Faith in Action Blog
Thomas Aquinas College tutor and alumnus Michael J. Paietta (’83) died late in the evening of March 25, 16 days after entering the hospital with symptoms suggestive of a heart attack. Just prior to his passing, he received the last rites, including absolution and an apostolic blessing from College chaplain Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem (’78).
Mr. Paietta served for a number of years in the U.S. Navy and attended the University of California, Los Angeles, for a short time before enrolling at Thomas Aquinas College as a 25-year-old freshman in 1979. He graduated from the college in 1983 and went on to the University of Notre Dame, where he did his graduate and doctoral work. In 1989 Mr. Paietta returned to the College as a member of the teaching faculty.
Mourning the loss of his one-time student and colleague of many years, President Michael McLean said, “Mike was noteworthy for his love of literature, music, and baseball. Not only did he love these things, he sought to understand everything about them. Above all, though, he was devoted to understanding the thought of our patron, St. Thomas, and was particularly sure that discussions with our founders, Ron McArthur, Jack Neumayr, and Mark Berquist, would help him in that pursuit.”
Reflecting on Mr. Paietta’s life, Dean Brian T. Kelly noted, “Mike was a unique and beloved member of the Thomas Aquinas College community. He cared deeply about his students and mingled with them frequently in the dining hall. In class and at meals, he displayed charity, good cheer, and an extremely dry wit. Mike taught a range of courses in philosophy, theology, science, and mathematics. But he especially loved the arts; I trusted implicitly his views on literature and music, and happily followed many of his movie recommendations. His deep-rooted sense of loyalty was manifest in his abiding love for the Catholic Church, Thomas Aquinas College, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He will be sorely missed.”
Dr. Paul O’Reilly, a longtime fellow tutor and the College’s Vice President for Development, added a personal reflection saying, “Mike had a tremendous wit and a remarkable memory. We all wanted him on our trivial pursuit team. And those who had him on their team were on the winning side.”
Funeral arrangements for Mr. Paietta are pending. A memorial Mass will be offered at a later date in the college’s chapel of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Details will be provided on the College’s website when they are available.
Please keep Mr. Paietta and his family in your prayers.
May his soul and those of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
We recently learned that Ivitea Connolly (’08) joined the Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus in October 2011. A community of non-cloistered, contemplative nuns, the Adorers, through their prayers and sacrifices, support the works and the priests of the Institute of Christ the King. The picture above shows Sr. Ivitea receiving her cape as a postulant. More photos from the ceremony are available at the Institute’s website.
Alumnus Greg Pfundstein (’05) has a new article in National Review Online about the alarmingly high incidence of abortion New York City. The column recounts a catalogue of horrors with its zip-code-by-zip-code breakdown of the city’s abortion rates. It also offers some salient insights pertaining to the current controversy over the HHS contraceptive-abortifacient-sterilization mandate, specifically:
“The abortion industry, most notably embodied by America’s largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood, contends that it has the solution to the problem it created in the form of ‘increased access’ to universally available contraception and wider distribution of its marginally effective radical sexual-education programs. Such a contention displays a startling lack of imagination. Note that New York City passed out 40 million free condoms in 2009, requires coverage of contraception by all insurance plans, and has had radical sex ed in the schools for some time (and now mandates it). Interested observers would do well to actually listen to the women who do not avail themselves of the ubiquitous and free contraception and try to understand what complex social dynamics are at work.”
Mr. Pfundstein is the Executive Director of the Chiaroscuro Foundation, non-profit philanthropy in New York. He holds a licentiate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America, and serves on both the Patient’s Rights Council and the Pro-Life Commission of the Archdiocese of New York.
News from Director of Alumni Relations Mark Kretschmer:
Rose Grimm (’76), Rosie’s mother, says, “Thank you all so much for your prayers for Rosie. Finally we have started treatment — radiation for the remaining tumor in her neck and immunotherapy, which attempts to stimulate her own immune system to kill the cancerous cells. Please pray for Rosie to dodge the possible serious side effects which can be associated with both of these treatments, especially the immunotherapy. Most people don’t get them — we want her to be in that group. We are feeling the effect of your prayers on our spirits and our sense of peace — and I know Rosie’s treatment will go so much better because of them. Thank you so much.”
Additionally please pray for Rosie’s pain to be relieved. Thank you!
