Faith in Action Blog
“Last night I dreamt that Mission Today took place at TAC,” writes Jillian Cooke (’04) on her Facebook page.
Mission Today is a conference sponsored by the Fr. Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata, a worldwide secular institute of pontifical right, of which Miss Cooke is a consecrated member. In 2010 she took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The purpose of her commitment, she explained in an article for the Thomas Aquinas College Alumni Newsletter, was, “living the intimacy of the cloister in the world of secular society.”
Four years later, Miss Cooke will be a featured speaker at the Missionaries’ conference on Saturday in West Covina, Calif. There she will speak alongside Rev. Edward Benihoff, whom Archbishop José Gomez recently appointed as Director of the Office for the New Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Her talk, “An Analysis of Mary’s Role in Evangelization,” is one of a series of presentations on the theme, “Dialogue and Inculturation: The Relationship Between Charism and Culture.”
“I turned into my 18-year-old self,” continues Miss Cooke’s Facebook post about her dream of returning to her alma mater. “ It was hilarious, once I woke up.”
She then gets to the heart of the matter: “Why am I telling you this? BECAUSE THERE IS ONLY ONE DAY LEFT TO REGISTER, AND I KNOW THAT IF YOU COME YOU WILL LOVE IT. There are no chalkboards. THANK GOD.”
Indeed, Friday is the last day to register, so go sign up now — before it is too late!
In the Catholic Business Journal, Br. Andrew James DeSilva (’03) tells about his adventures of chaperoning 24 college students on a trip to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day. A member of the Community of St. John, Br. Andrew James describes the pilgrimage as having three dimensions: “Service, Formation, and Pope.” The students, who mostly hailed from Seton Hall University, spent time serving the poor with the Missionaries of Charity, being formed through daily Mass and morning and night prayer, and seeing Pope Francis up close when he paid a surprise visit to the slum where they were working.
The students he brought to Rio, says Br. Andrew James, were from “very different faith levels,” yet all no doubt grew in holiness through the experience. The Holy Father, he adds, has a gift for reaching the hearts of young people:
“Pope Francis understands the thirst of our youth for an Absolute, helping them find a Name for what it is that they are searching for; giving them a direction for their journey beyond normalcy. This World Youth Day (as they all are) was an experience of the Church. A young Church who is excited, and ready to take up the challenge given to them by Jesus in the Gospel: ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.’”
One year ago Sr. Erika Brown (’11) entered the first stage of formation, or candidacy, for the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. Tomorrow, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Sr. Erika will enter the second stage, or postulancy. According to the Carmelites’ website, the postulancy — which typically lasts 6-9 months — is a time “to deepen the postulants’ awareness of their personal consecration to Christ through their personal commitment to prayer, doctrinal study and communal living.”
“I feel so blessed to be a part of this Carmelite community praying ‘in the heart of the Church,’” wrote Sr. Erika last year. “The Lord has been working in my life in wonderful ways. I am so grateful for my time at Thomas Aquinas College: It fostered a desire to know and love the Lord which could not be quenched. God is so good!”
Please pray for Sr. Erika as she continues to answer God’s call!
… about another alumna sister!
Sarah Kaiser (’02) made her first profession of vows in the Carmel of Our Mother of Mercy and St. Joseph, Alexandria, S.D., on July 26, the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne. Her name in religion is Sr. Anne Therese of the Child Jesus.
Sr. Anne Therese requests prayers for perseverance in her vocation and promises to return the favor.
Less than a year after entering the postulancy for the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, Elisabeth Sedler (’09) formally entered the novitiate on August 1, 2013. Along with 15 other women, Miss Sedler — now Sr. Juan Jose — received the Dominican habit at the community’s motherhouse in Ann Arbor, Mich. She takes her religious name from St. Juan Diego and Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio, a 14-year-old Christero martyr. Sr. Juan Jose is the fourth alumna of the College to join the Sisters of Mary, whose superior general, Mother Mary Assumpta Long, O.P., was the College’s 2012 Commencement Speaker.
On Saturday, Rev. Nathaniel Drogin, O. Praem. (’01), received the Sacrament of Holy Orders at Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Fr. Drogin is the College’s 59th alumni priest, and the fifth at St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange, Calif., where four other alumni are currently seminarians or novices. Ordaining Fr. Drogin was the Bishop of Orange, the Most Rev. Kevin Vann, J.D., D.D., who will serve as the speaker at the College’s Convocation exercises on August 26. Numerous members of the Thomas Aquinas College community were on hand for the joyous occasion, including President Michael F. McLean and his wife, Lynda.
God be praised!
Wonderful news from the mother of Maria Forshaw (’07):
Maria Forshaw (’07) was clothed with the habit of a Discalced Carmelite novice at a ceremony on June 8 at the Carmel of St. Joseph in St. Louis County, Missouri. Having spent a year as a postulant, she took the name of Sr. Maria Battista of the Lamb of God. Her college classmates will not be surprised to hear that she is deeply involved in music-making for the convent, as a singer and an organist. Before entering the cloister, Maria spent several years working as a tutor of school-age children and as a singer.
Writing in the Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Daily, Timothy Drake has conducted a rare interview with Sr. Mary Josefa, OSB (Kathleen Holcomb ’07), of the Benedictine Sisters of Mary. The Sisters’ Advent at Ephesus album of sacred music topped Billboard’s Classical Music Chart for six weeks last year, and the community has recently released a new album, Angels and Saints at Ephesus. In his interview, Mr. Drake asks Sr. Josefa about her experience at Thomas Aquinas College and about the role of liturgy, sacred music, and Catholic identity in higher education.
Among Sr. Josefa’s notable responses is her explanation for why she chose the College:
I chose to attend Thomas Aquinas College because it integrated classical and Catholic education; I was fascinated by the liberal arts program, with its consideration and discussion of original sources, introducing the student to the perennial questions with which mankind has always grappled, but I was further drawn by the Catholic identity of the school, which orders this program of studies in order to lead the student from the contemplation of created truth to the contemplation of God Himself.
Sr. Josefa also describes how the College enriched her spiritual life:
At TAC, I was blessed to be part of a community that was really unified and ordered by its Catholic identity. I attended daily Mass and Rosary with my teachers and fellow students; the chapel was the central point of the campus and teachers and students always would stop on the way to or from class for a visit; everyone acknowledged senior theology as the culminating point of the curriculum to which all the other classes were ordered; in these and countless other ways, I experienced a community that recognized that the invisible realities are more real, more important than the visible ones. Naturally, this greatly nourished the inclination that I had had to religious life since I was young. Many of my fellow students were also drawn to religious life as a result of the strong Catholic community and contemplative program of studies, and having peers considering a vocation really strengthened my own.
The full interview is available via Catholic Education Daily.
“Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquium tuum et vivam, et non confundas me ab expectatione mea.”
“Receive me, Lord, as you have promised, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope.”
— Rule of St. Benedict 58:21; Psalm 118:116
Please pray for Sr. Mary Josepha (Kathleen’07) Holcomb, OSB, who on Saturday will pray the above psalm, as did St. Benedict, and make her first vows as a member of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, in Gower, Mo. She will also receive the name Sister Mary Josefa of the Eucharist.
Thanks be to God!
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.)