Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

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 video above promotes the release of a new musical album, Benedicta: Marian Chant from Norcia, which features the voices of three alumni monks: Rev. Thomas Bolin, O.S.B. (’96), Br. Mary Evagrius Hayden, O.S.B. (’08), and Br. Philp Wilmeth (’13).

The three graduates are members of an 18-member Benedictine community at Monastero San Benedetto, a 1,000-year-old monastery in Norcia, Italy, birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica. Fr. Thomas serves as the community’s subprior; Br. Evagrius is currently pursuing graduate studies at the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria; and Br. Philip is set to make his simple vows on September 8, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The album, drawn from the monks’ daily life of prayer, features 33 tracks of Gregorian chant, including traditional Marian antiphons such as “Regina Caeli” and “Ave Regina Caelorum,” as well as previously unrecorded chant versions of responsories and an original composition, “Nos Qui Christi Iugum.” Benedicta: Marian Chant from Norcia is available for sale via amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and directly from the Monks of Norcia website.


Sr. Mary Catherine Blanding, IHM (’76)

The photo above comes from one of the College’s earliest graduates, Sr. Mary Catherine Blanding, IHM (’76). A nun with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Wichita, Kansas, Sr. Mary Catherine is shown here teaching a group of novices “the perennial wisdom of St. Thomas,” she writes.

In addition to working with her community’s newest members, Sr. Mary Catherine instructs religious-education teachers at the Diocese of Wichita’s Regan Catechetical Institute, assists parishes with their religious-education programs, and offers spiritual formation for college students at the diocesan parish that serves Wichita State University.

In this Year of Consecrated Life, please pray for Sister, her catechetical endeavors, and all of the College’s religious alumnae!


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:


Dr. Samuel Caughron (’96)

“I am not a great decision-maker,” admits Dr. Samuel Caughron (’96). “My approach to big life decisions is to pray a lot, to get as much information as I can, to wait until the last minute — and then to make a decision and go with it.”

It was during his Senior Year at the College that Sam first began to think seriously about what to do after graduation, and that decision did not come easily. He initially considered entering the seminary but, after much prayer, discerned that his vocation lay elsewhere. He then contemplated becoming an educator, but realized he did not have a teacher’s temperament. Finally he found himself torn between two competing desires — to follow in his father’s footsteps as a physician, or to tap into his entrepreneurial talents and enter the world of business. (While a student at the College, he ran a small software company.)

Ultimately he opted for both. As the president and managing partner of the MAWD Pathology Group in Kansas City, Missouri, Dr. Caughron is now a physician and a businessman, treating patients, managing the company’s operations, administering its medical laboratory, and overseeing a staff of over 50 employees.

Read the full profile.
 


Rocky Brittain (’15) and Morgan Furore (’15)

The College website now features testimonials from two of the newest members of its alumni — Rocky Brittain and Morgan Furore and , both members of the Class of 2015.


Michael Van Hecke ('86)

This November, the Vatican will host the World Congress on Catholic Education, at which educational experts from across the globe will meet to discuss “the challenges that the ‘educational emergency’ unavoidably provokes for our societies, educational systems, and the Church.” Among those experts invited to participate will be one of the preeminent advocates for Catholic liberal education in the United States, Michael Van Hecke (’86).

“The aim of this Congress echoes everything I’ve strived for in my work,” says Mr. Van Hecke. “The issues of this congress are the same issues I’ve been discussing with colleagues, superintendents, and bishops for … years.”

Mr. Van Hecke is the headmaster of St. Augustine Academy, a K-12 classical school in Ventura, California, that is consistently ranked among the best Catholic schools in the United States. He is also the president of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project and the president and founder of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education (ICLE).

“People are desperate to know how to revitalize Catholic schools,” Mr. Van Hecke observes, and “the Catholic Textbook Project and the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education have become the organizations to go to for help.” Catholic schools in more than 50 dioceses in North America and overseas and now using Catholic Textbook Project textbooks, and the ICLE has been active in helping Catholic schools across the country to adopt classical, authentically Catholic curricula.

The Congregation for Catholic Education is hosting the World Congress, which will take place in Vatican City, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s declaration Gravissimum Educationis and the 25th anniversary of the Pope St. John Paul’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae. “I am grateful for the Vatican invitation and look forward to the November Congress and its international discussion,” says Mr. Van Hecke. “I hope that others might benefit from the experience we have gained from our work with Catholic schools here in North America.”


