Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

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.

 


An update on Rosie Grimm (’10), courtesy of one of her sisters:

“Please continue to pray for my sister Rosie. She had scans recently. Here’s her Facebook post: ‘Mostly good news: The tumor in my neck is no worse and possibly better, and the tumors in my lungs are either stable or growing pretty slowly. The bad news is that the trial I want to get into has not opened yet, and they aren’t sure when it will open, though hopefully it won’t be too long. Since I’m asymptomatic, we have a little time to play with, but of course I’d like to get start ASAP. So please pray that the approval for the trial comes through quickly.’ She’s heading back East on Monday to get an initial screening for a trial, as a first step. Thanks for your prayers, so much!”

Please continue to keep Rosie and her family in your prayers.

Jesus, I trust in You!
Our Lady, Health of the sick, pray for us.
St. Rita, pray for us.
Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us.
Blessed Miguel Pro, pray for us.

 


Commencement 2007The family of Maria Forshaw (’07) reports that she has entered the Carmel of Saint Joseph in Saint Louis, Mo., as a postulant. This cloistered, contemplative community of Discalced Carmelite nuns is dedicated to a life of prayer in service of the Church.

Please join us in praying for Sr. Maria as she pursues her vocation!
 


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!