Faith in Action Blog
On the morning of Tuesday, April 4, friends, family, and many members of the Thomas Aquinas College community gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles for the funeral Mass of longtime tutor and alumnus Michael J. Paietta (’83).
Mr. Paietta died late in the evening of March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, 16 days after entering the hospital with symptoms suggestive of a heart attack. Just prior to his passing, he received the last rites, including absolution and an apostolic blessing, from College chaplain Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem (’78).
Fr. Garceau also served as one of the concelebrants at Mr. Paietta’s funeral Mass, joined at the altar by fellow chaplain, Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P, and a former head chaplain, Rev. Michael Perea, O.Praem. The principal celebrant was Monsignor Kevin Kostelnik, pastor of Our Lady of the Angels, where Mr. Paietta’s mother, Kay, is a parishioner. Following the Mass, Mr. Paietta's remains were interred in the Cathedral's crypt mausoleum, alongside his late father and brother.
Delivering the first eulogy was Daniel Paietta, who recalled his oldest brother’s great love of literature and encyclopedic memory. “Michael was the first Thomas Aquinas College graduate to get a perfect score on the GRE — in English, of course,” he remarked. “When one of the tutors asked him if he really knew all of the vocabulary words, he said, ‘Well, no, I did have to guess on one of them.”
Mr. Paietta’s former Thomas Aquinas College roommate and colleague on the faculty, Dr. Glen Coughlin, offered a second eulogy. “Michael was no scholar interested merely in the opinions and actions of men for their own sakes. His life was a pursuit of truth itself. His soul turned naturally to the nature of things, to the consideration of how we should live, to the highest and the best things, to the infinite good that Dante speaks of,” said Dr. Coughlin. “He was not content to know that someone else knew something or thought something. He wanted to know for himself.”
A Lifelong Scholar
From even his earliest days, Michael Paietta had a zeal for obtaining knowledge and a passion for sharing it with those around him. After serving a number of years in the U.S. Navy and briefly attending the University of California, Los Angeles, he enrolled at Thomas Aquinas College as a 25-year-old freshman in 1979. He graduated from the College in 1983 and went on to the University of Notre Dame, where he did his graduate and doctoral work.
In 1989 Mr. Paietta returned Thomas Aquinas College as a member of the teaching faculty. “Mike was noteworthy for his love of literature, music, and baseball,” observed his colleague of many years, President Michael McLean. “Not only did he love these things, he sought to understand everything about them. Above all, though, he was devoted to understanding the thought of our patron, St. Thomas, and was particularly sure that discussions with our founders, Ron McArthur, Jack Neumayr, and Mark Berquist, would help him in that pursuit.”
Dr. Paul O’Reilly, a longtime fellow tutor and the College’s vice president for development, offered a personal reflection saying, “Mike had a tremendous wit and a remarkable memory. We all wanted him on our trivial pursuit team. And those who had him on their team were on the winning side.” Reflecting on Mr. Paietta’s life, Dean Brian T. Kelly added, “Mike cared deeply about his students and mingled with them frequently in the dining hall. His deep-rooted sense of loyalty was manifest in his abiding love for the Catholic Church, Thomas Aquinas College, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He will be sorely missed.”
This sense of loss, however, was perhaps most poignantly expressed by an anonymous student who shares his late tutor’s love of poetry:
If only Life might slow its hurried pace,
That all the grief might pour like winter rain
From out the soul that weeps with hidden face
And feels the greatest depths of human pain.
I ask not end, but merely wish for pause,
As babes at nighttime cry out for the sun,
To have an end to sorrows without cause,
To weep when death begins and life is done.
I should have known him better than I do,
Though humor, knowledge, wisdom did I see,
And this enlightened, now I see the true,
I know he’s gone and feel but misery.
We’ll miss you, less as tutor than as friend,
We’ll love you, Mike Paietta, to the end.
A memorial Mass for Mr. Paietta will be offered at a later date in the College’s chapel of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Details will be provided on the Thomas Aquinas College website when they are available. Please keep Mr. Paietta and his family in your prayers.
