Faith in Action Blog
Eastern Oklahoma Catholic, the magazine of the Diocese of Tulsa, recently ran a story (PDF) about the life, prayer, and work of the Benedictine Monks at Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey. Ten of the 40 brothers in this rapidly growing community are Thomas Aquinas College alumni, including the Abbey’s subprior, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82).
The Eastern Oklahoma Catholic story reports on the progress of the monks’ ambitious, long-term building project, and also offers an insight into the leaven that these cloistered religious can be for the surrounding community:
“The balanced life of prayer and work provides an example to the modern person of how to praise God, respect His creation, to love one’s neighbor, and practice the reasonable use of material goods. While our vocation does not allow us the time to live as Benedictine monks, their piety reminds us of our own call to pray in our work and, when our work is finished, to take the time to pray.
“The ministry of Clear Creek is certainly a blessing to the Diocese of Tulsa. In just over a decade, they have had a formative influence on the faithful, providing a window into a world where men are engaged in a constant search after God.”
May God continue to bless Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey!
The Very Rev. John M. Berg, F.S.S.P. (’93), with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in 2009During a plenary session at the International Seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Denton, Neb., the General Chapter of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) re-elected the Very Rev. John M. Berg, F.S.S.P. (’93), to a six-year term as Superior General. Fr. Berg is the Fraternity’s third Superior General, having been first elected to the position in 2006 at the age of 36.
The Fraternity includes 228 priests and 154 seminarians serving 117 dioceses in 16 countries. Its members represent 35 nationalities, with an average age of 36. A society of pontifical right founded by Bl. John Paul II in 1988, it has three pillars: fidelity to the See of Peter, dedication to the extraordinary form of the Mass and all the sacraments, and emphasis on the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas as a clear basis for presenting the Faith.
When he graduated from Thomas Aquinas College in 1993, Fr. Berg’s classmates elected him to be their class speaker at Commencement. In that address he remarked, “We have a duty to bring to the world the Catholic faith just as we have received it, in part, here. We must show others that knowledge of the Divine does illumine all other knowledge, and that the tenets of the Faith are reasonable.… We must also live a moral, Catholic life in all of our dealings with society, and pass on the beautiful traditions of the Church to others in the community in which we live, whether that community be small, as a family, or large, as a town.”
Providence has so disposed it that Fr. Berg now has the opportunity to heed his own admonition in an eminent way. In his role as Superior General, he once explained, “My main duty is to the priests and seminarians of the Fraternity. I am responsible that they have the means set out by our constitutions — and, therefore, the Church — to achieve holiness. I must ensure that our seminaries are well staffed and well ordered, and I must place our priests in work that will provide them appropriate formation. Then it is my task to contact them frequently, in a fatherly manner. In addition, I make the financial and material decisions for the order with the aid of a general council.”
It is a tremendous responsibility, but one for which he has proven himself well equipped. Please keep Fr. Berg and the Fraternity in your prayers as he begins his second term.
Marianna Bartholomew has published an article with the Catholic News Agency about a sign of springtime in the Church — the return of hand-stitched altar linens at Blessed Sacrament Church in Lincoln, Neb. The linens are the handiwork of faithful parishioners in a newly established “Order of Martha,” an organization which boasted as many as 6,000 members in the 1960s, but by 2005 had dwindled to only five known groups nationwide. At the heart of this story is the priest who recognized two needs — one material, one spiritual — and by bringing them together inspired a group of committed laywomen who make beautiful vestments and altar cloths to be used in the Mass.
That priest is Rev. Brendan Kelly (’85), the pastor of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Bee, Neb., and a teacher at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Lincoln.
The story begins in 2008 when Fr. Kelly, who was then assigned to Blessed Sacrament, discovered that the girls in his church took a keen interest in its tattered and aging altar linens. Remembering his grandmother’s participation in the Order of Martha, and mindful of the great joy its members took in offering themselves at the altar in this way, Fr. Kelly established a new chapter. The chapter has since sewn linens for Blessed Sacrament as well as for the College’s Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel.
This new Order of Martha has also borne great spiritual fruit — which you can read all about in Mrs. Bartholomew’s wonderful story.
