Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Jack Grimm ('15) in Kolkata, India

California Catholic Daily has recently published a series of letters that Jack Grimm (’15) wrote to his family during a six-week pilgrimage to the motherhouse of Bl. Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata (Calcutta), India. During his time, in which he wanted to experience the Missionaries’ life firsthand and participate in their works of mercy, he cared for the sick and hungry, served Mass, and prayed for the dead and dying. He also speaks frankly about the difficulties of such service — the constant noise, the exhaustion, the temptation to pride. Yet he concludes by describing his time in India, which culminated in Holy Week and the Easter Vigil at the motherhouse as “the most rewarding Lent of my life so far. Blessed be God.”

The full collection of letters is available via the California Catholic website:

  • Letter 1: “Today I went to Kalighat, which is the house of the dying and destitute people. It’s an amazing place, but very draining and sad at the same time.”
  • Letter 2: “Today I served Mass at Mother house. I was feeling sick so I didn’t want to go, but Mass was beautiful and of course miraculous.”
  • Letter 3: “This last week has been very good, although exhausting at times. I’ve been caring especially for the patients who can’t get out of bed, giving them bed baths and ointment, etc.”
  • Letter 4: “Kolkata is an amazing place, but the constant noise and smell, not to mention all the people, can be a little exhausting.”
  • Letter 5: “In general, life here has been very prayerful and beautiful. I still love doing the work with the patients. A number of them have died in the last couple weeks, so that has been more emotionally challenging.”
  • Letter 6: “Well, wonderful as Kolkata is, I still seem to be dreaming about home every night. Last night I dreamed we were all at Thomas Aquinas College for Mass.”
  • Letter 7: “Well, the last week has been a good one, but I was definitely beginning to feel a sort of spiritual dryness.”
  • Letter 8: “ I’ve realized that one of my goals this year, and for life in general, is to learn to love the silence.”
  • Letter 9: “Some people belong in books, they are just that good. R is one of those people.”
  • Letter 10: “A very happy Easter to all of you! Christ the Lord is risen indeed!

Dr. Adam Seagrave ('05)Dr. Adam Seagrave ('05)“Most of us have a profound appreciation for our mothers that transcends description,” begins Dr. S. Adam Seagrave (’05) in a new essay, timed for Mother’s Day, in The Public Discourse. An assistant professor of political science at Northern Illinois University, Dr. Seagrave then proceeds to consider the current state of motherhood in terms of social and public policy.

Americans’ affection for their mothers, he observes, does not translate into an appreciation for motherhood itself, particularly the stay-at-home variety. “As long as full-time motherhood does not produce some immediate economic benefit, economic and social pressures will continue to effectively foreclose this choice for many women,” he writes. “If it matters that women have a genuine choice in their own pursuit of happiness, this is a serious problem. It becomes even more serious when we consider that fully 84 percent of women don’t think it’s best for their children for them to work full-time outside the home. Women have indeed been empowered to work outside the home, but in many cases and in many unforeseen ways, they also have been forced to do so against their wishes.”

So, as his Mother’s Day gift to moms elsewhere, Dr. Seagrave proposes “a significant tax deduction for households with a full-time parent … on the order of 150 percent of the mean individual income.” That may not seem as charming as a bouquet of roses or a box of chocolates, but, “such a deduction would provide women with a less constrained choice between being a full-time mother and pursuing work outside the home. It would also signal the value that society should place on the inestimable contribution of motherhood.”

And, on Mothers’ Day in particular, what could be more worthwhile than that? “Motherhood is a more important task for society than any other private occupation or public service,” Dr. Seagrave concludes. “No woman who would choose full-time motherhood should be unduly constrained by economic or social pressures to give up her all-important vocation.


Book cover: Priestly CelibacyWhenever the matter of mandatory priestly discipline arises, the arguments put forth in its defense are typically practical in nature, touching on matters pastoral or even financial, but seldom theological. Recognizing this shortcoming in the ongoing discussion, Rev. Gary B Selin, STD (’89) has authored a new scholarly work, Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations, which proposes a systematic theology of priestly celibacy, ordered around the Eucharist.

An assistant professor and the formation director at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Fr. Selin holds a doctorate in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America, which is the publisher of this, his first book. Priestly Celibacy, according to the publisher’s description, explores the “Christological, ecclesiological, and eschatological dimensions” of the Church’s ancient discipline:

“The volume begins with a summary of the biblical foundations of clerical continence and celibacy, and then reviews the development of the discipline in the Latin Church from the patristic era to the twentieth century, while also tracing the emerging theology that underlies the practice. The focus then switches to the teaching of Vatican II, Paul VI and subsequent magisterial texts, as elaborated through the threefold dimension of celibacy. The final two chapters consists of Selin’s original contribution to the discussion, particularly in the form of various proposals for a systematic theology of priestly celibacy.”

Released on April 14, Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations includes a foreword by His Eminence J. Francis Cardinal Stafford, Major Penitentiary Emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary and the former Archbishop of Denver. The book is available via Amazon.com.


Deneys Williamson“After five intense, happy years of seminary,” writes Deneys Williamson (’10), “I will be ordained to the diaconate, in view of the priesthood!” The ordination will take place on May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, at the Basilica of Saint Apollinaire in Rome. A seminarian for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, South Africa, Mr. Williamson has studied at Rome’s Sedes Sapientiae seminary since 2011.

“I kindly ask that you remember me, especially now, and I assure my prayers for everyone in the greater Thomas Aquinas College family here before the tombs of the Apostles,” he adds. “I remember our alma mater often and very fondly. God bless you all!”


