Faith in Action Blog
Two old College friends who are now colleagues recently appeared on EWTN’s Life on the Rock (above, 1:25 mark) to promote the cause of Catholic liberal education. Luke Macik (’87) and Mark Langley (’89) are the headmaster and academic dean, respectively, of The Lyceum in Euclid, Ohio. They and all 45 of the Lyceum’s students traveled to Birmingham, Ala., last month to discuss their school and share the music of its Schola Cantorum.
The Lyceum, like Messrs. Langley and Macik’s alma mater, uses a great books curriculum taught primarily by way of the Socratic Method. While in Alabama, the Schola — of which all students and half of the faculty are members — provided the music for one of EWTN’s televised Masses. The Schola additionally produced a recording of the Gloria from Palestrina’s Missa Brevis, which later appeared on this episode of Life on the Rock.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Lyceum has quickly become one of the top Catholic high schools in the nation. The Cardinal Newman Society gave the school a special recognition on its 2012-2013 National Catholic Honor Roll for “Excellence in Catholic Identity.” A quarter of the Lyceum’s graduates are National Merit Scholars, Finalists, and Commended Students, having scored in the top 1 percent to 5 percent on the PSAT, and the school’s average SAT is in the top 14 percent of the nation.
Dr. Joseph Hattrup (third from left) and members of the University of St. Thomas Examining Board. (Photo courtesy of the University of St. Thomas)
When alumnus Joseph Hattrup (’01) joined the Thomas Aquinas College teaching faculty in 2006, he had already completed his doctoral studies (philosophy, University of St. Thomas), but not his dissertation. He therefore spent most of his vacation and free time over the last several years completing this requirement — a challenging task for a full-time college instructor and father of three young girls. His diligence, however, has paid off, and as a result, he has earned the title of doctor.
Last week, Dr. Hattrup traveled to the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of Thomas in Houston, Tex. There, he successfully defended his dissertation, “Form and Predicability in Aristotle’s Categories and the Middle Books of the Metaphysics.”
“A widely received view about these works is that they contain doctrines of substance that are contradictory in principle and which therefore show significant changes in Aristotle’s thought,” Dr. Hattrup explains. “I argue that these two doctrines of substance, though different, are compatible with each other and not contradictory in principle. I hope the dissertation will help to demonstrate the unity and consistency of Aristotle’s thought and principles, especially as regards logic and metaphysics.”
The dissertation received unanimous approval of the Examining Board, which subjected Dr. Hattrup to two rounds of vigorous questioning. Dr. Edward Macierowski, an external reader on the committee and a professor of philosophy at Benedictine College, remarked: “Hattrup’s dissertation is not only a recognizable masterwork of a young philosopher, and so a convincing sign that he deserves the doctoral degree, but also the dissertation should be revised and submitted as soon as possible to publication at a major academic press.”
Congratulations, Dr. Hattrup!
Frederick DouglassA professor of political science at Northern Illinois University, Dr. S. Adam Seagrave (’05), has written a thoughtful article for The Public Discourse about the present state of the pro-life movement:
In a manner similar to the case of slavery as outlined by Douglass, there are two simple points that, once admitted, join to condemn clearly the practice of abortion: (1) the embryo is a human being from the moment of conception, and (2) all human beings have a natural right to life.…
The problem is that the younger and less developed the embryo is, the less it excites what some have called our “moral sense,” our sympathy with it as another human being like us. And as Hume correctly notes, human beings tend to be moved more by their passions and feelings, including the so-called “moral sense,” than by their intellectual understanding of the world when determining their actions. Even if our reason and common sense tell us clearly — as they undoubtedly do — that the embryo is a human being with the right to life, our moral sense or sympathy lets us off the hook.
So where does this leave pro-life advocates? How can we bridge the Humean — and human — gap between intellectual understanding and actual practice in our nation? The answer lies in the parallel between the issue of abortion and those of slavery and subsequent civil rights. The pro-life movement needs to model more closely in its organization and practices the antebellum abolition movement and the civil rights movement in order to achieve similar success in ending the evil of abortion.
The entire article, Abortion and Our “Moral Sense,” is available on The Public Discourse website, published by The Witherspoon Intstitute.
Elizabeth Reyes (’03) — that is, Dr. Elizabeth Reyes (’03) — has successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, with honors, at the Braniff Graduate School’s Institute of Philosophic Studies at the University of Dallas. After graduating from the College in 2003, she earned a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Dallas, and now, having defended her dissertation, has earned a doctorate as well.
Dr. Reyes joined the College’s faculty in 2011 after completing her doctoral studies, but not her dissertation. Over the last two years she has spent summers and other free moments working on her thesis, “Ishmael’s Cetological Quest: A Progression of Imagination in Melville’s Moby-Dick.”
Dr. Reyes’ thesis brings together two of her passions: wildlife and literature. A lifelong lover of animals, when she was a student at the College, she was fascinated to explore this interest across the breadth of the College’s curriculum — studying Creation not only through the natural sciences, but also in literature, philosophy, and theology. Her senior thesis examined how animals can help lead man to God, a theme that has endured throughout her academic career, including her doctoral dissertation about Ishmael’s epic journey in pursuit of the great whale.
The College extends Dr. Reyes a hearty congratulations!
An instructor of theology at Wyoming Catholic College, Kyle Washut (’07) recently presented a Lenten lecture titled, “The Importance and Significance of the ‘Great Fast’ for the Eastern Rite, and on Its Relevance to Roman Catholics.” In the talk, Mr. Washut, a Ukrainian Catholic, describes fasting as a preparation for encountering the Risen Lord at Easter. The video above gives a quick preview of the lecture, audio of which is available on the WCC website.
