Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Dr. Elizabeth Reyes ('03)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.


Kathleen Sullivan ('06)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!


Matthew Kuemmerlein (’07)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....

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Dr. Ralph McInernyTwo 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.


Michael Van Hecke ('86)Campus Notes, the blog of the Cardinal Newman Society, features an amusing and inspiring profile of Michael Van Hecke (’86). The title of the post: He Fell Off the Surfboard and Into Catholicism.

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)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.”

 


November
09, 2012

Fr. Higgins with Cardinal Dolan

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:

Assumption School
920 First Street
Peekskill, NY 10566
ATTN: Walk 2012

Godspeed, Fr. Higgins!

 


Plato and AristotleNumerous 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”