Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

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.


Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02)After serving for three years as the parochial vicar at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka, Kansas, Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02) has moved on to a new assignment. The young priest is now the head of campus ministry at Emporia State University, a 6,000-student, public university some 100 miles southwest of Kansas City.

It is a position for which he is well suited. Prior to entering the seminary in 2006, Fr. Blaha spent three years as a missionary on secular campuses for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. That experience, he says, gave him a glimpse of what it would mean, as a priest, to serve as an alter Christus. “I saw God working in people’s lives, bringing about conversions,” he notes. “It wasn’t me doing it, but in some sense, it wouldn’t have happened had I not been there. That was a mark of the call of God; God is going to do this, but he won’t do it without me.”

Writing on Kansas City’s archdiocesan blog, Evangelized Kansas, Fr. Blaha adds that his time as a campus missionary gave him, “a front row seat to the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of young men and women” and “a sense that I could do this sort of thing for the rest of my life.” Providentially, he is now doing “this sort of thing” again as an ordained priest of Jesus Christ.

In that same blog post, Fr. Blaha also reflects on his four years at Thomas Aquinas College:

“I truly loved what I studied there, especially the theological works of our patron, St. Thomas Aquinas. The founders of the College emphasized that his work was the greatest synthesis of faith and reason our Church has ever seen — and that if there was any hope for a growth in understanding in our own age, it would have to take into account and build upon Thomas’s insights. Furthermore, the College was saturated with a Catholic culture, and the friendships I made there continue to sustain me to the present day, though we are separated often by thousands of miles.”

Please pray for Fr. Blaha, the souls in his care, and his work at Emporia State.



Rev. Christian Felkner, O.S.B. (’01), with his family at his October 26 ordination

As promised, here are some photos from the October 26 ordination of Rev. Christian Felkner, O.S.B. (’01), at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma. The Most Rev. Edward J. Slattery, Bishop of Tulsa, presided, ordaining two College alumni — Fr. Felkner and Rev. Andrew Norton, O.S.B. (’06) — to the priesthood, and a third, Br. Jerome Hudson, O.S.B. (’03), to the transitional diaconate. More photos of the ordinations are available via the Abbey’s website.

With the ordinations of Fathers Felkner and Norton, the College now has 62 priests among its alumni. Eleven alumni are priests or seminarians at Clear Creek, including the Abbey’s subprior, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82).

“Please keep us all in your prayers, especially that we be made worthy of this great grace and also that we may always follow God’s will and not our own,” writes Fr. Felkner in a letter to the College. “Be assured of my prayers for you.”


Fr. Felkner, O.S.B. (’01), foreground, with several of his confreres and Bishop Slattery



Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist. (’06); His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke; and Prof. Thomas Stark. Photo: CDO Photography

Earlier this month, Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist. (’06), moderated a panel discussion about the recently concluded Synod on the Family, featuring Raymond Cardinal Burke, Prefect Emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura. Hosted by Una Voce Austria, the discussion was timed to coincide with the release of the German edition of Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, for which Cardinal Burke was a contributor. Joining His Eminence and Pater Edmund on the dais was Dr. Thomas Heinrich Stark, a professor of philosophy at the Philosophical-Theological College St. Pölten.

Prior to the panel, Pater Edmund, a Cistercian monk at Stift Heiligenkreuz in Vienna, delivered a talk, The Synod on the Family and the Opera, which focused on the work of two Viennese composers, W. A. Mozart and Richard Strauss. That talk is available via Pater’s blog, and video and audio from the panel discussion with Cardinal Burke are available below:

Audio, courtesy of Mr. Christopher Owen:

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Andrew Lang (’06) was in Oklahoma this past weekend to witness the priestly ordination of his friend and Thomas Aquinas College classmate, Rev. Andrew Norton, O.S.B. (’06). Mr. Lang has graciously provided the photos in the slideshow below, which feature several other alumni before and after the ordination.

  • Fr. Andrew Norton Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Rev. Andrew Marie Norton
  • Fr. Andrew Norton Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Rev. Andrew Marie Norton
  • Fr. Andrew Norton Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Rev. Andrew Marie Norton
  • Fr. Andrew Norton Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Rev. Andrew Marie Norton
  • Fr. Andrew Norton Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Rev. Andrew Marie Norton
  • Fr. Andrew Norton Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Rev. Andrew Marie Norton
  • Fr. Andrew Norton Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Rev. Andrew Marie Norton
  • Fr. Andrew Norton Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Rev. Andrew Marie Norton
  • Fr. Andrew Norton Ordination
    Slideshow: The Ordination of Rev. Andrew Marie Norton

Fr. Norton is one of 11 Thomas Aquinas College alumni at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma, including the Abbey’s subprior, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82). The ordination took place on October 26 the Abbey chapel, with the Most Rev. Edward J. Slattery of Tulsa serving as the ordaining bishop. Fr. Norton offered his first Mass the next morning.

