Faith in Action Blog
The most recent issue of Thomas Aquinas College’s quarterly newsletter featured profiles of the College’s five newest alumni priests, all ordained within the last year. Those profiles are now available online:
- Rev. Jerome Augustine Zeiler, O.P. (’00)
Dominican Friars, Province of St. Joseph
- Rev. Joseph Bolin (’01)
Archdiocese of Vienna (Austria)
- Rev. Maximilian Okapal, O.Praem. (’02)
Canons Regular of Premontre, Orange County (Calif.)
- Rev. Fadi Auro (’03)
Archdiocese of St. Louis (Mo.)
- Rev. Francis Marotti (’07)
Diocese of Kalamazoo (Mich.)
Although many pro-lifers cheered Time magazine’s recent cover-story pronouncement that abortion champions have “been losing ever since” their 1973 triumph in Roe v. Wade, ethicist and theologian Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) is less sanguine. Writing for the National Catholic Register, she observes:
Framing the abortion movement as in decline is particularly interesting, since the story was published just days before Planned Parenthood released its annual report marking a record number of abortions: 333,964.
The family-planning organization also received $542 million in government funding, possibly an all-time high, and had $87.4 million in excess revenue, with $1.2 billion in net assets. It seems that, for Planned Parenthood, business is booming.…
Noting Time magazine’s unflinching support for legal abortion, Dr. de Solenni suspects that political calculations are at the root of its assessment about the state of the abortion wars:
In Washington, D.C., it’s widely accepted that the party or issue that loses a political race inevitably gets a windfall in donations. After all, there’s nothing like a political loss to prove to supporters how desperately their cash is needed to advance this very important cause just before it’s defeated forever.
On the flip side, it’s much harder to create a fundraising urgency when people think that a particular issue is succeeding and well-supported by government policies. There’s no evidence that their donations are needed, at least not nearly as much. After all, they’ve reached the goal for which they donated, whether it’s getting a candidate elected or putting a policy in place.
Nevertheless, a well-placed article — let’s say, on the cover of Time — making the case that major advances are about to be lost creates a great sense of urgency for the supporters of that allegedly about-to-be-lost cause.
Dr. de Solenni (’93) discusses the matter further on “Register Radio” with host Tim Drake, audio of which is available online on the Register’s website.
Greg Pfundstein (’05) continues to wage the difficult battle to protect the unborn in New York. The executive director of the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic organization in Manhattan, Mr. Pfundstein has issued a strong statement condemning Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s support for the Reproductive Health Act, which would further undercut the state’s minimal restrictions on abortion. “The notion that women need more access to abortion in New York is simply preposterous,” he says.
In support of that contention, Mr. Pfundstein cites extensive — and horrific — data that the Chiaroscuro Foundation has compiled about the rate of abortion in the Big Apple. “The rate of abortion in New York City is nearly twice the national average, with 40 percent of pregnancies ending in abortion in the city,” he notes. “In some zip codes, the abortion ratio approaches 60 percent.”
According to a Chiaroscuro Foundation poll, solid majorities of New Yorkers favor increased restrictions on abortion — as opposed to the more expansive abortion license that Gov. Cuomo proposes. “New Yorkers support sensible restrictions to bring down New York City’s unconscionably high rate of abortion, and Gov. Cuomo promises the exact opposite in the Reproductive Health Act,” says Mr. Pfundstein. “New York certainly needs abortion legislation, but the RHA is not it.”
Writer, illustrator, and educator Sean Fitzpatrick (’02) has reviewed two Christmas-season classics for “The Civilized Reader” feature in Crisis magazine. First is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which, he warns, “is no Hallmark affair to be taken lightly, much less dismissed as tacky and trite”:
A Christmas Carol is a preparation, and the process it initiates is not an easy one. Everyone knows in his or her own way that it is a steep path fraught with difficulty. But, as the ghostly mentors of Scrooge held up a mirror to him rigidly, relentlessly, and sometimes reluctantly, so too must we face our own inward conversions and cleansings, looking to don a garment worthy of the Bridegroom’s coming. Alongside of Scrooge, groveling in the shadows of our own tombstones, all are beckoned to declare themselves not the men they were but for the holy intercourses of the Advent season prompted by this wonderful story. Many hearkening to this call, swear to lead a changed life, an altered life that will honor the spirit of Christmas in their hearts, and try to keep it all the year, living in the past, the present, and the future.