A doctoral student at the Catholic University of America, Kathleen Sullivan (’06) has served as a prefect at the Thomas Aquinas College Great Books High School Summer Program for each of the past eight years. She has recently written a reflection about her experience in the program:
… [I]t took me a couple more classes before I gathered my courage to enter into my class conversation. Once I did, it was the light turning on again. This was how school should be! To be responsible for my learning, to develop my critical thinking skills, to learn how to effectively communicate, to read and discuss these texts without the filter of an editor was all in my grasp. I wanted to skip the rest of high school and enter Thomas Aquinas College right away. Yet I returned to high school with a new perspective on education, and found myself more frequently raising my hand to ask questions or propose comments. An education is not passive; it is active, alive, and all within reach at colleges such at Thomas Aquinas where to be liberally educated is to be truly free.
Be sure to read the whole essay, and please share it with any high school juniors who may be interested in attending the 2013 program!
When he graduated from Thomas Aquinas College, Matthew Kuemmerlein (’07) never anticipated that he would soon spend two years in the jungles of the Far East. Eastern Europe seemed more likely. He had studied in Prague for a year before coming to the College, and for one year after his graduation he taught English there. Upon returning home, he applied to several graduate programs in Eastern European studies.
Around that time, however, another idea captured his imagination — the Peace Corps. A tour of duty, he thought, would broaden his experiences, allow him to learn another foreign language, and satisfy his residual wanderlust. “It seemed like a program where I could use my skills as a teacher in a foreign country, while giving me latitude to work on a variety of other projects as well,” he says. So he deferred entry to graduate school and undertook the Corps’ lengthy application process. One year later, he received his admittance, as well as the assignment that would shift not just the geography, but the very nature, of his long-term plans....
Two alumni of the College — Dr. Thomas Cavanaugh (’85), chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of San Francisco, and Dr. Brian Kelly (’88), dean of Thomas Aquinas College — make an appearance in a lovely story about Dr. Ralph McInerny that appears today in Crisis magazine. The article, by Dr. Christopher Kaczor of Loyola Marymount University, is timed for the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, and fittingly so, given Dr. McInerny’s devotion to the Universal Doctor.
In addition to being a renowned Thomistic philosopher, a bestselling novelist, and a beloved father of seven, Dr. McInerny was the mentor and teacher to scores of accomplished young scholars. Among them were Drs. Cavanaugh, Kelly, and Kaczor, as well as numerous alumni and tutors of the College.
The piece, Remembering Ralph McInerny, is a delightful read, especially on this Feast.
Dr. Sean Kelsey (’92) recently presented a response to a paper by Scottish philosopher Dr. Alasdair MacIntyre titled, “Catholic Instead of What?” Both presentations took place at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics & Culture’s 13th Annual Fall Conference, from which video is available below:
An associate professor in the University of Notre Dame’s philosophy department, Dr. Kelsey also serves as its director of graduate studies.
As the headmaster of Saint Augustine Academy in Ventura, Calif., and president of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, Mr. Van Hecke has made Catholic education his life’s work. But it was not always so. When he entered Thomas Aquinas College as a freshman, he admits, he had littler interest in studying. “I came out here to learn how to surf and then I planned to transfer out,” he says.
Yet his time on campus was transformative. “I found myself in a truly Christian society, concerned about higher things, and concerned about people and imbued with holy charity,” he says. “People were good. They cared about you.”
That experience prompted in him a yearning to share the fruits of his education with others. “I found happiness,” says Mr. Van Hecke. “And I wanted to bring that to people, too. I want to give that joy to kids.” After graduation, he became a teacher, and not long thereafter, a headmaster.
Earlier this year, the Cardinal Newman Society named Saint Augustine Academy to its 2012-13 Catholic High School Honor Roll, which recognizes “excellence in Catholic identity, academics and civic education at Catholic high schools across the United States.” Saint Augustine is one of just 50 schools nationwide — and one of three headed by Thomas Aquinas College alumni — named to the list.
Isabel Cacho (’11) has taken her love of learning and the Western intellectual tradition to Slovakia, where she is teaching at the Collegium of Anton Neuwirth. The Collegium, which organizes various educational activities for university students and young professionals, offers a year-long, residential formation program for undergraduates, focusing on the influence of Christianity on Western civilization. In addition to conducting seminars and teaching English, Miss Cacho is also involved in several facets of the school’s administration and outreach.
In a profile of Miss Cacho in the Collegium’s website, she notes, “It was at Thomas Aquinas College that I learned that education is about freedom. It is about freeing your mind to dwell on the higher things, which is what separates us from other creatures.”
The beneficiary of a liberal education, she now seeks to share that gift, saying, “I hope I will inspire the same love of truth that my professors motivated in me.”
His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, greeting Rev. John Higgins (’90) last year with a popsicle and a soda at the completion of Fr. Higgins’ 50-mile walk to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
One year ago, Rev. John Higgins (’90), pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Peekskill, N.Y., walked 50 miles from his church to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in midtown Manhattan to raise money for his parish elementary school. This weekend, he will undertake that same journey.
Fr. Higgins’ 2011 pilgrimage raised $77,000 for the 225 students of Assumption School, many of whom live under the poverty level. This year he hopes to top that total. “It’s about 110,000 steps to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and we hope to get a dollar for every step that we walk, making our goal $110,000,” he writes. “I think we can do it!”