By God’s grace there are now 58 priests among the alumni of Thomas Aquinas College!
Rev. Joseph Bolin (’01)
On June 15, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, His Eminence Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, laid hands on Rev. Joseph Bolin (’01), ordaining him to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ. “In high school I studied mathematics and computer science and received several awards and fellowships for further study in these areas,” reflects Fr. Bolin on an Austrian website (see electronic translation). “But I decided instead to go to Thomas Aquinas College in California, so as to become well-equipped for life — no matter what profession I should choose — by studying the liberal arts and philosophy.” It was during his time on campus, Fr. Bolin adds, that “I heard the call to follow Christ in a special priestly ministry.”
Numerous photos of the ordination, which took place in Vienna’s Cathedral of St. Stephan, are available online. Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean attended the ordination, where he saw several alumni, including Ginger Mortensen (’96), director of development for the International Theological Institute in Trumau.
Rev. Francis Marotti (’07)
Eight days later, on June 23, His Excellency Paul J. Bradley, Bishop of Kalamazoo (Mich.), ordained Rev. Francis Marotti (’07) at St. Augustine Cathedral. The chairman of the College’s Board of Governors, R. James Wensley, was there to witness the ordination, joined by Vice president for Development Paul J. O’Reilly and tutor Brian Dragoo. A recent graduate of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Fr. Marotti twice had the honor of chanting the Gospel at papal Masses while he was still a deacon. He now will serve as a diocesan priest in his hometown of Kalamazoo.
Rev. Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02)
That same day, some 4,500 miles away, the Most Rev. Cirilo B. Flores, Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego (center), conferred the Sacrament of Holy Orders upon Rev. Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02, right) at Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. His Excellency also ordained one of Fr. Okapal’s fellow alumni Nortbertines, Frater Nathaniel Drogin, O. Praem. (’01, left), to the transitional diaconate. College Governor Andrew Zepeda was in attendance, as were three members of the faculty: Director of Admissions Jon Daly and tutors David Arias and Tom Kaiser. The following morning Fr. Okapal offered his first Mass at St. Michael’s Abbey Church in Orange, Calif., with Deacon Drogin assisting.
Over the weekend two alumni of Thomas Aquinas College were ordained to the sacred priesthood, bringing to 55 the total number of alumni priests!
First, on Friday, May 25, the Most Rev. J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, ordained Rev. Jerome Augustine Zeiler, O.P. (’00) at St. Dominic Church in Washington. D.C. The following day, the Most Rev. Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis, conferred the Sacrament of Holy Orders upon Rev. Fadi Auro (’03) at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
Fr. Zeiler is the fifth alumnus of the College to become a Dominican priest. After graduating from the College in 2000, he pursued graduate studies at the University of Dallas, then entered the Order of Preachers in August, 2005. He earned a Bachelor of Sacred Theology and a Master of Divinity at the Dominican House of Studies and a Licentiate in Philosophy at the Catholic University of America. His first priestly assignment will be as a parochial vicar at St. Gertrude Parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Born in the United Arab Emirates, Fr. Auro is the child of Iraqi Chaldean Christians who moved to the United States at the start of the first Persian Gulf War in 1991. While studying at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, Fr. Auro first met Raymond Cardinal Burke, then the Archbishop of St. Louis, who invited him to become a seminarian in the archdiocese. Fluent in several languages, Fr. Auro is a “bi-ritual priest,” able to offer the Mass in both Eastern and the Latin Rites.
Fr. Zeiler and Fr. Auro are the first of five alumni who are set to be ordained to the priesthood this summer. The others are: Rev. Mr. Joseph Bolin, Class of 2001 (Diocese of Vienna, June 15); Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti, Class of 2007 (Diocese of Kalamazoo, June 23); and Frater Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem., Class of 2002 (Norbertines, June 23).
Last weekend St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., was the setting for Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite for the first time since adopting the vernacular shortly after Vatican II. Serving as celebrant was Rev. John Paul Erickson (’02), Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Worship for St. Paul and Minneapolis. More photos from the Mass are available at the New Liturgical Movement website.
