Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87)Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87)

This week educators from across the United States are gathering in Cleveland, Ohio, for Rejoicing Together in Truth, the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education's Third Annual Catholic Schools Conference. Among the speakers (PDF) are four graduates of the College:

  • Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87), a tutor at Thomas Aquinas College and the executive director of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education
  • Luke Macik (’87), headmaster of The Lyceum in South Euclid, Ohio, which is hosting the conference
  • Michael Van Hecke (’86), headmaster of St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, California, president of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, and president and founder of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education
  • Dr. Arthur Hippler (’89), a member of the theology department at Providence Academy in Plymouth, Minnesota
  • Mark Langley (’89), founder and academic dean of The Lyceum
  • Jessie (Ellis ’86) Van Hecke, a kindergarten and first grade teacher at St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, California
  • Merrill Roberts (’03), teacher at St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, Maryland

In June Dr. Seeley, Mr. Van Hecke, and Mr. Macik spoke about the conference and the broader Catholic classical schools movement on the From the Median program on the Salem Radio Network's WHK in Cleveland. Audio of that program is available courtesy of From the Median:

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Dr. John Finley (’99)In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and Pope Francis’s second encyclical, Laudato Si’, some Catholics have complained that the Holy Father has spent too much time talking about the environment, and not enough about the sanctity of marriage. Dr. John Finley (’99), however, suggests another perspective. In Catholic World Report, the alumnus and former tutor offers “three reasons why Catholics should take seriously the encyclical’s subject matter, precisely in view of the Supreme Court’s decision.”

“The concerns of Laudato Si' are not foreign — indeed, they are closely akin — to the age-old concerns hubristically dismissed by the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges,” writes Dr. Finley. “In a pre-Christian world, the normative goodness of the natural world and of human sexuality could be recognized.… In a post-Christian world dominated by the will to power, the love of money, and an increasing enslavement to technology, rejection of Christ includes rejection of that greater whole, with all its parts, down to things as fundamental as nature and nature’s stewards: man and woman.”

A professor of philosophy at the Archdiocese of St. Louis’s Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, as well as a husband and the father of two young sons, Dr. Finley contends that modern attempts to redefine marriage are part of a larger tendency to view nature as the plaything of human desires. Thus “any work of evangelization today has a greater job than it did in the days of the early martyrs,” he continues, “for it has to be as much concerned with the natural as with the supernatural.”

The full article is available via Catholic World Report.


Dr. Lane (Smith ’04) Scott and family

“I was in my dress and getting ready to leave,” recalls Lane (Smith ’04) Scott, describing that woeful day in 2011 when she almost got her Ph.D.

After spending three years completing her coursework and another four writing a dissertation, she had made the six-hour, 400-mile drive from her home in Angels Camp, California, to Los Angeles to defend her dissertation at Claremont Graduate University. Then the phone rang.

It was her adviser. “He said that the department chair had not actually bothered to read my dissertation until the night before, and then determined that I had an incomplete understanding of the subject,” she sighs. The defense was canceled. “Dissertation defenses never get canceled. Everyone knows that once the defense is scheduled, you’re golden. It was mortifying — unprecedented. I was in my dress and on my way to the campus, and instead of being done I had to write an entirely new dissertation.”

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When alumnus Jared Kuebler (’03) joined the Thomas Aquinas College teaching faculty in 2011, he had already completed his doctoral studies (theology, Ave Maria University), but not his dissertation. He therefore spent most of his vacation and free time over the last few years completing this requirement — a challenging task for a full-time college instructor and father of six. His diligence, however, has paid off and, as a result, he has earned the title of doctor.

Last week, Dr. Kuebler traveled back to Ave Maria and successfully defended his dissertation, “Created and Uncreated Duration: Time and Eternity in St. Thomas Aquinas.”

“Ultimately, my thesis was that the divine eternity is understood by St. Thomas as including the notions of duration and measure, but that both notions are understood in an analogous sense,” Dr. Kuebler explains. “I attempted to lay out the way in which one should understand those analogies based on our first knowledge of time, duration, and measure as taken from our experience of the sensible world.”

Rev. Matthew Lamb, S.T.L, the founder of Ave Maria’s theology graduate program, served as Dr. Kuebler’s thesis director, and the dissertation received the examining board’s hearty approval. Dr. Kuebler is now the fifth Thomas Aquinas College alumnus — and the third member of its teaching faulty — to earn a doctorate at Ave Maria, in a program that is just 10 years old and has accepted only three or four Ph.D. students per year. The other alumni are Dr. John Froula (’99), Dr. Jeff Froula (’02), and tutors Dr. Katherine Gardner (’06) and Dr. Paul Shields (’07).

Congratulations, Dr. Kuebler!


The Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s Ottawa Morning recently aired an episode about Elizabeth (Susanka) and Jeff Fennelly (both ’03) and their adopted son, Shawn. Now eight years old, Shawn is profoundly deaf and suffers from limited vision, cerebral palsy, and reflux disorder. Doctors once feared that he would never sit or stand on his own, or give and receive affection.

Yet under the Fennellys’ care, Shawn has thrived. He is walking and he feeds himself. His vision his improving, and he delights in the love of his parents. The Fennellys’ devotion to their son is heroic, from their initial fight to adopt Shawn, to their decision to relocate, so that they would be closer to his therapists, to the $10,000 they spend each year on Pedialite. At the moment, they are busily trying to learn American Sign Language so that they can communicate with him more effectively.

Thanks be to God for these loving parents, and may God bless this beautiful family!

