Faith in Action Blog
A tribute to Rev. Jacques Hamel, who was martyred today in Normandy, by alumnus cartoonist Patrick Cross (’14):
“Jesus Christ promised great rewards to the disciples who would leave all things, including marriage and the family, in order to follow Him,” says Rev. Gary B Selin (’89). “Jesus Himself was poor, celibate and obedient to the Father’s will. Likewise, the priest seeks to imitate Jesus in these ways through his priestly ministry and life.”
An assistant professor and the formation director at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Fr. Selin is the author of the newly released Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations, published by The Catholic University of America Press. In a recent interview with the Zenit news agency, Fr. Selin remarked, “The collective ignorance among Catholics of the scriptural, patristic, and theological foundations for priestly celibacy is widespread.” Yet he is hopeful that his scholarly work, will help “enable the faithful to form their minds about celibacy according to the teaching of the Church, rather than according to the relentless secularism of the media.”
The full interview is available via Zenit.com.
Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, and Patrick Mason (’03), state deputy of the Knight’s New Mexico state council
Nearly a decade ago, Patrick Mason (’03), then a freshly minted attorney in Gallup, New Mexico, joined his local council of the Knights of Columbus. Much to his surprise, he soon found himself elected chancellor, the council’s third-highest position. Then, when his council’s grand knight was tragically killed by a drunk driver, and its terminally ill deputy grand knight entered hospice care, Mr. Mason — a new Knight and still only in his 20s — became the council’s leader.
By God’s grace, the council thrived, attracting new, younger members, and earning the prestigious Star Council Award from the Knights’ Supreme Council. Mr. Mason began representing his council at regional and national conventions and, in short order, was elected state advocate for the Knights in New Mexico. He then proceeded to work his way through the state organization’s ranks, culminating in his election, in May, as state deputy — the highest state-level position within the Knights of Columbus.
There are only approximately 70 KofC state deputies, or their foreign equivalents, in the world, and among those, Mr. Mason — a husband and father of two sons, with a third child due in October — may well be the youngest. At 35 years of age, he is also the youngest man ever to hold the position in New Mexico. In June, he traveled to Connecticut for a leadership orientation, during which he met with the Knights’ national Board of Directors as well as Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.
“The way I look at it, throughout history — for example, after Pearl Harbor or even 9-11 — men stood up in defense of their country,” says Mr. Mason. “In a lot of ways, the Knights of Columbus provides a similar kind of opportunity for men to stand up in defense of the Church and families. It allows them to stand up and be, as Pope St. John Paul II said, ‘the strong right arm of the Catholic Church.’”
With 105 councils and 10,000 members, the Knights of Columbus is the largest Catholic lay organization in New Mexico. “As part of my duties, I have to meet with bishops, correspond with members of the Church hierarchy, and inspire and form our men in the Faith,” he says. “Being able to pull from my knowledge of the true, the good, and the beautiful, and being able to communicate the ideas that I developed and found at Thomas Aquinas College, has really helped me in all those regards. If it weren’t for the strength and faith that the College gave me, I don’t think I would be doing this.”
“Feeling a little subdued by (or furious at) the unfolding drama of the presidential race?”
Suzie Andres (’87)So asks alumna author Suzie Andres (’87) in a new article posted on Catholic Exchange. “Never fear,” she answers, “the Church always has the answer, lovingly drawn from her store of treasures, old and new.”
The article, coinciding with yesterday’s Feast of the Prophet Elijah, illustrates how the story of Elijah, “put into the context of history,” shows that “we don’t have it as bad as we like to think.” Moreover, the Church, through her prayers and liturgies, offers no shortage of opportunities for consolation and hope.
“So for those of us who are having a bit of a time with the political dramas of our own day, let us give ourselves (and the world) a break,” Mrs. Andres concludes. “Turn off the news, tear our eyes away from the internet, go to the mouth of the cave (or in our room where we can shut the door), and spend a few minutes in remembrance of the Mysteries which save us.”
If you need any help, an excellent place to begin is with Mrs. Andres’ article, Elijah: Our Model of Peace in Chaos.
A recent NBC News report describes how a contingent of California Highway Patrolmen has traveled to Cleveland to help local authorities ensure safety at this week’s Republican National Convention. Among the special-response team members chosen for this operation is a graduate of the College, Officer Rex Mohun (’90), who was recently named Officer of the Year for Ventura County.
Due to security concerns, the CHP has disclosed neither the number of officers it has dispatched nor the nature of their assignment. Yet given political tensions surrounding the presidential campaign, the ongoing threat of terrorism, and the recent outburst of violence against police officers that has plagued the nation, the security risks are significant.
Officer Mohun’s wife, Serena (Gimm ’87) reports that his family is praying the Prayer to St. Michael for his safety. Let us all join them in this prayer, for Officer Mohun and for law-enforcement officials everywhere:
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1667/1670
In the Year of Mercy and the Catechist, a lengthy, thoughtful talk that Martha (Schaeffer ’76) Long presented at the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia’s February conference for catechetical leaders, has recently been made available online.
A lady of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a master catechist, and an expert on catechesis and sacred art, Mrs. Long has been teaching religious education in Arlington for more than 20 years. Her talk, presented to parish catechetical directors and coordinators, is a wide-ranging examination of the origins and purpose of jubilee years, a thorough analysis of the role of mercy throughout the Old and New Testaments, a study of various artistic depictions of the parable of the Prodigal Son, and a practical account of how Catholics can avail themselves of the special graces that the Holy Father has made available in this extraordinary year.
It is also a testimonial about mercy in the life, and death, of the believer.
