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Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

March 08,

Servant of God Marcel Van Portrait of Marcel Van by Amis de Van
[CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Who is Marcel Van?

If you don’t already know the answer to that question — and, for that matter, even if you do — you would do well to read Marcel Van & the Little Way for Dummies, a recently published essay by alumna author  Suzie Andres (’87) on CatholicExchange. In it Mrs. Andres provides readers with a beautiful description of the life of Marcel — the late, Vietnamese Redemptorist brother who now bears the title Servant of God and who is the spiritual little brother of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. (Or, as Mrs. Andres calls him, “the Little Brother of the Little Flower.”)

 Suzie Andres (’87)Suzie Andres (’87)Mrs. Andres, a Third Order Carmelite who has long had a devotion to St. Thérèse — and even penned a book, The Little Way of Homeschooling, in her honor — has more recently developed a devotion to Marcel as well. So great is this devotion that she has launched what may be the Internet’s first Marcel Van blog, Miss Marcel’s Musings, on her newly published website,

It turns out that the answer to the question Who is Marcel Van? is not easy, because even though he was a humble, simple man, he was also a powerful mystic whose life embodied St. Thérèse’s “Little Way.” Writes Mrs. Andres:

Marcel is … about as little as they come, so little that he compelled Thérèse to come teach him her Little Way personally, though he’d read and re-read Story of a Soul. His forgetfulness and utter simplicity drew Jesus, too, into the picture, not to mention Mary, and between these three (God, the Mother of God, and “the greatest saint of modern times” according to St. Pope Piux X), we get what we might call, “The Little Way for the Rest of Us.” …

I recommend Marcel’s writings because they are the short cut to his big sister’s famous path. Despite our progress, our technology, our libraries of how-to books, we continue to be fairly dumb sheep, and Marcel is the perfectly imperfect dumbest sheep of us all, ready and willing to lead us through this dark valley and into the Father’s arms.

“If I could make the whole world love Marcel Van, I would,” adds Mrs. Andres, and she is already well on her way! A fellow writer at Catholic Exchange, Maura Roan McKeegan, has written about how Mrs. Andres’ introduction to this blessed has helped her to overcome some longstanding fears and worries.

Thanks be to God for Servant of God Marcel Van and for Mrs. Andres’ sharing of his littlest of ways. Marcel Van, pray for us!

Rev. Jerome Augustine Zeiler, O.P. (’00)“How do you confront the Culture of Death — a materialistic, secular, godless culture — when you’re immersed in it?” asks Rev. Jerome Zeiler, O.P. (’00), parochial vicar of St. Patrick’s Church in Columbus, Ohio. “You have to do more than go to Mass on Sunday. You need a Catholic culture that is more powerful for you than the worldly culture that surrounds you.”

To help provide young Catholics with that powerful, supportive culture, Fr. Zeiler serves as chaplain for the Columbus Frassati Society, according to a recent story on the Dominican Friars Foundation website. Named for Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, a Third Order Dominican who, through his great love, drew many of his peers to Christ, the Society offers regular spiritual, social, and service opportunities for as many as 20-50 young adults.

The experience that Fr. Zeiler seeks to create for the young adults in Columbus is, in key respects, similar to his own experience of living among fellow young Catholics as a student at Thomas Aquinas College. “The friendships I developed, real authentic friendships, were just an incredible support to my whole Catholic life,” he observed in a 2013 interview. “That was one of the most joyful aspects — being with likeminded men and women who were filled with God’s grace and who wanted to grow in His grace, and who were there to help me grow in His grace. It was just an incredible joy.”

May God bless the efforts of Fr. Zeiler and the Columbus Frassati Society!

Dan and Rose (Teichert) Grimm (both ’76) Dan and Rose (Teichert) Grimm (both ’76)

The family of Rose (Teichert ’76) Grimm reports that she has been diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer and will soon undergo aggressive treatment. Her daughter Wendy-Irene Zepeda (’99) requests friends pray “to two Blesseds specially dear to my mom: Bl. John Henry Newman and Bl. Solanus Casey,” and helpfully suggests the following two prayers:

Prayer through the intercession of Bl. Solanus Casey

O God, I adore You. I give myself to You. May I be the person You want me to be, and may Your will be done in my life today.

I thank You for the gifts You gave to Blessed Solanus. If it is Your will, grant the canonization of Blessed Solanus so that others may imitate and carry on his love for all the poor and suffering of our world.

