Faith in Action Blog
Br. Patrick Carter (’05), Br. Robert Nesbit (’07), and Br. Peter Miller (’07)
Rev. Joseph O’Hara (’92), a secular priest who has long felt a pull toward the religious life, has entered Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Okla. Fr. O’Hara is now one of 11 Thomas Aquinas College alumni living and praying within this Benedictine community, including the Order’s subprior, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82).
On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), three of Fr. O’Hara and Fr. Bachmann’s alumni confreres will be making their solemn professions: Br. Patrick Carter (’05), Br. Peter Miller (’07), and Br. Robert Nesbit (’07). Along with the announcement for the professions, Br. Patrick recently sent Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean the following note:
“Blessed be God! I pray that all is well with you and with the whole Thomas Aquinas College community. Despite the passage of time, the College does not lose ground in my affections, but rather becomes dearer and dearer to me.…
“It is with profound gratitude for the education and formation we received at Thomas Aquinas College that we give ourselves definitively to the Lord’s service here at Clear Creek. Be assured of our support and prayers both for the general intentions of the college and for your work as president.”
The Brothers ask that we pray the following:
Novena Prayer for Professions:
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy
Holy Trinity, the One God, have mercy on them
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, have mercy on them
Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, pray for them
Saint Michael and all your holy Angels, pray for them
Saint John the Baptist, pray for them
Saint Joseph, pray for them
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for them
Saints John, Thomas, and Philip, pray for them
Saint Gregory, pray for them
Saints Augustine and Jerome, pray for them
Saint Patrick, pray for them
Saint Anselm, pray for them
Saint Robert Bellarmine, pray for them
Saint Benedict, our blessed Father, pray for them
Saint Anthony of the Desert, pray for them
Saints Maur and Placid, pray for them
Saint Bernard, pray for them
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for them
Saint John of the Cross, pray for them
Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, pray for them
St. Mary Magdalene, pray for them
Saint Scholastica, pray for them
Saints Getrude and Hildegard, pray for them
Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, pray for them
All you holy monks and hermits, pray for them
All you saints of God, intercede for them
Let us pray
O God, who hast made the Immaculate Mother of thy Son to be also our mother, grant, we beseech Thee, that these who are born into the life of perfection through the vows of religion, may, by the nourishment of that same Mother, arrive at the measure of the full age of Christ. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
May God bless the Clear Creek 11!
On November 17, the Most Rev. Thomas J. Curry, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, ordained Br. Ryan Morris Wolford, C.R.I.C. (’97), to the transitional diaconate. The Ordination Mass took place at St. Sebastian Church, one of two parishes that Br. Ryan’s community, the Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception, serves in Santa Paula, Calif.
By God’s grace, Br. Ryan will be ordained to the priesthood in 2013. In the meantime, he is in Mundelein, Ill., earning a license in theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake. He previously earned his sacrae theologiae baccalaureus at the Angelicum in Rome.
“I would just like to express my thanks to God for my Thomas Aquinas College experience,” Br. Ryan writes. “Four years’ studying Aristotle, and a good start in St. Thomas, have proven invaluable to my subsequent education; but most of all I am thankful that my time at the College led to my conversion to Catholicism and my eventual pursuit of the priesthood.”
Please keep Br. Ryan your prayers!
This Friday, November 30, will mark the first anniversary of the death of Matthew Wise (’06). To pray for the repose of his soul, an alumni priest, Rev. John Tom Mellein, O.P. (’99), will offer a private Mass at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. All who are in the area are invited. The Mass will be held at 8:00 a.m. in Caldwell Chapel.
Please continue to keep Matthew, his family, and his loved ones in prayer throughout the week.
Lost in the ongoing political debate over marriage is a more fundamental question, namely, where does marriage come from? Does the state have the power to define what marriage is, or does the definition precede and transcend the state — something government cannot alter?
Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), a regular guest on the Catholic Answers Live radio program, takes on this question and others in a recent episode titled, The Nature of Marriage.