In a rather personal portion of the talk, Mrs. Long speaks candidly about her husband, Kevin Long (’77), who, after a decades-long struggle with severe bipolar disorder, took his life nearly two years ago. Since then, Mrs. Long has received countless spiritual consolations and numerous hints, some bordering on the miraculous, of Kevin’s eternal rest. “My constant prayer since August 19, 2014, has been for mercy. And I believe that Our Lord hears those prayers and will grant Kevin mercy, for as the psalmist says, ‘His mercy endures forever,’” she reflects.
Noting that “there are no limits to God’s mercy,” Mrs. Long remarks, “Divine Mercy is the form that God’s eternal love takes when He reaches out to us in the midst of our need and our brokenness. Whatever our misery might be — sin, guilt, suffering, or death — He is always ready to pour out his merciful, compassionate love for us, to help in time of need.”
The full address is available, in PDF format, via the Diocese of Arlington’s website.
Emily McBryan (’11), photo: The Catholic University of America
“Emily McBryan has always been intrigued by the ‘big questions.’”
So begins a profile of Miss McBryan, Class of 2011, on the website of The Catholic University of America, where she is now pursuing graduate studies in English literature. “During her undergraduate years,” the profile says, describing her time at Thomas Aquinas College, “she studied the heavyweights of philosophy and theology — Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Kierkegaard — eager to know whether the things she had been taught in high school would withstand scrutiny.”
In philosophy and theology tutorials, she found the intellectual substantiation she sought, but it was in her seminar classes — reading great works of literature — that she discovered her passion. “I found that literature encompasses all of those things philosophy and theology are talking about,” Miss McBryan says. “Literature offers an account of the human experience, of man trying to make sense of his being in the world.”
After graduating from the College, she taught three years of middle and high school English, before enrolling at The Catholic University, where she is concentrating on literature of the American South. There, she is joined by Sophia (Mason ’09) Feingold, who is completing a doctorate, and she will soon be joined by Jane Forsyth (’11), who will enter the literature program in August.
Angela (Andersen ’87) Connelly Back in December, the state of Washington’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) implemented a ruling on gender identity, making it permissible for the state’s residents to enter either men’s or women’s restrooms and locker rooms purely on the basis of “gender identification,” and irrespective of biology. Now an effort is under way to repeal that ruling and create safe restroom and changing areas for all Washingtonians. Leading that effort is a graduate and governor of Thomas Aquinas College, Angela (Andersen ’87) Connelly.
In her capacity as the founding president of the Washington Women’s Network, Mrs. Connelly is working to collect the requisite 246,372 signatures to put state initiative I-1515 on the November ballot. If approved by the voters, I-1515 would allow for the restoration of sexually segregated bathrooms and locker rooms in public and private institutions, and require them in public schools. The measure would also ensure reasonable accommodations for public-school children who are not comfortable using the boys’ or girls’ facilities.
“There are schools opening up the bathrooms and the showers (to everyone), which is absolutely unacceptable,” Mrs. Connelly recently told Tacoma’s News-Tribune. “They’re all required to do it by the HRC mandate.” The campaign to overturn the mandate, she says, is about common-sense protection. “We want to protect transgender kids. … We want to protect boys. We want to protect girls. It feels like that overly broad HRC mandate does not do that.”
In support of the campaign, Mrs. Connelly recently appeared on the My Catholic Faith podcast with Dr. Thomas Curran, director of Trinity Formation Resources. “Inclusiveness means women and children, too,” she told Dr. Curran. “Women and children have a human right to be safe and to have privacy and to have dignity, just as every single person does.”
As of last week, the Yes on I-1515 campaign had collected 200,000 of the 246,372 signatures it needs to get the initiative on the ballot. The deadline is tomorrow, July 8. Please pray for Mrs. Connelly and her efforts!
Under the Rule of St. Benedict, the community must be self-sufficient, and the brothers have taken up a successful brewing business to help pay the bills. For several years they have marketed their Birra Nursia in Italy, and in April they began — with Br. Augustine (Philip Wilmeth ’13) as their brewmaster — selling in the United States, too. Birra Nursia’s two beers, a blond ale and a Belgian strong ale, are now both available for purchase throughout the U.S. via the monastery’s website.
In an interview with Rev. Dwight Longenecker, Br. Augustine explains that, for the monks, brewing is part of their life of prayer. “The goal of our life is to pray always, whether brewing, cooking, or walking down the corridor,” he said. “Continual prayer; it may happen when we are brewing or bottling or drinking or while we are praying.”
Thomas Aquinas College Governor Bernarda Neal helped coordinate the U.S. launch of Birra Nursia, which has attracted considerable media attention. In addition to the segment on Fox News, the monks have enjoyed coverage in Aleteia and the Los Angeles Times, which proclaimed, “If holy contact is paramount, Birra Nursia delivers the most monk for your buck. From the hilltop monastery in central Italy, there are no laymen involved in the production or packaging of the beer, and no retailers or bartenders between you and this Benedectine brew.”
Rev. Mr. Miguel Gaspar Batres, O.Praem (’08) talks to students at St. Michael's Abbey Preparatory School The College just learned of another alumnus who was ordained to the transitional diaconate over the past weekend: Rev. Mr. Miguel Gaspar Batres, O.Praem (’08). The Most Rev. Kevin William Vann, J.C.D., Bishop of Orange, ordained Frater Miguel, a Norbertine monk at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California, on Saturday, June 25, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Costa Mesa.
Following the ordinations of Rev. Messrs. Jeffrey Hanley (’13) and Maximilian Nightingale (’13) on Saturday, plus Rev. Mr. Deneys Williamson (’10) on May 26, that makes four new deacons in the last month — and, by God’s grace, four new priests within the next year.
Thanks be to God!