Faith in Action Blog
Rev. Jacob (Joseph ’06) Hsieh, O.Praem., with his parents and the Most Rev. Kevin William Vann, Bishop of Orange
On Saturday, June 27, the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rev. Jacob (Joseph ’06) Hsieh, O.Praem., received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, becoming the Colleges’ 62nd alumnus priest. Fr. Jacob’s ordination came at the hands of the Most Rev. Kevin William Vann, Bishop of Orange and the College’s 2013 Convocation Speaker. It took place at the Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano, where many alumni and friends of the College were on hand to witness the occasion.
Two days later, Fr. Jacob offered his Mass of Thanksgiving on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. He now takes up his first assignment, teaching Gregorian chant to the novices in his community, the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California. An accomplished musician, he has performed at Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and, this past Easter, he chanted the Exsultet at the papal Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. For the past year leading up to his ordination, he studied theology and chant at the Norbertine Generalte in Rome.
“One of my teachers at high school was a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College. He made me love the pursuit of truth and showed me how rich the Catholic faith is. This influenced me to go to Thomas Aquinas College,” Fr. Jacob reflects in the Norbertines’ electronic newsletter. “There, I met Fr. Michael Perea, a confrere at St. Michael’s who was one of the chaplains that year and who suggested I come to visit the abbey. I fell in love with the common life that was thriving there: the pursuit of holiness and truth in fraternal charity. I decided to join the abbey after my senior year.”
Fr. Jacob offers a blessing to Director of Gift Planning Tom SusankaAmong those who witnessed Fr. Jacob’s ordination were two members of the College’s faculty, Director of Development Robert Bagdazian and Director of Gift Planning Tom Susanka. On behalf of the College, they presented its newest alumnus priest with two gifts that, God willing, provide him with spiritual strength: Bl. John Henry Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons and one of the knotted Rosaries that a friend of Founding President Ronald P. McArthur has given the College’s graduates in each of the last two years.
“It was wonderful to get to see Fr. Jacob humbly and reverently answer God’s call to the holy priesthood,” says Mr. Bagdazian. “We pray for him in his new ministry, and we thank God for continuing to use the College to bless the world with more good and holy priests.”
Sr. Maria Battista of the Lamb of God (Maria Forshaw ’07)On June 12, some three years after entering the Carmel of St. Joseph in St. Louis, Missouri, Sr. Maria Battista of the Lamb of God (Maria Forshaw ’07) made her first vows as a Discalced Carmelite nun. “She remains as active in the musical life of the monastery as at the College,” writes her mother, Liza Forshaw. “At the Latin Mass celebrating her profession, she conducted her fellow sisters in Gregorian chant, and she plays the organ every day.” As a member of the this cloistered, contemplative community, Sr. Maria Battista is dedicated to a life of prayer in service of the Church.
Thanks be to God! Please keep Sister in your prayers as she continues to discern her vocation.
The video above promotes the release of a new musical album, Benedicta: Marian Chant from Norcia, which features the voices of three alumni monks: Rev. Thomas Bolin, O.S.B. (’96), Br. Mary Evagrius Hayden, O.S.B. (’08), and Br. Philp Wilmeth (’13).
The three graduates are members of an 18-member Benedictine community at Monastero San Benedetto, a 1,000-year-old monastery in Norcia, Italy, birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica. Fr. Thomas serves as the community’s subprior; Br. Evagrius is currently pursuing graduate studies at the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria; and Br. Philip is set to make his simple vows on September 8, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The album, drawn from the monks’ daily life of prayer, features 33 tracks of Gregorian chant, including traditional Marian antiphons such as “Regina Caeli” and “Ave Regina Caelorum,” as well as previously unrecorded chant versions of responsories and an original composition, “Nos Qui Christi Iugum.” Benedicta: Marian Chant from Norcia is available for sale via amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and directly from the Monks of Norcia website.
The photo above comes from one of the College’s earliest graduates, Sr. Mary Catherine Blanding, IHM (’76). A nun with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Wichita, Kansas, Sr. Mary Catherine is shown here teaching a group of novices “the perennial wisdom of St. Thomas,” she writes.
