Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Erik Bootsma (’01)Architect and planner Erik Bootsma (’01) has written a hopeful story for the Adoremus Bulletin about a positive shift in sacred architecture, as evidenced by a new church in Leesburg, Va.:

St. John’s is far from the first traditional church built recently in the United States, but it is one that gets the important things right. St. John the Apostle is an encouraging sign that the painfully learned lessons of the past half-century of sacred architecture are starting to be understood by the clergy and the Church as a whole. Laity and clergy alike have learned that sacrificing tradition for fads and the latest styles leads to irrelevance in the next generation, and that art and liturgy that is “up to date” is soon out of date. It is becoming a common understanding now that traditional architectural forms are valued for their usefulness liturgically and spiritually to foster deep connections to the roots of our faith.

Read the full story for more about St. John’s, as well as Mr. Bootsma’s thoughts about the state of liturgical architecture.

The owner of Bootsma Design Services, Mr. Bootsma received his master’s degree in architecture from the University of Notre Dame and is a board member of the National Civic Art Society and of the Mid-Atlantic/Washington Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. He also blogs about ecclesiastical architecture and the philosophy of beauty at The Radiance of Form.

Stephen Grimm ('75)Buoyed by the success of last year’s inaugural Pasadena Schubertiade, the event’s co-founder and artistic director, Stephen Grimm (’75), will soon be presenting the second annual Pasadena Schubertiade — which is set to run for an entire week! Taking place at several venues and offering a wide range of performances, the music festival will begin on Sunday, February 10, and continue through the February 17. Tickets are available at

A member of the College’s first class, Mr. Grimm is the director of Pasadena Pro Musica. He is additionally a composer, a voice instructor, and a member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. On occasion, he can also be seen assisting the choir at his alma mater, or directing choirs at St. Monica’s Academy and St. Augustine Academy, two award-winning Catholic schools headed by fellow Thomas Aquinas College alumni.

Sean Fitzpatrick ('02)Writer, illustrator, and educator Sean Fitzpatrick (’02) has reviewed two Christmas-season classics for “The Civilized Reader” feature in Crisis magazine. First is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which, he warns, “is no Hallmark affair to be taken lightly, much less dismissed as tacky and trite”:

A Christmas Carol is a preparation, and the process it initiates is not an easy one. Everyone knows in his or her own way that it is a steep path fraught with difficulty. But, as the ghostly mentors of Scrooge held up a mirror to him rigidly, relentlessly, and sometimes reluctantly, so too must we face our own inward conversions and cleansings, looking to don a garment worthy of the Bridegroom’s coming. Alongside of Scrooge, groveling in the shadows of our own tombstones, all are beckoned to declare themselves not the men they were but for the holy intercourses of the Advent season prompted by this wonderful story. Many hearkening to this call, swear to lead a changed life, an altered life that will honor the spirit of Christmas in their hearts, and try to keep it all the year, living in the past, the present, and the future.

Next, Mr. Fitzpatrick revisits The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter:

The Tailor of Gloucester is a tale that keeps alive the belief that there are ordinary things in the world that can accomplish extraordinary things. With God all things are possible. This is the principal theme of Christmastime, making it a time to faithfully hang our stockings by the fire with care in the hopes that elves will soon be there — because they are there, under the wooden wainscots, (“though there are very few folk that can hear them, or know what it is that they say.”)

Those looking to purchase these works may want to do so by way of the College’s Amazon Gateway. Meanwhile, when the Christmas season is past, be sure to see Mr. Fitzpatrick’s review of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes.

David Isaac ('05)“When we are surrounded by beauty,” Thomas Aquinas College’s late president Dr. Thomas E. Dillon often remarked, “our minds are better disposed to contemplate the true and the good.” In that spirit alumnus and composer David Isaac (’05) cites as his motivation “bringing beauty to my audiences” through music that moves both the heart and the mind.

On the weekend of May 19-20, the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra will open its end-of-the-season concert with the premier of Mr. Isaac’s “Patriotic Overture” at the DesertView Performing Arts Center in SaddleBrooke, Ariz. Tickets are available online.

Original drawings by James Langley (’85) are on exhibition at the Beatification of Rev. Pierre-Adrien Toulorge, O.Praem, in Coutances, France, through May 6. The works, which come from Mr. Langley’s Via Dolorosa studies, will then travel to Dublin, where they will be exhibited at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress from June 10 to 17.

A professor at Savannah College of Art and Design, Mr. Langley previously taught at Franciscan University of Steubenville and has lectured at the University of Notre Dame, Brown University, and the Pontifical North American College in Rome. More of his art can be viewed at his website,

20, 2011

Ask Me No Questions, by Dr. Joan KingslandDr. Joan Kingsland (’88), a moral theology professor at Mater Ecclesiae College in Greenville, R.I., has published her first novel, a suspense thriller titled Ask Me No Questions. She offers the following plot summary:

“When the overwrought Liz Foster moves with her three children to the small backwater town of Fort Davis, Texas, she earnestly strives for her not so cooperative children to keep a low profile. Her eldest son, Jimmie, is much more concerned about learning the identity of his real father from his mother. Her youngest son is busy building booby traps and protection devices against those who killed his father and might come after them. Jackie is just a normal young teenager trying to lead a normal life. Jimmie’s soccer coach, David Johnston finds himself first annoyed, but then intrigued, suspicious and even attracted to Liz. He begins to quietly investigate her and her family but is only more baffled by what he uncovers.”

To find out how the story ends, you can purchase the book online (ISBN: 978-0-692-01410-3).

A Class of 2010 graduate’s homage to her alma mater is now available on YouTube. Watch the video above to see some gorgeous pictures of the campus and to hear the beautiful voices of the Thomas Aquinas College choir.

Mark Donnelly sings "O Canada"The Vancouver Sun recently ran a profile about Mark Donnelly (’89), who is famous in parts north for leading crowds in the singing of “O Canada” at Vancouver Canucks’ home games. But rousing the fan faithful is not his only talent:

With a degree in music from UBC and a liberal arts degree from Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., he worked for a parish in Scranton, conducting Gregorian chant and 16th-century polyphony (counterpoint), his specialty. He also taught logic, ethics and introduction to philosophy at a seminary, as well as coaching hockey, which he has played since he was 12. …

He also teaches voice, sings professionally and conducts the chant and polyphony at Holy Family Church in Vancouver. “It’s crazy,” he says. “The practical thing for me has always been music, and that’s how I’ve supported my family through the years.”

Mr. Donnelly and his wife, Catherine (Becher ’87) are the proud parents of nine children in a family that shares his love for music:

The family that plays together also sings together. Most of the children sing in the church choir, and Donnelly has recorded a CD with the three eldest, Sean, Colleen and Theresa. He kept getting requests to record a CD of the anthem, but since two songs are not enough for an album, they recorded 16 Christmas carols, plus the American and Canadian anthems.

The CD can be heard/purchased at Mr. Donnelly’s website, but to experience his spirited rendition of “O Canada” at its best, see the video below of his performance before game 5 of this year’s Stanley Cup finals. As Mr. Donnelly explained to the Sun, “An anthem’s not a solo. It’s for a group of people, and a national anthem’s for a nation full of people.”