“From now on,” writes Fr. Norton in a recent note in his family’s parish bulletin, “a successful day will be one on which I have said Mass ‘better,’ that is, with greater faith, hope and, charity; with my heart and mind more conformed to the Heart and Mind of Jesus; full to overflowing with zeal for God, His Father; and for humanity, for all, especially the weakest, most helpless, most ignorant, the most hardened sinners full of hate.”

Fr. Norton was one of three alumni to receive Holy Orders at Clear Creek on Saturday. Bishop Slattery also ordained Rev. Christian Felkner, O.S.B. (’01), to the priesthood and Br. Jereme Hudson, O.S.B. (’03), to the transitional diaconate. We will post photos from these ordinations as soon as they become available.

Deo Gratias!


Rev. Sebastian Walsge, O.Praem. ('94)On the final day of the recently concluded Synod on the Family, the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an essay about the Synod’s purpose — and its challenges — by Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94). A professor of philosophy at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California, Fr. Sebastian argues that, “The stakes are high,” for the Synod. “For unless modern man can recapture the meaning which God has written into the natural human family, the result will be ignorance and error, indifference and animosity, toward the entire supernatural order.”

Fr. Sebastian continues:

Every artist has his favorite work of art, and God’s favorite is the human family. From all eternity, in fact, He understood himself as the Son of Mary, as a member of a human family. The reason for God’s predilection is that more than the other parts of His creation, the family reflected His own goodness and beauty. Hence, we cannot know God, we cannot love Him, without knowing and loving the natural human family. …

Consider how the modern distortions of the family can lead to distortions in faith. The indissolubility of marriage is intended to be a sign of God’s eternal and unique love for His Church. Is it any surprise then that religious pluralism and the denial that there is one Church is widespread in a society in which divorce and remarriage are widespread? The natural begetting of a child through the loving union of husband and wife is intended to be a sign that God creates each human soul immediately and with love. This reality is obscured in a society which accepts in vitro fertilization or other artificial means of procreation.… And in households where, by design, there is no father or there is no mother, how will the children come to understand God as Father or what it means for God to love us like a mother? … Examples could be multiplied but, suffice it to say, a lack of love and esteem for the goodness of the natural family entails a lack of love and esteem for God and the things of heaven.

The bishops, writes Fr. Sebastian, are “striving to interpret to the world the supernatural significance of the natural family” — a task that is treacherous, but essential.

The full article is available via the Vatican’s news website.


Rev. Hildebrand Garceau (’78), O.Praem.


Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. (’78), now serving as the College’s head chaplain, recently gave a “tutor talk” entitled “The Sanctification of Time and the Liturgy of the Hours.” Text and audio are available via the College’s website.


Rev. Hildebrand Garceau (’78), O.Praem.An alumnus of the College, Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. (’78), has agreed to become its next head chaplain. At the start of the upcoming academic year, Fr. Hildebrand will be taking over for the departing Rev. Joseph Illo.

Fr. Hildebrand first came to the College as a student in 1974. After graduating in 1978, he attended Mt. Angel Seminary in Oregon, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1984. A member of the Norbertine Fathers at St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange, California, he served as pastor of the 3,000-family St. John the Baptist Church in Costa Mesa before returning to the College as a chaplain in 2011.

“The love of Christ and His church has gathered us together here at Thomas Aquinas College,” says Fr. Hildebrand. “By study, reflection, and discussion we come to know God; by prayer and contemplation we come to love Him. The chaplains help to facilitate that love by ministering the Sacraments and providing spiritual direction so that the students may thrive humanly and spiritually.”


Rev. Ramon Decaen (’96) and Dr. Carol A. Day

While making a summer pilgrimage along Spain’s Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Rev. Ramon Decaen (’96) encountered a familiar face — that of College tutor Dr. Carol A. Day. Writes Fr. Decaen:

“I was at about kilometer marker 40 when our group of four went on a 4 km side tour of a 12th century convent. We had a tour with four other pilgrims. I was shocked to turn and find Dr. Carol Day was one of those pilgrims! She was my college astronomy professor. Small world!”

Like Fr. Decaen, Dr. Day is hiking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, joined by another graduate of the College, Wendy-Marie Teichert (’81). Fr. Decaen is a priest in the Diocese of Lincoln (Nebraska), where he is the pastor of the Parish of Cristo Rey, the city’s largest Spanish-language church. He is also the diocesan director of Hispanic ministry, which serves some 148,000 Lincoln residents. Please pray that he, Dr. Day, and Miss Teichert will continue to be blessed along The Way!