Faith in Action Blog
Writing in the Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Daily, Timothy Drake has conducted a rare interview with Sr. Mary Josefa, OSB (Kathleen Holcomb ’07), of the Benedictine Sisters of Mary. The Sisters’ Advent at Ephesus album of sacred music topped Billboard’s Classical Music Chart for six weeks last year, and the community has recently released a new album, Angels and Saints at Ephesus. In his interview, Mr. Drake asks Sr. Josefa about her experience at Thomas Aquinas College and about the role of liturgy, sacred music, and Catholic identity in higher education.
Among Sr. Josefa’s notable responses is her explanation for why she chose the College:
I chose to attend Thomas Aquinas College because it integrated classical and Catholic education; I was fascinated by the liberal arts program, with its consideration and discussion of original sources, introducing the student to the perennial questions with which mankind has always grappled, but I was further drawn by the Catholic identity of the school, which orders this program of studies in order to lead the student from the contemplation of created truth to the contemplation of God Himself.
Sr. Josefa also describes how the College enriched her spiritual life:
At TAC, I was blessed to be part of a community that was really unified and ordered by its Catholic identity. I attended daily Mass and Rosary with my teachers and fellow students; the chapel was the central point of the campus and teachers and students always would stop on the way to or from class for a visit; everyone acknowledged senior theology as the culminating point of the curriculum to which all the other classes were ordered; in these and countless other ways, I experienced a community that recognized that the invisible realities are more real, more important than the visible ones. Naturally, this greatly nourished the inclination that I had had to religious life since I was young. Many of my fellow students were also drawn to religious life as a result of the strong Catholic community and contemplative program of studies, and having peers considering a vocation really strengthened my own.
The full interview is available via Catholic Education Daily.
“Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquium tuum et vivam, et non confundas me ab expectatione mea.”
“Receive me, Lord, as you have promised, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in my hope.”
— Rule of St. Benedict 58:21; Psalm 118:116
Please pray for Sr. Mary Josepha (Kathleen’07) Holcomb, OSB, who on Saturday will pray the above psalm, as did St. Benedict, and make her first vows as a member of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, in Gower, Mo. She will also receive the name Sister Mary Josefa of the Eucharist.
Thanks be to God!
The most recent issue of Thomas Aquinas College’s quarterly newsletter featured profiles of the College’s five newest alumni priests, all ordained within the last year. Those profiles are now available online:
- Rev. Jerome Augustine Zeiler, O.P. (’00)
Dominican Friars, Province of St. Joseph
- Rev. Joseph Bolin (’01)
Archdiocese of Vienna (Austria)
- Rev. Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02)
Canons Regular of Premontre, Orange County (Calif.)
- Rev. Fadi Auro (’03)
Archdiocese of St. Louis (Mo.)
- Rev. Francis Marotti (’07)
Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.)
Br. Peter Miller (’07), Br. Robert Nesbit (’07), and Br. Patrick Carter (’05)
Thanks to all who prayed the novena posted here in behalf of Br. Patrick Carter (’05), Br. Peter Miller (’07), and Br. Robert Nesbit (’07). Those prayers have borne good fruit!
The young Benedictines — three of the 11 Thomas Aquinas College alumni living and praying at Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Okla. — all made their solemn professions on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2012. Several alumni and representatives of the College, including Vice President Peter L. DeLuca and Senior Tutor John Nieto, were on hand for the blessed occasion.
In other good news out of Clear Creek, on October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, two other alumni monks were ordained to the transitional diaconate: Br. Andrew Norton (’06) and Br. Christian Felkner (’01).
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!
Br. Mary Evagrius (Dominic ’08) Hayden, O.S.B., is a Benedictine monk at the Monastero San Benedetto in Norcia, Italy, the birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica. The 1,000-year-old monastery had fallen into a 200-year period of disuse until refounded by a group of American Benedictines in the great Jubilee Year of 2,000. Br. Evagrius, as he is known, is now one of two Thomas Aquinas College alumni pursuing vocations there, the other being the community’s subprior, Rev. Thomas (David’96) Bolin, O.S.B.
