Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Venerable Solanus CaseyVenerable Fr. Solanus CaseyMichele (Grimm ’81) Loughman, a mother of 10, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She will be undergoing more tests over the next few days, and she and her husband, Pat (’78), a member of the Greater Los Angeles Board of Regents, will be weighing her options.

The Loughmans invite all to join them in seeking the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes and Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey. Please keep Michele, her family, and her doctors in your prayers!
 


Dr. and Mrs. GrimmDaniel J. Grimm (’76) and his wife, Rose (Teichert ’76)Having obtained a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology in 2006; having completed 3,000 hours of supervised treatment of couples, families, and individuals; and having passed the two exams specified by the State of California, Daniel J. Grimm (’76) is now a licensed marriage and family therapist. He has an office in Ojai, Calif., and also sees clients at Stillpoint Family Resources in South Pasadena. Additionally, he continues to direct the Thomas Aquinas College Choir, which will be performing Bach’s Mass in B at its Advent Concert on November 30.


Greg Pfundstein ('05)The executive director of New York City’s Chiaroscuro Foundation, Greg Pfundstein (’05) has been actively defending life — from conception to natural death — in several publications, both print and online.

First, Mr. Pfundstein, who holds a licentiate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America, weighs in on a debate in the pages of The Human Life Review over whether pro-lifers ought to frame their arguments in strictly secular terms. We will not reveal which side of the debate he takes (for that, go see the full article), but it is worth noting that, in making his case, he draws upon three authors from the College’s classical curriculum: Euclid, Boethius, and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Next Mr. Pfundstein shifts his focus from the young and vulnerable to the old and vulnerable, writing in The Public Discourse about an effort to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in Massachusetts:

Tens of thousands of Americans commit suicide every year. Nowhere in the U.S. is it a crime to do so. It is an unfortunate fact that some people determine that their lives are no longer worth living. But we see it as a tragedy; this is why high bridges often have signs encouraging troubled individuals to seek help rather than jump. Suicide hotlines are open 24 hours a day because we hope to prevent as many suicides as possible. This consistent cultural message is contradicted when we give doctors the right to prescribe lethal drugs as a medical treatment. It is like replacing the suicide intervention signs on bridges and railroad tracks with signs that say, “Ask your physician if jumping is right for you.”

Finally, in National Review, Mr. Pfundstein looks at how the Massachusetts campaign and others like it are part of a deliberate effort to make doctor-prescribed suicide the law of the land by way of the Supreme Court, à la Roe v. Wade:

Now let’s look a few years down the line, when advocates bring the case of an individual in, say, Alabama who, being terminally ill, desperately wants his doctor to provide a lethal prescription. When that case proceeds to the Supreme Court, what will a look at the “laboratory” show? Suicide as a medical treatment was made legal in Washington in 2008, Massachusetts in 2012, Vermont and New York in 2013, and New Mexico in 2014. This looks like an “emerging consensus,” doesn’t it?

Mr. Pfundstein’s conclusion is powerful: “The lesson of the last 40 years is clear: Fight now, not later” — and so he leads by example.

Related:

 


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.”

 


CNS Honor RollThe 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:

“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!


September
20, 2012

at the investiture of Sr. Sophia Eid ('08)Jenny Gerrity (’08) at the investiture of Sr. Sophia Eid, OSB (’08, second from left), with Sr. Mary Josefa (Kathleen’07) Holcomb, OSB, and Lisa (Gerritty ’08) Berquist

The College has recently learned some wonderful news about three of its alumnae who are pursuing vocations to the religious life:

On the Feast of the Assumption (August 15), Erika Brown (’11) entered the candidacy program with the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. “I feel so blessed to be a part of this Carmelite community praying ‘in the heart of the Church,’” she writes. “The Lord has been working in my life in wonderful ways. I am so grateful for my time at Thomas Aquinas College: It fostered a desire to know and love the Lord which could not be quenched. God is so good!”

Elisabeth Sedler ('11)Less than two weeks later, on August 28, Elisabeth Sedler (’09) entered the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, Mich., and soon thereafter moved into the Order’s new house, St. Felix Oratory in Huntington, Ind. Miss Sedler is the third alumna of the College to join the Sisters of Mary, whose superior general, Mother Mary Assumpta Long, O.P., was the College’s 2012 Commencement Speaker.

Sr. Sophia EidLastly, on September 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Sr. Gina Marie Eid (’08) received her habit and new religious name — Sr. Sophia Eid, OSB, as a member of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, in Gower, Mo. Sr. Sophia is now a novice in the community, where she joins fellow alumna Sr. Mary Josefa (Kathleen ’07) Holcomb, OSB. Many family members and friends, including several alumni of the College came for the investiture ceremony, which took place at St. James Church in St. Joseph, Mo.

Please pray for the intentions and well-being of the newest alumnae sisters. May God richly bless these humble, dedicated servants of Christ!


Eastern Oklahoma CatholicEastern Oklahoma Catholic, the magazine of the Diocese of Tulsa, recently ran a story (PDF) about the life, prayer, and work of the Benedictine Monks at Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey. Ten of the 40 brothers in this rapidly growing community are Thomas Aquinas College alumni, including the Abbey’s subprior, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82).

The Eastern Oklahoma Catholic story reports on the progress of the monks’ ambitious, long-term building project, and also offers an insight into the leaven that these cloistered religious can be for the surrounding community:

“The balanced life of prayer and work provides an example to the modern person of how to praise God, respect His creation, to love one’s neighbor, and practice the reasonable use of material goods. While our vocation does not allow us the time to live as Benedictine monks, their piety reminds us of our own call to pray in our work and, when our work is finished, to take the time to pray.

“The ministry of Clear Creek is certainly a blessing to the Diocese of Tulsa. In just over a decade, they have had a formative influence on the faithful, providing a window into a world where men are engaged in a constant search after God.”

May God continue to bless Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey!
 


Anne Breiling ('00)Defending the institution of marriage can be a lonely, if not dangerous, task in Santa Cruz, Calif., but it is one that alumna Anne Breiling (’02) has taken on with confidence. In a recent op-ed in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Miss Breiling presents a thoughtful case for “maintaining the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, sans hate”:

I myself reserve the right to express a matrimonial [its roots in mater, mother] union of a man and a woman as simply distinct from partnerships of a man and a man, or a woman and a woman, on a purely existential level, in its normative and unique capacity for creating and nurturing new life, its very telos within the larger society. This is not a moral but an ontological judgment, that is, one of being as such.

I have no doubt there is genuine love involved in homosexual partnerships, and no question that faithful commitments by any persons ought not to be hindered by society; and yet there is a distinction here, one in the very fabric of nature, the denial of which I and many others [a majority of Californians it turned out] truly believe has serious implications for the long-term health and stability of society.

Remarkably the column has thus far generated no hateful comments and, Miss Breilling notes, her dispassionate, rational line of argument has even won over an unlikely supporter


Br. Mary Evagrius Hayden, O.S.B (’08)Br. Mary Evagrius Hayden, O.S.B. (Dominic Hayden ’08), will make his solemn profession under the Rule of St. Benedict, thereby permanently joining the Benedictine Order at the Monastery of San Benedetto in Norcia, Italy, on Saturday. The ceremony will take place in the Basilica of San Benedetto, at the birthplace Sts. Benedict and Scholastica, in the main piazza of Norcia.

The monastery invites all to send their wishes and congratulations to monastero@osbnorcia.org with “For Br. Evagrius” in the subject line. Please keep Br. Evagrius and all of the College’s priestly and religious alumni in your prayers!
 



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)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:

“Great teacher.
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.