Help sponsor Fr. Higgins’ walk for Assumption School either online via PayPal, or by sending a check to:
920 First Street
Peekskill, NY 10566
ATTN: Walk 2012
Godspeed, Fr. Higgins!
Numerous Thomas Aquinas College alumni — including several who have are now members of the teaching faculty — led sessions and presented papers at the annual meeting of American Catholic Philosophical Association last weekend. The gathering, held in Los Angeles under the theme “Philosophy in the Abrahamic Traditions,” drew more than 100 scholars from across the United States.
At the ACPA’s request, Thomas Aquinas College hosted two of the Conference’s satellite sessions, both on the subject of Aristotelian Natural Philosophy. The first was chaired by Dean Brian T. Kelly (’88) and the second by Senior Tutor Glen Coughlin (’81). Dr. Coughlin also hosted a third session in his capacity as president of the Society for Aristotelian Studies, a national organization.
Several other alumni also spoke and/or presented papers at the conference:
- Dr. Thomas Cavanaugh (’85)
Professor of Philosophy, University of San Francisco
“Socrates’ Burial? The Question of an Individual’s Immortality”
- Dr. Anthony Andres (’87)
Tutor, Thomas Aquinas College
“Charles De Koninck on Contingency”
- Dr. Anthony Crifasi (’92)
Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Benedictine College
“Aquinas on the Passions’ Contribution to Moral Reasoning” (commentator)
- Dr. David Arias, (’02)
Tutor, Thomas Aquinas College
“Hylomorphism and Organ Transplants”
- Dr. Daniel Shields (’05)
Visiting Professor of Philosophy, Xavier University
“Aquinas on the Moral Life of the Non-Believer”
- Mr. David Grothoff (’07)
Graduate Student, Catholic University of America
“Geometrical Proportion and Continuity in Aristotle's Physics”
- Mr. John Brungardt (’08)
Graduate Student, Catholic University of America
“The Existence of the Primum Mobile in Medieval and Modern Science”
- Mr. Ryan Shea (’08)
Graduate Student, Catholic University of America
“The Figure Analogy in De Anima II.3 and the Methodology of Aristotelian Natural Philosophy”
The late Charles De Koninck, one of the great philosophers of the 20th century, had a profound influence on the establishment of Thomas Aquinas College.
Dr. De Koninck was the teacher of three of the College’s founders, Mr. Mark Berquist, Dr. John W. Neumayr, and Dr. Ronald McArthur. In addition, his most famous student, Dr. Ralph McInerny, educated 11 of the College’s tutors, including late president Thomas E. Dillon, President Michael F. McLean , and Dean Brian Kelly at the University of Notre Dame.
Suffice it to say, the College owes a great debt to Dr. De Koninck’s legacy, a debt that two of its alumni have sought to repay by way of a newly launched website, The Charles De Koninck Project.
“In the 47 years since his death, De Koninck’s writings have unfortunately faded from view even as their relevance to contemporary intellectual life has intensified,” notes the site’s introductory page. The Charles De Koninck Project, it continues, “exists to put the entirety of his writings online and foster discussion about them.”
Under the direction Executive Director David J. Quackenbush (’88) and Managing Director Matthew J. Peterson (’01), The Charles De Koninck Project seeks to “collect, translate and make all of his writings freely available online,” so that they will be widely available and read, and so that others may “take up the letter and spirit of his writings, spurring discussion in pursuit of truth.”
Mr. Quackenbush — who began the project of collecting, transcribing and translating De Koninck’s texts nearly two decades ago when he studied under Dr. McInerny at Notre Dame — is a member of the teaching faculty at Thomas Aquinas College. Mr. Peterson is a doctoral candidate in political philosophy and American government at Claremont Graduate University.
“We expect to have the bulk of De Koninck’s previously published writings available fairly soon, along with a substantial portion of previously unpublished and newly translated texts,” says Mr. Quackenbush. “We hope to press on until all relevant material is available.”
The Charles De Koninck Project invites outside contributions. “We welcome essays, lectures, blogs, and such for posting and linking at the site, and hope to host an active discussion of agreement, disagreement, and development of De Koninck’s thought,” says Mr. Quackenbush. “The project is intended to be a cooperative effort by all those interested.”
Some 18 months after its publication, A Little Way of Homeschooling continues to elicit great interest. The second work of alumna author Suzie (Zeiter ’87) Andres, the book profiles 12 Catholic homeschooling families and their use of the “unschooling” educational method, while drawing upon the works of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. John Bosco, and ancient philosophers.
On Friday morning Mrs. Andres appeared on the Mothers at Home radio program with Judy Dudich on BlogTalkRadio. You can listen to the broadcast in the player below.
Starting tomorrow (Saturday, September 29), EWTN is sponsoring a Novena to the Mother of God for the United States, seeking Our Lady’s intercession and Our Lord’s blessing on the country as we approach the upcoming elections. The novena has the nihil obstat of one of the College's graduates, Rev. Gary Selin (’89), the formation director at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.
The inspiration for the Novena, says Fr. Selin, came from its author, Rev. Frederick L. Miller, S.T.D., of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland, who spent last year in sabbatical at St. John Vianney. During that time, the two priests discussed the state of the Church in America, the elections, and what Catholics could do for their country.
“I was concerned, as the year was going on, that we Catholics in the U.S. — starting with us clergy, but also the lay faithful — were not looking at the election enough from the spiritual perspective,” Fr. Selin recalls. From there, he and Fr. Miller thought of the Novena, which, in keeping with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom this summer, would “continue that spirit of prayer and fasting for our country.”