In August, Br. Evagrius made his solemn profession, and shortly afterward sent the following reflection about the experience to the College’s president, Dr. Michael F. McLean:
“Mortuus sum, et vita mea est abscondita cum Christo in Deo.” “I am dead, and my life is hidden with Christ in God.”
This was the hymn that echoed above me as I lay stretched out upon the cold floor, a black funeral shroud draped over my still body. The funeral bells rang their mournful cry announcing the passage of another soul from this world … and I wept. I had given God all that I had: money, time, energy, even my own life dedicated fully to Him. But of what value are the things that I seek to give to Him when He possesses the universe? My gifts are like ashes and smoke.
A wise Abba once told me, “In the end all that we can give to God is our dying, and that pleases the spouse very much.” I had finally given that little gift to Him as well, prefiguring my own death in the flesh with my death from the world. Now I have nothing left, except the years of waiting until I am finally brought in to the wedding feast of the lamb.
When will my death be consummated so that I can be with the Spouse? I do not know. But until that day comes I must prepare myself, for as the same Abba told me, “The monastic life is a preparation for martyrdom.”
The hymn continued: “Non moriar sed vivam, et narrabo opera Domini.” “I will not die but I shall live, and I will proclaim the works of the Lord.”
Having made my solemn vows, I am now given a mission, to proclaim the works of the Lord by my life until that time when He should call me to lay it down out of love, a holocaust consumed, emptied as Christ emptied himself, to die just as He did. Then death loses its sting, it is no longer a tragedy of pain, fear and sorrow, but rather a separation from the obstacles that keep the soul from union with God, a joyful transformation from orphan-hood to son-ship, a resurrection to life everlasting.
Jenny Gerrity (’08) at the investiture of Sr. Sophia Eid, OSB (’08, second from left), with Sr. Mary Josepha (Kathleen’07) Holcomb, OSB, and Lisa (Gerritty ’08) Berquist
The College has recently learned some wonderful news about three of its alumnae who are pursuing vocations to the religious life:
On the Feast of the Assumption (August 15), Erika Brown (’11) entered the candidacy program with the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. “I feel so blessed to be a part of this Carmelite community praying ‘in the heart of the Church,’” she writes. “The Lord has been working in my life in wonderful ways. I am so grateful for my time at Thomas Aquinas College: It fostered a desire to know and love the Lord which could not be quenched. God is so good!”
Less than two weeks later, on August 28, Elisabeth Sedler (’09) entered the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, Mich., and soon thereafter moved into the Order’s new house, St. Felix Oratory in Huntington, Ind. Miss Sedler is the third alumnae of the College to join the Sisters of Mary, whose superior general, Mother Mary Assumpta Long, O.P., was the College’s 2012 Commencement Speaker.
Lastly, on September 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Sr. Gina Marie Eid (’08) received her habit and new religious name — Sr. Sophia Eid, OSB, as a member of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, in Gower, Mo. Sr. Sophia is now a novice in the community, where she joins fellow alumna Sr. Mary Josepha (Kathleen ’07) Holcomb, OSB. Many family members and friends, including several alumni of the College came for the investiture ceremony, which took place at St. James Church in St. Joseph, Mo.
Please pray for the intentions and well-being of the newest alumnae sisters. May God richly bless these humble, dedicated servants of Christ!
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!
Br. Mary Evagrius Hayden, O.S.B. (Dominic Hayden ’08), will make his solemn profession under the Rule of St. Benedict, thereby permanently joining the Benedictine Order at the Monastery of San Benedetto in Norcia, Italy, on Saturday. The ceremony will take place in the Basilica of San Benedetto, at the birthplace Sts. Benedict and Scholastica, in the main piazza of Norcia.
The monastery invites all to send their wishes and congratulations to firstname.lastname@example.org with “For Br. Evagrius” in the subject line. Please keep Br. Evagrius and all of the College’s priestly and religious alumni in your prayers!
The family of Maria Forshaw (’07) reports that she has entered the Carmel of Saint Joseph in Saint Louis, Mo., as a postulant. This cloistered, contemplative community of Discalced Carmelite nuns is dedicated to a life of prayer in service of the Church.
Please join us in praying for Sr. Maria as she pursues her vocation!
