Faith in Action Blog
Three alumni of the College who are currently pursuing graduate studies in Rome gathered in the Eternal City last week to celebrate Thanksgiving with some 30 other expats. Pictured above are Frater Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02), Marie Nuar (’02), and Frater Nathaniel Drogin, O. Praem. (’01). Frater Maximilian studies at the Angelicum; Miss Nuar and Frater Nathaniel are students at the Gregorian.
The friends have extra reason to be grateful this year. On June 23, 2012, Frater Maximilian is scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood as a member of the Norbertine Order at the Mission San Juan Capistrano Basilica in Orange County, Calif. His confrere, Frater Nathaniel, will be ordained to the diaconate at the same Mass.
Pontifical Academies Award winner and moral theologian Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) has a timely offering over at Headline Bistro entitled, “Taking Back Christmas,” about reclaiming Advent and Christmas from commercialism and excess. She also will be appearing on the Wednesday, November 23, 4 p.m. (PST) episode of “Catholic Answers Live” discussing the topic, “A Catholic Approach to the Arts.” The hour-long show is available live on radio stations nationwide and at catholic.com. Or download the podcast any time after the broadcast.
Ever since her graduation from the College, Mary Rose (Bacani ’03) Valenti has done beautiful work for Christ and His Church as a producer and reporter for Salt + Light Television, including documentaries about the Nashville Dominicans and St. André Bessette. Now we have word that Mrs. Valenti is leaving the world of broadcasting to serve the Lord in a very different capacity — as the full-time mother of her baby daughter, Chiara. “I have decided to stay home with her,” writes Mary Rose, “and see what opportunities God provides us.”
Baby Chiara is a blessed child. Thomas Aquinas College offers prayers of thanksgiving for her, her parents, and all of her mother’s great work — past, present, and future.
Next up in our series about the College’s four newest alumni priest is Rev. Joseph Dygert (’02), parochial vicar at Ave Maria Catholic Parish in Parker, Colo. Read the profile of Fr. Dygert to learn about his life, his vocation, and his ministry. Also be sure to see our previous profile of Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02).
“Love2learn Mom” is an alumna of the College, a wife, a mother of six (including a member of the Class of 2015), and — in her spare time — a blogger, chronicling her musings and the details of family life over at Chez VH. In a recent post, she had these insights about the blessings that the College’s use of the Socratic Method has been in her life:
I strongly believe in the concept of changing the world by changing one's own self. Our culture today, and our human nature in general I suppose, tends to focus on what the other guy is doing wrong. Any critique of myself or my favorite politician (or whatever) is viewed as an attack. I believe that we will never get anywhere good in politics until we hold ourselves and "our side" (whichever side that may be) accountable for our faults and stop making excuses.
I think this is related to part of what makes traditional liberal arts education (such as what my husband and I encountered at Thomas Aquinas College) so valuable — especially in an age where education is so often considered to be equated with a list of information stored in one's head.
In our round-table, seminar-style classes, we learned to take some else's ideas, make sure we understood them, formulate our own opinions about the material, articulate those opinions to others and thus lay them open to challenge and critique. We had to sort out the criticism as objectively as possible in a context that helped us not just respond emotionally to the fact that someone disagreed with us, but work our way through the questions and problems in a reasonably logical manner. The whole program helped us to develop skills that I find myself using on a daily basis in the real world — to fully understand what others are saying and respond in an appropriate, not a reactionary manner.
Two alumni who regularly promote and defend the faith in the public square have new offerings:
On the CatholicVote website, theologian Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) has spotted some unsettling themes in retail catalogs (the cover of which is shown on the right).
Then, taking to the airwaves, Rev. Sebastian Walshe , O.Praem. (’94), a professor of philosophy at the Norbertines’ St. Michael’s Abbey Seminary in Orange County, has made one of his periodic appearances on the Catholic Answers Live radio program. The show, How Biblical Inspiration Works, is available online both in streaming audio and as a podcast.
This past summer, four graduates of Thomas Aquinas College were ordained to the priesthood, bringing to 50 the number of alumni priests in the College’s first 40 years. Over the next several days, we will be publishing profiles of these four new priests, starting today with Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02), parochial vicar at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish and the chaplain at Hayden Catholic High School, in Topeka, Kan.
Thank you to everyone who has been keeping Matthew Wise (’06) in prayer! Matthew has been hospitalized for three weeks due to a lung infection and resulting complications. Doctors have performed numerous procedures and operations, but he remains in intensive care, heavily sedated. His family is asking for prayers through the intercession of St. Gerard and Bl. Francis Seelos.
For regular updates on Matthew’s status, please see the Prayers for Matthew Wise Facebook page, established by his Class of 2003 classmate Steve Six. Please continue to pray for Matthew’s recovery and for the strength and well-being of his family.
Two classmates from the Thomas Aquinas College Class of 2003 have happily returned to campus this fall as the newest members of the teaching faculty.
“There were a lot of places I was interested in teaching at, but I always had it in the back of my mind that it would be sad if I could never do Euclid again,” says Jared Kuebler (’03). “It was always my dream to come back, particularly for the community of tutors here and the opportunity to teach across the curriculum.”
“It is special to be amongst a faculty that loves what they do," says Elizabeth Reyes (’03). “It is such an honor to be here.”
Welcome home, Mr. Kuebler and Miss Reyes!
We have received the following letter from Rev. John Higgins (’90), pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Peekskill, N.Y. Fr. Higgins will be walking 58 miles in support of his parish school later this month. Please support him his efforts!
Dear Family and Friends,
Everyone who knows me knows that Assumption School in Peekskill is the joy of my heart!
That’s why I’m taking my joy to the street and walking to St. Patrick’s Cathedral from Peekskill. Not just because Assumption School really, really, needs the financial help, but also in celebration and thanksgiving for the gift of Assumption School!
On the morning of November 10, I’ll leave Church of the Assumption for St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, where I will spend the night and set out for St. Patrick’s on November 11. My goal is to offer a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral at 6:30 p.m. on November 11.
My pilgrimage is part of a larger fundraising effort being undertaken by the Assumption School’s Advisory Board — $105,000 for 105 Years of Assumption School (“105 for 105”).
I would be most grateful if you would sponsor me as I make this prayerful and celebratory journey.
I ask you, if you can, to sponsor me by making a pledge. I will add your contact information to my sponsor sheet with the amount pledged and Assumption School will send you the invoice. Every little bit can help.
Your donation will go a long way to helping families hit hard by the economic downturn continue to send their children to Assumption School.
These are challenging yet grace-filled times and, I know, God can never be outdone in generosity!
Rest assured of my prayers for you every step of my way!
God bless you!
Father John Higgins
PS — The walk is 58 miles.
PPS — If you’re in the city, maybe you might join me for the Mass in The Lady Chapel?
PPPS — Maybe more vigorous types might want to join me for the Friday leg of the walk.
PPPPS — As I walk you can follow me on Twitter: @CatholicPeek