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Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

crucifix in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Dr. Ken J. Kaiser (’78), who died this morning. Dr. Kaiser was the brother of Associate Dean Thomas Kaiser (’75), Kathy (Eubanks ’77), and David (’79), and the father of Will (’03) and John (’07). Please also pray for the consolation of his wife, Patti (Grimm ’79), and their entire family. 

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

“Simply put, we have now a great opportunity — and a responsibility — to pray,” observes Rev. Michael Hurley, O.P. (’99), the pastor of St. Dominic’s Catholic Church in San Francisco. In a new video posted to the website of the Western Province of the Order of Preachers, Fr. Hurley instructs the faithful on the virtues and the mechanics of making a spiritual communion, especially now that so many Catholics lack access to the Sacraments:

“St. Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, says, ‘What can separate us from the love of Christ?’ In a word, nothing,” says. Fr. Hurley. “Neither death nor life, principalities or power, or any created thing, nothing on heaven and earth  — not even the coronavirus — nothing can separate us from the love of Christ and His presence in our lives.”

Rev. Jerome Zeiler, O.P. (’00) Rev. Jerome Zeiler, O.P. (’00)Writing on his Facebook page, alumnus priest Rev. Jerome Zeiler, O.P. (’00), offers the following poignant dialogue about some of the many ways Our Lord is at work during this time of ubiquitous closures and social distancing: 

Satan: “I will cause anxiety, fear, and panic. I will cause the churches to lock their doors. I will cause Christians not to worship together on Sunday. I will cause the sacraments not to be given or received. I will cause fights to break out at the grocery stores and on social media and inside the home. I will cause greater animosity between nations. I will cause turmoil inside and out.”

Jesus: “I will restore the family. I will bring husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters closer together. I will greatly strengthen the communal life of religious brothers and sisters. I will greatly strengthen the spiritual lives of my priests. I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table and to the refectory. I will help my children slow down their lives and appreciate what really matters. I will teach my children to rely on me and not on what is of this world. I will deepen my children's faith in me. I will renew their prayer life. I will deepen their love for me and for one another.”

The parochial vicar at St. Patrick Church in Columbus, Ohio, Fr. Zeiler graduated from the College in 2000. He entered the Eastern Province of the Order of Preachers in 2005 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2012. He holds a Master of Divinity from the Dominican House of Studies and a Licentiate in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America.

Please keep him  — and all priests  — in your prayers!

"Christ on the Cross Between Two Thieves," by Rubens Jozef Sedmak

This Lent alumnus attorney David A. Shaneyfelt (’81) — a regular honoree on the list of California “Super Lawyers” — has once more turned his attention to the most significant criminal proceeding in the history of jurisprudence: the trial of Jesus Christ.

David A. Shaneyfelt (’81) David A. Shaneyfelt (’81)Last year the Ventura County attorney posted a series of free podcasts in which he investigated Our Lord’s trial, beginning with His arrest, and continuing all the way through the Crucifixion. This year he is making the podcasts available once more — and with a notable addendum.

“For this Lent, I’ve added another podcast lecture to the series, pursuing a tangent from the Trial of Jesus, but still related to it — a reflection on the ‘Two Thieves,’” writes Mr. Shaneyfelt on his website, One Catholic Lawyer. “If you liked the first seven in the series, I think you’ll like this one, too.”

Over the course of the podcast series, which aims “to unpack the history and Scriptural account of Jesus and the two crucified with him,” Mr. Shaneyfelt considers such questions as: What are the sources of evidence at Jesus’ trial? What happened in the Garden of Gethsemane? And what is the significance of the date of the Crucifixion as it pertains to the Passover Feast?

“A great deal of scholarship has gone into the relatively few words of the New Testament that describe the legal process employed to put to trial, convict, and execute a Jewish rabbi, whose followers for 2,000 years since then have regarded as the Eternal Son of God, the Word made flesh to dwell, and to die, among us,” writes Mr. Shaneyfelt. “My goal in this podcast series is to introduce listeners to some of this scholarship, to unpack it, and to let listeners appreciate the difficulty — and reward — of parsing Biblical texts.”