Sr. Mary Andre, O. Praem (’11) and Sr. Mary Thomas, O. Praem (’09)
On June 6, the Feast of St. Norbert, two alumnae of Thomas Aquinas College took their religious names and were vested in the habit of the Norbertine Canonesses at the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph in Tehachapi, Calif. Thus, by God’s grace, Alison Bright (’09) is now Sr. Mary Thomas, O. Praem. (after the College’s patron, St. Thomas Aquinas!), and Annie Huguelet (’11) is now Sr. Mary Andre, O. Praem (after St. Andre Bessette).
Commencement 2007At 9:30 this morning Sr. Miriam Thérèse of the Holy Face, O.C.D. (Kelly Waldman ’07), made her solemn profession at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Valparaiso, Neb. The Bishop of Lincoln, the Most Reverend Fabian Bruskewitz, offered Mass and received her final vows.
The date of this blessed event is significant on a number of levels: It is the liturgical anniversary of Sr. Miriam Thérèse’s first profession; the anniversary of her entrance into the Carmelite Order; and the anniversary of the canonization of her patroness, St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Of course it is also Ascension Thursday, of particular relevance to Sr. Miriam Thérèse’s religious name, because this was the last day Our Lord’s Holy Face was seen on earth before He returned to His Father in heaven.
Sr. Miriam Thérèse of the Holy Face is one of three alumnae at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The others are Sr. Paula Grimm (’08) and Sr. Pauline of Christ (Bridget Morey ’05). Please keep all three of these devoted nuns in your prayers!
It was while she was a student at Thomas Aquinas College that Sr. Juliana Schmitt, O.Cist. (’86), first became aware of her vocation to the religious life. Yet as is often the case, God’s plans for her unfolded slowly — and circuitously. So it took several years before Sr. Juliana found her way to the Valley of Our Lady Monastery in Prairie du Sac, Wis., where she now happily lives the life of a cloistered nun.
Sr. Julianna tells her vocation story in the upcoming issue of Religious Life magazine, humorously and candidly describing how God used her human foibles and weaknesses for His greater glory. “But even a misunderstanding of God’s message can be a real part of God’s ways,” she writes. “Mistakes and even sins within the decision process don’t bother God. He blithely uses all sorts of materials for His divine purposes!”
The article will appear in the magazine’s May/June edition, but thanks to the generosity of the Institute for Religious Life, the College has received permission to post Sr. Juliana’s story (PDF) online. Enjoy!
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)
We recently learned that Ivitea Connolly (’08) joined the Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus in October 2011. A community of non-cloistered, contemplative nuns, the Adorers, through their prayers and sacrifices, support the works and the priests of the Institute of Christ the King. The picture above shows Sr. Ivitea receiving her cape as a postulant. More photos from the ceremony are available at the Institute’s website.
Members of the Morey family at the October 30, 2011, solemn profession of Sr. Pauline of Christ (Bridget Morey ’05), from left to right: Rev. Joshua Morey, O.S.B. (’00), Eric Morey (’10), Clement Moore, Molly Morey, Kathy Morey, Cecilia Moore, Bernadette (Morey ’06) Moore, Nick Morey (’03), Noah Morey, Brian Morey (’02), Jude Moore, and Joel Moore (’06).
We have received the following wonderful news from the Morey family:
“On October 30, 2011, Sister Pauline of Christ (Bridget Morey ‘05) made her solemn profession of vows at the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Valparaiso, Neb. The Most Rev. Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop of Lincoln, was the celebrant for the Solemn Pontifical Mass and Veiling. Rev. Joshua Morey, O.S.B. (’00), was Deacon, and Rev. Joseph Lee, F.S.S.P. (’00), was Subdeacon. Rev. Brendan Kelly (’85) also assisted in the sanctuary. Fr. Morey, Sr. Pauline’s oldest brother, gave an inspirational homily. The ceremony was so majestic, and the Sisters’ Gregorian chant was so beautiful! After the ceremony, there was a reception in the Turn Room for family and guests and visiting time in the Speak Room with Sr. Pauline. This gathering was a marvelous family reunion, too, as all seven of Sr. Pauline’s siblings attended, coming from seven different states.”