It was important to both priests, says Fr. Selin, that the Novena call upon the aid of the Blessed Mother. “I know from history and my own personal experience,” he notes, citing events from the Battle of Lepanto to the fall of Communism, “that when we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary in time of great need — when we go to Jesus through Mary — Jesus has come through with very special graces.”
Thus the timing of the Novena to the Mother of God for the United States, which begins on the Feast of the Holy Archangels (September 29), and concludes on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7), just prior to the start of the Year of Faith (October 11). “Coming into an election, where so much is on the line for the Catholic Church and for our country with regards to attacks against religious liberty, the attack against the beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony and even the marital act,” Fr. Selin explains, “we’re callings upon God through the intercession of Mary for very special graces on our country.”
Fr. Selin adds, however, that the act of transforming a nation must begin with our own, interior conversions. “First and foremost in this whole issue of the election, we have to start with ourselves, asking: How have we been faithful to God’s commands? How have we lived a deep prayer life, avoiding sin, growing in holiness and in our dedication to the Holy Eucharist? Then our public acts will be a beautiful overflowing of that commitment of faith.”
Fr. Selin has long had a devotion to the Blessed Mother. His senior thesis at the College was titled, “Mary: Archetype of the Church.” The Mother of God, he says, “has always been close to me in my vocational discernment and leading me here.” Likewise, she must play a role in the future of the nation: “Work has to be done in the public sphere — and that’s the work of the lay faithful to get out there, and we priests have to preach and encourage — but we cannot forget Our Lady.”
The Cardinal Newman Society has issued its 2012-2013 Catholic High School Honor Roll, recognizing “excellence in Catholic identity, academics and civic education at Catholic high schools across the United States.” To make the list, the Society explains, schools must have “an institutional commitment to providing a truly integrated and faithful Catholic education across all disciplines and in all areas of student activities.”
Notably, three of the just 50 schools honored on this year’s list are headed by Thomas Aquinas College alumni:
- Marguerite (Ford ’79) Grimm is the headmaster of Saint Monica Academy in Pasadena, Calif.
- Rev. Mark Moriarty ('95) is the superintendent of St. Agnes School in St. Paul, Minn., and the pastor of the parish.
- Michael Van Hecke (’86) is the headmaster of Saint Augustine Academy in Ventura, Calif.
“The Honor Roll schools are a reminder that Catholic education is getting better every day — not only academically, but in the renewal of Catholic identity,” says Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick J. Reilly. “We are delighted to see the increased level of competition among the schools that participated in the program this year.”
Congratulations to Mrs. Grimm, Fr. Moriarty, and Mr. Van Hecke!
Note: The following is a reflection by Kathleen Sullivan (’06), who is currently pursuing a doctorate in literature and who has helped out with the College’s High School Summer Program for the last eight years. It recounts a story she shared when on campus for this year’s program, describing an instance in which an unlikely student was touched by her faith and the formation she received at the College .
Kathleen Sullivan (’06)A few semesters ago, during my third year in a Ph.D. program for English literature at a leading Catholic university, I was pleased to be assigned a course teaching literature of fantasy. I enjoy fantasy works, so it was a fun winter break — organizing a syllabus, choosing, selecting, discarding, and finally deciding which works to use. I could not wait for the first day of class, eager to share my love of literature with the students.
However, my excitement diminished somewhat after that first class when a student approached me and introduced himself as a senior Politics major who was ready for the semester to be over, even though it had just begun. He proceeded to tell me that he did not want to take this course, but his adviser told him he needed it in order to fulfill a requirement. He did not like to read “unimportant” books; he preferred biographies or historical novels, and he had a problem getting up early in the morning, even though the class began at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Yes, I have to admit, his comments were a bit deflating.
As the semester went on, he would show up late to class. He would indicate that he thought the works were “silly,” and he would often mention that they were all too lengthy. Though blunt, he was not unkind; he was just blatantly uninterested. Since he knew the class requirements and expectations, as well as the attendance policy, I did not feel the need to admonish him for the lackluster attitude. So, he came when he felt the need, and sat there, and seemed to listen.
He did actually participate every once in a while. For example, during the class we had on C.S Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I brought attention to the moment when Eustace Scrubb, having been transformed into a dragon, is told by Aslan to bathe in the waters. We discussed that scene in light of baptism, and he seemed intrigued by the deeper layers of the text.
In any case, after finishing the course (he did mange to pass), he graduated from the university a few weeks later. The next school year, we were given back the course evaluations of the previous semester that the students had written. I recognized his handwriting right away, and thought, “Oh no, he is going to say how much he hated this course.” This is what he wrote:
I think she was the first truly Catholic teacher that I’ve had.
Way too much reading.”
I laughed at the last line (“way too much reading” … good one, for a literature course), then paused and thought more about the other two sentences. A great teacher? The first truly Catholic one in all at this Catholic university?
Though I remembered seeing him at some Masses, I realized he did not write that comment merely because he saw me at Mass. He must have recognized something more internal. Maybe he realized that my love of teaching, and even my love of “silly” literature, stems from the greater love of Christ. Maybe he appreciated my willingness to discuss these “unimportant” texts in the light of Catholic beliefs. Maybe he was grateful to look for the deeper layers in a story or in a character, to notice what is beyond the surface level, to recognize universal truths in everyday matters. Maybe?
