Faith in Action Blog
It has come to our attention that back on December 21, 2011, two alumni of the College were signatories to a statement organized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to oppose the HHS contraceptive mandate. The statement (PDF) appeared as a full-page advertisement in that day’s New York Times and Washington Post.
Among the signatories, who included some 150 Catholic leaders from across the United States, were Dr. John Damiani (’84), president of the Christus Medicus Foundation, and Mr. Jeremy McNeil (’96), president of the Catholic Professional & Business Group.
The statement reads:
“We, the undersigned, strongly support access to life-affirming health care for all, and the ability of secular and religious groups and individuals to provide and receive such care. That is why we have raised objections to a rule issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services forcing almost all private health plans to cover sterilization procedures and contraceptive drugs, including drugs that may cause an early abortion.
“As written, the rule will force Catholic organizations that play a vital role in providing health care and other needed services either to violate their conscience or severely curtail those services. This would harm both religious freedom and access to health care.
“The HHS mandate puts many faith-based organizations and individuals in an untenable position. But it also harms society as a whole by undermining a long American tradition of respect for religious liberty and freedom of conscience. In a pluralistic society, our health care system should respect the religious and ethical convictions of all. We ask Congress, the Administration, and our fellow Americans to acknowledge this truth and work with us to reform the law accordingly.”
The statement was also signed by His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and the Most Rev. José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles.
Following up on nationally syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt’s recent broadcast from Thomas Aquinas College, two of the College’s alumni will appear on the show’s “Entrepreneur Hour” this afternoon at 5:00 p.m. PST.
Michael Van Hecke (’86) and Christopher Zehnder (’87), publisher and general editor, respectively, of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, will discuss their series of textbooks that accurately depict the role of the Church in the history of Western civilization.
“Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show is a great opportunity to get the word out about these wonderful new textbooks,” says Glen Mueller, Chairman of the Catholic Textbooks Project. “There is such a need to inform students about the significant role of the Catholic Church in the development of Western civilization. Bishops and Catholic educators are pointing to the need to promote Catholic identity and to incorporate Catholic principles in all facets of the educational process. Without knowledge of the past, what will be the foundation for the future? A historical understanding of the past activities of the Catholic Church is essential in order for the laity of the Church to carry out its responsibility to share the Faith.”
The broadcast is available live online, as well as on numerous radio stations throughout the United States. (Check local times and listings for broadcast times.) To learn more about the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, see this story from the Official Catholic Directory for the United States.
Today’s edition of the Ventura County Star includes a story about why, exactly, Catholics make sacrifices or “give something up” for Lent. Featured in the article is a graduate of the College, Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87), who is now a member of the teaching faculty. Portions of the story are excerpted below:
“For some Catholics, Lent is an opportunity to lose weight, but what motivates them is, ‘I want to lose weight and look good, and this is the time to do it,’ ” said Andrew Seeley, a tutor at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula. “That is a superficial approach to Lent.” …
Seeley said he plans to give up listening to sports talk radio. There’s nothing wrong with it, but in a world cluttered with distractions, he believes it’s important to humble yourself into silence now and then.
“The constant distraction says, ‘I don’t want to think of anything. I don’t want to be aware of myself,’ ” Seeley said.
Seeley, whose teaching specialty is medieval theology, said it’s a sign of our times that many have lost the true link between self-denial and deeper spirituality.
“In every other culture and era, it is understood that we must deny ourselves,” Seeley said.
Self-denial is just [one] component of Lent, Seeley said. The faithful are also asked to pray more and be more merciful to others, or the “giving of alms.”
Seeley believes it’s not a good idea to skip the self-denial aspect of Lent, because it is a humbling experience that will connect us with those who are less fortunate. …
The importance of self-denial can be likened to an athlete in training, Seeley said.
“Pain gets our attention. When we choose to suffer pain, we’re either insane or up to something really important,” Seeley said. “Athletes really pound their bodies because they want to make themselves stronger. Not only do we admire their success, but their strength of will.”