Maggie Tuttle (’10) offers networking tips to students.

Alumna Maggie Tuttle (’10), who works as a lead for Talent Solutions Support Services at LinkedIn, returned to campus on Sunday to present a workshop about how students and graduates can use the professional-networking site in their career search. “You can leverage the LinkedIn network and the data we have there to better understand what career options are available to you,” Miss Tuttle told students. Her 30-minute talk focused on how to use the service to discern a career, land a job, or select a graduate school.

The world’s largest professional social network, LinkedIn boasts more than 400 million users. The connections it makes available, as well as the ways it allows students to present themselves, can be advantageous to the College’s students and graduates, Miss Tuttle said. “Coming from Thomas Aquinas College, we have such a unique education and background,” which oftentimes requires explanation for those who are unfamiliar with classical liberal education. For graduates, she added, “letting those unique strengths and qualities come out” in one’s user profile, “is really important.”

Upon graduating from the College in 2010, Miss Tuttle began as a recruiter for Force 10 Networks, before moving on to a similar position at Balance Pro Tech one year later. She has worked at LinkedIn since 2012, where she helps to lead global initiatives geared toward increasing efficiency, strengthening partnerships, and improving customer experience.

 


Bishop Brennan blesses St. Monica Academy

In August this blog reported on an education success story in Montrose, California, where St. Monica Academy — a private, Catholic K-12 school run largely by Thomas Aquinas College alumni — was moving to a new, larger campus, due to the steady growth of its student body. Although the move took place over the summer, and St. Monica’s has been operating on its new campus since the fall, the relocation achieved its true consummation last week when the local bishop visited the campus to offer his blessing.

On April 5, the Most Rev. Joseph V. Brennan, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, walked through the campus, surrounded by 10 student acolytes, stopping to bless each classroom, the high school buildings, the athletic field, and the playground with holy water. “I felt the grace of God descend upon the school,” says Headmaster Marguerite (Ford ’79) Grimm, calling the event, “a historic day for St. Monica Academy.”

Founded with just 44 students in 2001, St. Monica’s has seen its enrollment swell to 242 this year. It 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. 

In addition to Mrs. Grimm, there are 11 other alumni on the St. Monica’s faculty: Mary Kate Zepeda (’89), Darren Bradley (’98), Alexandra Currie (’05), Genevieve Grimm (’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.


Votive candle rack in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel

Please pray for Michelle (Firmin ’97) Halpin, who sends along the following request:

“I’d like to request continued prayers for my health and my family. That this cancer treatment may be effective on my Stage 4 cancer, for minimal side effects, and for my oldest child, who is discerning college plans during this difficult time for our family. We are asking for a miracle through the intercession of Fr. John Hardon, S.J., whose cause for canonization is being brought forward. We would appreciate prayers to Fr. Hardon from those who wish to join us in our prayers. Thanks!”


Maureen Gahan (’76) with some of her Milestone clients at her retirement party in September Maureen Gahan (’76) with some of her Milestone clients at her retirement party in September

It is a “repeating story,” says Maureen Gahan (’76), one she heard thousands of times during her recently concluded tenure as the founding director of Milestones Clinical and Health Resources in Bloomington, Indiana. The story typically begins when a child first goes to school, and intellectual disabilities or mental-health problems start to surface — or become unmanageable. “Parents notice that one of their children may not be developing the same way their others did, or the child has trouble in school. Nobody knows what to do.”

For the last 15 years — the second act of a remarkable, three-decade career as a social-services executive — Miss Gahan worked to find answers for families struggling with mental-health disorders or intellectual disabilities. On September 30, that career came to an end, as Miss Gahan retired as the director of Milestones, a job that, at one time, she never would have imagined for herself, at an institution that would not have existed without her initiative, in a field that, though not her first choice, proved to be her calling.

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Cover: Alaska's Wild LifeFollowing the 2013 publication of her first children’s book, Monica Estill (’98) has recently released her first coloring book, Alaska’s Wild Life. The book features 32 black-and-white images of varying complexity designed to “spark creativity, relieve stress, and provide a window to explore an Alaskan dreamland.”

A 10-year resident of Anchorage, Monica describes herself as “a poet, artist, and philosopher.” Her previous work includes designing high-end residential interiors, creating sacred art, and her children’s book, The Bossy Boulder, the story of a rock who sits atop a mountain and — he thinks — the world, until time and change humble him. Like The Bossy Boulder, Alaska’s Wild Life features Monica’s quirky, detailed artistry, including images of a snowboarding fox and a mermaid swimming with a whale.

“Love is the real sunshine,” the author proclaims on the coloring book’s back cover, “and this is what I try to paint.”


Meghan Duke (’08) and Elizabeth (McPherson ’99) Claeys (Photos: Dana Rene Bowler) Meghan Duke (’08) and Elizabeth (McPherson ’99) Claeys (Photos: Dana Rene Bowler)

Wednesday morning, while the United States Supreme Court held oral arguments in the case that the College and 34 co-plaintiffs have filed against the HHS Contraceptive Mandate, Women Speak for Themselves organized a rally outside the Court. Among the speakers at the rally were two alumnae of the College, Meghan Duke (’08) and Elizabeth (McPherson ’99) Claeys.

A former managing editor of First Things who is now a writer in The Catholic University of America’s Office of Marketing and Communications, Miss Duke spoke about her time volunteering for the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have become the focal point of the national debate on religious freedom. Mrs. Claeys, who is chairman of the Washington, D.C., Board of Regents, spoke about the importance of the Catholic faith to the College and pressed the key points in the College’s case. The full text of her remarks is available via the College’s website.