- Related: Prayers for Rosie Grimm (’10)
News from Director of Alumni Relations Mark Kretschmer:
Mike’s doctors are optimistic that his aorta will heal itself over time, but they have found that his kidneys are not functioning properly and that he also has pneumonia. Mike has been sedated this past week and is receiving dialysis daily, but the doctors hope to diminish the sedative and have him sit up so as to improve his breathing. The doctors are not being very forthcoming at this point, though they do say that Mike is not getting worse. Please keep him and his family in your prayers. Thank you!
- Related: Prayers for Michael J. Paietta (’83)
Please pray for an alumnus and member of the College’s teaching faculty, Michael J. Paietta (’83). Michael was admitted to the hospital Friday, March 9, with symptoms suggestive of heart attack. He was admitted to the ICU, and he took a turn for the worse the next night. His current condition is listed as “guarded.” Please keep him in your prayers.
“I am responsible for all the souls within the boundaries of my parish,” says Rev. John Higgins (’90), pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Peekskill, N.Y. “That is an honor, but it is also humbling and challenging, to be responsible for their salvation before God.” It is a responsibility Fr. Higgins takes seriously. He has the blisters to prove it.
At 5:30 on the morning of November 10, 2011, Fr. Higgins offered the early Mass at Assumption, then put on a pair of sneakers and began walking. At the end of the day, he reached the Archdiocese of New York’s St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, where he spent the night, and then resumed his pilgrimage the next morning. Late that afternoon, he finally arrived at his destination — St. Patrick’s Cathedral in midtown Manhattan.
Read the full story.
Having recently made his first appearance on Catholic Answers Live, Dr. Nathan Schmiedicke (’00) has joined the ranks Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) and Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), both regular guests on the nationally broadcast radio program. An instructor at the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, Dr. Schmiedicke spoke on the subject of “Renewing Catholic Bible Study” and answered questions from callers on a wide range of subjects. The show is available both in streaming audio and as a downloadable podcast via the Catholic Answers website.
While the battle to preserve Catholic values in American health care has reached fever pitch with the recent HHS contraceptive mandate, it has endured, often quietly, for years. Throughout that time, two alumni of the College — Katie Short (’80) and John Damiani (’84) — have been at the forefront of that fight.
Mrs. Short is a founder and the legal director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, which provides legal aid to those who need help in their efforts to protect the unborn. Dr. Damiani is president of the Christus Medicus Foundation, which works to ensure the right of conscience for health-care workers, promote the Culture of Life in American health care, and assist in the establishment of Christ-centered health-care centers.
Now, through their respective organizations, Mrs. Short and Dr. Damiani are collaborating on a conference dedicated to defending life and religious liberty. “Make Straight the Pathway: An Integrated and Unified Solution for Catholic Healthcare Reform” will be held in San Francisco on March 29-31. Hosted by Life Legal Defense Foundation and Christus Medicus Foundation, the conference is sponsored by the Archdiocese of San Francisco; the Dioceses of Oakland, Santa Rosa, and Sacramento; and several other pro-life and medical organizations.
The conference follows a similar event that Dr. Damiani arranged last year in Detroit. That conference proved so successful that Medicus’ episcopal advisor, the Most Rev. Robert F. Vasa, Bishop of Santa Rosa, asked that one like it be held for the Western region of the country.
“The current trajectory of public health policy points to a future where the phrase ‘Catholic health care’ will be an oxymoron,” warns Mrs. Short. “This conference aims to equip medical professionals, policymakers, and others to help our country make a desperately needed course correction.”
Adds Dr. Damiani, “Our Holy Father, in his Ad Limina address to the bishops, warned of the rise of secular humanism. He reminded the bishops of their baptismal and consecrated vows to not let the gates of hell prevail against the spread of the Gospel to all. He pointed out that our founding principles enshrine that freedom. Therefore we must not let the state restrict or worse, define, what is the proper living out of our call to faith. The laity need to respond to the urging of the Holy Father and support the bishops in fulfilling their charge from the Holy See by educating themselves on these issues and organizing for action in the sphere of their own community.”
Information and registration forms for the conference are available online.
One of several alumni of the College who have taken a leadership role in opposing the HHS contraceptive mandate, Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) appeared as part of a panel on the subject at the Heritage Foundation on February 27. The panel, entitled Women Speak Out, featured notable experts from various religious, women’s, and public-policy groups.
“This goes much broader than most religious groups because it’s about freedom per se,” said Dr. de Solenni, owner of Diotima Consulting, LLC. “It’s about whether or not individuals have the rights to make decisions for themselves.”