Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

In a recent issue of USA Today, Katrina Trinko (’09) questions the wisdom of the culture’s growing fascination with recording every moment of life — from the memorable to the mundane — via photos posted on social media. “Somewhere there is a line between photos taken because of a human longing to document our lives and photos taken to be used in our self-marketing,” writes Miss Trinko, a writer for National Review Online and a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors. “We’re no longer taking photos to remember, but to refashion public perception.”

This phenomenon, she notes, is part of a broader, disconcerting tendency to view human interactions as impressions to be manipulated, rather than relationships to be nurtured:

“In the social-media era, we can all similarly manage our image, untagging the unflattering photos and uploading the ones that show us as we yearn to be perceived: sporty or artsy, or popular or fun or quirky, or possessing of any of our trait we desire. But while that’s smart branding, it hurts, not advances, true human connections — bonds built on vulnerability and honesty….

“When we make the camera a constant presence, we make our lives a reality show, and ourselves no more than actors or politicians posing for the paparazzi. That is the way to experience a permanent photo-op, not a life.”

The complete article is available via USA Today.
 


Bill Dunn (’97) has written to inform us of the death of Paul Meyer (’94):

“I have just learned the sad news that Paul Meyer died recently of a very sudden illness. He had apparently gone to the doctor about three weeks ago after not feeling well, and was sent to the hospital. About a week later he died from a rare and very aggressive form of cancer.…

“Paul and his wife, Kimberlie, were active members of their parish in the diocese of Tulsa, and in recent years they had adopted four children from China in order to provide a Catholic home for them, and also to help promote the culture of life in a country that has state-mandated abortions.

“A group of us in the Tulsa diocese have been organizing a classical studies program for homeschoolers which is to begin this fall, and Paul was going to serve as our math and science teacher. Paul and Kimberly were homeschooling their children while Paul worked as a freelance software engineer and also as a physics teacher at a local college.

“Paul was a kind and humble man, and in his quiet way he radiated a deep and abiding joy which was rooted in his Catholic faith. Paul had a good heart; he loved God above all things, and he always tried to help others to grow closer to God in their own journey through time.”

A full obituary is available on the website of Tulsa’s Fitzgerald Funeral Home.

Please pray the repose of Paul’s soul, and for the consolation and well-being of his wife, Kimberlie, and their four children.
 


The Very Rev. John M. Berg, F.S.S.P. (’93), with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in 2009During a plenary session at the International Seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Denton, Neb., the General Chapter of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP)  re-elected the Very Rev. John M. Berg, F.S.S.P. (’93), to a six-year term as Superior General. Fr. Berg is the Fraternity’s third Superior General, having been first elected to the position in 2006 at the age of 36.

The Fraternity includes 228 priests and 154 seminarians serving 117 dioceses in 16 countries. Its members represent 35 nationalities, with an average age of 36. A society of pontifical right founded by Bl. John Paul II in 1988, it has three pillars: fidelity to the See of Peter, dedication to the extraordinary form of the Mass and all the sacraments, and emphasis on the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas as a clear basis for presenting the Faith. 

When he graduated from Thomas Aquinas College in 1993, Fr. Berg’s classmates elected him to be their class speaker at Commencement. In that address he remarked, “We have a duty to bring to the world the Catholic faith just as we have received it, in part, here. We must show others that knowledge of the Divine does illumine all other knowledge, and that the tenets of the Faith are reasonable.… We must also live a moral, Catholic life in all of our dealings with society, and pass on the beautiful traditions of the Church to others in the community in which we live, whether that community be small, as a family, or large, as a town.”

Providence has so disposed it that Fr. Berg now has the opportunity to heed his own admonition in an eminent way. In his role as Superior General, he once explained, “My main duty is to the priests and seminarians of the Fraternity. I am responsible that they have the means set out by our constitutions — and, therefore, the Church — to achieve holiness. I must ensure that our seminaries are well staffed and well ordered, and I must place our priests in work that will provide them appropriate formation. Then it is my task to contact them frequently, in a fatherly manner. In addition, I make the financial and material decisions for the order with the aid of a general council.”

It is a tremendous responsibility, but one for which he has proven himself well equipped. Please keep Fr. Berg and the Fraternity in your prayers as he begins his second term.