Mr. Shaneyfelt has spoken publicly about Our Lord’s trial for more than 20 years at churches, schools, and organizations throughout California. “Believers and non-believers, I think, will at least find the subject fascinating, because history offers us great insights into passages that are often short and cryptic,” he observes. “But I also think, or at least hope, that believers will come to see deeper meanings and significance in the details addressed and, in the end, will grow in faith and love for the One Who is at the central focus of this event.”

The eight, hour-long podcasts have generated downloads in more than a dozen countries to date. They provide an excellent source of listening for Lent and Holy Week.

stars in the night sky

“According to thousands of years of human observations, the heavenly bodies were eternal, they always were, they always will be, world without end. They were immortal, divine, yet visible, and moving with what must be mathematical precision. The hope of drawing close to God by uncovering the mathematical elegance and precision of the divine heavens is what attracted Ptolemy to devote his life to studying the heavens.”

Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87) Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87)So writes Thomas Aquinas College tutor and alumnus Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87) in a fascinating essay for The Imaginative Conservative, The Gravity of Gravity: A Quick Look at Astronomy and its Relevance. In discussing the discoveries of Ptolemy, Copernicus, Brahe, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and Einstein, Dr. Seeley explains the effects of astronomy on history and culture, and why its study is an important part of a liberal education. He also writes about how his alma mater — and the emphasis its classical curriculum places on astronomy — made him a lifelong stargazer:

At the beginning of Sophomore year, I spent two weeks systematically observing the sky with the naked eye, then studied Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein over the next three years. Not only was I introduced to the historical developments of science, but I came to see the reasons why we believe that the Earth moves, and that all things are heavy. More than that, I was able to enter into Dante’s imaginative vision of the cosmos, and understand the ways in which St. Thomas used astronomy to help understand the science of theology.

The Ptolemaic portion, especially grounded in the two weeks of observations, made me a friend of the night skies for the rest of my life. The observations involved watching the sky at different times through the night, and watching it at the same time every night for a while, noting especially what was rising and what was setting. It set up a habit of keeping track of the sky …

In addition to serving on the College’s teaching faculty, Dr. Seeley serves as executive director of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education. His full article is available via The Imaginative Conservative.

20, 2020

The family of Patrice and Stephen Atchley

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Stephen Atchley, who died of complications from a heart attack on February 16. Please also pray for the consolation of his family, including his wife, Patrice (Ford ’81), and their eight children: Liam (’14), Clare (’12), Angelique (Cotugno ’14), Gabrielle, Juliet (’18), Sophia, Dominique (’22), and Lisette. A 9:30 a.m. Rosary and 10:00 am Funeral Mass are scheduled for Saturday, February 22 at San Segundo d’Asti Church in Ontario, California.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

Thomas A. Alexander (’99) Thomas A. Alexander (’99)Thomas A. Alexander (’99), whom this blog profiled last month, is the subject of a new story on the Cardinal Newman Society’s website, Pentagon Leader: Faithful Catholic Education Provided ‘Fundamentals to Succeed.’

“Thomas Alexander is a top leader in the Pentagon who is the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense on special operations, counterterrorism, and more around the world,” writes Kelly Salomon, the Newman Society’s director of education and advocacy. “He credits his education at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California, which is recommended in The Newman Guide, with preparing him with the ‘fundamentals’ he needed to ‘succeed’ in his work.”

In the story, Mr. Alexander refers several times to the College’s program of Catholic liberal education. “Thomas Aquinas College,” he says, “gives you the ability to quickly analyze, break down a particular issue into its parts, put it all back together in a way that makes sense, reach a conclusion, and then go forward.”

The full story is available via the Cardinal Newman Society.

Maggie Tuttle speaks to students on the California campus.

Alumna Maggie Tuttle (’10), who works as a Senior Customer Success Manager for Talent Solutions at LinkedIn, returned to her alma mater last Sunday to present a workshop about how students can use the professional-networking site in their career searches. “Many people who come from Thomas Aquinas College, because of the things that we study, the way that we study, the way that we are expected to show up in the classroom and with our friends — you just bring something unique to the table,” she said. “Keep that in mind.”