Full audio of the episode is available in the player below:


Cynthia (Six ’77) Montanaro

A Third Order Carmelite, Cynthia (Six ’77) Montanaro recently appeared on Radio Maria’s “Carmelite Conversations,” where she spoke about her book, Diary of a Country Mother. The memoir, which chronicles the life of her beloved son Tim, reflects her yearlong journey of prayer and meditation, begun about six months after Tim’s death at the age of 15 in 2005.

Diary of a Country Mother“This account of the life of my son simply reveals that each person, no matter his mental or physical problems, has a great worth beyond measure, and leaves an enormous impact on those near to them and those farther afield,” Mrs. Montanaro tells host Mark Damis.

At the beginning of the interview, Mrs. Montanaro also describes how she and her husband, Andrew (’78), met while students at the College. “Conversation is a very big part of anything that goes on at Thomas Aquinas because, since everyone has taken the same classes, we can speak about the same things with one another,” she reflects. “So we became very good friends and discussed the important things of life” — a friendship that eventually led to marriage and Tim’s adoption.

“Tim’s death was very sudden for us,” she recalls, “and so then the rest of life just became trying to accept it and to deal with it.” The Montanaros found consolation by uniting their suffering with that of Christ. “It helps us so much, whenever there is an especially deep trial in our lives, to remember that life is not always the picnic or the party, the banquet. It’s very often the walk, carrying the Cross up the Hill of Calvary,” she says. “And that was particularly true to us as we were suffering, to remember that we were suffering with Christ, and He was carrying us, and we were carrying the Cross.”

The full interview with Mrs. Montanaro is available via the Radio Maria website, and Diary of a County Mother is for sale, in paperback and Kindle formats, on Amazon.com.


Some timely words of advice in USA Today from alumna journalist Katrina Trinko (’09): “No one needs to be able to buy a big-screen TV on Thanksgiving.”

The managing editor of the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal and a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors, Miss Trinko has penned an op-ed encouraging Americans to abstain from shopping during the upcoming holiday. Lamenting that many, perhaps most, retailers compel their employers to work on what should be a day of rest and family, she writes:

Consumers could fight back by not shopping on Thanksgiving. And that’s what we should do — if we care about our fellow Americans and preserving our communities.

After all, the holidays are a time to remember and take care of each other. Sometimes being a good community member means helping others financially or taking time to pitch in with a difficult task. But sometimes it means other sacrifices, including our own convenience.

Sure, some of us might want to buy that big-screen TV at 50 percent off on Thanksgiving afternoon. But let’s help a brother (and a sister) out. Wait until Black Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Rev. Sebastian Walsge, O.Praem. ('94)On the final day of the recently concluded Synod on the Family, the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an essay about the Synod’s purpose — and its challenges — by Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94). A professor of philosophy at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California, Fr. Sebastian argues that, “The stakes are high,” for the Synod. “For unless modern man can recapture the meaning which God has written into the natural human family, the result will be ignorance and error, indifference and animosity, toward the entire supernatural order.”

Fr. Sebastian continues:

Every artist has his favorite work of art, and God’s favorite is the human family. From all eternity, in fact, He understood himself as the Son of Mary, as a member of a human family. The reason for God’s predilection is that more than the other parts of His creation, the family reflected His own goodness and beauty. Hence, we cannot know God, we cannot love Him, without knowing and loving the natural human family. …

Consider how the modern distortions of the family can lead to distortions in faith. The indissolubility of marriage is intended to be a sign of God’s eternal and unique love for His Church. Is it any surprise then that religious pluralism and the denial that there is one Church is widespread in a society in which divorce and remarriage are widespread? The natural begetting of a child through the loving union of husband and wife is intended to be a sign that God creates each human soul immediately and with love. This reality is obscured in a society which accepts in vitro fertilization or other artificial means of procreation.… And in households where, by design, there is no father or there is no mother, how will the children come to understand God as Father or what it means for God to love us like a mother? … Examples could be multiplied but, suffice it to say, a lack of love and esteem for the goodness of the natural family entails a lack of love and esteem for God and the things of heaven.

The bishops, writes Fr. Sebastian, are “striving to interpret to the world the supernatural significance of the natural family” — a task that is treacherous, but essential.

The full article is available via the Vatican’s news website.


September
04, 2014

Aaron Lee (’07)Having completed his coursework, Aaron Lee (’07) will soon be declaring candidacy for a Ph.D. at the University of Maryland. Mr. Lee works with the university’s Joint Quantum Institute, conducting research in the areas of atomic physics, condensed matter, and quantum information. He is a contributing author to two large studies that the group published within the last year in the journals of Nature and Science.

Meanwhile, on the home front, Mr. Lee and his wife, Ada (Doi ’07), have announced the arrival of their third child and first son, Andrew Joseph McArthur, born in June.


David A. ShaneyfeltThe latest issue of Los Angeles Lawyer magazine includes an article by David A. Shaneyfelt (’81), Liability Insurance Considerations for Wage and Hour Class Actions (PDF). The article advises fellow attorneys on what to do when insurance companies deny coverage for the costs incurred in class-action lawsuits over wage and hour complaints.

After serving for five years as a shareholder with the New York-based law firm of Anderson Kill, Mr. Shaneyfelt recently joined The Alvarez Firm, a law corporation in Calabasas, California, headed by fellow Thomas Aquinas College graduate Justin Alvarez (’97). For nearly 30 years Mr. Shaneyfelt has litigated complex civil matters in state and federal courts, often insurance-coverage disputes. Previously he served as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, in Washington, D.C.

In addition to being an attorney, Mr. Shaneyfelt is a devoted husband and the father of seven children who now eagerly awaits the imminent birth of his second grandchild.