Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

When asked to submit a video that explores “various aspects of wood” for a contest sponsored by the International Wood Culture Society, filmmaker André Fox (’05) thought of two of his fellow Thomas Aquinas College graduates, Dominic O’Reilly (’12) and Alex Tombelli (’13). Mr. O’Reilly is the head winemaster at Topa Mountain Winery in Ojai, California, where he works alongside Mr. Tombelli, a winemaker and carpenter. By combining his two crafts, Mr. Tombelli has developed an innovative new form of artistry — carving oak furniture from discarded wine barrels — that is the subject of the above video.

The video, which earned an honorable mention award in the category of “Wood & Humanity,” includes an original score by another alumnus, Jake DeTar (’11). Mr. Fox, the owner of André Fox Productions, shot all the photography and edited the documentary. His work can also be seen on the College’s recently released video, Praying Twice: The Thomas Aquinas College Choir.


November
30, 2015

Suzie Andres (’87) and Dr. Ronald P. McArthur

“There is no faster way to friendship than sharing the books you love,” writes Suzie Andres (’87) in her recent article, Books and Friendship with the Saints, in Catholic Exchange. “A friendship founded upon excellent books is bound to thrive.”

As a case in point, Mrs. Andres cites her own friendship with Thomas Aquinas College’s late founding president, Dr. Ronald P. McArthur. “This friendship started, as so many of his friendships did, with his sharing the Great Books that had such a profound effect on his life,” she recalls. “Ron McArthur had helped found a college; I needed to go to one. It was that simple, a match made in heaven through the medium of books.”

Fittingly, Mrs. Andres and Dr. McArthur’s last earthly encounters centered around a book on which the two collaborated, The Selected Sermons of Thomas Aquinas McGovern, S.J.:

“We’d both known (he, much longer than I) a wonderful Jesuit, Father Thomas Aquinas McGovern, who taught at Thomas Aquinas College for thirteen years, from the second semester of its founding to the second semester of my sophomore year. Father died suddenly of a heart attack in February of 1985. One day he was teaching my favorite class, the next morning he prayed at Mass ‘for all those who will die today,’ and that evening, he became one for whom he had enjoined us to pray.

“He left behind what amounted to three binders full of typed sermons, carefully polished gems of Catholic doctrine, pastoral guidance, and the love of Christ. From the time these were discovered, shortly after his death, Dr. McArthur hoped they could be made into a book.

“Twenty-nine years later, I had the privilege of bringing that book into being. It was certainly not a solo effort — many people helped bring that book into the world — but mine was the sweet joy of editing, the sincere joy of asking Dr. McArthur to write the foreword, the poignant joy of receiving that foreword from his family after he died (it was the last work he did and finished two days before his death).”

With Advent and preparations for the Christmas season now at hand, Mrs. Andres encourages — what else? — books as the perfect gift for friends old and new. “Don’t let the shiny things of this world distract you from the best we have to offer each other,” she writes. “Give a favorite book (or two or five or ten) and watch your friendships grow.”

And what better book to give than Mrs. Andres and Dr. McArthur’s own Selected Sermons of Thomas Aquinas McGovern, S.J.?

 


Campus Statue of St. Junipero Serra

To celebrate His Holiness Pope Francis’s canonization of California’s patron, St. Junipero Serra, Wendy-Irene (Grimm ’99) Zepeda has written the following hymn:

To the tune of “For All the Saints”

O faithful saint! Apostle to the West!
Founder of missions, striving without rest!
With you we sing, Junipero the blest:
Siempre adelante! Siempre adelante!

Though suffering illness, violence and fear,
You gave His love to those God brought you near;
Your footsore journeys spoke the Gospel clear!
Siempre adelante! Siempre adelante!

Come, ring the bell you rang in days of yore,
Come, plant the Cross again upon our shore!
Bring California to Christ’s heart once more!
Siempre adelante! Siempre adelante!

 St. Junipero Serra, pray for us!


Suzie (Zeiter ’87) Andres“My husband teaches at a college where her Emma is read senior year by every student,” writes Suzie (Zeiter ’87) Andres, wife of tutor Dr. Anthony Andres, in a new essay for Crisis magazine. “I object, but only because I think the work to introduce [Jane Austen] in such a universal way ought to be Pride and Prejudice, accessible to the uninitiated but still brilliant to the reader who already knows her well.”