Despite not knowing the exact reasons why he wrote what he did, I felt gratitude, first to my family for raising me to love and live the Catholic faith, and then to Thomas Aquinas College, for helping to form my character in a way almost unnoticed by me. Spending four years immersing myself in both the great books and the constant reception of the Sacraments, deepening my faith and strengthening my intellect, has allowed me, in a paraphrase of St. Francis, to “preach constantly, and if necessary, use words.” Thomas Aquinas College has also given me examples to emulate as I try to be a “great teacher.” To them, I am grateful. And to my Politics major, I am glad he found some unexpected value in my class … even if there was way too much reading.
The picture to the right comes from the College’s Facebook page. It depicts three of the College’s newest alumni — Nathan Dunlap (’12), Kellie Schramm (’12), and Noel Bulger (’12) — beside a stack of (almost all of) the great books they read while students in the College’s integrated academic program.
Although they have all completed the same curriculum, these three graduates plan to serve the Church and society in three distinct ways: Mr. Dunlap will be working as an animator, with hopes of one day making films. Miss Schramm will become a teacher for Mother of Divine Grace School, a distance-learning program. And on Commencement Day, Mr. Bulger accepted a commission as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.
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, www.langleyart.com.
A professor of philosophy at St. Michael’s Abbey Seminary in Orange County, Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), recently appeared on Catholic Answers Live, where he discussed The Power and Purpose of Celibacy. As a regular guest on the nation’s top-rated Catholic radio program, Fr. Sebastian has covered a wide range of topics, both philosophical and theological. Past episodes are available for streaming/download via the Catholic Answers website:
- Open Forum for Non-Catholics (December 12, 2011)
- How Biblical Inspiration Works (October 21, 2011)
- The Role of Logic in Apologetics (May 7, 2011)
- Are You Predestined? (February 10, 2011)
- The Nature of Prophecy (December 6, 2010)
- Can Doctrine Develop? (April 26, 210)
It was a reunion of two Thomas Aquinas College classmates when Dr. Jonathan Doylend (’96), a postdoctoral researcher with the Optoelectronics Research Group at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recently spoke before the Catholic Business and Professional Group in Reno, Nevada. The group’s president, attorney Jeremy McNeil (’96), had invited his onetime roommate to address members about the alleged contradiction between faith and modern science. Among Dr. Doylend’s remarks was the following observation about why the Christian is especially suited for the natural sciences:
“Rather than being unmotivated to uncover explanations of what he sees in nature, a scientist who is also a Christian has two motivations that a non-Christian might not have. Firstly: He is confident that sense can be made of the universe, since he attributes its design to an intelligent being. His inquiry, in other words, is inherently optimistic.
“Secondly: He knows that by uncovering the secrets of the universe, he is not discovering a world which is chaotic and inelegant, and thus lesser than himself. Rather he is delving into the designs of the ultimate intelligence, and thus learning indirectly about God Himself.”
Mr. Doylend is, notably, one of several Thomas Aquinas College alumni to speak before the Catholic Business and Professional Group, including Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94).
On the morning of Tuesday, April 4, friends, family, and many members of the Thomas Aquinas College community gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles for the funeral Mass of longtime tutor and alumnus Michael J. Paietta (’83).
Mr. Paietta died late in the evening of March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, 16 days after entering the hospital with symptoms suggestive of a heart attack. Just prior to his passing, he received the last rites, including absolution and an apostolic blessing, from College chaplain Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem (’78).
Fr. Garceau also served as one of the concelebrants at Mr. Paietta’s funeral Mass, joined at the altar by fellow chaplain, Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P, and a former head chaplain, Rev. Michael Perea, O.Praem. The principal celebrant was Monsignor Kevin Kostelnik, pastor of Our Lady of the Angels, where Mr. Paietta’s mother, Kay, is a parishioner. Following the Mass, Mr. Paietta's remains were interred in the Cathedral's crypt mausoleum, alongside his late father and brother.
Delivering the first eulogy was Daniel Paietta, who recalled his oldest brother’s great love of literature and encyclopedic memory. “Michael was the first Thomas Aquinas College graduate to get a perfect score on the GRE — in English, of course,” he remarked. “When one of the tutors asked him if he really knew all of the vocabulary words, he said, ‘Well, no, I did have to guess on one of them.”
Mr. Paietta’s former Thomas Aquinas College roommate and colleague on the faculty, Dr. Glen Coughlin, offered a second eulogy. “Michael was no scholar interested merely in the opinions and actions of men for their own sakes. His life was a pursuit of truth itself. His soul turned naturally to the nature of things, to the consideration of how we should live, to the highest and the best things, to the infinite good that Dante speaks of,” said Dr. Coughlin. “He was not content to know that someone else knew something or thought something. He wanted to know for himself.”
A Lifelong Scholar
From even his earliest days, Michael Paietta had a zeal for obtaining knowledge and a passion for sharing it with those around him. After serving a number of years in the U.S. Navy and briefly attending the University of California, Los Angeles, he enrolled at Thomas Aquinas College as a 25-year-old freshman in 1979. He graduated from the College in 1983 and went on to the University of Notre Dame, where he did his graduate and doctoral work.
In 1989 Mr. Paietta returned Thomas Aquinas College as a member of the teaching faculty. “Mike was noteworthy for his love of literature, music, and baseball,” observed his colleague of many years, President Michael McLean. “Not only did he love these things, he sought to understand everything about them. Above all, though, he was devoted to understanding the thought of our patron, St. Thomas, and was particularly sure that discussions with our founders, Ron McArthur, Jack Neumayr, and Mark Berquist, would help him in that pursuit.”
