Summer Program Blog
Fr. Nick distributes Holy Communion.
Many of the participants in this year’s Summer Program remember fondly the homily that Rev. Nick Blaha (’02) gave at the Sunday Mass on July 26, the program’s midpoint. Fr. Nick has made audio of the homily available via his website at Didde Catholic Campus Center at Emporia State University, where he is a chaplain.
“These things are good that we strive for — material comfort, security, fulfilling relationships. There’s nothing wrong with those, so far as they go,” Fr. Nick says. “The problem is that they don’t go far enough. It’s not that we want too much, it’s that we don’t want nearly enough! The scope of our moral and our spiritual vision is narrow. It’s constricted, truncated. … There is a love and goodness and a truth that awaits me if I can lift my eyes from what is fleeting and set my heart on the desires of the spirit.”
Fr. Nick concludes by telling the students, “To you, the young men and women who joined us for this brief visit, this brief time here, to experience a little taste of what this college is all about, our hope for you is that in this experience you’ve come to recognize it as a community of white-hot desire for the satisfaction of the spirit. And I hope, all of us hope, that no matter where you choose to go that you will attach yourself to a community that stirs you into flame.”
Amen, Fr. Nick!
“There is no word to describe the joy I had in discovering TAC and your summer program, and the sorrow I felt while leaving,” writes Nicolas, a high school student from Nantes, France, who attended this year’s program. “It was such a great opportunity, and these two weeks will stay to my mind as the best I ever experienced.”
In an attempt “to celebrate this forever,” Nicolas has put together the following video of his two weeks on campus. Enjoy!
After the last class yesterday, most of the men, joined by Fr. Sebastian, the prefects, and even some of the College’s student workers, played in a 3-on-3 basketball tournament on the campus courts. Other students took to the volleyball and tennis courts, spent time socializing with their many new friends, or picked up mementos from their time on campus at the College bookstore.
In the evening was the farewell banquet in St. Joseph Commons, at which several of the program’s young musicians entertained the crowd, and prefects performed some highly amusing skits. At the conclusion of dinner, all moved to the Chapel, where Fr. Sebastian exposed the Blessed Sacrament, and the group prayed the Rosary in Adoration.
Students then gathered in the plaza of St. Gladys Hall, where they danced until nearly midnight, at which time prefects played a lengthy video slideshow of pictures from the last two weeks. Before saying goodbye, students penned yearbook-style notes to one another — oftentimes inside their copies of Euclid’s Elements! After much hugging and bidding adieu, all turned in to the residence halls and prepared for their journeys back home, with the first van leaving at 4:45 a.m., and the last scheduled to depart just after noon.
Thanks be to God for two amazing weeks!
A little weary from last night’s festivities, Summer Program attendees are on their way home.
Thank you for a great program!
Prefects pray for the high school students in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel.
Every day for the last two weeks, while the high school students were at their morning class, the Summer Program prefects came together to pray a Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the students and their intentions. This morning’s was the last such gathering, as the program — hard though it may be to believe — is coming to an end.
While the prefects were at prayer, the students were at their final Euclid class, where they got to show how far they have come in just a few short days by demonstrating Propositions 16, 29, and 32 of Book I. At the afternoon’s class, the last one of this year’s program, they discussed the short story “Everything that Rises Must Converge,” by Flannery O’Connor, questioning whether the mother and son portrayed in the story truly possess self-knowledge.
The goodbye giftsAt the afternoon class the students received some goodbye presents — a Thomas Aquinas College messenger bag, a framed picture of this year’s students (a downloadable, high-resolution version of which is available here), a photo of their class section, and a wrapped copy of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. After class, out in St. Joseph Commons, they collected one more keepsake: a Thomas Aquinas College t-shirt.
There are now just a few more events on this year’s Summer Program agenda: the 3-on-3 basketball tournament, tonight’s banquet, Rosary and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and the farewell dance. Check this blog Saturday for last-night pictures!
On Thursday afternoon, students concluded their last class on Boethius and then took to the athletic fields for their second-to-last recreation period. All gathered for a soccer tournament versus the prefects— a fierce match with multiple lead changes that ultimately went into overtime. Ten minutes into the extra section, John Jost (’17) delivered victory to the prefects with a dramatic game-winning goal.
The competition, however had only just begun. The group quickly moved from the soccer field to the campus ponds for what has been dubbed “watermelon rugby,” in which teams of women, and then men, attempted to bring a greased watermelon across the pond and to the opposing team’s goal. This exhausting and hilarious activity was followed by a hearty dinner, then a final study period in the library and classrooms. Students once more practiced their Euclidean propositions with the help of the prefects, and they also delighted in a new addition to the program curriculum, Flannery O’Connor’s “Everything that Rises Must Converge.”
At the end of study hall, all gathered in front of the Chapel for a candlelight Rosary procession to the Lourdes Grotto, led by Fr. Sebastian. Upon arriving at the grotto, which prefects had surrounded with candles beforehand, students finished praying the Luminous Mysteries, then fell silent, deep in prayer. The silence only broke several minutes later, when the group headed back toward the upper campus, singing hymns along the way.
