Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

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.


Make Straight the PathwayWhile the battle to preserve Catholic values in American health care has reached fever pitch with the recent HHS contraceptive mandate, it has endured, often quietly, for years. Throughout that time, two alumni of the College — Katie Short (’80) and John Damiani (’84) — have been at the forefront of that fight.

Mrs. Short is a founder and the legal director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, which provides legal aid to those who need help in their efforts to protect the unborn. Dr. Damiani is president of  the Christus Medicus Foundation, which works to ensure the right of conscience for health-care workers, promote the Culture of Life in American health care, and assist in the establishment of Christ-centered health-care centers.

Now, through their respective organizations, Mrs. Short and Dr. Damiani are collaborating on a conference dedicated to defending life and religious liberty. “Make Straight the Pathway: An Integrated and Unified Solution for Catholic Healthcare Reform” will be held in San Francisco on March 29-31. Hosted by Life Legal Defense Foundation and Christus Medicus Foundation, the conference is sponsored by the Archdiocese of San Francisco; the Dioceses of Oakland, Santa Rosa, and Sacramento; and several other pro-life and medical organizations.

The conference follows a similar event that Dr. Damiani arranged last year in Detroit. That conference proved so successful that Medicus’ episcopal advisor, the Most Rev. Robert F. Vasa, Bishop of Santa Rosa, asked that one like it be held for the Western region of the country.

“The current trajectory of public health policy points to a future where the phrase ‘Catholic health care’ will be an oxymoron,” warns Mrs. Short. “This conference aims to equip medical professionals, policymakers, and others to help our country make a desperately needed course correction.”

Adds Dr. Damiani, “Our Holy Father, in his Ad Limina address to the bishops, warned of the rise of secular humanism. He reminded  the bishops of their baptismal and consecrated vows to not let the gates of hell prevail against the spread of the Gospel to all. He pointed out that our founding principles enshrine that freedom. Therefore we must not let the state restrict or worse, define, what is the proper living out of our call to faith. The laity need to respond to the urging of the Holy Father and support the bishops in fulfilling their charge from the Holy See by educating themselves on these issues and organizing for action in the sphere of their own community.”

Information and registration forms for the conference are available online.


February
29, 2012

Dr. Pia de Solenni

One of several alumni of the College who have taken a leadership role in opposing the HHS contraceptive mandate, Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) appeared as part of a panel on the subject at the Heritage Foundation on February 27. The panel, entitled Women Speak Out, featured notable experts from various religious, women’s, and public-policy groups.

“This goes much broader than most religious groups because it’s about freedom per se,” said Dr. de Solenni, owner of Diotima Consulting, LLC. “It’s about whether or not individuals have the rights to make decisions for themselves.”

Video and a podcast of the forum are available via the Heritage Foundation’s website.
 


Rosie Grimm ('10)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:
 
Bl. John Henry Cardinal NewmanGod 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.


Full-Gae Ad (PDF)It has come to our attention that back on December 21, 2011, two alumni of the College were signatories to a statement organized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to oppose the HHS contraceptive mandate. The statement (PDF) appeared as a full-page advertisement in that day’s New York Times and Washington Post.

Among the signatories, who included some 150 Catholic leaders from across the United States, were Dr. John Damiani (’84), president of  the Christus Medicus Foundation, and Mr. Jeremy McNeil (’96), president of the Catholic Professional & Business Group.

The statement reads:

“We, the undersigned, strongly support access to life-affirming health care for all, and the ability of secular and religious groups and individuals to provide and receive such care. That is why we have raised objections to a rule issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services forcing almost all private health plans to cover sterilization procedures and contraceptive drugs, including drugs that may cause an early abortion.

“As written, the rule will force Catholic organizations that play a vital role in providing health care and other needed services either to violate their conscience or severely curtail those services. This would harm both religious freedom and access to health care.

“The HHS mandate puts many faith-based organizations and individuals in an untenable position. But it also harms society as a whole by undermining a long American tradition of respect for religious liberty and freedom of conscience. In a pluralistic society, our health care system should respect the religious and ethical convictions of all. We ask Congress, the Administration, and our fellow Americans to acknowledge this truth and work with us to reform the law accordingly.”