Marriage, Fr. Sebastian says, “comes about as a result of nature,” and as such is not subject to human redefinition. “The state doesn’t have the right to define triangles. The state doesn’t have the right to define dogs and cats. They are what they are. So the state doesn’t have the right to define marriage,” he explains. Moreover, for government to claim authority in this instance is to assert for itself “absolute power” over marriage “and, as a consequence, family life, because the foundational relationship in any family is the relationship of marriage.”
The show is available both in streaming and downloadable form on the Catholic Answers website, as are these other episodes featuring Fr. Sebastian:
- Open Forum for Non-Catholics (December 9, 2011)
- 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)
His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, greeting Rev. John Higgins (’90) last year with a popsicle and a soda at the completion of Fr. Higgins’ 50-mile walk to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
One year ago, Rev. John Higgins (’90), pastor of the Church of the Assumption in Peekskill, N.Y., walked 50 miles from his church to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in midtown Manhattan to raise money for his parish elementary school. This weekend, he will undertake that same journey.
Fr. Higgins’ 2011 pilgrimage raised $77,000 for the 225 students of Assumption School, many of whom live under the poverty level. This year he hopes to top that total. “It’s about 110,000 steps to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and we hope to get a dollar for every step that we walk, making our goal $110,000,” he writes. “I think we can do it!”
Help sponsor Fr. Higgins’ walk for Assumption School either online via PayPal, or by sending a check to:
920 First Street
Peekskill, NY 10566
ATTN: Walk 2012
Godspeed, Fr. Higgins!
Starting tomorrow (Saturday, September 29), EWTN is sponsoring a Novena to the Mother of God for the United States, seeking Our Lady’s intercession and Our Lord’s blessing on the country as we approach the upcoming elections. The novena has the nihil obstat of one of the College's graduates, Rev. Gary Selin (’89), the formation director at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.
The inspiration for the Novena, says Fr. Selin, came from its author, Rev. Frederick L. Miller, S.T.D., of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Maryland, who spent last year in sabbatical at St. John Vianney. During that time, the two priests discussed the state of the Church in America, the elections, and what Catholics could do for their country.
“I was concerned, as the year was going on, that we Catholics in the U.S. — starting with us clergy, but also the lay faithful — were not looking at the election enough from the spiritual perspective,” Fr. Selin recalls. From there, he and Fr. Miller thought of the Novena, which, in keeping with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom this summer, would “continue that spirit of prayer and fasting for our country.”
It was important to both priests, says Fr. Selin, that the Novena call upon the aid of the Blessed Mother. “I know from history and my own personal experience,” he notes, citing events from the Battle of Lepanto to the fall of Communism, “that when we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary in time of great need — when we go to Jesus through Mary — Jesus has come through with very special graces.”
Thus the timing of the Novena to the Mother of God for the United States, which begins on the Feast of the Holy Archangels (September 29), and concludes on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7), just prior to the start of the Year of Faith (October 11). “Coming into an election, where so much is on the line for the Catholic Church and for our country with regards to attacks against religious liberty, the attack against the beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony and even the marital act,” Fr. Selin explains, “we’re callings upon God through the intercession of Mary for very special graces on our country.”
Fr. Selin adds, however, that the act of transforming a nation must begin with our own, interior conversions. “First and foremost in this whole issue of the election, we have to start with ourselves, asking: How have we been faithful to God’s commands? How have we lived a deep prayer life, avoiding sin, growing in holiness and in our dedication to the Holy Eucharist? Then our public acts will be a beautiful overflowing of that commitment of faith.”
Fr. Selin has long had a devotion to the Blessed Mother. His senior thesis at the College was titled, “Mary: Archetype of the Church.” The Mother of God, he says, “has always been close to me in my vocational discernment and leading me here.” Likewise, she must play a role in the future of the nation: “Work has to be done in the public sphere — and that’s the work of the lay faithful to get out there, and we priests have to preach and encourage — but we cannot forget Our Lady.”
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.