Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Rev. Jacob (Joseph ’06) Hsieh with his parents and the Most Rev. Kevin William Vann, Bishop of Orange
Rev. Jacob (Joseph ’06) Hsieh, O.Praem., with his parents and the Most Rev. Kevin William Vann, Bishop of Orange

On Saturday, June 27, the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rev. Jacob (Joseph ’06) Hsieh, O.Praem., received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, becoming the Colleges’ 62nd alumnus priest. Fr. Jacob’s ordination came at the hands of the Most Rev. Kevin William Vann, Bishop of Orange and the College’s 2013 Convocation Speaker. It took place at the Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano, where many alumni and friends of the College were on hand to witness the occasion.

Two days later, Fr. Jacob offered his Mass of Thanksgiving on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. He now takes up his first assignment, teaching Gregorian chant to the novices in his community, the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California. An accomplished musician, he has performed at Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and, this past Easter, he chanted the Exsultet at the papal Easter Vigil Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. For the past year leading up to his ordination, he studied theology and chant at the Norbertine Generalte in Rome.

“One of my teachers at high school was a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College. He made me love the pursuit of truth and showed me how rich the Catholic faith is. This influenced me to go to Thomas Aquinas College,” Fr. Jacob reflects in the Norbertines’ electronic newsletter. “There, I met Fr. Michael Perea, a confrere at St. Michael’s who was one of the chaplains that year and who suggested I come to visit the abbey. I fell in love with the common life that was thriving there: the pursuit of holiness and truth in fraternal charity. I decided to join the abbey after my senior year.”

Fr. Jacob offers a blessing to Director of Gift Planning Tom Susanka Fr. Jacob offers a blessing to Director of Gift Planning Tom SusankaAmong those who witnessed Fr. Jacob’s ordination were two members of the College’s faculty, Director of Development Robert Bagdazian and Director of Gift Planning Tom Susanka. On behalf of the College, they presented its newest alumnus priest with two gifts that, God willing, provide him with spiritual strength: Bl. John Henry Newman’s Parochial and Plain Sermons and one of the knotted Rosaries that a friend of Founding President Ronald P. McArthur has given the College’s graduates in each of the last two years.

“It was wonderful to get to see Fr. Jacob humbly and reverently answer God’s call to the holy priesthood,” says Mr. Bagdazian. “We pray for him in his new ministry, and we thank God for continuing to use the College to bless the world with more good and holy priests.”


The ordination of Rev. Joshua Mayer ('03)

The photo above comes from this Saturday’s ordination of Rev. Joshua Mayer (’03) at the hands of the Most Rev. James S. Wall, Bishop of Gallup. Numerous Thomas Aquinas College alumni and their families traveled to New Mexico for the occasion, marking the ordination of the College’s 61st alumnus priest. Deo gratias!

Below, Fr. Mayer offers a priestly blessing to the family Theresa (Smith) and John Minkel (both ’03):

Fr. Mayer blesses the Minkel family


The video above promotes the release of a new musical album, Benedicta: Marian Chant from Norcia, which features the voices of three alumni monks: Rev. Thomas Bolin, O.S.B. (’96), Br. Mary Evagrius Hayden, O.S.B. (’08), and Br. Philp Wilmeth (’13).

The three graduates are members of an 18-member Benedictine community at Monastero San Benedetto, a 1,000-year-old monastery in Norcia, Italy, birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica. Fr. Thomas serves as the community’s subprior; Br. Evagrius is currently pursuing graduate studies at the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria; and Br. Philip is set to make his simple vows on September 8, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The album, drawn from the monks’ daily life of prayer, features 33 tracks of Gregorian chant, including traditional Marian antiphons such as “Regina Caeli” and “Ave Regina Caelorum,” as well as previously unrecorded chant versions of responsories and an original composition, “Nos Qui Christi Iugum.” Benedicta: Marian Chant from Norcia is available for sale via amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and directly from the Monks of Norcia website.


The video above comes from this year’s Easter Vigil Mass, offered by His Holiness Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica. Chanting the Exsultet is a graduate of the College, Frater Jacob, O.Praem. (Joseph Hsieh ’06).

A Norbertine canon and a transitional deacon, Frater Jacob is currently studying theology and music at the Norbertine Generalte in Rome. He is due to return stateside in time for his ordination to the priesthood on June 27. 

       

Exsúltet iam angélica turba cælórum:
exsúltent divína mystéria:
et pro tanti Regis victória tuba ínsonet salutáris

Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation
sound aloud our mighty King's triumph!

Alleluia, alleluia, He is risen!


Rev. Gerard George Steckler, S.J.In 2008 Dean Brian T. Kelly (’88) introduced Rev. Gerard George Steckler, S.J., at an Alumni Association dinner held in the former chaplain’s honor. In light of Fr. Steckler’s death last week, the College has published the text of Dr. Kelly’s remarks — a beautiful recollection of a good and holy priest.