Dr. Paul O’Reilly, a longtime fellow tutor and the College’s vice president for development, offered a personal reflection saying, “Mike had a tremendous wit and a remarkable memory. We all wanted him on our trivial pursuit team. And those who had him on their team were on the winning side.” Reflecting on Mr. Paietta’s life, Dean Brian T. Kelly added, “Mike cared deeply about his students and mingled with them frequently in the dining hall. His deep-rooted sense of loyalty was manifest in his abiding love for the Catholic Church, Thomas Aquinas College, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He will be sorely missed.”
This sense of loss, however, was perhaps most poignantly expressed by an anonymous student who shares his late tutor’s love of poetry:
If only Life might slow its hurried pace,
That all the grief might pour like winter rain
From out the soul that weeps with hidden face
And feels the greatest depths of human pain.
I ask not end, but merely wish for pause,
As babes at nighttime cry out for the sun,
To have an end to sorrows without cause,
To weep when death begins and life is done.
I should have known him better than I do,
Though humor, knowledge, wisdom did I see,
And this enlightened, now I see the true,
I know he’s gone and feel but misery.
We’ll miss you, less as tutor than as friend,
We’ll love you, Mike Paietta, to the end.
A memorial Mass for Mr. Paietta will be offered at a later date in the College’s chapel of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Details will be provided on the Thomas Aquinas College website when they are available. Please keep Mr. Paietta and his family in your prayers.
May his soul and those of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
The funeral Mass for longtime tutor and alumnus Michael J. Paietta (’83) will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 3, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. Mr. Paietta’s mother is a parishioner there, and he will be interred in the mausoleum underneath the Cathedral alongside his father and brother.
Directions and Parking: See the Cathedral’s website for directions. There are garage entrances on both Temple or Hill streets. Although the posted parking fee is $16 per hour, funeral attendees will receive validation for a flat rate of $5 (the rate the Cathedral has contracted with the owners of the garage). A brunch/reception will immediately follow the funeral in one of the Cathedral’s function rooms.
Information about the College’s memorial Mass for Mr. Paietta in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel will be posted when it is available. Please continue to keep Mr. Paietta and his family in your prayers.
Thomas Aquinas College tutor and alumnus Michael J. Paietta (’83) died late in the evening of March 25, 16 days after entering the hospital with symptoms suggestive of a heart attack. Just prior to his passing, he received the last rites, including absolution and an apostolic blessing from College chaplain Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem (’78).
Mr. Paietta served for a number of years in the U.S. Navy and attended the University of California, Los Angeles, for a short time before enrolling at Thomas Aquinas College as a 25-year-old freshman in 1979. He graduated from the college in 1983 and went on to the University of Notre Dame, where he did his graduate and doctoral work. In 1989 Mr. Paietta returned to the College as a member of the teaching faculty.
Mourning the loss of his one-time student and colleague of many years, President Michael McLean said, “Mike was noteworthy for his love of literature, music, and baseball. Not only did he love these things, he sought to understand everything about them. Above all, though, he was devoted to understanding the thought of our patron, St. Thomas, and was particularly sure that discussions with our founders, Ron McArthur, Jack Neumayr, and Mark Berquist, would help him in that pursuit.”
Reflecting on Mr. Paietta’s life, Dean Brian T. Kelly noted, “Mike was a unique and beloved member of the Thomas Aquinas College community. He cared deeply about his students and mingled with them frequently in the dining hall. In class and at meals, he displayed charity, good cheer, and an extremely dry wit. Mike taught a range of courses in philosophy, theology, science, and mathematics. But he especially loved the arts; I trusted implicitly his views on literature and music, and happily followed many of his movie recommendations. His deep-rooted sense of loyalty was manifest in his abiding love for the Catholic Church, Thomas Aquinas College, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He will be sorely missed.”
Dr. Paul O’Reilly, a longtime fellow tutor and the College’s Vice President for Development, added a personal reflection saying, “Mike had a tremendous wit and a remarkable memory. We all wanted him on our trivial pursuit team. And those who had him on their team were on the winning side.”
Funeral arrangements for Mr. Paietta are pending. A memorial Mass will be offered at a later date in the college’s chapel of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Details will be provided on the College’s website when they are available.
Please keep Mr. Paietta and his family in your prayers.
May his soul and those of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
News from Director of Alumni Relations Mark Kretschmer:
Mike’s doctors are optimistic that his aorta will heal itself over time, but they have found that his kidneys are not functioning properly and that he also has pneumonia. Mike has been sedated this past week and is receiving dialysis daily, but the doctors hope to diminish the sedative and have him sit up so as to improve his breathing. The doctors are not being very forthcoming at this point, though they do say that Mike is not getting worse. Please keep him and his family in your prayers. Thank you!
- Related: Prayers for Michael J. Paietta (’83)
Please pray for an alumnus and member of the College’s teaching faculty, Michael J. Paietta (’83). Michael was admitted to the hospital Friday, March 9, with symptoms suggestive of heart attack. He was admitted to the ICU, and he took a turn for the worse the next night. His current condition is listed as “guarded.” Please keep him in your prayers.
“I am responsible for all the souls within the boundaries of my parish,” says Rev. John Higgins (’90), pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Peekskill, N.Y. “That is an honor, but it is also humbling and challenging, to be responsible for their salvation before God.” It is a responsibility Fr. Higgins takes seriously. He has the blisters to prove it.
