Faith in Action Blog
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.
Following the lead of Gregory A. Pesely (’77), Kelly Geier (’76) has offered some of his own memories of late tutor Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J. Mr. Geier, a senior software engineer at Welch Allyn in San Diego, writes:
“I had the privilege on many occasions to play tennis with Dr. McArthur and Fr. McGovern. Fr. McGovern, when on the court, was a serious competitor.
“During meals at the TAC cafeteria, Fr. McGovern frequently joked that no one had eaten more ‘TAC food’ than he had. But, he said, ‘I feel fine,’ and he laughed.
“As a tutor, regardless of the subject matter, his enthusiasm was infectious to all of us.
“On a number of occasions, Fr. McGovern heard my confession. Despite my disappointment in myself, he was always kind, encouraging, and wise in his advice.
“When he delivered his homilies, he had a gift for inflaming the hearts of his listeners with the same love for God that he had.”
A collection of those inspiring homilies is now available for all to read and treasure. Copies of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., are available via the College’s online form.
As Mr. Geier notes, “We are truly blessed that Fr. McGovern was a part of the College.”
The recent release of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., has stirred up some dear memories for Gregory A. Pesely (’77):
“I had the great honor of serving at the altar with Fr. McGovern. (I helped out in the sacristy to set out his vestments. And, as I helped out with facilities, I had a few opportunities to help him with his dwelling place at the old campus.) He once confided that it usually took him 8-10 hours to craft, perfect, and memorize every homily.
“I had always hoped that one day his homilies would be published. What a treasure that collection will be for both those who had the honor to study St. Thomas with him and those who just heard about him.
“I often sat with him at meals. He had an observant eye and a keen mind. For a few summers, his mom would come out and visit him. I was able to witness the most tender and devoted son a mother could ever hope for.
“One summer while teaching at the Archdiocesan Seminary in Camarillo, I did a foolish thing — I agreed to play a set of handball with him up in Ojai. I treated him to a few cold beers after he clobbered me.
“He loved music, and not only sacred music: Once we caught him singing, ‘I Am Getting Married in the Morning’ from My Fair Lady while finishing up his laundry in the old laundry room at Claretville.
“I then went up to Université Laval and served several times with his dear friend and fellow Jesuit, Rev. Pere E. Lacasse, S.J. (at days of recollection and during a weeklong Ignatian Retreat). Both were incredibly spiritual priests, but both were passionate Jesuits with great senses of humor and humility.
“I believe a lot of the early vocations were enkindled by those who were introduced to Fr. McGovern and his unmistakable, great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.”
Mr. Pesely is the mission integration manager for OSF Healthcare System in Peoria, Illinois — a Catholic health care system covering 11 different facilities, and the largest system in Illinois outside of Chicago. He advises the corporation on medical ethics policies and the training of some 15,000 associated personnel.
Copies of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., can still be ordered in time for Christmas via the online form.
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
Phil (’97) and Luke Halpin (’98) on the set of Miles Christi: Soldiers of Christ in America
Two alumni brothers, Phil (’97) and Luke Halpin (’98), played significant roles in the production of a new one-hour documentary film, Miles Christi: Soldiers of Christ in America, which premiered on EWTN last Sunday night. The film explores a new order of priests, Miles Christi (soldiers of Christ), which is committed to helping lay Catholics pursue holiness in their everyday lives. Phil served as the project’s writer and editor, and Luke composed and produced the original score. Below is the film’s trailer:
“Documentary filmmaking is such a great way of presenting the truth in a logical manner that’s almost indisputable,” Phil recently told the National Catholic Register. “I see the documentary as a method of argument almost. It’s a chance to, in a very methodical way, lay out something you think is true and prove it.” Key to making that argument, he added, is maintaining the highest professional standards. “High-quality production is part of evangelization. ... You’re not going to evangelize anybody with crummy production work.”
Phil is the editor and producer for StoryTel, a creative foundation specializing in documentaries about people and organizations who answer God’s call to “restore the sacred.” Previously, he helped to produce Where Heaven Meets Earth, a documentary about a once-failing urban parish transformed by a young priest who was determined to embrace the whole of Catholic tradition. “Giving people hope is a worthy goal,” he says, “but going beyond that to inspire people to restore the sacred in their own lives and their own communities makes it worthwhile.”
In case you missed the first screening of Miles Christi, fear not. The documentary will air again on EWTN this Saturday, November 22, at 11:00 p.m. in the U.S. and Canada. It is also available on DVD.
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.