May his soul and those of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
The funeral Mass for longtime tutor and alumnus Michael J. Paietta (’83) will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 3, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. Mr. Paietta’s mother is a parishioner there, and he will be interred in the mausoleum underneath the Cathedral alongside his father and brother.
Directions and Parking: See the Cathedral’s website for directions. There are garage entrances on both Temple or Hill streets. Although the posted parking fee is $16 per hour, funeral attendees will receive validation for a flat rate of $5 (the rate the Cathedral has contracted with the owners of the garage). A brunch/reception will immediately follow the funeral in one of the Cathedral’s function rooms.
Information about the College’s memorial Mass for Mr. Paietta in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel will be posted when it is available. Please continue to keep Mr. Paietta and his family in your prayers.
Thomas Aquinas College tutor and alumnus Michael J. Paietta (’83) died late in the evening of March 25, 16 days after entering the hospital with symptoms suggestive of a heart attack. Just prior to his passing, he received the last rites, including absolution and an apostolic blessing from College chaplain Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem (’78).
Mr. Paietta served for a number of years in the U.S. Navy and attended the University of California, Los Angeles, for a short time before enrolling at Thomas Aquinas College as a 25-year-old freshman in 1979. He graduated from the college in 1983 and went on to the University of Notre Dame, where he did his graduate and doctoral work. In 1989 Mr. Paietta returned to the College as a member of the teaching faculty.
Mourning the loss of his one-time student and colleague of many years, President Michael McLean said, “Mike was noteworthy for his love of literature, music, and baseball. Not only did he love these things, he sought to understand everything about them. Above all, though, he was devoted to understanding the thought of our patron, St. Thomas, and was particularly sure that discussions with our founders, Ron McArthur, Jack Neumayr, and Mark Berquist, would help him in that pursuit.”
Reflecting on Mr. Paietta’s life, Dean Brian T. Kelly noted, “Mike was a unique and beloved member of the Thomas Aquinas College community. He cared deeply about his students and mingled with them frequently in the dining hall. In class and at meals, he displayed charity, good cheer, and an extremely dry wit. Mike taught a range of courses in philosophy, theology, science, and mathematics. But he especially loved the arts; I trusted implicitly his views on literature and music, and happily followed many of his movie recommendations. His deep-rooted sense of loyalty was manifest in his abiding love for the Catholic Church, Thomas Aquinas College, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He will be sorely missed.”
Dr. Paul O’Reilly, a longtime fellow tutor and the College’s Vice President for Development, added a personal reflection saying, “Mike had a tremendous wit and a remarkable memory. We all wanted him on our trivial pursuit team. And those who had him on their team were on the winning side.”
Funeral arrangements for Mr. Paietta are pending. A memorial Mass will be offered at a later date in the college’s chapel of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. Details will be provided on the College’s website when they are available.
Please keep Mr. Paietta and his family in your prayers.
May his soul and those of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
News from Director of Alumni Relations Mark Kretschmer:
Mike’s doctors are optimistic that his aorta will heal itself over time, but they have found that his kidneys are not functioning properly and that he also has pneumonia. Mike has been sedated this past week and is receiving dialysis daily, but the doctors hope to diminish the sedative and have him sit up so as to improve his breathing. The doctors are not being very forthcoming at this point, though they do say that Mike is not getting worse. Please keep him and his family in your prayers. Thank you!
- Related: Prayers for Michael J. Paietta (’83)
Please pray for an alumnus and member of the College’s teaching faculty, Michael J. Paietta (’83). Michael was admitted to the hospital Friday, March 9, with symptoms suggestive of heart attack. He was admitted to the ICU, and he took a turn for the worse the next night. His current condition is listed as “guarded.” Please keep him in your prayers.
“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.
Having recently made his first appearance on Catholic Answers Live, Dr. Nathan Schmiedicke (’00) has joined the ranks Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) and Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), both regular guests on the nationally broadcast radio program. An instructor at the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, Dr. Schmiedicke spoke on the subject of “Renewing Catholic Bible Study” and answered questions from callers on a wide range of subjects. The show is available both in streaming audio and as a downloadable podcast via the Catholic Answers website.