Praise be to God! In 2010, the Thomas College Aquinas Newsletter printed the following brief profile about Sr. Pauline:Read more
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 above photo comes from the latest issue (PDF) of First Fruits, the newsletter of the Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph in Tehachapi, Calif. It depicts several of the sisters assembling wreathes as part of the order’s annual fundraiser. Shown second from the right is Annie Huguelet (’11).
Shortly before her graduation in May, Miss Huguelet offered the following reflection about her vocation in an address to the College’s Board of Governors:
“With graduation on the horizon, I have my eyes set on the eagles, turned Heavenward, and I plan to continue the education I have received here at Thomas Aquinas College by pursuing the contemplative life. I will do then what I have learned to do here, which is to raise my mind and my heart up to God.”
How beautiful it is to see her joyfully living out that vocation today!
- Related: Alumnae Norbertines
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.
“My best memories of the College were being in the tutorials, learning through the great books, and the spiritual life,” recalls Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O. Praem. (’78). “Our chaplains were very fine spiritual guides. It was through their example and through the prayer life we had at the College that I really developed my vocation.”
As the College’s newest chaplain, Fr. Hildebrand now has the opportunity to be the same sort of mentor and influence that the late Rev. Thomas McGovern, S.J., and Msgr. John Gallagher were when he was a student at Thomas Aquinas College more than 30 years ago. With Fr. Hildebrand joining Rev. Cornelius Buckley, S.J., and Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P., the College is now blessed to have three chaplains serving the spiritual needs of its 350 students, offering four Masses and numerous opportunities for confession daily.Read more
The Anchoress has posted the following, delightful video, featuring the Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph in Tehachapi, Calif.
Three alumnae of the College are currently members of the “Sisters of the Mountains,” including Sr. Mary Oda (Jenny Tilley ’02). In addition to participating in the Sisters’ rich life of prayer and devotion, Sr. Mary Oda also serves as their cook, cares for their livestock, and is earning a master’s degree in theology.
At the 4:00 mark of the video, Sr. Mary offers a beautiful testimonial about why she left an Ivy League school to come to Thomas Aquinas College, and how the College helped her to find her vocation:
“I went to Princeton University first, and I was Protestant, but I came to a fuller understanding of the Catholic faith, and so I converted while I was there. Then I decided that I wanted a deeper experience of living that Catholic faith and knowing more about it, so I transferred to Thomas Aquinas College in California. Part of my thought in going there was that it would be a good place to find a good Catholic husband, but I found a really good husband in Christ as my spouse. I came to realize that really I was being called to the consecrated life.”
Sr. Mary Oda appears again at the 16:53 mark, and the video then shows scenes from her solemn profession on January 29, 2011. The whole production, however, is so edifying and inspiring that it deserves to be watched in its entirety!
Please join us in praying for alumna Alison Bright, who on Friday will be entering the Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph in Tehachapi, Calif. Deo gratias!
- Related: Alumnae Norbertines
At Thomas Aquinas College’s recent 40th Anniversary Gala, two alumni were honored to address the guests. Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), professor of philosophy at St. Michael’s Abbey Seminary in Orange, Calif., and Brenna Scanlon (’06), Principal of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish School in Oxnard, Calif., offered testimonials about their time at the College and how it prepared them for their service to the Church. Below is audio of their remarks:
Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94)
Brenna Scanlon (’06)
On Sunday night, Rev. Joseph Lee, F.S.S.P (’00), and Vanessa Brink (’04) appeared on EWTN’s Life on the Rock. The two spoke about Juventutem, a lay association founded in response to Pope John Paul II’s 2004 invitation to aid young Catholics who want want to participate in the extraordinary form of the Mass. You can watch the episode here:
We have learned the joyful news that another alumnus has entered the religious life. In August, Arden Mills (’08) was received into the novitiate of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, based in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. In addition to blessing him with the religious habit, his superiors also conferred upon him his religious name, Br. Peter — “after St. Peter the Apostle,” he writes.
The College is grateful for the prayers of all its alumni religious, and we continue to keep them all, including Br. Peter, in our prayers.
Oklahoma Living magazine has published a fascinating profile of Br. Joseph-Marie Owen, O.S.B. (’76), the lay brother who runs the farm for the Benedictine monks at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Okla. The article discusses the great care Br. Joseph-Marie takes in raising a herd of Katahdin sheep, his reliance on some ancient shepherding techniques, and how his work and prayer life are one in the same. “There’s great joy in this life, but all this is only provisional,” he says. “It’s a dress rehearsal.”