The statement was also signed by His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and the Most Rev. José H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles.

 


Textbook Volume 5 of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project History seriesFollowing 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.
 


Andrew T. Seeley ('87)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.”


A transitional deacon for the Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.), the Rev. Mr. Francis Marotti (’07) is currently studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. In January he proclaimed the Holy Gospel at the papal Mass of the Epiphany in St. Peter’s Basilica. (See video, below, at about the 32:20 mark.) God willing, he will be ordained to the priesthood this June 23.

Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean recently asked this future priest about how the College prepared him for his vocation. Deacon Marotti provided a brief, spontaneous answer and then, after more reflection, sent a more detailed, written response, which we publish below with his permission:

“I would like to give you a more complete answer to your question about how Thomas Aquinas College has prepared me for seminary. That it did prepare me well is clear from the fact that I was not even required to attend a minor seminary before coming here to Rome — the College is intellectually and spiritually formative  in a way that rivals actual seminaries.

“It would be hard to say that this or that particular thing was most helpful in preparation for the holy priesthood, because the whole four-year period of study, prayer, and fraternity formed a solid integrated whole — the study of philosophy, theology, literature, science, language, the intensely Catholic atmosphere on campus, the frequency and reverence of the celebration of Holy Mass, the example and guidance of the good and holy tutors and chaplains. All of these parts benefit from the others, and the whole would suffer were any of these to be removed.

“The best way I can describe how Thomas Aquinas College helped me in discerning my vocation and preparing for the priesthood is to say that it forms one to think according to the mind of the Church. It does so in a way that is unique: by exposing the student not only to the Catholic Tradition, but also to those foundations and principles which preceded and prepared for the flowering of the Catholic faith and Western civilization as a whole, along with those currents of thought which are inimical to the same faith and threaten the Church today. The education and life at the College was indispensable for giving me a Catholic mind, a mind that is enthusiastically committed to promoting and defending holy mother Church, and committed to the rich intellectual, cultural and spiritual tradition which she possesses.

“The thoroughly Catholic mindset which one acquires at the College obviously benefits even further from studying in the Eternal City, so close to the Tomb of the Apostle Peter, and close to his successor, the Pope. The daily encounters with the tombs of other saints and martyrs only increases the love and devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ and His body the Church. For this, I will be eternally grateful to Thomas Aquinas College.”


Peter Baklinksi (’04)  Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93)
 

Two alumni have recently published stories about the HHS contraceptive mandate that threatens the religious freedom of faithfully Catholic institutions such as Thomas Aquinas College.

First, writing for LifeSiteNews.com, Peter Baklinski (’04) reports on College President Michael F. McLean’s letter protesting the mandate. Then, following the Obama Administration’s supposed compromise to the mandate (which Dr. McLean has rejected as “not acceptable” and “a distinction without a difference”), Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) penned a critical column for CatholicVote. Writes Dr. de Solenni:

“President Obama has offered a so-called compromise on the HHS Mandate. Instead of forcing Catholic institutions to pay for insurance that covers contraceptives, insurance providers will be forced to cover contraception. Yep, same situation, just a different way of keeping books on it. Hmmm, when Enron was exposed, we called it accounting fraud, among other things. Bernie Madoff’s investment practices were denounced as a Ponzi scheme. But when the funny math is proposed by the White House, we call it a compromise.”

How inspiring it is to see these alumni speaking out in defense of their alma mater, freedom of religion, and truth!
 


Isabel Cacho ('11)A member of Thomas Aquinas College’s most recent graduating class, Isabel Cacho (’11) has been named to the John Jay Institute’s Fellows Program. The program, an “educational and professional experience for men and women aspiring to public stations in society and the Church,” consists of an intensive semester-long academic residency in Philadelphia, Penn., followed by an “externship” in a national or international governmental agency or non-governmental organization.

Miss Cacho’s biography on the John Jay website notes that she “has always had a desire to pursue truth, which led her to study the great books curriculum” at Thomas Aquinas College, where she was “surrounded by a faith-affirming community.” It further observes that “in addition to a strong calling to marriage and motherhood, Isabel has an interest in pursuing constitutional law and a commitment to the pro-life movement.”