — The walk is 58 miles.
PPS — If you’re in the city, maybe you might join me for the Mass in The Lady Chapel?
PPPS — Maybe more vigorous types might want to join me for the Friday leg of the walk.
PPPPS — As I walk you can follow me on Twitter: @CatholicPeek
“My best memories of the College were being in the tutorials, learning through the great books, and the spiritual life,” recalls Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O. Praem. (’78). “Our chaplains were very fine spiritual guides. It was through their example and through the prayer life we had at the College that I really developed my vocation.”
As the College’s newest chaplain, Fr. Hildebrand now has the opportunity to be the same sort of mentor and influence that the late Rev. Thomas McGovern, S.J., and Msgr. John Gallagher were when he was a student at Thomas Aquinas College more than 30 years ago. With Fr. Hildebrand joining Rev. Cornelius Buckley, S.J., and Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P., the College is now blessed to have three chaplains serving the spiritual needs of its 350 students, offering four Masses and numerous opportunities for confession daily.Read more
At Thomas Aquinas College’s recent 40th Anniversary Gala, two alumni were honored to address the guests. Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), professor of philosophy at St. Michael’s Abbey Seminary in Orange, Calif., and Brenna Scanlon (’06), Principal of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish School in Oxnard, Calif., offered testimonials about their time at the College and how it prepared them for their service to the Church. Below is audio of their remarks:
Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94)
Brenna Scanlon (’06)
On Sunday night, Rev. Joseph Lee, F.S.S.P (’00), and Vanessa Brink (’04) appeared on EWTN’s Life on the Rock. The two spoke about Juventutem, a lay association founded in response to Pope John Paul II’s 2004 invitation to aid young Catholics who want want to participate in the extraordinary form of the Mass. You can watch the episode here:
The College is pleased to announce the priestly ordination of four alumni this summer, bringing us to 50 priests in our first 40 years! The newest alumni priests are:
1. Rev. Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist. (’06), ordained by Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, O.P., Archbishop of Vienna, on June 19, 2011. Fr. Waldstein is a Cistercian at the Stift Heiligenkreuz monastery outside of Vienna. The photo above shows him on his ordination day (left) along with his fellow new priests and Cardinal Schönborn, the College’s 2004 Commencement Speaker.
2. Rev. Jonathan Perrotta (’95), ordained by the Most Rev. Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing, at St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing, Mich., on June 11. Fr. Perrotta was recently profiled in Faith, Lansing’s diocesan magazine. The profile is available here. (Scroll to the bottom of the page.)
3. Rev. Nick Blaha (’02), ordained by the Most Rev. Joseph Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City, on May 28. In the photo to the left, Fr. Blaha is shown offering His first Mass.
4. Rev. Joseph Dygert (’02), ordained to the priesthood in Colorado Springs on June 19. On the day he graduated from the College, Fr. Dygert led his class in the Pledge of Allegiance, a photo of which can be seen here. On the right is a picture of Fr. Dygert when he was still Deacon Dygert; his website now features photos from his priestly ordination.
To celebrate the beatification of Bl. John Paul II, we asked alumni to send in their photos and memories of the late Holy Father. The slideshow below features the various responses we received. Bl. John Paul II, pray for us!
Listeners to the top-rated Catholic radio program in the United States will recognize the voices of two prominent Thomas Aquinas College alumni: Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), and Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93). Both have appeared on several recent episodes of Catholic Answers Live, which is broadcast on hundreds of terrestrial stations nationwide, and is also available via Sirius satellite radio, streaming audio, and podcast.
Fr. Sebastian, a professor of philosophy at the Norbertines’ St. Michael’s Abbey Seminary in Orange County, Calif., will be the chaplain for Thomas Aquinas College’s 2011 High School Summer Program. Follow the links below to listen to or download his appearance on four Catholic Answers Live episodes:
- The Role of Logic in Apologetics (May 7)
- Are You Predestined? (February 10)
- The Nature of Prophecy (December 6, 2010)
- Can Doctrine Develop? (April 26, 210)
An ethicist and cultural commentator, Dr. de Solenni is an expert on issues relating to women’s health, feminism, and the culture at large. Below are links to two Catholic Answers Live episodes for which she was the featured guest:
Dr. de Solenni was the 2001 recipient of the Pontifical Academies Prize for her doctoral dissertation, which examined various feminist theories in light of the anthropology and theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. She is also a regular writer for HeadlineBistro.com. Her most recent column is an analysis of the U.S. Bishops’ statement on euthanasia. An archive of her work can be found here, and she blogs at moraltheologian.com.