Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Paul Jacobs and the Norbertine Abbey Choir

Frater Jacob (Joseph Hsieh ’06, left) and Frater Simeon (Charles Goodwin ’10, second from right), joined by 12 of their Norbertine confreres, performed at Los Angeles’s Disney Concert Hall on May 4, where they assisted Grammy Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs in presenting Bach’s Clavier-Übung III.

Fraters Jacob and Simeon are seminarians with the Norbertine Canons in Silverado, Calif., where they sing in the Abbey Choir. Mr. Jacobs, chair of the organ department at the Juilliard School, invited the choir to sing the chorale melodies of the German Missa Brevis at his concert. According to an article on the Norbertines’ website, the organist “was particularly interested that music written originally for religious purposes should be sung by a schola of religious.” Jacobs and the Norbertines performed the two hour-long work from memory, without intermission, drawing “an instant standing ovation from the packed house afterward.”

 


On Easter Sunday, CBS Sunday Morning featured the above segment about the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, who have topped the Billboard Classical Music Chart with their albums of sacred music. Two of the nuns, Sr. Mary Josefa of the Eucharist, OSB (Kathleen Holcomb ’07), and Sr. Sophia Eid, OSB (’08), are alumnae of the College. Sr. Mary Josefa can be seen — front and center in — the video’s choir shots.

Last summer Sr. Mary Josefa sat for a rare interview with the Cardinal Newman Society, in which she discussed the role of liturgy, sacred music, and Catholic identity in higher education Among her notable responses, Sr. Josefa had these kinds words to say for her alma mater:

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. …

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.
 


“Bl. John Paul II,” by James Langley (’85)“Bl. John Paul II,” by James Langley (’85)“We are having an epic, all-day event for the canonization of Bl. John Paul II in Denver,” reports Andrew Whaley (’05).

Mr. Whaley is the owner of Calix Coffee, a consulting business, as well as the manager of the Tolle Lege Coffee Bar & Bookshop at the Augustine Institute in Greenwood Village, Colo. In that latter capacity he has organized a tribute to the late Holy Father that will begin at noon on April 26, and then continue into the early morning of April 27 for Bl. John Paul’s canonization.

According to the Denver Catholic Register, the celebration will begin with a group discussion of Pope John Paul II’s “Letter to Artists,” after which various local artists will display their works depicting His Holiness. That evening, Mr. Whaley will moderate a panel discussion about John Paul II’s life and legacy, followed by a musical performance featuring another Thomas Aquinas College graduate, Elizabeth Wood (’11). Then there will be readings from one of Karol Wotijyla’s plays, until around midnight,. “We’ll keep vigil and pray until the live feed starts,” says Mr. Whaley — at which point all eyes will turn to video of the canonization in Rome.

All are welcome. If you care to attend, please RSVP by e-mail or call 303-937-4420.

 


"The Gift of the Magi"

In the online magazine Crisis, alumnus Sean Fitzpatrick (’02) has a timely piece about the importance of Christmas giving — not the commercialized sort, but the true, sacrificial kind that is fitting for the season. Writes Mr. Fitzpatrick:

“Just as the Son of Mary was God’s Gift to mankind, so mankind should offer himself as a gift to God; and thus do men and women give gifts to one another as a sign of the Love that unites them to He who was born, lived, died, and rose again for all. Gifts play a central part in the iconography of Christmas …”

As an illustration of this sort of cultural iconography, Mr. Fitzpatrick discusses O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi,” which he describes as “a quintessential story of that spirit of sacrificial gift-giving that makes Christmas the joy it should be.” In that tale, a young couple — Jim and Della — give up their most prized possessions for their beloved, only to discover, as Mr. Fitzgerald puts it, that “they were, in fact, giving a gift that was priceless.” He concludes:

“We are sons and daughters of the King. If our gifts are true, be they ever so poor, they will be found rich. If our gifts are gifts of love, Love Himself will purify them. If our gifts are gifts of self, they will be “satisfactory.” Then, and only then, are we true gift-givers.”

Be sure to include the whole article among your Christmas reading. Merry Christmas!


Benedictine Sisters

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.

 


Domiane Forte ('00)

“What do you do with the Church’s patrimony?’ asks architect Domiane Forte (’00) in the National Catholic Register. “The first and foremost duty is to keep it within the Church.”

The story, Time-Honored Treasures Find Homes in New Sacred Spaces, discusses Mr. Forte’s work on the St. Dominic Chapel, which he is designing for the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation in Nashville, Tenn. The principal of Forte & Associates, an architectural firm based in Santa Paula, Calif., Mr. Forte is also chairman of the College’s Greater Los Angeles Board of Regents.

