Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Rev. Christian Felkner, O.S.B. (’01) made a homecoming visit to his alma mater this week, and this morning he offered Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Photos from this morning’s Mass are available in the slideshow below:

  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner

Fr. Felkner is a monk at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma, where priests offer the Mass in the extraordinary form. He is among the College’s newest alumni priests, having been ordained — along with Rev. Andrew Norton, O.S.B. (’06) — on October 26, 2014.


March for Life

Sean Fitzpatrick ('02)As a demonstration “that commemorates those lives snuffed out before seeing the light of day,” the annual March for life, writes Sean Fitzpatrick (’02), “is, perhaps first and foremost, a funeral march.” The headmaster of Gregory the Great Academy in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Mr. Fitzpatrick has penned a poignant and thoughtful reflection about today’s march for Crisis magazine, where he is a regular contributor. He observes:

“The March for Life is a witness to the Gospel of Life, demonstrating by the thousands that though abortion is common practice it is not common sense. The March is a positive outcry against the government’s failure to defend the defenseless and to protect women against the tortures of conscience. Abortion is not simply a failure of justice, but a failure of government itself. President Washington wrote in 1789, ‘The administration of justice is the firmest pillar of government.’ When that pillar is compromised, the structure fails and falls. It is not out of the question to ask, ‘Who will be the next to lose their unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?’ In a statement given one year ago on this day to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, President Obama said, ‘this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.’ But at what point, at what precise point, does everyone become someone? Whenever it is, it is no longer self-evident.

“It is not enough to demand justice. Justice, as Our Lord taught, is to be hungered and thirsted after as a means of wellbeing. Just as hunger and thirst can never be forever satisfied in this life, neither can the requirement for the divine gift of justice. This is the truth that beats out the march of Christian soldiers. Though they mourn on this day as they march on the National Mall, they do it in the happiness and blessedness that is their claim, in honor of the dead.”

The full article is available via Crisis.com.


Abi Retallick (’14)Thanks to all for your many prayers for Abi Retallick (’14), which appear to have borne good fruit. Brigid McCarthy (’04) reports:

“Last night Mariclare Lessard (’14) messaged me on Facebook relaying that the last update she knew of was that Abi ‘got through surgery’ and was ‘doing OK.’ ...

“Abi herself sent me a message on Facebook at 7:07 a.m. this morning: ‘I really appreciate all of the prayers. The TAC Community is so wonderful.’ She went on to say that she will ‘be heading home sooner because of this, but it should be a quick recovery.’”

Your continued prayers are greatly appreciated!


Senior tutor Dr. Thomas Kaiser (’75) asks for prayers for his brother Ken (’78), husband of Patricia (Grimm ’79) and father of William (’03) and John (’07). “Ken has pancreatic cancer,” writes Dr. Kaiser. “He is seeing specialists at UCLA, and they think they have caught the disease in its early stages and it is treatable.” The family will know more about Ken’s condition next week. “In the meantime,” adds Dr. Kaiser, “please keep him in your prayers.”

Meanwhile, the College has learned that Abigail Retallick (’14), who is on a six-month mission trip at an orphanage in Brazil, is suffering from acute appendicitis. As of this writing, she is in surgery, but due to the remoteness of her location, she may have arrived at the hospital too late for effective treatment. Please join us in praying the Memorare on Abi’s behalf:

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.


Luke Macik (’87)Luke Macik (’87), headmaster of The Lyceum in South Euclid, Ohio, recently appeared on the From the Median program on the Salem Radio Network’s WHK in Cleveland. There he discussed the school he leads, its commitment to Catholic liberal education, and the tremendous success it is enjoying. His appearance was part of an ongoing series titled, “The Importance of Teaching Our Students to Think Critically in a World Filled with Sound Bites,” which in December included an interview with Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean.

“Your school is just like the city on the hill,” host Molly Smith told Mr. Macik, who replied that the Lyceum adheres to a simple but proven educational philosophy: “Have students read really good texts, that is, original works. Have them study Latin and Greek. Don’t dumb things down for them, and get to the real business of education.”

In just its 11th year, the Lyceum has become one of the top Catholic high schools in the nation. It earned a spot on The Cardinal Newman Society’s 2014 Catholic Education Honor Roll of schools “marked by the integration of Catholic identity throughout all aspects of their programs and excellence in academics.” A quarter of the Lyceum’s graduates are National Merit Scholars, Finalists, and Commended Students, having scored in the top 1 percent to 5 percent on the PSAT, and the school’s average SAT score is in the top 14 percent of the nation.

During the interview Mr. Macik cited his own education at Thomas Aquinas College as evidence of the great versatility of a classical education, particularly his work as an attorney prior to become a full-time educator:

“I had this kind of education in college. I studied the liberal arts, studied the great books … then found myself going to law school and then — of all places in the world — I had an opportunity to practice law among the Navajo Indians.… I’m probably one of very few people who can qualify as an expert in Navajo court in their own law system, but it just shows you the applicability of the liberal arts. I did that for 15 years. I was their insurance defense counsel.… The real training I had for the practice of law in Navajo court was not what I did in law school — I had no courses on Navajo law — it was what I did in my undergraduate work.”

Streaming and downloadable audio of the complete interview are available courtesy of From the Median:

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Bishop Parkes ordains Fr. Busch
The Most Rev. Gregory Parkes, Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, confers the Sacrament of Holy Orders on Rev. Matthew Busch (’04) at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pensacola, Florida, on May 10, 2014. Source: Knights of Columbus, Tallahassee

“Sixty,” reflects Rev. Matthew Busch (’04), upon learning that he is Thomas Aquinas College’s 60th alumnus priest. “That is a very divisible number.”