A transitional deacon for the Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.), the Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti (’07) is currently studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. In January he proclaimed the Holy Gospel at the papal Mass of the Epiphany in St. Peter’s Basilica. (See video, below, at about the 32:20 mark.) God willing, he will be ordained to the priesthood this June 23.
Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean recently asked this future priest about how the College prepared him for his vocation. Deacon Marotti provided a brief, spontaneous answer and then, after more reflection, sent a more detailed, written response, which we publish below with his permission:
“I would like to give you a more complete answer to your question about how Thomas Aquinas College has prepared me for seminary. That it did prepare me well is clear from the fact that I was not even required to attend a minor seminary before coming here to Rome — the College is intellectually and spiritually formative in a way that rivals actual seminaries.
“It would be hard to say that this or that particular thing was most helpful in preparation for the holy priesthood, because the whole four-year period of study, prayer, and fraternity formed a solid integrated whole — the study of philosophy, theology, literature, science, language, the intensely Catholic atmosphere on campus, the frequency and reverence of the celebration of Holy Mass, the example and guidance of the good and holy tutors and chaplains. All of these parts benefit from the others, and the whole would suffer were any of these to be removed.
“The best way I can describe how Thomas Aquinas College helped me in discerning my vocation and preparing for the priesthood is to say that it forms one to think according to the mind of the Church. It does so in a way that is unique: by exposing the student not only to the Catholic Tradition, but also to those foundations and principles which preceded and prepared for the flowering of the Catholic faith and Western civilization as a whole, along with those currents of thought which are inimical to the same faith and threaten the Church today. The education and life at the College was indispensable for giving me a Catholic mind, a mind that is enthusiastically committed to promoting and defending holy mother Church, and committed to the rich intellectual, cultural and spiritual tradition which she possesses.
“The thoroughly Catholic mindset which one acquires at the College obviously benefits even further from studying in the Eternal City, so close to the Tomb of the Apostle Peter, and close to his successor, the Pope. The daily encounters with the tombs of other saints and martyrs only increases the love and devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ and His body the Church. For this, I will be eternally grateful to Thomas Aquinas College.”
Two alumni have recently published stories about the HHS contraceptive mandate that threatens the religious freedom of faithfully Catholic institutions such as Thomas Aquinas College.
First, writing for LifeSiteNews.com, Peter Baklinski (’04) reports on College President Michael F. McLean’s letter protesting the mandate. Then, following the Obama Administration’s supposed compromise to the mandate (which Dr. McLean has rejected as “not acceptable” and “a distinction without a difference”), Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) penned a critical column for CatholicVote. Writes Dr. de Solenni:
“President Obama has offered a so-called compromise on the HHS Mandate. Instead of forcing Catholic institutions to pay for insurance that covers contraceptives, insurance providers will be forced to cover contraception. Yep, same situation, just a different way of keeping books on it. Hmmm, when Enron was exposed, we called it accounting fraud, among other things. Bernie Madoff’s investment practices were denounced as a Ponzi scheme. But when the funny math is proposed by the White House, we call it a compromise.”
How inspiring it is to see these alumni speaking out in defense of their alma mater, freedom of religion, and truth!
A member of Thomas Aquinas College’s most recent graduating class, Isabel Cacho (’11) has been named to the John Jay Institute’s Fellows Program. The program, an “educational and professional experience for men and women aspiring to public stations in society and the Church,” consists of an intensive semester-long academic residency in Philadelphia, Penn., followed by an “externship” in a national or international governmental agency or non-governmental organization.
Miss Cacho’s biography on the John Jay website notes that she “has always had a desire to pursue truth, which led her to study the great books curriculum” at Thomas Aquinas College, where she was “surrounded by a faith-affirming community.” It further observes that “in addition to a strong calling to marriage and motherhood, Isabel has an interest in pursuing constitutional law and a commitment to the pro-life movement.”