In addition to working with her community’s newest members, Sr. Mary Catherine instructs religious-education teachers at the Diocese of Wichita’s Regan Catechetical Institute, assists parishes with their religious-education programs, and offers spiritual formation for college students at the diocesan parish that serves Wichita State University.
In this Year of Consecrated Life, please pray for Sister, her catechetical endeavors, and all of the College’s religious alumnae!
The video above comes from this year’s Easter Vigil Mass, offered by His Holiness Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica. Chanting the Exsultet is a graduate of the College, Frater Jacob, O.Praem. (Joseph Hsieh ’06).
A Norbertine canon and a transitional deacon, Frater Jacob is currently studying theology and music at the Norbertine Generalte in Rome. He is due to return stateside in time for his ordination to the priesthood on June 27.
Exsúltet iam angélica turba cælórum:
Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
Alleluia, alleluia, He is risen!
The Catholic News Agency reports that the chart-topping Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, are releasing a new album in time for the paschal season, Easter at Ephesus. For three years in a row, the community, which is based in Gower, Missouri, has been the best-selling artist on Billboard’s “Classical Traditional” list. Two of the nuns, Sr. Mary Josefa of the Eucharist, OSB (Kathleen Holcomb ’07), and Sr. Sophia Eid, OSB (’08), are alumnae of the College.
Following the success of past albums Lent at Ephesus, Angels and Saints at Ephesus, and Advent at Ephesus, Easter at Ephesus features 27 tracks, in both English and Latin, including traditional hymns, original compositions, and chants. The compilation, the order’s mother superior tells the Catholic News Agency, is “a snapshot of the music our community sings already throughout the season in our little chapel.”
- Alumnae Sisters Appear on “CBS Sunday Morning” (April 23, 2014)
In 2008 Dean Brian T. Kelly (’88) introduced Rev. Gerard George Steckler, S.J., at an Alumni Association dinner held in the former chaplain’s honor. In light of Fr. Steckler’s death last week, the College has published the text of Dr. Kelly’s remarks — a beautiful recollection of a good and holy priest.
Please continue to pray for Fr. Steckler and the repose of his soul.
Please pray for alumna Jillian Cooke (’04), who, by God’s grace, will soon be making her perpetual profession of vows with the Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata. “From the seeds planted at TAC,” she recently wrote in a note to College President Michael F. McLean, “the Lord has worked wonders in my life.”
Miss Cooke is a consecrated member of the Fr. Kolbe Missionaries, a worldwide secular institute of pontifical right, having previously taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In this capacity, she once observed, she seeks to live “the intimacy of the cloister in the world of secular society.”
Noting that she is “praying for the faculty, staff, students, board, benefactors” of Thomas Aquinas College, and that she is “thanking God for the many blessings received during my four years” on campus, Miss Cooke writes that “all are sincerely invited to share” in her sacred day. Her perpetual vows will take place on March 21 at St. Christopher Church in West Covina, California, during the 1:00 p.m. Mass.
Thanks be to God!
It is fitting that during this, the Church’s Year of Consecrated Life, Thomas Aquinas College marks the 30th anniversary of one of its most beloved priests, Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., who died on February 19, 1985.
A graduate of the Université Laval in Quebec, Fr. McGovern previously taught at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., before coming to Thomas Aquinas College in early 1972. He served as a member of the faculty and, later, the Board of Governors until his death in 1985. The following year he posthumously received the College’s highest honor, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion.
Eleven alumni of the College have share some of their memories of the late tutor and Jesuit, which you can read here.
Rev. Christian Felkner, O.S.B. (’01) made a homecoming visit to his alma mater this week, and this morning he offered Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Photos from this morning’s Mass are available in the slideshow below:
Fr. Felkner is a monk at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma, where priests offer the Mass in the extraordinary form. He is among the College’s newest alumni priests, having been ordained — along with Rev. Andrew Norton, O.S.B. (’06) — on October 26, 2014.