Faith in Action Blog
Rev. Christian Felkner, O.S.B. (’01), with his family at his October 26 ordination
As promised, here are some photos from the October 26 ordination of Rev. Christian Felkner, O.S.B. (’01), at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma. The Most Rev. Edward J. Slattery, Bishop of Tulsa, presided, ordaining two College alumni — Fr. Felkner and Rev. Andrew Norton, O.S.B. (’06) — to the priesthood, and a third, Br. Jerome Hudson, O.S.B. (’03), to the transitional diaconate. More photos of the ordinations are available via the Abbey’s website.
With the ordinations of Fathers Felkner and Norton, the College now has 62 priests among its alumni. Eleven alumni are priests or seminarians at Clear Creek, including the Abbey’s subprior, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82).
“Please keep us all in your prayers, especially that we be made worthy of this great grace and also that we may always follow God’s will and not our own,” writes Fr. Felkner in a letter to the College. “Be assured of my prayers for you.”
Fr. Felkner, O.S.B. (’01), foreground, with several of his confreres and Bishop Slattery
Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist. (’06); His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke; and Prof. Thomas Stark. Photo: CDO Photography
Earlier this month, Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist. (’06), moderated a panel discussion about the recently concluded Synod on the Family, featuring Raymond Cardinal Burke, Prefect Emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura. Hosted by Una Voce Austria, the discussion was timed to coincide with the release of the German edition of Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, for which Cardinal Burke was a contributor. Joining His Eminence and Pater Edmund on the dais was Dr. Thomas Heinrich Stark, a professor of philosophy at the Philosophical-Theological College St. Pölten.
Prior to the panel, Pater Edmund, a Cistercian monk at Stift Heiligenkreuz in Vienna, delivered a talk, The Synod on the Family and the Opera, which focused on the work of two Viennese composers, W. A. Mozart and Richard Strauss. That talk is available via Pater’s blog, and video and audio from the panel discussion with Cardinal Burke are available below:
Audio, courtesy of Mr. Christopher Owen:
Andrew Lang (’06) was in Oklahoma this past weekend to witness the priestly ordination of his friend and Thomas Aquinas College classmate, Rev. Andrew Norton, O.S.B. (’06). Mr. Lang has graciously provided the photos in the slideshow below, which feature several other alumni before and after the ordination.
Fr. Norton is one of 11 Thomas Aquinas College alumni at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma, including the Abbey’s subprior, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82). The ordination took place on October 26 the Abbey chapel, with the Most Rev. Edward J. Slattery of Tulsa serving as the ordaining bishop. Fr. Norton offered his first Mass the next morning.
“From now on,” writes Fr. Norton in a recent note in his family’s parish bulletin, “a successful day will be one on which I have said Mass ‘better,’ that is, with greater faith, hope and, charity; with my heart and mind more conformed to the Heart and Mind of Jesus; full to overflowing with zeal for God, His Father; and for humanity, for all, especially the weakest, most helpless, most ignorant, the most hardened sinners full of hate.”
Fr. Norton was one of three alumni to receive Holy Orders at Clear Creek on Saturday. Bishop Slattery also ordained Rev. Christian Felkner, O.S.B. (’01), to the priesthood and Br. Jereme Hudson, O.S.B. (’03), to the transitional diaconate. We will post photos from these ordinations as soon as they become available.
On the final day of the recently concluded Synod on the Family, the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an essay about the Synod’s purpose — and its challenges — by Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94). A professor of philosophy at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California, Fr. Sebastian argues that, “The stakes are high,” for the Synod. “For unless modern man can recapture the meaning which God has written into the natural human family, the result will be ignorance and error, indifference and animosity, toward the entire supernatural order.”
Fr. Sebastian continues:
Every artist has his favorite work of art, and God’s favorite is the human family. From all eternity, in fact, He understood himself as the Son of Mary, as a member of a human family. The reason for God’s predilection is that more than the other parts of His creation, the family reflected His own goodness and beauty. Hence, we cannot know God, we cannot love Him, without knowing and loving the natural human family. …
Consider how the modern distortions of the family can lead to distortions in faith. The indissolubility of marriage is intended to be a sign of God’s eternal and unique love for His Church. Is it any surprise then that religious pluralism and the denial that there is one Church is widespread in a society in which divorce and remarriage are widespread? The natural begetting of a child through the loving union of husband and wife is intended to be a sign that God creates each human soul immediately and with love. This reality is obscured in a society which accepts in vitro fertilization or other artificial means of procreation.… And in households where, by design, there is no father or there is no mother, how will the children come to understand God as Father or what it means for God to love us like a mother? … Examples could be multiplied but, suffice it to say, a lack of love and esteem for the goodness of the natural family entails a lack of love and esteem for God and the things of heaven.