In the short time before curfew there was one last dance class, followed by some spontaneous dancing in St. Joseph Commons and cool drinks in the campus coffee shop. At 10:30 p.m., all returned to their residence halls — but the night was not over just yet.
Soon after curfew, the ladies of St. Monica’s Residence Hall were startled to hear music coming from outside their courtyard. When they looked out their windows, they saw the men of the Summer Program — dressed in their Sunday best — singing “Stand by Me,” “Love Story,” and “Red is the Rose.” The serenade, which was sung from the heart, even if somewhat off-key, made such an impression that it was the subject of conversation at breakfast this morning.
At this morning’s class students resumed their work on Euclidean geometry, up through Propostion15 in Book 1 of the Elements. Tutors report that they are very pleased — and impressed! — with the students’ progress. The slideshow below features photos of each of the nine classroom sections:
This afternoon students can look forward to their last class on Boethius, a prefects vs. students soccer game, and two greased-watermelon matches in the campus ponds. Then, tonight they will be participating in a Rosary procession to the Lourdes Grotto.
In Wednesday afternoon’s class students continued their conversations about Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy. They considered the question of happiness and what is commonly thought to bring it about. Gradually, the sections worked their way through the text to the realization that those things we associate with happiness are but fragments of a larger, true happiness that can be found only in God.
During the recreation period, prefect Daniel Selmeczy led a second dance class, preparing students for tomorrow’s farewell gala. Chris reviewed the merengue and swing, adding a few new steps into the mix. As soon as the class ended, the group headed to the athletic field for a best-of-three prefects vs. students match of ultimate Frisbee, which the prefects won handily in two games, 10-4 and 10-1.
At study hall students prepared for today’s classes on Euclid and Boethius, after which they met up in the Chapel to pray the Rosary. Then came the highlight of the evening, “Theology on Float.” Prefects served scores of root-beer floats to hungry students, who sat back and heard Fr. Sebastian answer their anonymously submitted questions on all matters pertaining to the Faith. The topics included Holy Scripture, Purgatory, and sexual morality, and they led to further post-curfew discussions around the fire pits the residence-hall courtyards. Fr. Sebastian joined the men’s conversation, as did Fr. Paul the women’s, before leading students in their nightly consecration.
It was another great day — only two more to go!
Fr. Nick distributes Holy Communion.
The tutors for the High School Summer Program report that, even though many students were a bit tired after yesterday’s trip to Los Angeles, they performed beautifully at this morning’s class. With poise and skill, they confidently approached the chalkboards and demonstrated propositions pertaining to side-side-angle and side-side-side congruency, as well as bisecting angles and lines.
Next came the morning Mass, after which students bid a fond farewell to Rev. Nick Blaha (’02), who has served as a chaplain for the program for these last 11 days. Fr. Nick, alas, is due back at Emporia State University, where he runs the Didde Catholic Campus Center. We will miss him greatly, but we are thankful for his generous service to our high school students. May God bless you, Fr. Nick!
After Mass came lunch, followed by the afternoon class, where students will resume Monday’s conversation of Boethius. Later this afternoon they can look forward to dance practice and an ultimate Frisbee match against the prefects, then dinner, study hall, and the daily Rosary. To cap off the evening, Fr. Sebastian will lead a session of “Theology on Float,” in which he will answer anonymous questions about the Faith while students feast on root beer and ice cream. Below is a photo of the questions box, which has been on display in St. Joseph Commons all week:
Come back tomorrow for more news and photos!
As mentioned in the last post, after Mass and lunch yesterday, the students, prefects, chaplains, and a few tutors boarded four buses for Los Angeles and the Getty Museum. There they viewed world-renowned paintings, ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, and other works of art, including some by Monet, Van Gogh, and Renoir, as well as sketches by Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Students were especially impressed by Power and Pathos, an exhibit of rare, Hellenistic bronze sculptures of great emotional intensity. They also found time to take plenty of pictures around the museum’s beautiful gardens, fountains, and outdoor patios.
At about 5:00 p.m. the group re-boarded the buses for a trip to the Hollywood Bowl, stopping briefly at a nearby park to consume a dinner of 60 pizzas. Upon entering the storied amphitheater, the students settled in for a concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, A Midsummer Night with Dudamel, named for the orchestra’s conductor and music/artistic Director, Gustavo Dudamel. The performance featured two works by Felix Mendelssohn, his Violin Concerto in E-minor and his score for William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Students delighted in the spirited performance — which included a dramatic reading of key lines from the play by Jurassic World star Bryce Dallas Howard — while relaxing under the stars on a hot summer night in the Hollywood Hills.
The concert ended fairly late (about 10:30 or so), at which time students returned to the buses. On the way back to campus, they prayed the Rosary, slept, and caught up on their reading. Then it was off to bed for some much-needed rest before Wednesday’s classes on Euclid’s Elements and Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy.