Faith in Action Blog
His Holiness Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families Mass in Philadelphia, as photographed by Emily (Barry ’11) Sullivan
The College has received reports — and photos — from a number of alumni who were present for parts of His Holiness Pope Francis’s visit to the United States. Among them are Emily (Barry ’11) and Joe Sullivan (’09), who serves on the parish council for the Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Below, the Sullivans are pictured with their two daughters before the World Meeting of Families Mass:
The Sullivan family before the World Meeting of Families Mass
Mrs. Sullivan, who works for Endow, a nonprofit organization that writes study guides for magisterial documents to be used in women’s study groups, participated in a World Meeting of Families panel, “Woman: God’s Gift to the Human Family,” about the feminine genius and St. Edith Stein. A last-minute substitute for another speaker, she “literally had 10 minutes’ notice” that she would be presenting, she reports. “Thank God for four years of learning how to articulate theological ideas well!”
Rev. Ramon Decaen (’96) waits for the Popemobile to pass by in PhiladelphiaAmong the other alumni in Philadelphia were Rev. Ramon Decaen (’96), the pastor of the Parish of Cristo Rey and diocesan director of Hispanic Ministry in Lincoln. Fr. Decaen traveled with a group of some 100 fellow Nebraskans to the City of Brotherly Love, where he had the honor of concelebrating at one of the Holy Father’s Masses. … Sr. Teresa Benedicta Block, O.P. (’02), joined by three of her fellow Ann Arbor Dominicans, led a pilgrimage of 12 high school students from San Francisco to the city. … Jacob Mason (’10) a seminarian for the Diocese of Arlington, attended a brief talk from the Holy Father at Charles Borromeo Seminary, where Mr. Mason is a student and Pope Francis stayed during his visit. … Other alumni on hand for the Holy Father’s trip to Philadelphia include Sarah Jimenez (’10), who works in the chancery for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and Becky (Daly) and Greg Pfundstein (both ’05), executive director of the Chiaroscuro Foundation in New York City.
Rev. Isaiah Teichert, O.S.B.Cam., before the canonization Mass for St. Junipero Serra
Meanwhile, several alumni were able to attend the Holy Father’s canonization Mass for St. Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Rev. Isaiah Teichert, O.S.B.Cam. (’78), pictured above, served as a concelebrant. Among others in attendance were Aaron Dunkel (’06) and four alumni who are graduate students at the Catholic University of America: John Brungardt (’08), Joshua Gonnerman (’09), Emily McBryan (’11), and Kathleen Sullivan (’06),who provided the photo below:
Kathleen Sullivan (’06) at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Grace Kelly (’12)
Photo: Santa Paula TimesJust three years after her graduation from Thomas Aquinas College, Grace Kelly (’12) has been named a parochial-school principal in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
A story in the Santa Paula Times reports on Miss Kelly’s new career, which began as a first-grade teacher at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Oxnard. While teaching, she earned a master’s degree in education at Grand Canyon University and underwent training in the Archdiocese’ Catholic Aspiring Principals Program. “I loved my days of teaching,” she tells the Times, “but all that time I felt a pull that there was something more to do.” Encouraged by her own principal and mentor — fellow alumna Brenna (Scanlon ’06) Chapin — she applied for, and received, the position at St. Sebastian School in Santa Paula.
Miss Kelly is now responsible for some 150 students and nine teachers at the K-8 school just blocks from her childhood home. Please pray for her as the school begins its new year!
Following up on coverage in CatholicCulture.org and the Catholic Answers Live radio program, Who Designed the Designer? — the new book by tutor and alumnus Dr. Michael A. Augros (’92) — is now the subject of a lengthy article in The Tidings. “The battle to prove or refute the existence of God by the New Atheists and the proponents of intelligent design is mostly waged in attack and defense of evidence,” writes Kevin Theriault in the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. By contrast, Mr. Theriault observes, Dr. Augros “takes a non-polemic approach, drawing readers along a reasoned pathway of general principles in order to see God’s handiwork for themselves.”
Mr. Theriault commends Who Designed the Designer? for, beyond demonstrating the existence of a creator, also probing such questions as, “What is this being that exists all by itself? What is the divine mind and how is it different than ours?” As such, the book does much more than offer another salvo in the ongoing battle between atheists and believers. “Most people, it seems to me, don’t have a clear notion of what God is,” the article quotes Dr. Augros as saying. “If you are supposed to love God with your whole heart, soul, and mind, one should be interested in knowing what God is.”
The full story is available via The Tidings’ online publication, Angelus.
“The return of summertime every year often recalls the years that will never return: the golden days of youth,” writes Sean Fitzpatrick (’02). The headmaster of Gregory the Great Academy in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and a regular contributor to Crisis magazine, Mr. Fitzpatrick has opened an online conversation about summertime-reading books that arouse seasonal memories of childhood. “What books,” he asks, “should be brought to lakesides, porches, and hammocks? Which stories provide that return to the perennial glories of summer and the passing glories of childhood?”
His initial suggestions are available in his article, What Are You Reading This Summer?
An education success story comes out of Montrose, California, where St. Monica Academy is relocating — because it has outgrown its original campus in Pasadena.
The K-12 school, founded in 2001 with 44 students, has seen its enrollment swell to 240. As a result, it is moving this summer to the campus of a shuttered parochial school at Holy Redeemer Church, where it will open its doors at the start of the academic year.
There are many ties between St. Monica’s and Thomas Aquinas College, beginning with its headmaster, Marguerite (Ford ’79) Grimm. There are also 10 other alumni on the school’s faculty: Mary Kate Zepeda (’89), Darren Bradley (’98), Alexandra Currie (’05), Paula Grimm (’08), Daniel Selmeczy (’08), Marisela Miranda (’09), Jane Forsyth (’11), Colleen Smith (’11), Thomas Quackenbush (’14), and Thomas Trull (’15). Like the College, St. Monica’s employs a classical curriculum and stresses fidelity to the teaching Church.
“The classical model emphasizes the good, the true and the beautiful,” Mrs. Grimm recently told the Glendale News-Press. “Our curriculum overflows with heroes, beautiful illustrations, moral literature, music, poetry, scripture, math and science.” St. Monica’s is a mainstay on the Cardinal Newman Society’s list of “Schools of Excellence,” a ranking of the top Catholic schools across the United States, which also includes several others that are headed by Thomas Aquinas College alumni.
Notably, St. Monica’s has developed a reputation for athletic excellence, too. The Glendale News Press notes that the school’s sports teams have racked up 22 CIF playoff appearances and 13 league titles. This past year, the women’s basketball squad, coached by Colleen Smith (’11) “won 18 consecutive games, while achieving the fourth-highest team grade-point average out of the 576 schools that are in the CIF Southern Section.”
Having recently been a guest on the Catholic Answers Live radio program, alumnus and tutor Dr. Michael A. Augros (’92) now finds his new book the subject of a review in CatholicCulture.org.
In God the Designer: Yes or No?, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus, president and founder of Trinity Communications, calls Dr. Augros’ Who Designed the Designer? A Rediscovered Path to God’s Existence, “a resounding success” in its effort “to refute the many atheists who, especially in modern times, think they have successfully demolished the traditional arguments for the existence of God based on the necessity of a first cause or a prime mover.” Dr. Mirus adds that Dr. Augros “writes well and uses many entertaining examples, making a potentially dry topic extraordinarily readable.”
The full review is available via CatholicCulture.org.
- Dr. Augros on Catholic Answers Live
- An excerpt from Who Designed the Designer?
- An interview with Dr. Augros
- Dr. Augros’ appearance on Salt & Light Radio
Taking a break from his work as the director of the College’s 2015 High School Summer Program, alumnus and tutor Dr. Michael A. Augros (’92) recently appeared as a guest on the Catholic Answers Live radio program. There he discussed his new book, which makes a philosophical case for the existence of God, Who Designed the Designer? A Rediscovered Path to God’s Existence. Host Patrick Coffin called the book “a wonder-filled romp through the ‘first cause’ approach of Plato and Aristotle and the great Thomas Aquinas.”
The full program is available, both in streaming and downloadable form, via the Catholic Answers Live website.
- An excerpt from Who Designed the Designer?
- An interview with Dr. Augros
- Dr. Augros’ appearance on Salt & Light Radio
Like his fellow graduate John Finley (’99), Christopher Zehnder (’87) sees a connection between Pope Francis’s warnings in Laudato Si’ and the Supreme Court’s recent attempt to redefine marriage. Writing in his personal blog, Notes from the Wasteland, Mr. Zehnder observes:
“It is fitting, in a way, that the Supreme Court’s decision should so closely follow the pope’s encyclical, for the former brings into focus the major theme of the latter. That theme is not the threat of climate change, whatever those who want either to dismiss the encyclical or coöpt it say. A major — if not the major — theme of Laudato Si’ is that, both in the moral order and the natural order, everything is connected. How we treat the ‘environment’ is how we will treat ourselves, and how we treat ourselves is how we will treat the natural world outside ourselves. …
“Those, therefore, who insist on the integrity of the natural world but rejoice at Friday’s Supreme Court decision are self-confused. Those who deplore the decision, call for respect for the nature of marriage and the basic meaning of sexual acts but ignore the integrity of the natural world, are self-confused. Those who think you must respect unborn human life but can subject human labor to irrational market forces are as confused as those who think you may kill unborn children but not oppress the worker. Sooner or later, these groups will need to decide on their core principle — relativism or respect for nature — for mankind will not remain in a state of interior division forever.”
Mr. Zehnder is the general editor of the Catholic Textbook Project, which aims to create a new generation of textbooks for parochial schools that accurately, beautifully, and engagingly reflect the Church’s contribution to human history. A high school teacher and former headmaster, he is the author of three of the project’s books: From Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of America; Light to the Nations II: the Making of the Modern World; and Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and Pope Francis’s second encyclical, Laudato Si’, some Catholics have complained that the Holy Father has spent too much time talking about the environment, and not enough about the sanctity of marriage. Dr. John Finley (’99), however, suggests another perspective. In Catholic World Report, the alumnus and former tutor offers “three reasons why Catholics should take seriously the encyclical’s subject matter, precisely in view of the Supreme Court’s decision.”
“The concerns of Laudato Si' are not foreign — indeed, they are closely akin — to the age-old concerns hubristically dismissed by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges,” writes Dr. Finley. “In a pre-Christian world, the normative goodness of the natural world and of human sexuality could be recognized.… In a post-Christian world dominated by the will to power, the love of money, and an increasing enslavement to technology, rejection of Christ includes rejection of that greater whole, with all its parts, down to things as fundamental as nature and nature’s stewards: man and woman.”
A professor of philosophy at the Archdiocese of St. Louis’s Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, as well as a husband and the father of two young sons, Dr. Finley contends that modern attempts to redefine marriage are part of a larger tendency to view nature as the plaything of human desires. Thus “any work of evangelization today has a greater job than it did in the days of the early martyrs,” he continues, “for it has to be as much concerned with the natural as with the supernatural.”
The full article is available via Catholic World Report.
“I was in my dress and getting ready to leave,” recalls Lane (Smith ’04) Scott, describing that woeful day in 2011 when she almost got her Ph.D.
After spending three years completing her coursework and another four writing a dissertation, she had made the six-hour, 400-mile drive from her home in Angels Camp, California, to Los Angeles to defend her dissertation at Claremont Graduate University. Then the phone rang.
It was her adviser. “He said that the department chair had not actually bothered to read my dissertation until the night before, and then determined that I had an incomplete understanding of the subject,” she sighs. The defense was canceled. “Dissertation defenses never get canceled. Everyone knows that once the defense is scheduled, you’re golden. It was mortifying — unprecedented. I was in my dress and on my way to the campus, and instead of being done I had to write an entirely new dissertation.”Read more