Please pray for Rosie Grimm (’10), daughter of Rose and Dan (both ‘76), who has been diagnosed with cancer. We recently received the following update from her sister:
Dear friends and family,
Rosie met with an oncologist in Ventura [Friday], and learned that the cancer has spread … she has three nodules in one lung and one in the other. She will probably start immunotherapy next week. Please pray for all aspects of her treatment to go well. She (impressing me greatly) continues in pretty good spirits ... I’m sure supported by your prayers. Thanks yet again for them, and for continuing them ... as you can imagine, this is a pretty hard time! But it is greatly helped by the aid God has given through your prayers. May He reward you as He knows how.
Love in Christ,
Wendy-Irene (Grimm ’99) Zepeda
Please take a moment to say the following prayer through the intercession of Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman:
God our Father, you granted to your servant Blessed John Henry Newman wonderful gifts of nature and of grace, that he should be a spiritual light in the darkness of this world, an eloquent herald of the Gospel, and a devoted servant of the one Church of Christ. With confidence in his heavenly intercession, we make the following petition:
For a successful treatment for Rosie and for her speedy and complete healing.
For his insight into the mysteries of the kingdom, his zealous defense of the teachings of the Church, and his priestly love for each of your children, we pray that he may soon be numbered among the saints. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Following up on nationally syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt’s recent broadcast from Thomas Aquinas College, two of the College’s alumni will appear on the show’s “Entrepreneur Hour” this afternoon at 5:00 p.m. PST.
Michael Van Hecke (’86) and Christopher Zehnder (’87), publisher and general editor, respectively, of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, will discuss their series of textbooks that accurately depict the role of the Church in the history of Western civilization.
“Appearing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show is a great opportunity to get the word out about these wonderful new textbooks,” says Glen Mueller, Chairman of the Catholic Textbooks Project. “There is such a need to inform students about the significant role of the Catholic Church in the development of Western civilization. Bishops and Catholic educators are pointing to the need to promote Catholic identity and to incorporate Catholic principles in all facets of the educational process. Without knowledge of the past, what will be the foundation for the future? A historical understanding of the past activities of the Catholic Church is essential in order for the laity of the Church to carry out its responsibility to share the Faith.”
The broadcast is available live online, as well as on numerous radio stations throughout the United States. (Check local times and listings for broadcast times.) To learn more about the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, see this story from the Official Catholic Directory for the United States.
Today’s edition of the Ventura County Star includes a story about why, exactly, Catholics make sacrifices or “give something up” for Lent. Featured in the article is a graduate of the College, Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87), who is now a member of the teaching faculty. Portions of the story are excerpted below:
“For some Catholics, Lent is an opportunity to lose weight, but what motivates them is, ‘I want to lose weight and look good, and this is the time to do it,’ ” said Andrew Seeley, a tutor at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula. “That is a superficial approach to Lent.” …
Seeley said he plans to give up listening to sports talk radio. There’s nothing wrong with it, but in a world cluttered with distractions, he believes it’s important to humble yourself into silence now and then.
“The constant distraction says, ‘I don’t want to think of anything. I don’t want to be aware of myself,’ ” Seeley said.
Seeley, whose teaching specialty is medieval theology, said it’s a sign of our times that many have lost the true link between self-denial and deeper spirituality.
“In every other culture and era, it is understood that we must deny ourselves,” Seeley said.
Self-denial is just [one] component of Lent, Seeley said. The faithful are also asked to pray more and be more merciful to others, or the “giving of alms.”
Seeley believes it’s not a good idea to skip the self-denial aspect of Lent, because it is a humbling experience that will connect us with those who are less fortunate. …
The importance of self-denial can be likened to an athlete in training, Seeley said.
“Pain gets our attention. When we choose to suffer pain, we’re either insane or up to something really important,” Seeley said. “Athletes really pound their bodies because they want to make themselves stronger. Not only do we admire their success, but their strength of will.”