After graduating from the College in 2002, Fr. Erickson returned to his native Minnesota as a seminarian. In 2006, he was ordained to the holy priesthood at the hands of the Most Rev. Harry Flynn, Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He then went on to serve as an associate pastor at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, the Church of Saint Vincent de Paul, and the Church of Saint Agnes. Since 2008 he has served in his current position as the Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Worship while still assisting at Saint Agnes.
Fr. MoriartyNotably Fr. Erickson will soon be working with a new pastor at Saint Agnes — his fellow graduate, Rev. Mark Moriarty (’95). Ordained to the priesthood in 1999, and currently the pastor of Mary, Queen of Peace in Rogers, Minn., Fr. Moriarty has been named the new pastor of Saint Agnes effective July 1. He will be replacing Rev. John Ubel, the newly appointed rector of the Cathedral of Saint Paul and pastor of the Cathedral parish .
A professor of philosophy at St. Michael’s Abbey Seminary in Orange County, Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), recently appeared on Catholic Answers Live, where he discussed The Power and Purpose of Celibacy. As a regular guest on the nation’s top-rated Catholic radio program, Fr. Sebastian has covered a wide range of topics, both philosophical and theological. Past episodes are available for streaming/download via the Catholic Answers website:
- Open Forum for Non-Catholics (December 12, 2011)
- How Biblical Inspiration Works (October 21, 2011)
- The Role of Logic in Apologetics (May 7, 2011)
- Are You Predestined? (February 10, 2011)
- The Nature of Prophecy (December 6, 2010)
- Can Doctrine Develop? (April 26, 210)
“Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, Who was crucified. He has risen, He is not here; see the place where they laid Him.”
At Pope Benedict XVI’s Easter Vigil Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, the honor of proclaiming the above words belonged to an alumnus of the College, Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti (’07), who chanted the Gospel (Mk. 16:1-7). The proclamation can be found at the 96:30 mark in the video below:
Rev. Mr. Marotti, a transitional deacon from the Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.), is currently studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. In January he was honored to chant the Gospel at the papal Mass of the Epiphany.
Please remember to pray for Deacon Marotti who, God willing, will be ordained to the priesthood on June 23.
“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.
A transitional deacon for the Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.), the Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti (’07) is currently studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. In January he proclaimed the Holy Gospel at the papal Mass of the Epiphany in St. Peter’s Basilica. (See video, below, at about the 32:20 mark.) God willing, he will be ordained to the priesthood this June 23.
Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean recently asked this future priest about how the College prepared him for his vocation. Deacon Marotti provided a brief, spontaneous answer and then, after more reflection, sent a more detailed, written response, which we publish below with his permission:
“I would like to give you a more complete answer to your question about how Thomas Aquinas College has prepared me for seminary. That it did prepare me well is clear from the fact that I was not even required to attend a minor seminary before coming here to Rome — the College is intellectually and spiritually formative in a way that rivals actual seminaries.
“It would be hard to say that this or that particular thing was most helpful in preparation for the holy priesthood, because the whole four-year period of study, prayer, and fraternity formed a solid integrated whole — the study of philosophy, theology, literature, science, language, the intensely Catholic atmosphere on campus, the frequency and reverence of the celebration of Holy Mass, the example and guidance of the good and holy tutors and chaplains. All of these parts benefit from the others, and the whole would suffer were any of these to be removed.
“The best way I can describe how Thomas Aquinas College helped me in discerning my vocation and preparing for the priesthood is to say that it forms one to think according to the mind of the Church. It does so in a way that is unique: by exposing the student not only to the Catholic Tradition, but also to those foundations and principles which preceded and prepared for the flowering of the Catholic faith and Western civilization as a whole, along with those currents of thought which are inimical to the same faith and threaten the Church today. The education and life at the College was indispensable for giving me a Catholic mind, a mind that is enthusiastically committed to promoting and defending holy mother Church, and committed to the rich intellectual, cultural and spiritual tradition which she possesses.
“The thoroughly Catholic mindset which one acquires at the College obviously benefits even further from studying in the Eternal City, so close to the Tomb of the Apostle Peter, and close to his successor, the Pope. The daily encounters with the tombs of other saints and martyrs only increases the love and devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ and His body the Church. For this, I will be eternally grateful to Thomas Aquinas College.”