Her 45-minute talk — held on the California campus but made available, via simulcast, to students in New England — focused on how to use LinkedIn to discern a career, land a job, and stay abreast of developments in one’s career field. “I have been in recruiting and talking to recruiters my whole time out of TAC,” she said. The experience, she added, has given her many insights into how job applicants can maximize their prospects for getting hired. Among these:

  • Maggie Tuttle (’10) Maggie Tuttle (’10)“Fake it till you make it” — although liberally educated students may lack direct training in a particular field, they are fast learners who can quickly bring themselves up to speed.
  • “Have a growth mindset” — always look for opportunities for you and your company to move forward.
  • “Deliver Excellence” — never produce less than your best work. “No matter what you do, you never know when some small ask, or some seemingly minuscule task, can be something really, really important that that one critical person will notice,” said Miss Tuttle. “That can change your whole career.”
  • “Creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and time management” — these are among the “soft skills” that employers actively seek and which are often the fruits of a liberal education.

The world’s largest professional social network, LinkedIn boasts more than 660 million users, acquiring two more every second. Over the course of her presentation, Miss Tuttle showed students how to make a LinkedIn profile, explained what sort of information it should include, and demonstrated how they can engage the network in such a way as to make them attractive to prospective employers.

Upon graduating from the College in 2010, Miss Tuttle began as a recruiter for Force 10 Networks before moving on to a similar position at Balance Pro Tech one year later. She has worked at LinkedIn since 2012, where she oversees some 250 accounts, each representing as many as 15-20 recruiters.

Representatives from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who visited the California campus for a recent vocations talk, including Jorge Moncada Hernandez (’18 , center) and Paul Collins (’14, bottom right) Representatives from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who visited the California campus for a recent vocations talk, including Jorge Moncada Hernandez (’18 , center) and Paul Collins (’14, bottom right)

What does it mean to witness for Christ? How does one discern God’s call? What role does celibacy play in the life of a priest?

These questions and more were the topics of a recent vocations talk on the California campus presented by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, featuring two alumni seminarians: Jorge Moncada Hernandez (’18) and Paul Collins (’14).

“This place was really foundational to discover my calling,” said Mr. Moncada, who urged students to see their time on campus as an opportunity to seek God’s will for their lives. Dating “a beautiful woman” while a student briefly caused him to question a lifelong sense that he was called to the priesthood, but during his junior year, “God told me what I needed to do in life.” Forsaking marriage and family is a difficult sacrifice, he added, but a joyful one. “We say ‘no’ to many things, but we say ‘yes’ to many more.”

Mr. Collins, who, in addition to a lifetime of service in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, plans to spend 20 years as a chaplain for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, echoed this sentiment. “The priesthood is for a guy who wants to give his whole life to witness for Christ and save souls,” said Mr. Collins. “Being willing to give up marriage and family — despite really wanting it — that’s what makes a good priest. That’s the whole point of our spirituality: to give our lives for Christ.”

Mr. Moncada and Mr. Collins are just two of the five Thomas Aquinas College alumni studying for the priesthood in Los Angeles. The others are David Allen (’10), Michael Masteller (’13), and Edward Seeley (’16).

Lauretta Brown (’13) Lauretta Brown (’13)In anticipation of January’s National March for Life, Fox News published a story about “pro-life women [who] are fighting to redefine female ‘empowerment.’” Among those profiled are Unplanned author Abby Johnson, Live Action President Lila Rose, and an alumna of the College: Lauretta Brown (’13)

Miss Brown, observes reporter Sam Dorman, is part of “a generation of female, pro-life journalists” who are leading the effort to protect and defend all human life. “Lauretta Brown is a journalist working as a staff writer at the National Catholic Register,” Mr. Dorman notes. “She's written in depth about crisis pregnancy centers, as well as the science surrounding abortion.” The story goes on to quote Miss Brown, who remarks, “People need to be aware that a pre-born baby’s complete genetic code — distinct from that of the mother — is present from the moment of conception.”


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Thomas Cavanaugh (’18) -- quote 2

“My time here has really refined the way I think, read, and understand. It has allowed me to think about things more critically and logically.”

– Thomas Cavanaugh (’18)

Larkspur, California


“Thomas Aquinas College is lending a helpful hand to the Church to fulfill her mission. There is no doubt that this Christian environment that is nurtured here is the main cause why there have been so many responses to the call of God to the priesthood and to the consecrated life in the female and male students of your College.”

– Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski

Prefect Emeritus

Congregation for Catholic Education