Br. Joseph-Marie was one of the 13 monks from the 900-year-old Abbey Notre Dame de Fontgombault in France who founded Clear Creek in 1999, along with the Abbey’s subprior, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82). There are currently 10 Thomas Aquinas College alumni at Clear Creek, including Br. Andrew Marie Norton, O.S.B. (’06), who will make his solemn profession tomorrow.
We have received the joyful news that Br. Andrew Marie Norton (’06) will soon make his solemn profession as a Benedictine monk at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Okla. Br. Andrew is one of 10 Thomas Aquinas College alumni at Clear Creek, including the Abbey’s subprior, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82). Writes Br. Andrew:
I will be making my solemn profession on Sept. 8, and this fills me with joy. I am so grateful to God for having led me on this path, to a life of intimacy with Himself. As this happy day approaches, I humbly ask for your prayers, that the Lord grant me the smallness necessary to soak up all of His love, like a sponge. Please be assured of my continued prayers …
Please pray for Br. Andrew as this beautiful day approaches!
On June 25 Frater Maximilian Christopher Okapal, O.Praem. (’02), was ordained to the transitional diaconate at Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Frater Maximilian is a brother at St. Michael’s Abbey of the Norbertine Fathers in Orange County, and he is currently studying theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome. He attended the Beatification of Bl. Paul II; you can read about his experiences on his blog, and see his photos in the recent issue of the Thomas Aquinas College Alumni Newsletter.
Alison Bright (’09) and Annie Huguelet (’11)
Alison Bright (’09) writes that, having recently earned a master’s degree in sacred theology from the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria, she plans to enter the Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph in Tehachapi, Calif. She will be joining Annie Huguelet (’11), who entered the same Southern Californian monastery shortly after her graduation in May.
Sr.Mary Oda (’02)
Another alumna at the Priory is Sr. Mary Oda (Jenny Tilley ’02), who made solemn profession of religious vows in January. Her mother, Kathy Tilley, writes that “it was a magnificent ceremony,” taking place at the Saint John Cathedral in Fresno, and Sr. Mary Oda “is deeply happy.” After Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean sent Sister a Mass card on behalf of the College, she wrote back: “Praised be Jesus Christ! Thank you for your prayers and for having a Mass celebrated for my intentions for the occasion of my solemn profession. I appreciate very much your ongoing spiritual support of my vocation and our Norbertine community. Please be assured of my prayers and my warm greetings to all my friends at Thomas Aquinas College.”
Please pray for the vocations of our beloved alumnae sisters!
The College is pleased to announce the priestly ordination of four alumni this summer, bringing us to 50 priests in our first 40 years! The newest alumni priests are:
1. Rev. Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist. (’06), ordained by Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, O.P., Archbishop of Vienna, on June 19, 2011. Fr. Waldstein is a Cistercian at the Stift Heiligenkreuz monastery outside of Vienna. The photo above shows him on his ordination day (left) along with his fellow new priests and Cardinal Schönborn, the College’s 2004 Commencement Speaker.
2. Rev. Jonathan Perrotta (’95), ordained by the Most Rev. Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing, at St. Mary Cathedral in Lansing, Mich., on June 11. Fr. Perrotta was recently profiled in Faith, Lansing’s diocesan magazine. The profile is available here. (Scroll to the bottom of the page.)
3. Rev. Nick Blaha (’02), ordained by the Most Rev. Joseph Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City, on May 28. In the photo to the left, Fr. Blaha is shown offering His first Mass.
4. Rev. Joseph Dygert (’02), ordained to the priesthood in Colorado Springs on June 19. On the day he graduated from the College, Fr. Dygert led his class in the Pledge of Allegiance, a photo of which can be seen here. On the right is a picture of Fr. Dygert when he was still Deacon Dygert; his website now features photos from his priestly ordination.
To celebrate the beatification of Bl. John Paul II, we asked alumni to send in their photos and memories of the late Holy Father. The slideshow below features the various responses we received. Bl. John Paul II, pray for us!