Marianna Bartholomew has published an article with the Catholic News Agency about a sign of springtime in the Church — the return of hand-stitched altar linens at Blessed Sacrament Church in Lincoln, Neb. The linens are the handiwork of faithful parishioners in a newly established “Order of Martha,” an organization which boasted as many as 6,000 members in the 1960s, but by 2005 had dwindled to only five known groups nationwide. At the heart of this story is the priest who recognized two needs — one material, one spiritual — and by bringing them together inspired a group of committed laywomen who make beautiful vestments and altar cloths to be used in the Mass.

That priest is Rev. Brendan Kelly (’85), the pastor of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Bee, Neb., and a teacher at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Lincoln.

The story begins in 2008 when Fr. Kelly, who was then assigned to Blessed Sacrament, discovered that the girls in his church took a keen interest in its tattered and aging altar linens. Remembering his grandmother’s participation in the Order of Martha, and mindful of the great joy its members took in offering themselves at the altar in this way, Fr. Kelly established a new chapter. The chapter has since sewn linens for Blessed Sacrament as well as for the College’s Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel.

This new Order of Martha has also borne great spiritual fruit — which you can read all about in Mrs. Bartholomew’s wonderful story.


June 27,
2012

Fr. Bolin's Ordination Mass

By God’s grace there are now 58 priests among the alumni of Thomas Aquinas College!

Rev. Joseph Bolin (’01)
Fr. Bolin's Ordination MassOn June 15, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, His Eminence Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, laid hands on Rev. Joseph Bolin (’01), ordaining him to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ. “In high school I studied mathematics and computer science and received several awards and fellowships for further study in these areas,” reflects Fr. Bolin on an Austrian website (see electronic translation). “But I decided instead to go to Thomas Aquinas College in California, so as to become well-equipped for life — no matter what profession I should choose — by studying the liberal arts and philosophy.” It was during his time on campus, Fr. Bolin adds, that “I heard the call to follow Christ in a special priestly ministry.”

Numerous photos of the ordination, which took place in Vienna’s Cathedral of St. Stephan, are available online. Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean attended the ordination, where he saw several alumni, including Ginger Mortensen (’96), director of development for the International Theological Institute in Trumau.

Rev. Francis Marotti (’07)
Rev. Francis Marotti (’07)Eight days later, on June 23, His Excellency Paul J. Bradley, Bishop of  Kalamazoo (Mich.), ordained Rev. Francis Marotti (’07) at St. Augustine Cathedral. The chairman of the College’s Board of Governors, R. James Wensley, was there to witness the ordination, joined by Vice president for Development Paul J. O’Reilly and tutor Brian Dragoo. A recent graduate of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Fr. Marotti twice had the honor of chanting the Gospel at papal Masses while he was still a deacon. He now will serve as a diocesan priest in his hometown of Kalamazoo.

Rev. Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02)
That same day, some 4,500 miles away, the Most Rev. Cirilo B. Flores, Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego (center), conferred the Sacrament of Holy Orders upon Rev. Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02, right) at Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. His Excellency also ordained one of Fr. Okapal’s fellow alumni Nortbertines, Frater Nathaniel Drogin, O. Praem. (’01, left), to the transitional diaconate. College Governor Andrew Zepeda was in attendance, as were three members of the faculty: Director of Admissions Jon Daly and tutors David Arias and Tom Kaiser. The following morning Fr. Okapal offered his first Mass at St. Michael’s Abbey Church in Orange, Calif., with Deacon Drogin assisting.

Deo gratias!

 

 


 


Rosie Grim (’10) reports via Facebook that she is applying to participate in several clinical trials for an anti-cancer drug that is not yet on the market. She may also require another surgery on the tumor in her neck. Still, she says, “I’m feeling fabulous and have started jogging.”

On Wednesday she left with her father and brother for a pilgrimage to Lourdes, England (where she will visit sites related to Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman), and Cascia (home of her beloved patroness, St. Rita). Please keep their intentions your prayers.

In addition to their prayers to Bl. John Henry, the Grimms have also invited friends to join them in the following devotion to St. Rita:

+Dear Rita, model wife and widow, you yourself suffered in a long illness showing patience out of love for God. Teach us to pray as you did. Many invoke you for help, full of confidence in your intercession. Deign to come now to our aid for the relief and cure of Rosie. To God all things are possible; may this healing give glory to the Lord. Amen.

