Faith in Action Blog
“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.”
The Most Rev. Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York, celebrates with Rev. John Higgins (’90).
Over on his blog, Catholic Peekskill, Rev. John Higgins (’90), pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Peekskill, N.Y., tells the story of his successful, 58-mile walk to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to raise money for his parish school. The blog also includes a video depicting highlights from Fr. Higgins’ journey.
In total, Fr. Higgins raised more than $60,000 for Assumption School. He writes:
“As I laced up my sneakers and began to head off along the pre-dawn road, I couldn’t help but think about Jesus and all the walks He took in his short time here on Earth.
“In a world full of cynicism, Jesus walked to bring optimism. In a world devoid of hope, Jesus walked to bring joy. In a world full of suffering, Jesus walked to bring healing. In a world full of hate, Jesus walked to bring love. Jesus walked.
“As a Catholic Priest, I am called to act in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), most especially during the Sacraments but, it is important to note that we are all called to be ‘other Christs’ for the people in our lives, to imitate Him as we make our way in the world. We are all called to take our own ‘walk’ toward Christ—our own pilgrimage of love.
“Sometimes that journey will be easy, filled with consolation and peace. Other times, that road will be steep and we will need every ounce of strength to get up that hill; we’ll feel alone and unworthy and it won’t be our feet that do the walking but our faith!
“But we all must do it; we are a called to do it—to make our own pilgrimage to His heart.”
It is not too late to support Fr. Higgins’ efforts. Send your tax-deductible donations to: Assumption School, 920 Monsignor Ansbro Way, Peekskill, NY 10566.
- Related: The Walking Priest
The video above comes from last Friday’s Mass of the Epiphany, offered by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Basilica. At about the 32:20 mark is the proclamation of the Holy Gospel, chanted by Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti (’07), a transitional deacon from the Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.), who is currently studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. What a tremendous honor!
Please remember to pray for Deacon Marotti, who is scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood on June 23.
The fourth and final profile in our ongoing series about the College’s newest alumni priests is Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist. (’06), a Cistercian monk at Stift Heiligenkreuz in Vienna Austria. Be sure to also read our previous profiles of Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02), Rev. Joseph Dygert (’02), and Rev. Jonathan Perrotta (’95).
The next profile in our ongoing series about the College’s four newest alumni priests is Rev. Jonathan Perrotta (’95), parochial vicar at the Church of the Holy Family in Grand Blanc, Mich. Read our story about Fr. Perrotta to learn about his life, his vocation, and his ministry. Also be sure to see our previous profiles of Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02) and Rev. Joseph Dygert (’02).
The Most Rev. Paul J. Bradley, Bishop of Kalamazoo, hands over a Book of the Gospels to Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti (’07) at his 2008 ordination to the transitional diaconate.
Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti (’07) reports that he will be ordained to the priesthood on June 23, 2012, for the Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.). That same day, another alumnus, Frater Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02), will also be ordained, bringing to 54 the number of the College’s alumni priests.
“I would certainly appreciate prayers!” writes Deacon Marotti. Please pray for him and for all of the College’s alumni priests and seminarians.
Periodically, the Catholic Answers Live radio program hosts a show that is directed specifically toward non-Catholics — whether fallen-away believers, Protestants, atheists, agnostics, or adherents of any other faith. Only self-identified non-Catholic listeners can call in during these shows, asking questions about the Church, its teachings, and its truth claims. Sometimes the callers call out of genuine curiosity about the Faith; other times they call out of hostility, hoping to “stump” the host and guests. Invariably, it is a lively exchange.
On Monday’s 3:00 p.m. (PT) “Open Forum for Non-Catholics,” the guest charged with answering these questions will be Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), a Catholic Answers Live regular. No doubt, he will be well-prepared: Speaking at Thomas Aquinas College’s 40th Anniversary Gala in September, Fr. Sebastian said, “as a guest on Catholic Answers Live, I listen to sometimes very diverse questions from people around the world about the Catholic faith. At the College, of course, we have the seminar method of education. So I feel that I have been really blessed with that capacity to hear someone and understand what he is saying and to try to address his questions in a way he can understand.”
Related: Previous appearances by Fr. Sebastian on Catholic Answers Live:
- How Biblical Inspiration Works (October 21)
- The Role of Logic in Apologetics (May 7)
- Are You Predestined? (February 10)
- The Nature of Prophecy (December 6, 2010)
- Can Doctrine Develop? (April 26, 2010)
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.