At 5:30 on the morning of November 10, 2011, Fr. Higgins offered the early Mass at Assumption, then put on a pair of sneakers and began walking. At the end of the day, he reached the Archdiocese of New York’s St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, where he spent the night, and then resumed his pilgrimage the next morning. Late that afternoon, he finally arrived at his destination — St. Patrick’s Cathedral in midtown Manhattan.
Read the full story.
Having recently made his first appearance on Catholic Answers Live, Dr. Nathan Schmiedicke (’00) has joined the ranks Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) and Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), both regular guests on the nationally broadcast radio program. An instructor at the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, Dr. Schmiedicke spoke on the subject of “Renewing Catholic Bible Study” and answered questions from callers on a wide range of subjects. The show is available both in streaming audio and as a downloadable podcast via the Catholic Answers website.
Please pray for Rosie Grimm (’10), daughter of Rose and Dan (both ‘76), who has been diagnosed with cancer. We recently received the following update from her sister:
Dear friends and family,
Rosie met with an oncologist in Ventura [Friday], and learned that the cancer has spread … she has three nodules in one lung and one in the other. She will probably start immunotherapy next week. Please pray for all aspects of her treatment to go well. She (impressing me greatly) continues in pretty good spirits ... I’m sure supported by your prayers. Thanks yet again for them, and for continuing them ... as you can imagine, this is a pretty hard time! But it is greatly helped by the aid God has given through your prayers. May He reward you as He knows how.
Love in Christ,
Wendy-Irene (Grimm ’99) Zepeda
Please take a moment to say the following prayer through the intercession of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman:
God our Father, you granted to your servant Blessed John Henry Newman wonderful gifts of nature and of grace, that he should be a spiritual light in the darkness of this world, an eloquent herald of the Gospel, and a devoted servant of the one Church of Christ. With confidence in his heavenly intercession, we make the following petition:
For a successful treatment for Rosie and for her speedy and complete healing.
For his insight into the mysteries of the kingdom, his zealous defense of the teachings of the Church, and his priestly love for each of your children, we pray that he may soon be numbered among the saints. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Following up on nationally syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt’s recent broadcast from Thomas Aquinas College, two of the College’s alumni will appear on the show’s “Entrepreneur Hour” this afternoon at 5:00 p.m. PST.
Michael Van Hecke (’86) and Christopher Zehnder (’87), publisher and general editor, respectively, of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, will discuss their series of textbooks that accurately depict the role of the Church in the history of Western civilization.
“Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show is a great opportunity to get the word out about these wonderful new textbooks,” says Glen Mueller, Chairman of the Catholic Textbooks Project. “There is such a need to inform students about the significant role of the Catholic Church in the development of Western civilization. Bishops and Catholic educators are pointing to the need to promote Catholic identity and to incorporate Catholic principles in all facets of the educational process. Without knowledge of the past, what will be the foundation for the future? A historical understanding of the past activities of the Catholic Church is essential in order for the laity of the Church to carry out its responsibility to share the Faith.”
The broadcast is available live online, as well as on numerous radio stations throughout the United States. (Check local times and listings for broadcast times.) To learn more about the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, see this story from the Official Catholic Directory for the United States.
Today’s edition of the Ventura County Star includes a story about why, exactly, Catholics make sacrifices or “give something up” for Lent. Featured in the article is a graduate of the College, Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87), who is now a member of the teaching faculty. Portions of the story are excerpted below:
“For some Catholics, Lent is an opportunity to lose weight, but what motivates them is, ‘I want to lose weight and look good, and this is the time to do it,’ ” said Andrew Seeley, a tutor at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula. “That is a superficial approach to Lent.” …
Seeley said he plans to give up listening to sports talk radio. There’s nothing wrong with it, but in a world cluttered with distractions, he believes it’s important to humble yourself into silence now and then.
“The constant distraction says, ‘I don’t want to think of anything. I don’t want to be aware of myself,’ ” Seeley said.
Seeley, whose teaching specialty is medieval theology, said it’s a sign of our times that many have lost the true link between self-denial and deeper spirituality.
“In every other culture and era, it is understood that we must deny ourselves,” Seeley said.
Self-denial is just [one] component of Lent, Seeley said. The faithful are also asked to pray more and be more merciful to others, or the “giving of alms.”
Seeley believes it’s not a good idea to skip the self-denial aspect of Lent, because it is a humbling experience that will connect us with those who are less fortunate. …
The importance of self-denial can be likened to an athlete in training, Seeley said.
“Pain gets our attention. When we choose to suffer pain, we’re either insane or up to something really important,” Seeley said. “Athletes really pound their bodies because they want to make themselves stronger. Not only do we admire their success, but their strength of will.”
Three alumni of the College who are currently pursuing graduate studies in Rome gathered in the Eternal City last week to celebrate Thanksgiving with some 30 other expats. Pictured above are Frater Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02), Marie Nuar (’02), and Frater Nathaniel Drogin, O. Praem. (’01). Frater Maximilian studies at the Angelicum; Miss Nuar and Frater Nathaniel are students at the Gregorian.
The friends have extra reason to be grateful this year. On June 23, 2012, Frater Maximilian is scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood as a member of the Norbertine Order at the Mission San Juan Capistrano Basilica in Orange County, Calif. His confrere, Frater Nathaniel, will be ordained to the diaconate at the same Mass.
Two classmates from the Thomas Aquinas College Class of 2003 have happily returned to campus this fall as the newest members of the teaching faculty.
