Faith in Action Blog
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!
Br. Mary Evagrius (Dominic ’08) Hayden, O.S.B., is a Benedictine monk at the Monastero San Benedetto in Norcia, Italy, the birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica. The 1,000-year-old monastery had fallen into a 200-year period of disuse until refounded by a group of American Benedictines in the great Jubilee Year of 2,000. Br. Evagrius, as he is known, is now one of two Thomas Aquinas College alumni pursuing vocations there, the other being the community’s subprior, Rev. Thomas (David’96) Bolin, O.S.B.
In August, Br. Evagrius made his solemn profession, and shortly afterward sent the following reflection about the experience to the College’s president, Dr. Michael F. McLean:
“Mortuus sum, et vita mea est abscondita cum Christo in Deo.” “I am dead, and my life is hidden with Christ in God.”
This was the hymn that echoed above me as I lay stretched out upon the cold floor, a black funeral shroud draped over my still body. The funeral bells rang their mournful cry announcing the passage of another soul from this world … and I wept. I had given God all that I had: money, time, energy, even my own life dedicated fully to Him. But of what value are the things that I seek to give to Him when He possesses the universe? My gifts are like ashes and smoke.
A wise Abba once told me, “In the end all that we can give to God is our dying, and that pleases the spouse very much.” I had finally given that little gift to Him as well, prefiguring my own death in the flesh with my death from the world. Now I have nothing left, except the years of waiting until I am finally brought in to the wedding feast of the lamb.
When will my death be consummated so that I can be with the Spouse? I do not know. But until that day comes I must prepare myself, for as the same Abba told me, “The monastic life is a preparation for martyrdom.”
The hymn continued: “Non moriar sed vivam, et narrabo opera Domini.” “I will not die but I shall live, and I will proclaim the works of the Lord.”
Having made my solemn vows, I am now given a mission, to proclaim the works of the Lord by my life until that time when He should call me to lay it down out of love, a holocaust consumed, emptied as Christ emptied himself, to die just as He did. Then death loses its sting, it is no longer a tragedy of pain, fear and sorrow, but rather a separation from the obstacles that keep the soul from union with God, a joyful transformation from orphan-hood to son-ship, a resurrection to life everlasting.
Jenny Gerrity (’08) at the investiture of Sr. Sophia Eid, OSB (’08, second from left), with Sr. Mary Josefa (Kathleen’07) Holcomb, OSB, and Lisa (Gerritty ’08) Berquist
The College has recently learned some wonderful news about three of its alumnae who are pursuing vocations to the religious life:
On the Feast of the Assumption (August 15), Erika Brown (’11) entered the candidacy program with the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. “I feel so blessed to be a part of this Carmelite community praying ‘in the heart of the Church,’” she writes. “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!”
Less than two weeks later, on August 28, Elisabeth Sedler (’09) entered the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, Mich., and soon thereafter moved into the Order’s new house, St. Felix Oratory in Huntington, Ind. Miss Sedler is the third 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.
Lastly, on September 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Sr. Gina Marie Eid (’08) received her habit and new religious name — Sr. Sophia Eid, OSB, as a member of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, in Gower, Mo. Sr. Sophia is now a novice in the community, where she joins fellow alumna Sr. Mary Josefa (Kathleen ’07) Holcomb, OSB. Many family members and friends, including several alumni of the College came for the investiture ceremony, which took place at St. James Church in St. Joseph, Mo.
Please pray for the intentions and well-being of the newest alumnae sisters. May God richly bless these humble, dedicated servants of Christ!
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!
Br. Mary Evagrius Hayden, O.S.B. (Dominic Hayden ’08), will make his solemn profession under the Rule of St. Benedict, thereby permanently joining the Benedictine Order at the Monastery of San Benedetto in Norcia, Italy, on Saturday. The ceremony will take place in the Basilica of San Benedetto, at the birthplace Sts. Benedict and Scholastica, in the main piazza of Norcia.
The monastery invites all to send their wishes and congratulations to firstname.lastname@example.org with “For Br. Evagrius” in the subject line. Please keep Br. Evagrius and all of the College’s priestly and religious alumni in your prayers!
The family of Maria Forshaw (’07) reports that she has entered the Carmel of Saint Joseph in Saint Louis, Mo., as a postulant. This cloistered, contemplative community of Discalced Carmelite nuns is dedicated to a life of prayer in service of the Church.
Please join us in praying for Sr. Maria as she pursues her vocation!
Sr. Mary Andre, O. Praem (’11) and Sr. Mary Thomas, O. Praem (’09)
On June 6, the Feast of St. Norbert, two alumnae of Thomas Aquinas College took their religious names and were vested in the habit of the Norbertine Canonesses at the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph in Tehachapi, Calif. Thus, by God’s grace, Alison Bright (’09) is now Sr. Mary Thomas, O. Praem. (after the College’s patron, St. Thomas Aquinas!), and Annie Huguelet (’11) is now Sr. Mary Andre, O. Praem (after St. Andre Bessette).
Commencement 2007At 9:30 this morning Sr. Miriam Thérèse of the Holy Face, O.C.D. (Kelly Waldman ’07), made her solemn profession at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Valparaiso, Neb. The Bishop of Lincoln, the Most Reverend Fabian Bruskewitz, offered Mass and received her final vows.
The date of this blessed event is significant on a number of levels: It is the liturgical anniversary of Sr. Miriam Thérèse’s first profession; the anniversary of her entrance into the Carmelite Order; and the anniversary of the canonization of her patroness, St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Of course it is also Ascension Thursday, of particular relevance to Sr. Miriam Thérèse’s religious name, because this was the last day Our Lord’s Holy Face was seen on earth before He returned to His Father in heaven.
Sr. Miriam Thérèse of the Holy Face is one of three alumnae at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The others are Sr. Paula Grimm (’08) and Sr. Pauline of Christ (Bridget Morey ’05). Please keep all three of these devoted nuns in your prayers!
It was while she was a student at Thomas Aquinas College that Sr. Juliana Schmitt, O.Cist. (’86), first became aware of her vocation to the religious life. Yet as is often the case, God’s plans for her unfolded slowly — and circuitously. So it took several years before Sr. Juliana found her way to the Valley of Our Lady Monastery in Prairie du Sac, Wis., where she now happily lives the life of a cloistered nun.
Sr. Julianna tells her vocation story in the upcoming issue of Religious Life magazine, humorously and candidly describing how God used her human foibles and weaknesses for His greater glory. “But even a misunderstanding of God’s message can be a real part of God’s ways,” she writes. “Mistakes and even sins within the decision process don’t bother God. He blithely uses all sorts of materials for His divine purposes!”
The article will appear in the magazine’s May/June edition, but thanks to the generosity of the Institute for Religious Life, the College has received permission to post Sr. Juliana’s story (PDF) online. Enjoy!