David Halpin (’79)Please continue to pray for the repose of David Halpin (’79), husband of Natalie (St. Arnault ’80) and father of Rose (’06) and Margaret Tannoury (’08), who died on March 6. Below is the text of his obituary, penned by the Halpins’ daughter Elizabeth:

... for God is greater than our hearts
and all is known to Him.
— 1 John 3:20

David B. Halpin, attorney at law, of Chesterton, Indiana, passed away Friday, March 6, 2015, in South Bend, Indiana. He was 63 years old. A true renaissance man, Dave lived and worked wholeheartedly for the Catholic faith and his family. He is most lovingly remembered by all who knew him. David is survived by his wife, M. Natalie Halpin (St. Arnault) and their children — David, Eugene, Rose, Margaret (Tannoury), Elizabeth, Gertrude, Thomas, James and Seth Halpin — along with their grandson, Alexander Tannoury, and son-in-law, Chadi Tannoury. Also surviving are his mother, Margaret Kathleen Halpin (Nolan), and his siblings — Philip, Patrick, Timothy, Margaret (Ortiz), Mary Ann (Shapiro), Peter, Kathleen (Santoro), and John Halpin — along with their spouses, children, and numerous extended-family members. He is preceded in death by his father, Eugene Philip Halpin.

Born to Peggy and Gene Halpin on October 21, 1951 in Seattle, Washington, Dave grew up in South Pasadena, California. His childhood recollections were of a bygone era — attending parochial grammar school with the nuns, playing the drums in a rock ’n roll garage band, working his father’s catering truck route in downtown Los Angeles and surfing the Pacific Ocean waves before it was “cool.”

After graduating from South Pasadena High School in 1969, Dave enlisted in the United States Coast Guard. It was through the Guard that he learned the importance of discipline and the necessity of higher education. He was honorably discharged in November 1974. In the fall of 1975 he began his undergraduate studies at Thomas Aquinas College in Southern California. He received his Bachelors of Liberal Arts in 1979. While attending the College he was ordained to meet his life partner and wife, Natalie St. Arnault. They married December 29, 1979, at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Denver, Colorado.

Dave graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 1983. Subsequently he was sworn and admitted into various jurisdictions, courts, and state bars. He was licensed to practice law in Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, and Indiana. He was also licensed in Native Tribal Law for the Navajo Nation, White Mountain Apache, and Zuni Pueblo.

Dave and Natalie moved to Indiana in November 1991. They raised their nine children in the Chesterton/Duneland area — a semi-rural community in Indiana on the southern shores of Lake Michigan. Dave led the family by example with prayer, hard work, and quiet acts of love. He was a great storyteller and fantastic impersonator; he had a knack for making a room burst into laughter with his keen sense of humor and wit. He was an avid reader, swimmer, and bicycle enthusiast. He took pride in the Halpin homestead — sweating in his yard most summer Saturdays or snow blowing the drive in the bleak of winter.

Dave was a member of St. Patrick Parish, its Men of St. Joseph, and the Knights of Columbus. His life will be honored by family and friends with love, laughter and prayer.

In lieu of flowers, checks can be made payable to Dave’s widow, M. Natalie Halpin. Please post farewells, stories and/or condolences via the White-Love Funeral Home website.

God’s blessings and the peace of Christ to each and every one touched by Dave’s life.


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.


Dr. John. J. Goyette (’90)Over the weekend the Ventura County Star published a lengthy feature about the latest assault on human life in California — physician-assisted suicide, now euphemistically dubbed “aid in dying.” The story includes quotations from both prominent supporters and opponents of Senate Bill 128, which would permit doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients. Among those opposed to the measure is an alumnus and tutor of the College, Dr. John. J. Goyette (’90).

“The very idea of physician-assisted suicide is an implicit judgment that a life that involves suffering is not really worth living,” Dr. Goyette tells the Star. “It’s seeing human beings as disposable.” Framing the controversy not so much as one of religion but of human dignity, he adds, “Natural law forbids taking innocent human life,” a prohibition of which “faith reminds us.”

Dr. Goyette continues by observing that assisted suicide’s supporters have a grimly utilitarian view of the end of human life. “The underlying assumption is that a death with pain and suffering is somehow meaningless or undignified — that doesn’t really fit with our experience,” he says. “Suffering is an opportunity for people to show care and compassion. A death that’s filled with compassion, that’s not a meaningless or undignified death.”

The full story is available on the Ventura Star website.