Meghan Duke (’08) is the recently named managing editor of First Things, the Catholic journal of culture and politics founded by the late Rev. Richard John Neuhaus. Editor R.R. Reno writes:
“Graduate of Thomas Aquinas College and veteran of the publication arm of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Meghan has been with the magazine for two years, first as a junior fellow and then as an assistant editor...I have the distinct impression that she not only is extraordinarily capable but also enjoys the prospect of giving everyone deadlines.”
The Most Rev. Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York, celebrates with Rev. John Higgins (’90).
Over on his blog, Catholic Peekskill, Rev. John Higgins (’90), pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Peekskill, N.Y., tells the story of his successful, 58-mile walk to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to raise money for his parish school. The blog also includes a video depicting highlights from Fr. Higgins’ journey.
In total, Fr. Higgins raised more than $60,000 for Assumption School. He writes:
“As I laced up my sneakers and began to head off along the pre-dawn road, I couldn’t help but think about Jesus and all the walks He took in his short time here on Earth.
“In a world full of cynicism, Jesus walked to bring optimism. In a world devoid of hope, Jesus walked to bring joy. In a world full of suffering, Jesus walked to bring healing. In a world full of hate, Jesus walked to bring love. Jesus walked.
“As a Catholic Priest, I am called to act in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), most especially during the Sacraments but, it is important to note that we are all called to be ‘other Christs’ for the people in our lives, to imitate Him as we make our way in the world. We are all called to take our own ‘walk’ toward Christ—our own pilgrimage of love.
“Sometimes that journey will be easy, filled with consolation and peace. Other times, that road will be steep and we will need every ounce of strength to get up that hill; we’ll feel alone and unworthy and it won’t be our feet that do the walking but our faith!
“But we all must do it; we are a called to do it—to make our own pilgrimage to His heart.”
It is not too late to support Fr. Higgins’ efforts. Send your tax-deductible donations to: Assumption School, 920 Monsignor Ansbro Way, Peekskill, NY 10566.
- Related: The Walking Priest
The video above comes from last Friday’s Mass of the Epiphany, offered by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Basilica. At about the 32:20 mark is the proclamation of the Holy Gospel, chanted by Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti (’07), a transitional deacon from the Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.), who is currently studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. What a tremendous honor!
Please remember to pray for Deacon Marotti, who is scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood on June 23.
Members of the Morey family at the October 30, 2011, solemn profession of Sr. Pauline of Christ (Bridget Morey ’05), from left to right: Rev. Joshua Morey, O.S.B. (’00), Eric Morey (’10), Clement Moore, Molly Morey, Kathy Morey, Cecilia Moore, Bernadette (Morey ’06) Moore, Nick Morey (’03), Noah Morey, Brian Morey (’02), Jude Moore, and Joel Moore (’06).
We have received the following wonderful news from the Morey family:
“On October 30, 2011, Sister Pauline of Christ (Bridget Morey ‘05) made her solemn profession of vows at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Valparaiso, Neb. The Most Rev. Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop of Lincoln, was the celebrant for the Solemn Pontifical Mass and Veiling. Rev. Joshua Morey, O.S.B. (’00), was Deacon, and Rev. Joseph Lee, F.S.S.P. (’00), was Subdeacon. Rev. Brendan Kelly (’85) also assisted in the sanctuary. Fr. Morey, Sr. Pauline’s oldest brother, gave an inspirational homily. The ceremony was so majestic, and the Sisters’ Gregorian chant was so beautiful! After the ceremony, there was a reception in the Turn Room for family and guests and visiting time in the Speak Room with Sr. Pauline. This gathering was a marvelous family reunion, too, as all seven of Sr. Pauline’s siblings attended, coming from seven different states.”
Praise be to God! In 2010, the Thomas College Aquinas Newsletter printed the following brief profile about Sr. Pauline:Read more