Michael Maxxa


A civil and canon lawyer — as well as a TAC dad — Michael Mazza recently visited Thomas Aquinas College, California, to discuss the importance of canon law and the growing opportunities for lay canon lawyers in the wider Church. 

The father of Maria (Dumais ’11), Monica (’11), Elizabeth (’16), Thomas (’20), Patrick (’23), and Andrew (’25), Mr. Mazza earned his J.D. from Marquette University in 1996, qualifying for the bar soon thereafter. As both a Catholic and a lawyer, however, he soon became fascinated by canon law, which eventually led him to pursue a J.C.D. from the Pontifical University of Santa Croce, which he finished in 2022. He now teaches canon law at Sacred Heart Seminary in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, and maintains a  private legal practice specializing in the intersection of civil and canon law.

This abundant legal experience was on display at Mr. Mazza’s presentation in the Dillon Seminar Room of St. Cecilia Hall. He addressed the nature of law itself, reflecting on its relation to justice and the possibility of unjust laws. Recognizing that his presentation considered questions raised by several of the greatest Great Books, including Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, and St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae, Mr. Mazza told students, “It’s an honor to talk to you here, where you understand some of these issues already.”

As a canon lawyer, Mr. Mazza also spent some time discussing the origins and importance of canon law. “The law of the Catholic Church,” as he defined it, extends far beyond marital disputes and annulments, affecting every vocation and state of Christian life. Mr. Mazza also emphasized that, although many practicing canon lawyers are priests, a growing number are laypeople, many of them young women. 

The presentation made a strong impression on students. “Canon law standardizes canons for us to follow,” said Jakob Gueits (’26) afterwards. “It makes clear how we ought to live the Christian life.”