The bishops, writes Fr. Sebastian, are “striving to interpret to the world the supernatural significance of the natural family” — a task that is treacherous, but essential.
The full article is available via the Vatican’s news website.
Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. (’78), now serving as the College’s head chaplain, recently gave a “tutor talk” entitled “The Sanctification of Time and the Liturgy of the Hours.” Text and audio are available via the College’s website.
An alumnus of the College, Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. (’78), has agreed to become its next head chaplain. At the start of the upcoming academic year, Fr. Hildebrand will be taking over for the departing Rev. Joseph Illo.
Fr. Hildebrand first came to the College as a student in 1974. After graduating in 1978, he attended Mt. Angel Seminary in Oregon, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1984. A member of the Norbertine Fathers at St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange, California, he served as pastor of the 3,000-family St. John the Baptist Church in Costa Mesa before returning to the College as a chaplain in 2011.
“The love of Christ and His church has gathered us together here at Thomas Aquinas College,” says Fr. Hildebrand. “By study, reflection, and discussion we come to know God; by prayer and contemplation we come to love Him. The chaplains help to facilitate that love by ministering the Sacraments and providing spiritual direction so that the students may thrive humanly and spiritually.”
While making a summer pilgrimage along Spain’s Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Rev. Ramon Decaen (’96) encountered a familiar face — that of College tutor Dr. Carol A. Day. Writes Fr. Decaen:
“I was at about kilometer marker 40 when our group of four went on a 4 km side tour of a 12th century convent. We had a tour with four other pilgrims. I was shocked to turn and find Dr. Carol Day was one of those pilgrims! She was my college astronomy professor. Small world!”
Like Fr. Decaen, Dr. Day is hiking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, joined by another graduate of the College, Wendy-Marie Teichert (’81). Fr. Decaen is a priest in the Diocese of Lincoln (Nebraska), where he is the pastor of the Parish of Cristo Rey, the city’s largest Spanish-language church. He is also the diocesan director of Hispanic ministry, which serves some 148,000 Lincoln residents. Please pray that he, Dr. Day, and Miss Teichert will continue to be blessed along The Way!
Now featured on the College’s website is an interview with the Very Rev. John M. Berg, F.S.S.P. (’93), Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter:
I have heard it said that in the early days of the College, Founding President Ron McArthur would get offers from people saying, “If you only did this, or if you only started doing that, then we would really get on board with this project, or it could really be a success.” That happens to a religious order, too. A bishop may say, “Oh, you could come to this diocese if you would just start doing this or that.” You have to have the courage or the foresight to say, “No, if we do that, we will lose the identity of what we really are.”
I try to model my leadership of the Fraternity after Dr. McArthur’s leadership of the College, and that means being able to say, “No, we do one thing here and we do it really, really, well. I am sure that other colleges do great things, too, and some kids should go there, but we are not meant to do that. It’s just not what we do.”
Follow the link to read the whole interview.
By God’s grace, the College has been blessed with 60 alumni priests to date, and more are still on the way. The latest young graduate to answer God’s call is Justin Lefevre (’00), who this month is entering the Sacred Heart of Jesus Monastery in Portland, Oregon — the first Maronite monastery in the Western United States. He will be a postulant with the Monks of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and he will soon begin preparing for the priesthood. “The College and its intentions will be in the monastery’s prayers continually,” he writes. And may he be in all of our prayers as he continues to discern his vocation.
Please say a prayer for Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. (’78), a graduate of the College and one of its four chaplains, who today celebrates the 30th anniversary of his ordination.
Fr. Hildebrand is one of three priests from the Class of 1978, having received the Sacrament of Holy Orders at the hands of Timothy Cardinal Manning, then the Archbishop of Los Angeles, on June 16, 1984. He was one of the College’s first alumni priests, who now number 60, with another ordination set for this fall.
Over the last three decades, Fr. Hildebrand has served at various churches in Los Angeles and Orange counties, including seven years as the pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Costa Mesa. He returned to his alma mater as a chaplain in 2011.
Thanks be to God for this good and faithful priest!