+Oh ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comfortess of the Afflicted, you know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. Look upon me with mercy. When you appeared in the grotto of Lourdes, you made it a privileged sanctuary where you dispense your favors, and where many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. My loving Mother, obtain my request. I will try to imitate your virtues so that I may one day share your company and bless you in eternity. Amen.
 


June 11,
2012

Sr. Mary Andre, O. Praem (’11) and Sr. Mary Thomas, O. Praem (’09)

Sr. Mary Andre, O. Praem (’11) and Sr. Mary Thomas, O. Praem (’09)

On June 6, the Feast of St. Norbert, two alumnae of Thomas Aquinas College took their religious names and were vested in the habit of the Norbertine Canonesses at the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph in Tehachapi, Calif. Thus, by God’s grace, Alison Bright (’09) is now Sr. Mary Thomas, O. Praem. (after the College’s patron, St. Thomas Aquinas!), and Annie Huguelet (’11) is now Sr. Mary Andre, O. Praem (after St. Andre Bessette).

Deo gratias!

Related:


Director of Alumni Relations Mark Kretschmer notified alumni last night that after a week-long search for John Morris (’03), a freshman at the College in 1999-2000, authorities had discovered his body.

Mark asked alumni to “pray for the repose of John’s soul and for the comfort and solace of  his family and friends during this very difficult time.” He added that “Rev. Hildebrand Garceau (’78), one of the College’s chaplains, will say a Mass for John next Thursday, June 14 at 5:20 p.m. in the College’s Chapel. Of course, everyone is welcome to attend.”

May his soul, and those of all the faithfully departed, rest in peace.


John Morris ('03)Director of Alumni Relations Mark Kretschmer has sent out this prayer request for John Morris (’03):

“Please pray for the safety of John Morris ('03) who has been reported missing since May 26. He went missing after spending the day with friends at a baseball game in his home town of Durham, North Carolina. He was going to make a quick stop at the grocery store on his way home, but never came home. His roommate and friends say this is ‘completely out of character’ for John and are very worried about him.”

The alumni of Thomas Aquinas College are joining together to say the following novena to St. Anthony of Padua for for John's return:

O wonderful St. Anthony, glorious on account of the fame of your miracles, and through the condescension of Jesus in coming in the form of a little child to rest in your arms, obtain for me of His bounty the grace which I ardently desire from the depths of my heart. For the safe return of John Morris:

You who were so compassionate toward miserable sinners, regard not the unworthiness of those who pray to you, but the glory of God that it may once again be magnified by the granting of the particular request: for the safe return of John Morris, which I now ask for with persevering earnestness. Amen

Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be  in honor of Saint Anthony.

Saint Anthony, pray for us!

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While many Catholics across the country, including numerous Thomas Aquinas College alumnae, have protested the Obama Administration’s HHS mandate by citing religious freedom, others are also challenging it on a more fundamental level. They are questioning not only the federal government’s power to force Catholic employers to provide contraceptives and abortifacients, but also its stated reasons for doing so. “Is it really,” they ask, “in the best interest of women, marriage and family, society, or the environment to promote the use of oral contraceptives and other such medications?”

No, says Dr. Pia de Solenni, an ethicist, theologian, member of the Thomas Aquinas College Class of 1993, and recipient of the 2001 Pontifical Prize of the Academies. Last Saturday Dr. de Solenni spoke at The Pill Kills 2012, a national symposium held in Washington, D.C., and sponsored by the American Life League and 30 other pro-life groups. Presenting the teachings of the Church, Dr. de Solenni drew on references ranging from popular culture to St. Thomas Aquinas, noting how modern conceptions of love and sexuality are inherently truncated and unfulfilling.

“All of our cultural references, and all of our examples of ‘chick lit’ — from Bridget Jones to Sex and the City to Bridesmaids — they’re all manifesting a deep dissatisfaction, a sense that you have to do things this way because that’s the way it’s done. And yet they’re all yearning for something more,” said Dr. de Solenni. “When the Church is looking at sexuality, there is a context here, and it is a context shaped by love. Contraception impedes the sexual act between spouses because it holds back fertility. It’s not a gift of self.”

Dr. de Solenni’s presentation is available in the above video, and the rest of the symposium can be found on the American Life League’s YouTube Channel.