As he joyfully accepted Your divine plans, I ask You, according to Your will, to hear my prayer for Our Lady’s intentions for Rose Grimm, especially that if it be Your will she be speedily, completely healed, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“Blessed be God in all His designs.”



Prayer through the intercession of Bl. John Henry Newman

O God our Father, You granted to Your servant Blessed John Henry Newman wonderful gifts of nature and of grace, that he should be a spiritual guide in the darkness of this world, an eloquent herald of the Gospel, and a devoted servant of the one church of Christ. For his insight into the mysteries of the Kingdom, his zealous defense of the teachings of the Church, and his priestly love for all your children, we pray that he may soon be numbered among the canonized saints, and that You grant, through his intercession, all Our Lady’s intentions for Rose Grimm, especially a speedy and complete cure, if that be Your holy will. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Angela (Andersen ’87) Connelly Angela (Andersen ’87) ConnellyThe News Tribune of Tacoma, Washington, recently named its list of six reader-columnists who will grace its pages for the upcoming year. Among those so honored is Angela (Andersen ’87) Connelly, an alumna of the College, a member of its Board of Governors, and the president of the Washington Women’s Network. “The list of criteria we provide to aspiring columnists is long and includes words like engaging, thought-provoking, inspirational, poignant, and most of all, local,” writes the News Tribune editorial board. “The goal is to identify creative people who love the South Sound as much as we do.”

After noting that Mrs. Connolly “is on a crusade to combat teen homelessness in Tacoma” and “serves on numerous community boards,” the editorial asks: “Did we mention she’s mother to nine kids?” This is good news, as far as the board is concerned: “Suffice it to say, the North End resident will not run out of material.”

The first of Mrs. Connolly’s regular columns, which appears in today’s edition of the News Tribune, deals with her aforementioned anti-homelessness crusade. “As a mom,” she writes, “I am begging everyone — every leader, non-profit, church, business, concerned citizen — to come sit at the table and wrap these kids and our community in love, support, and shelter.”

Dan and Rose (Teichert) Grimm (both ’76) Dan and Rose (Teichert) Grimm (both ’76)

Urgent prayers are requested for Rose (Teichert ’76) Grimm, who was recently diagnosed with a large abdominal tumor, most likely cancer and possibly metastasized. She is now undergoing various tests and procedures. Please pray that, if it be God’s will, she will be speedily healed.

"The Immortal in You" book coverThomas Aquinas College graduate and tutor Dr. Michael Augros (’92) is one of four “excellent authors” whose work is considered in a new book review on, Four Ways to Grasp Natural Meaning from the God Who Is, by Dr. Jeffrey Mirus, president and founder of Trinity Communications.

Dr. Augros’ latest book, The Immortal in You: How Human Nature Is More Than Science Can Say, is “a deeply philosophical book which proves … that the hollowness of human life without God is not only completely unnecessary but also irrational,” writes Dr. Mirus. Moreover, Dr. Augros presents his case “not from Revelation but from reason,” so as to reach modern audiences “who live in a state of conflict between their inner experiences and the scientistic denials of meaning imposed upon them by our educational and other formational institutions.”

The Immortal in You presents a philosophical argument for the reality and immortality of the human soul. It is Dr. Augros’ second published book, following Who Designed the Designer? A Rediscovered Path to God’s Existence, which Dr. Mirus reviewed for in 2015. 

Raymond Tittmann (’94) Raymond Tittmann (’94)Joining David Shaneyfelt (’81) in the newly released list of Southern California Super Lawyers — the top 5 percent of attorneys in the region — is fellow alumnus Raymond Tittmann (’94). A partner in the Los Angeles office of Wargo French, Mr. Tittman is a litigator specializing in insurance coverage, class and collective action, unfair competition, and complex commercial litigation.

When he assumed his new position at Wargo French last year, Mr. Titman expressed gratitude to his alma mater “for propelling me into my legal career,” adding that a liberal education is excellent preparation for aspiring attorneys. “I always tell people that if you can dissect Aristotle, you can certainly dissect an insurance policy,” he said.

Super Lawyers is “a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement,” the annual guide notes. To make the list, attorneys must make it through a rigorous nomination and peer-review process that considers such factors as verdicts, settlements, professional honors, experience, pro-bono work, and community service.

Readers may recall that, in 2015, Mr. Shaneyfelt and Mr. Tittmann teamed up to present a national webinar for the American Law Institute, Insurance Bad Faith: Strategies for Avoiding or Pursuing Claims.