Next, Mr. Fitzpatrick revisits The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter:
The Tailor of Gloucester is a tale that keeps alive the belief that there are ordinary things in the world that can accomplish extraordinary things. With God all things are possible. This is the principal theme of Christmastime, making it a time to faithfully hang our stockings by the fire with care in the hopes that elves will soon be there — because they are there, under the wooden wainscots, (“though there are very few folk that can hear them, or know what it is that they say.”)
Those looking to purchase these works may want to do so by way of the College’s Amazon Gateway. Meanwhile, when the Christmas season is past, be sure to see Mr. Fitzpatrick’s review of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes.
Dr. Sean Kelsey (’92) recently presented a response to a paper by Scottish philosopher Dr. Alasdair MacIntyre titled, “Catholic Instead of What?” Both presentations took place at the Notre Dame Center for Ethics & Culture’s 13th Annual Fall Conference, from which video is available below:
An associate professor in the University of Notre Dame’s philosophy department, Dr. Kelsey also serves as its director of graduate studies.
John Winkowitsch (’04) writes that the College “has helped inspire yet another alumnus to enter the seminary.” This fall he began studying for the Diocese of Madison (Wis.) at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. “I’ve never been happier,” he reports, adding, “My first semester has been wonderful, due in no small part to all the prayers of my friends and family.” Above is a vocational video he made for the Diocese this past summer:
Mr. Winkowitsch also presented a “Theology on Tap” in July on the subject, “Friendship: The Key to Eternal Happiness.” Audio of that talk is available below:
Br. Peter Miller (’07), Br. Robert Nesbit (’07), and Br. Patrick Carter (’05)
Thanks to all who prayed the novena posted here in behalf of Br. Patrick Carter (’05), Br. Peter Miller (’07), and Br. Robert Nesbit (’07). Those prayers have borne good fruit!
The young Benedictines — three of the 11 Thomas Aquinas College alumni living and praying at Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Okla. — all made their solemn professions on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2012. Several alumni and representatives of the College, including Vice President Peter L. DeLuca and Senior Tutor John Nieto, were on hand for the blessed occasion.
In other good news out of Clear Creek, on October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, two other alumni monks were ordained to the transitional diaconate: Br. Andrew Norton (’06) and Br. Christian Felkner (’01).
The family of Loraine (Ivers ’81) Hoonhout invites all to join them in saying the following prayer to Servant of God Frank Duff (founder of the Legion of Mary). Please pray for Mrs. Hoonhout’s healing from cancer, especially and most urgently for the removal of a malignant tumor near her spinal cord.
God our Father,
You inspired Your servant, Frank Duff, with a profound insight into the mystery of Your Church, the Body of Christ, and of the place of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in this mystery.
In his immense desire to share this insight with others and in filial dependence on Mary, he formed her Legion to be a sign of her maternal love for the world and a means of enlisting all her children in the Church's evangelizing work.
We thank you, Father, for the graces conferred on him and for the benefits accruing to the Church from his courageous and shining faith.
With confidence we beg You, that through his intercession You grant the petition we lay before You for the healing of Loraine Hoonhout in her struggle with cancer.
We ask, too, that if it be in accordance with Your will, the holiness of his life may be acknowledged by the Church for the glory of your Name, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
A film critic, a cultural commentator, and a regular blogger at Patheos.com, Joseph Susanka (’99) recently participated in a bloggers’ roundtable on Relevant Radio with host Sheila Liaugminas. The discussion, which broadly covered current issues of faith, culture, and media, is available in both streaming and downloadable formats.
As the headmaster of Saint Augustine Academy in Ventura, Calif., and president of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, Mr. Van Hecke has made Catholic education his life’s work. But it was not always so. When he entered Thomas Aquinas College as a freshman, he admits, he had littler interest in studying. “I came out here to learn how to surf and then I planned to transfer out,” he says.
Yet his time on campus was transformative. “I found myself in a truly Christian society, concerned about higher things, and concerned about people and imbued with holy charity,” he says. “People were good. They cared about you.”
That experience prompted in him a yearning to share the fruits of his education with others. “I found happiness,” says Mr. Van Hecke. “And I wanted to bring that to people, too. I want to give that joy to kids.” After graduation, he became a teacher, and not long thereafter, a headmaster.
Earlier this year, the Cardinal Newman Society named Saint Augustine Academy to its 2012-13 Catholic High School Honor Roll, which recognizes “excellence in Catholic identity, academics and civic education at Catholic high schools across the United States.” Saint Augustine is one of just 50 schools nationwide — and one of three headed by Thomas Aquinas College alumni — named to the list.