Please continue to pray for Fr. Steckler and the repose of his soul.


Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J.

It is fitting that during this, the Church’s Year of Consecrated Life, Thomas Aquinas College marks the 30th anniversary of one of its most beloved priests, Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., who died on February 19, 1985.

A graduate of the Université Laval in Quebec, Fr. McGovern previously taught at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., before coming to Thomas Aquinas College in early 1972. He served as a member of the faculty and, later, the Board of Governors until his death in 1985. The following year he posthumously received the College’s highest honor, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion.

Eleven alumni of the College have share some of their memories of the late tutor and Jesuit, which you can read here.


Rev. Christian Felkner, O.S.B. (’01) made a homecoming visit to his alma mater this week, and this morning he offered Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Photos from this morning’s Mass are available in the slideshow below:

  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner

Fr. Felkner is a monk at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma, where priests offer the Mass in the extraordinary form. He is among the College’s newest alumni priests, having been ordained — along with Rev. Andrew Norton, O.S.B. (’06) — on October 26, 2014.


Bishop Parkes ordains Fr. Busch
The Most Rev. Gregory Parkes, Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, confers the Sacrament of Holy Orders on Rev. Matthew Busch (’04) at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pensacola, Florida, on May 10, 2014. Source: Knights of Columbus, Tallahassee

“Sixty,” reflects Rev. Matthew Busch (’04), upon learning that he is Thomas Aquinas College’s 60th alumnus priest. “That is a very divisible number.”

These wry words bespeak two notable characteristics about this newly ordained priest of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. First, Fr. Busch is a mathematical thinker, ruminating on the works of Galileo and Decartes and, in his spare time, devising patentable software algorithms. Second, he is personable, even gregarious — at ease in any crowd and quick with a joke or a witty rejoinder. These two qualities both played an important role in helping him to discern his vocation.

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Fr. McGovern

Following the lead of Gregory A. Pesely (’77), Kelly Geier (’76) has offered some of his own memories of late tutor Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J. Mr. Geier, a senior software engineer at Welch Allyn in San Diego, writes:

“I had the privilege on many occasions to play tennis with Dr. McArthur and Fr. McGovern. Fr. McGovern, when on the court, was a serious competitor.

“During meals at the TAC cafeteria, Fr. McGovern frequently joked that no one had eaten more ‘TAC food’ than he had. But, he said, ‘I feel fine,’ and he laughed.

“As a tutor, regardless of the subject matter, his enthusiasm was infectious to all of us.

“On a number of occasions, Fr. McGovern heard my confession. Despite my disappointment in myself, he was always kind, encouraging, and wise in his advice.

“When he delivered his homilies, he had a gift for inflaming the hearts of his listeners with the same love for God that he had.”

A collection of those inspiring homilies is now available for all to read and treasure. Copies of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., are available via the College’s online form.

As Mr. Geier notes, “We are truly blessed that Fr. McGovern was a part of the College.”


Fr. McGovern

The recent release of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., has stirred up some dear memories for Gregory A. Pesely (’77):

Gregory A. Pesely (’77)“I had the great honor of serving at the altar with Fr. McGovern. (I helped out in the sacristy to set out his vestments. And, as I helped out with facilities, I had a few opportunities to help him with his dwelling place at the old campus.) He once confided that it usually took him 8-10 hours to craft, perfect, and memorize every homily.

“I had always hoped that one day his homilies would be published. What a treasure that collection will be for both those who had the honor to study St. Thomas with him and those who just heard about him.

“I often sat with him at meals. He had an observant eye and a keen mind. For a few summers, his mom would come out and visit him. I was able to witness the most tender and devoted son a mother could ever hope for.

“One summer while teaching at the Archdiocesan Seminary in Camarillo, I did a foolish thing — I agreed to play a set of handball with him up in Ojai. I treated him to a few cold beers after he clobbered me.

“He loved music, and not only sacred music: Once we caught him singing, ‘I Am Getting Married in the Morning’ from My Fair Lady while finishing up his laundry in the old laundry room at Claretville.

“I then went up to Université Laval and served several times with his dear friend and fellow Jesuit, Rev. Pere E. Lacasse, S.J. (at days of recollection and during a weeklong Ignatian Retreat). Both were incredibly spiritual priests, but both were passionate Jesuits with great senses of humor and humility.

“I believe a lot of the early vocations were enkindled by those who were introduced to Fr. McGovern and his unmistakable, great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.”

Mr. Pesely is the mission integration manager for OSF Healthcare System in Peoria, Illinois — a Catholic health care system covering 11 different facilities, and the largest system in Illinois outside of Chicago. He advises the corporation on medical ethics policies and the training of some 15,000 associated personnel.

Copies of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., can still be ordered in time for Christmas via the online form.