These wry words bespeak two notable characteristics about this newly ordained priest of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. First, Fr. Busch is a mathematical thinker, ruminating on the works of Galileo and Decartes and, in his spare time, devising patentable software algorithms. Second, he is personable, even gregarious — at ease in any crowd and quick with a joke or a witty rejoinder. These two qualities both played an important role in helping him to discern his vocation.

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Sarah Dufresne (’14)

“Here at the College we’re studying the age-old questions of man. We talk about justice. We talk about the way in which human nature is set in place by God Himself. We talk about some of the most ancient questions that man has had for all times.”

So began Sarah Dufresne (’14) in an interview with host Coleen Kelly Mast on a recent episode of the Mast Appeal program on Ave Maria Radio. The College’s resident assistant and a member of its most recent graduating class, Miss Dufresne called in to the show as part of a series of interviews with young adults. Over the course of the 15-minute conversation, she discussed the College’s curriculum, its pedagogy, and its strong Catholic character.

“We have, in a way, some of the best Catholic ‘peer pressure’ here, in that your friends around you — your peers — are going to Mass, they’re going to confession,” she said. “You have peers who are actively trying to seek the Faith and learn and grow intellectually in what the Faith means and what the Faith calls us to do. It is an encouragement.”

In addition to helping students grow both intellectually and spiritually, the College, Miss Dufresne noted, prepares them well for whatever careers they may pursue after graduation. “People want to hire employees who have critical-thinking skills, who have strong relational abilities, the ability to relate and to hear and to dignify another person in conversation. I think those are qualities that Thomas Aquinas College really instills in its graduates,” she said.

“When you receive the truth, you want to proceed as humbly as possible,” Miss Dufresne continued. “But when you do have the truth, it gives you a certain form of confidence. I think graduates have confidence in what they know, and that’s attractive to people who are hiring young minds.”

Audio:

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Fr. McGovern

Following the lead of Gregory A. Pesely (’77), Kelly Geier (’76) has offered some of his own memories of late tutor Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J. Mr. Geier, a senior software engineer at Welch Allyn in San Diego, writes:

“I had the privilege on many occasions to play tennis with Dr. McArthur and Fr. McGovern. Fr. McGovern, when on the court, was a serious competitor.

“During meals at the TAC cafeteria, Fr. McGovern frequently joked that no one had eaten more ‘TAC food’ than he had. But, he said, ‘I feel fine,’ and he laughed.

“As a tutor, regardless of the subject matter, his enthusiasm was infectious to all of us.

“On a number of occasions, Fr. McGovern heard my confession. Despite my disappointment in myself, he was always kind, encouraging, and wise in his advice.

“When he delivered his homilies, he had a gift for inflaming the hearts of his listeners with the same love for God that he had.”

A collection of those inspiring homilies is now available for all to read and treasure. Copies of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., are available via the College’s online form.

As Mr. Geier notes, “We are truly blessed that Fr. McGovern was a part of the College.”


Fr. McGovern

The recent release of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., has stirred up some dear memories for Gregory A. Pesely (’77):

Gregory A. Pesely (’77)“I had the great honor of serving at the altar with Fr. McGovern. (I helped out in the sacristy to set out his vestments. And, as I helped out with facilities, I had a few opportunities to help him with his dwelling place at the old campus.) He once confided that it usually took him 8-10 hours to craft, perfect, and memorize every homily.

“I had always hoped that one day his homilies would be published. What a treasure that collection will be for both those who had the honor to study St. Thomas with him and those who just heard about him.

“I often sat with him at meals. He had an observant eye and a keen mind. For a few summers, his mom would come out and visit him. I was able to witness the most tender and devoted son a mother could ever hope for.

“One summer while teaching at the Archdiocesan Seminary in Camarillo, I did a foolish thing — I agreed to play a set of handball with him up in Ojai. I treated him to a few cold beers after he clobbered me.

“He loved music, and not only sacred music: Once we caught him singing, ‘I Am Getting Married in the Morning’ from My Fair Lady while finishing up his laundry in the old laundry room at Claretville.

“I then went up to Université Laval and served several times with his dear friend and fellow Jesuit, Rev. Pere E. Lacasse, S.J. (at days of recollection and during a weeklong Ignatian Retreat). Both were incredibly spiritual priests, but both were passionate Jesuits with great senses of humor and humility.

“I believe a lot of the early vocations were enkindled by those who were introduced to Fr. McGovern and his unmistakable, great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.”

Mr. Pesely is the mission integration manager for OSF Healthcare System in Peoria, Illinois — a Catholic health care system covering 11 different facilities, and the largest system in Illinois outside of Chicago. He advises the corporation on medical ethics policies and the training of some 15,000 associated personnel.

Copies of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., can still be ordered in time for Christmas via the online form.


Anthony Grumbine ('00)

On Wednesday evening the College’s Office of Career Services hosted a visit from Anthony Grumbine (’00), a design associate at Harrison Design in Santa Barbara, California. A graduate of the master’s program at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, Mr. Grumbine spoke about the state of architecture and the employment prospects for would-be architects today. He also discussed Notre Dame’s architecture program, calling it “the best thing going,” and telling the College’s students that, because of their classical background, they “have a great advantage at getting into it.” Read the full story.