After graduating from the College in 2000, he studied classical architecture at the University of Notre Dame under Duncan Stroik, the design architect for Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Upon earning his master’s degree, Mr. Forte worked as a senior project manager for Appleton & Associates, Architects, in Santa Barbara, Calif., before launching his own practice in 2011. Earlier this year, he produced two artist’s renderings of the College’s next planned building, St. Gladys Hall.

Dedicated to preserving the Church’s patrimony of sacred architecture, Mr. Forte has recently begun work on another church design — for Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Bakersfield, Calif.

 


Erik Bootsma (’01)Architect and planner Erik Bootsma (’01) has written a hopeful story for the Adoremus Bulletin about a positive shift in sacred architecture, as evidenced by a new church in Leesburg, Va.:

St. John’s is far from the first traditional church built recently in the United States, but it is one that gets the important things right. St. John the Apostle is an encouraging sign that the painfully learned lessons of the past half-century of sacred architecture are starting to be understood by the clergy and the Church as a whole. Laity and clergy alike have learned that sacrificing tradition for fads and the latest styles leads to irrelevance in the next generation, and that art and liturgy that is “up to date” is soon out of date. It is becoming a common understanding now that traditional architectural forms are valued for their usefulness liturgically and spiritually to foster deep connections to the roots of our faith.

Read the full story for more about St. John’s, as well as Mr. Bootsma’s thoughts about the state of liturgical architecture.

The owner of Bootsma Design Services, Mr. Bootsma received his master’s degree in architecture from the University of Notre Dame and is a board member of the National Civic Art Society and of the Mid-Atlantic/Washington Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. He also blogs about ecclesiastical architecture and the philosophy of beauty at The Radiance of Form.


Stephen Grimm ('75)Buoyed by the success of last year’s inaugural Pasadena Schubertiade, the event’s co-founder and artistic director, Stephen Grimm (’75), will soon be presenting the second annual Pasadena Schubertiade — which is set to run for an entire week! Taking place at several venues and offering a wide range of performances, the music festival will begin on Sunday, February 10, and continue through the February 17. Tickets are available at pasadenaschubertiade.org.

A member of the College’s first class, Mr. Grimm is the director of Pasadena Pro Musica. He is additionally a composer, a voice instructor, and a member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. On occasion, he can also be seen assisting the choir at his alma mater, or directing choirs at St. Monica’s Academy and St. Augustine Academy, two award-winning Catholic schools headed by fellow Thomas Aquinas College alumni.


Sean Fitzpatrick ('02)Writer, illustrator, and educator Sean Fitzpatrick (’02) has reviewed two Christmas-season classics for “The Civilized Reader” feature in Crisis magazine. First is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which, he warns, “is no Hallmark affair to be taken lightly, much less dismissed as tacky and trite”:

A Christmas Carol is a preparation, and the process it initiates is not an easy one. Everyone knows in his or her own way that it is a steep path fraught with difficulty. But, as the ghostly mentors of Scrooge held up a mirror to him rigidly, relentlessly, and sometimes reluctantly, so too must we face our own inward conversions and cleansings, looking to don a garment worthy of the Bridegroom’s coming. Alongside of Scrooge, groveling in the shadows of our own tombstones, all are beckoned to declare themselves not the men they were but for the holy intercourses of the Advent season prompted by this wonderful story. Many hearkening to this call, swear to lead a changed life, an altered life that will honor the spirit of Christmas in their hearts, and try to keep it all the year, living in the past, the present, and the future.

Next, Mr. Fitzpatrick revisits The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter:

The Tailor of Gloucester is a tale that keeps alive the belief that there are ordinary things in the world that can accomplish extraordinary things. With God all things are possible. This is the principal theme of Christmastime, making it a time to faithfully hang our stockings by the fire with care in the hopes that elves will soon be there — because they are there, under the wooden wainscots, (“though there are very few folk that can hear them, or know what it is that they say.”)

Those looking to purchase these works may want to do so by way of the College’s Amazon Gateway. Meanwhile, when the Christmas season is past, be sure to see Mr. Fitzpatrick’s review of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes.


David Isaac ('05)“When we are surrounded by beauty,” Thomas Aquinas College’s late president Dr. Thomas E. Dillon often remarked, “our minds are better disposed to contemplate the true and the good.” In that spirit alumnus and composer David Isaac (’05) cites as his motivation “bringing beauty to my audiences” through music that moves both the heart and the mind.

On the weekend of May 19-20, the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra will open its end-of-the-season concert with the premier of Mr. Isaac’s “Patriotic Overture” at the DesertView Performing Arts Center in SaddleBrooke, Ariz. Tickets are available online.