David Shaneyfelt’s profile from Super Lawyers David Shaneyfelt’s profile from Super Lawyers
(click to enlarge)
To the right is the profile of alumnus attorney David A. Shaneyfelt (’81) that appears in the 2018 edition of Super Lawyers — an annual roster of top attorneys within various regions of the United States. “Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement,” the guide notes. Only 5 percent of lawyers are named to the list, following a rigorous nomination and peer-review process that considers such factors as verdicts, settlements, professional honors, experience, pro-bono work, and community service.

A lawyer in Camarillo, California, Mr. Shaneyfelt has represented numerous private and public business entities in disputes against insurance companies and joint powers agencies. He is an attorney at The Alvarez Firm, where he works alongside fellow alumnus Justin Alvarez (’97).

Dominic O’Reilly (’12) bottles a batch of Anna's Cider Dominic O’Reilly (’12) bottles a batch of Anna's Cider“Anna’s Cider had only just begun making ground when the Thomas Fire hit, sparing nothing,” begins a recent story in the Ventura County Reporter. The cider house, based in Santa Paula, California, and owned by alumni Anna (Dunlap) and Dominic O’Reilly (both ’12), had begun bottling its initial run of dry and semi-dry ciders when the fire wiped out $15,000 in product alone.

“The future, however, is bright, as the couple aims to rebuild and take their shared experience on to bigger and better goals,” the story continues.

The head winemaster at Topa Mountain Winery in Ojai, Mr. O’Reilly had recently begun to expand into the hard-cider business, sensing a demand for drier varieties. “The couple’s cider appeared once in keg form at Azu Restaurant in Ojai,” author Chris O’Neal writes, “and they had plans to release more to restaurants and even bottle ‘Batch #3’ before the fire hit.”

Undeterred, however, the O’Reillys intend to press forward with Anna’s Cider. They have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help recover their losses, and they have already chosen a name for Anna’s Cider’s next batch. “As soon as we get back on our feet,” Mrs. O’Reilly tells the Recorder, “our first batch that we do we’re going to call the Phoenix Blend, the comeback after the fire.”

Patrick Laurence (’96)A few months back, Ad Veritatem, the publication of the St. Thomas More Society of Orange County, California, featured an interview with alumnus attorney Sean Murray (’97). The magazine has since followed up with a profile of a second Thomas Aquinas College graduate, Patrick Laurence (’96), an associate at Murtaugh Meyer Nelson & Treglia LLP. The interview includes this insightful response to the question, “What do you appreciate most about the Faith?”:

“The Faith gives meaning and purpose to everything. There is no better explanation for the tragedy of the human predicament than the wound of Original Sin. We all do things to each other which we know we should not do. We also experience what Catholic writer Blaise Pascal described as default feelings of ‘forlornness’ and ‘emptiness.’ In short, we have an acute sense that something has gone wrong. Human nature itself seems to have been corrupted, which fits in very well with the idea of Original Sin.

“But our faith explains not only the cause of our wound, it also tells us how to heal it — we need to employ the heart. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.… Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31). Still, no matter the greatness of our love, it is obvious that we cannot achieve true happiness in this life. And so we have been given that clear-eyed statement of Catholic belief and purpose: ‘God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven’ (Baltimore Catechism).”

Mr. Laurence goes on to cite St. Joseph as his favorite saint, while invoking the example of St. Thérèse of Lisieux in the following advice to young Catholic attorneys:

“The day-to-day work of most lawyers does not involve issues of pressing importance to the Faith today, such as religious liberty or human rights. No, most of us are like St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who wanted to be a missionary in distant lands, but was content instead to do small things well within her own monastery in France. My advice would be to work out your salvation within the confines of your own office. Put in a good and honest day’s work. Be kind to your support staff. Be charitable but firm with opposing counsel and clients. Use those temporary breaks throughout your day as moments for short mental prayer. Do the small things well.”

The full interview is available (PDF), via the St. Thomas More Society of Orange County.

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Isaac Cross (’19) -- quote 2

“There’s a joy for life here you don’t get in most places, a sense of purpose, a sense of love and fellowship bound up in our common cause of seeking the truth.”

– Isaac Cross (’19)

Leominster, Massachusetts


“I thank you so much for what you are doing at Thomas Aquinas College. I hope there will always be a Thomas Aquinas College. Your contributions to the Church and the world are marvelous to behold.”

– John Cardinal O’Connor (†)

Archbishop of New York