From there proceeds a glowing tribute to the author whom Mrs. Andres heralds as “The Divine Jane,” and “The Novelist.” Jane Austen, she observes:

“… charms 13-year-olds as well as 30-year-olds, 16-year-olds and 60-year-olds, 18-year-olds and 80-year-olds. Who can say whether the gladness one feels upon first reading her is greater or less than the mature joy one feels when returning to her for the who-knows-how-manyeth a time? You may as well compare the happiness of the convert with the beatitude of the life-long grateful Catholic, a Chesterton and a Belloc. It is safest simply to say, her charm endures.”

The Paradise ProjectInspired by Austen’s works, Mrs. Andres has spent the last four years composing her own recently published novel, The Paradise Project, which she describes as a “paean,” but more than “a simple retelling” of Pride and Prejudice, set in modern times. Its protagonist, Liz Benning, bears a certain resemblance to Elizabeth Bennet and, like Mrs. Andres, she is a devoted reader of Jane Austen. The Paradise Project, says its author, is “a story of those, like us and so many before us, who love Jane and are nourished by her books.”

The Paradise Project is Mrs. Andres’ first work of fiction, following on her two previous books, A Little Way of Homeschooling and Homeschooling with Gentleness, which are available via Amazon.com. She is also, most recently, the editor of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J.


Sr. Maria Battista of the Lamb of God (Maria Forshaw ’07) 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.


Sara Majkowski ('14), front right, and fellow members of Catholics in Action
Sara Majkowski ('14), front right, and fellow members of Catholics in Action

Less than one year since her graduation, Sara Majkowski (’14) is living just outside of Phoenix, where she is an educator by day and — in her spare time — she is learning the ropes of film production and finance.

This entrée to the movie business comes as a surprise. Like several other recent graduates, Miss Majkowski went to Phoenix to teach in the city’s rapidly expanding consortium of Great Hearts charter academies, classical schools that are, as she puts it, “very academically rigorous, with high standards in terms of behavior and academics.” But upon settling into her new city, she found herself a church — St. Anne’s in Gilbert — with ties to an emerging lay apostolate, Catholics in Action.

Directed by the pastor of St. Anne’s, Rev. Sergio Muñoz Fita, Catholics in Action is an American offshoot of Catholic Action, an international apostolate of the Secular Institute Servi Trinitatis. CIA, as it is known, is “about lay people obtaining sanctity in their lives as lay people,” Miss Majkowski explains. “We pray together in adoration. We receive spiritual formation. We reach out to the community, the poor, and young people who need formation, everything Christ directs us to do.”

Although a new member, Miss Majkowski is already heavily involved in CIA and its good works. She is helping to organize a trip to the 2016 World Youth Day in Poland, and she is busily raising funds for an upcoming film, Footprints.

The genesis of Footprints came about last summer, when two groups from St. Anne’s — one men, one women — made 40-day pilgrimages along Spain’s Camino de Santiago de Compostela. A camera crew accompanied the men’s group, obtaining footage for a film that aims, Miss Majkowski says, “to document their spiritual experience, undergoing psychological trials and harsh physical demands.” There will be a premier screening in June and a general release, they expect, within a year. “I’m working on raising funds to complete production through a Kickstarter campaign, selling merchandise, approaching businesses, and spreading the word,” she says.

Meanwhile, Miss Majkowski thrives at Arete Preparatory Academy in Gilbert, where she teaches history and Latin to elementary-school students. “There is so much that goes into teaching — finding ways to make the lessons ‘stick,’ holding students’ attention, being responsible with grading, working with parents, and planning events,” she says. “I like it. I like it a lot.”


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:
exsúltent divína mystéria:
et pro tanti Regis victória tuba ínsonet salutáris

Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation
sound aloud our mighty King's triumph!

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.”

The album is available via iTunes, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the community’s website.

 

Related:


Sean Kramer with his students

Sean Kramer ('86)Following yesterday’s post about alumnus Mark Langley (’89), who is brewing a batch of beer this Lent, is a story about Sean Kramer (’86), who, throughout these 40 days and nights, is teaching middle-school students to paint icons.

The subject of a recent profile in his native city’s archdiocesan newspaper, Catholic San Francisco, Mr. Kramer is an iconographer and teacher at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. For the past six years he has offered Lenten classes in iconography at St. Patrick School in Portsmouth, thanks to funding from the local council of the Knights of Columbus.

“As one works on an icon, one is working on oneself, realizing oneself as a more complete image of God,” Mr. Kramer told Catholic San Francisco. “The materials and steps in making an icon are all symbolic of levels of ourselves and the stages of our transformation.” The story notes that Mr. Kramer opens each class with a prayer asking God, the saints, and the angels to “help us make these holy icons images that will remind us and those who see them of God’s presence and love for us.’”