“There were a lot of places I was interested in teaching at, but I always had it in the back of my mind that it would be sad if I could never do Euclid again,” says Jared Kuebler (’03). “It was always my dream to come back, particularly for the community of tutors here and the opportunity to teach across the curriculum.”
“It is special to be amongst a faculty that loves what they do," says Elizabeth Reyes (’03). “It is such an honor to be here.”
Welcome home, Mr. Kuebler and Miss Reyes!
Two alumni who have returned to the College as members of the teaching faculty, Dr. Christopher Decaen (’93) and Dr. Paul O’Reilly (’84), have recently given talks on campus. You can access their remarks at following links:
- Dr. Decaen: “‘I have set before Joshua a single stone with seven facets bearing his inscription…’ (Zech. 3:9): The ‘Jesus(s)’ of the Old Testament” (audio)
- Dr. O’Reilly: Flannery O’Connor and “The Enduring Chill” (text)
A great success among recent Catholic educational titles is A Little Way of Homeschooling, the second work by author and alumna Suzie (Zeiter ’87) Andres. The book has generated a favorable review from the Catholic News agency as well as this laudatory post on the Catholic Media Review blog. Mrs. Andres also discussed the book on a recent episode of the “Catholics Next Door” radio program.
Read on for our own review of A Little Way of Homeschooling by alumna Becky (Loop’96) Mohun.Read more
At Thomas Aquinas College’s recent 40th Anniversary Gala, two alumni were honored to address the guests. Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), professor of philosophy at St. Michael’s Abbey Seminary in Orange, Calif., and Brenna Scanlon (’06), Principal of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish School in Oxnard, Calif., offered testimonials about their time at the College and how it prepared them for their service to the Church. Below is audio of their remarks:
Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94)
Brenna Scanlon (’06)
The Ventura County Star has published a profile of Brenna Scanlon (’06), the 27-year-old Thomas Aquinas College alumna who is the principal of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish School in Oxnard, Calif. The story describes Miss Scanlon’s love of lifelong learning, her desire to put Christ at the heart of her school’s curriculum, and her decision to start studying Spanish so that she can better communicate with her students’ families. It also includes this account of her college experience:
Scanlon graduated from La Reina High School in 2002. She was looking for a traditional Catholic university when her mother suggested she consider Thomas Aquinas College near Santa Paula, where students follow the Great Books program.
“We used the Socratic method, where knowledge is not professed by a teacher,” Scanlon said. “It kind of awakened in me that I love learning to please myself not for straight A’s or SAT scores or status among my peers.”
For more about Miss Scanlon, her background, and the good work she does as an elementary-school principal, see this alumni profile, which originally appeared in the Spring 2011 edition of the College Newsletter.
On Friday night, Thomas Aquinas College hosted its first lecture of the academic year, part of the the St. Vincent de Paul Lecture and Concert Series, endowed by Barbara and Paul Henkels. The speaker was Dr. Paul O’Reilly (’84) — a graduate of the College, a member of the teaching faculty, and the College’s vice president for development. Dr. O’Reilly spoke on the subject of Catholic Liberal Education. Text and audio from the lecture can be found here.
Emily (Barry ’11) Sullivan has joined the faculty of the Montfort Academy in Katonah, N.Y., where she will be teaching philosophy and theology to members of the senior class. There is a lengthy interview with Mrs. Sullivan on the school’s blog, where she has the following kind words to offer for her alma mater:
I went to an amazing school in California, called Thomas Aquinas College. The College, like Montfort, is faithful to the Magisterium and dedicated to the authentic pursuit of a Catholic liberal mrts education through a “Great Books” curriculum and the Socratic Method. At the College, there are no textbooks, so you’re always encountering the greatest minds of Western civilization first hand. Everyone studies theology, philosophy, literature, history, math, and science for all four years, in addition to Latin, music and getting to write and defend a senior thesis. It is a vibrant community which pursues truth, beauty, and goodness with both faith and reason. It is also a wonderful place to cultivate great friendships which strive for holiness and wisdom, and I was blessed to meet my husband there.…
A first-time teacher, Mrs. Sullivan credits her tutors at the College for her chosen profession: “Their love for all that is marvelous and fine about Catholic culture and the Catholic intellectual tradition really inspired me to want to teach.”
The Meet Our Alumni section of this website features a new profile of Brenna Scanlon (’06), who puts the Faith into action every day as the principal of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish School in Oxnard, Calif. “There has been a real need to make sure that our schools are Catholic, first and foremost, and working on moving these children and their families toward holiness,” she says. A short video about Miss Scanlon and her school is posted below, and you can read the whole profile here.
To be sure, reading the sermons of Bl. John Henry Newman is inspiring, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear them? Now you can, thanks to the voice of Michael Six (’79) who plays the part of the blessed cardinal in a new audiobook of His Eminence’s homilies produced by Catholic Audio Publishing. (A sample of the recordings, featuring the sermons Bl. John Henry gave after his entrance into the Church, is available here.)
Meanwhile, Mr. Six’s wife, Julia (Schmitt ’81), recently graduated with a master’s degree in theology from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary (religious studies division) in Philadelphia. She is currently teaching theology at DeSales University in Center Valley, Penn.
Dr. Nathan Schmiedicke (’00) appeared on the July 3 episode of EWTN’s “Sunday Night Prime” with host Fr. Benedict Groeschel, discussing the subject, “Studying the Bible at Home.” Dr. Schmiedicke is a Scripture scholar at the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, where he is the director theology and biblical studies. Watch the video from his appearance here: