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Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Cover of "The Glory of the Cosmos"What are the Christian’s responsibilities toward the environment and its care? A new book sets out to answer this question, decoupling it from the snares of ideology and partisanship and turning instead to the intellectual tradition of the Catholic Church.

“Today we have those who view the natural world as little more than raw material for our use and exploitation, and on the other hand, those who want to attribute some sort of divinity to that world,” writes Thomas Storck, editor of The Glory of the Cosmos: A Catholic Approach to the Natural World. “The Church has her own approach to these questions, an approach that, while of course not seeing the natural environment as possessed of divinity, neither does it see it as simply so much inert stuff, stuff meant solely for our manipulation, profit, and pleasure.”

In The Glory of the Cosmos, Mr. Storck and several Catholic scholars consider environmentalism from the vantage of Catholic philosophy and theology, particularly the works of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas. Eschewing both the paganism and the deism that are too often at root in contemporary environmental debates, the authors consider what it means to contemplate and honor the splendor of God’s creation. The book features four alumni-authored essays:

“In this collection you will find not only an edifying series of reflections on the Catholic Church’s teaching on our place and role in the natural world, but you will meet the Catholic tradition’s great sources of philosophical and theological insight,” writes Dr. John G. Brungardt, an assistant professor of philosophy at Newman University, about The Glory of the Cosmos. “Readers will encounter the calm strength of the Catholic contemplative spirit, asking them to turn and see the glory of the cosmos and showing them how.”

Mary Katherine (’15)

“My father, maternal grandfather, and paternal great-grandfather were all entrepreneurs,” reflects Mary Katherine (’15). “I grew up with front-row seats to the exciting heights and valleys their respective ventures produced. I was always attracted to the freedom and creativity involved in entrepreneurship.”

Three years ago Miss Katherine followed in the footsteps of her entrepreneurial forbears by co-founding New Eve Media, where she serves as executive producer. Based in San Diego, the company specializes “in producing high-quality video content, as well as building and managing websites to distribute the content,” she says, for “mission-oriented organizations.”

The young company has already worked with a wide range of clients, from law firms to software developers. Among its notable clients to date are the Classic Learning Test, the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, the University of San Diego, and the Order of Malta Western Association. “The common denominator is the presence of compelling stories and people of goodwill,” Miss Katherine says. “We view each project as a partnership.”

While still a student at the College, Miss Katherine and some friends attended a poetry reading in Los Angeles hosted by Communion and Liberation, where Dana Gioia — then California’s Poet Laureate — was the featured poet. “Through that meeting, I ended up working as an archivist for Mr. Gioia over the summers while I was at TAC and for a year after graduation,” she recalls. “He and Mrs. Gioia shared a wonderfully rich perspective on the arts as well as business.”

At New Eve, Miss Katherine finds that “independent thinking and adaptability,” both fruits of her liberal education, are essential to her work. “We enter into our partner’s world and need to quickly assimilate into the culture and learn their internal language, in order for us to translate it into media,” she says. “Analysis, synthesis, and the ability to identify the heart of a story are all critical components to my work as a producer. My experience at TAC primed me in a multitude of ways to help build New Eve. I’ll be forever grateful for the education and the community I received at TAC.”

At Sweetest Heart of Mary Church in Detroit on November 21, the Rev. Matthew Maxwell, MC (’08), became Thomas Aquinas College’s 74th alumnus priest — and, more notably still, the first American-born priest for the Miles Christi religious order.

“We are here with a conviction that God is about to do something great,” said the Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, in his homily at the ordination Mass. “He is about to do the great work of grace because it is Christ who makes Br. Matthew a priest. It is Christ who acts, who consecrates you.”

Dedicated to helping the laity grow in holiness through spiritual direction, Ignatian spirituality and sound doctrinal formation, Miles Christi is a young order of priests founded in Argentina, but with a small, burgeoning presence in the U.S. Fr. Maxwell “is the first priest recruit of our work in the States,” Rev. John Ezratty, MC, superior of Miles Christi’s Michigan chapter, told Detroit Catholic. “It is kind of the beginning of a long history. Up until now, we have been working with a lot of men, but the fact that a person born in the States is now becoming a priest is a big milestone.”

Fr. Maxwell’s ordination marks the culmination of a 10-year journey, which began with his entering the order as a postulant in 2011. After spending the first years of his formation in Michigan, he completed his novitiate at the Miles Christi motherhouse in Argentina, then undertook theological studies at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. Fr. Maxwell now ministers in the Archdiocese of Detroit, where he offers spiritual direction, organizes formation groups, and contributes to the formation of Miles Christi seminarians.

Franz Wall ('16)

The local Fox affiliate in Fresno, California, has published an inspiring update on Franz Wall (’16), who remains hospitalized and paralyzed  from the chest down following a skiing accident in late November. The story quotes Franz’s mom, Christy (Tittmann ’89), who remains faithful as ever during this trying time, which she likens to “the most bizarre dance between heaven and hell, and absolute grief and amazing joy, because the highs and lows are crazy.”

In the story, Mrs. Wall recalls Franz’s first phone call to her after his injury. “I pick up the phone, ‘Mom, I’m paralyzed,’ and I just told him, I said, ‘Look, if you’re paralyzed, then that’s what you need for salvation, and I’m behind you 100 percent, whatever I can do to help you.” Grateful for the outpouring of support that her family has received, she “wants people to remember, ‘God is good and, even in terrible situations, He is bringing about a good.’”

Part of that good, no doubt, are the many prayers that have been offered by friends of Franz, as well as those who have never even met him, for his recovery and for his family’s well-being. To that end, fellow alumna Mary Massell (’15) has arranged a novena for Franz and the Wall family at St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church, in Surprise, Arizona, which will be livestreamed over Facebook at 6:00 p.m. PST on Friday, December 18. “All are welcome and encouraged to participate virtually,” Miss Massell writes. “Please share with your prayer groups!”

On December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Br. Edward Seeley (’16) entered the novitiate for the Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception, a religious order with a small but rapidly growing North American community located just miles from the College’s California campus.

Before joining the Canons as a postulant earlier this year, Br. Edward was a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. “During that time I discerned the need to grow together with other people to help me grow closer to Christ,” he says, “to really support me in my vocation, to help call me out when I’m not doing enough, but also to help pick me up when I fall down.”

This summer, the Canons published the above video profiling Br. Edward. “During college we read St. Augustine’s Confessions and the City of God, and in that I saw the working of God’s providence, first on a personal level in the Confessions and then on the level of salvation history in the City of God,” he says, explaining why St. Augustine is his favorite saint. “He’s wonderful at describing the experience of grace — the experience of a hardened sinner being converted, but also just the regular workings, how we see God working interiorly, more interiorly than we even understand. And so learning how to develop that, to listen to it, and then to work on it, is something that he taught me, I think, very well.”

One of six new postulants for the Canons Regular, Br. Edward now continues his discernment of a priestly vocation. “It’s wonderful,” he says. “It’s really amazing to be able to give yourself fully and entirely to God, and then to the people on His behalf.”

Br. Edward Seeley (’16), third kneeling from the left, enters the novitiate with the Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception Br. Edward Seeley (’16), third kneeling from the left, enters the novitiate with the Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception

Lt. Mark Forrester (’12) teaches his students at Holy Family Academy remotely from a COVID-19 testing station. Lt. Mark Forrester (’12) teaches his students at Holy Family Academy remotely from a COVID-19 testing station.

The Diocese of Manchester, N.H., has presented its annual St. Joseph Award for teaching excellence to a graduate of the College who couples his extraordinary devotion to his students with service to his family and country: Mark Forrester (’12).

Mark Forrester (’12) Mark Forrester (’12)Last December, Mr. Forrester and his wife, Clare, welcomed their first child, little baby Isla. Three months later, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Charged with overseeing a sudden shift to online learning at Holy Family Academy, where he teaches math and theology, Mr. Forrester was able to get his colleagues transitioned to Google Classroom in just four days. Then, less than a month later, the New Hampshire National Guard — where Mr. Forrester serves as a lieutenant and firing platoon leader —called him to active duty at a COVID-19 testing site in northern New Hampshire. What was supposed to be a one-month assignment soon stretched out to three months away from his young family and home.

Throughout that time, however, Mr. Forrester never abandoned his students. “He taught classes in his National Guard fatigues from inside a tent or out in a field — often with a whiteboard propped on one chair and a laptop propped on another,” writes Mark Gillis, Holy Family’s Head of School. “When Mark could not be there for the regularly scheduled class during the day, he scheduled help sessions for students in the evening. He continued the dual task of administering COVID tests and moral theology tests until the end of the school year.”

All the while, Mr. Gillis adds, Mr. Forrester “kept up his joyful spirit and sense of humor” while continuing to assist his Holy Family colleagues in whatever ways he could. “Mark Forrester — National Guard lieutenant, Holy Family Academy teacher, and father of a beautiful family deserves a special tip of the hat,” observes Mr. Gillis. “If witness of Christian discipleship is the most powerful form of education, then Mark Forrester is a master teacher.”

Michelle (Firmin ’97) HalpinPlease pray for the repose of the soul of Michelle (Firmin ’97) Halpin, who, following a years-long battle with cancer, passed away on Saturday. Her husband, Phil (’97), writes:

Michelle died peacefully early this evening. Her dad and I were with her, holding each of her hands as she finally let go and stopped breathing. All of our children have been staying with us here at the house for several days and it has been a beautiful and holy experience for all of us. We're so glad that Michelle is now with Jesus, where she has always wanted to be. ‘O death, where is thy sting?’

She was very comfortable and peaceful for the last several days, in her own bed here at home. I can't imagine anyone being more prepared for death, both practically and spiritually. But that's not a surprise to any of us because well-prepared was how she lived her whole life. I and all of our children are at peace and are doing very well.

Please also pray for the consolation of Phil and the Halpin family. Funeral information will be made available on Michelle’s CaringBridge site as soon as it becomes available.

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

Samantha Cohoe ('06) Samantha (McCall ’06) Cohoe

“On the eve of the French Revolution, a teenaged alchemist is on the verge of a great discovery. But its cost may be her mind.”

That’s the one-line pitch that alumna author Samantha (McCall ’06) Cohoe makes for her newly released young-adult novel, A Golden Fury (Wednesday Books). The historical fantasy (“more historical than fantasy,” she explains) follows the perilous adventure of protagonist Theosebeia Hope as she risks her life and her sanity in an always brave, sometimes foolhardy, and occasionally terrifying pursuit of alchemy’s greatest prize: the Philosopher’s Stone.

Cover "A Golden Fury"“The goals of alchemy always seemed like they were worthy of having a fantasy story written about,” reflects Mrs. Cohoe. “The boldness of thinking that, if you get everything right, you can scientifically create eternal life and turn lead into gold, seemed promising as a setup.” The result is a quick-paced, entertaining read that gently touches upon worthwhile questions about natural law, human dignity, pride, parenthood, ambition, and loving one’s enemies.

There are encounters with evil along the way, but none, the author insists, that need give parents concern. “My characters believe that alchemy is a science and pursue it as such, but yes, they do run into some supernatural stuff,” she says. “Without spoiling too much of the plot, I would reassure parents that any child who comes away from the book with a heightened curiosity in dark magic would have had to misread the book very badly. I would also add that any book can depict evil without endorsing it, as readers of great books know.”

Throughout A Golden Fury one can find several hints of the author’s liberal education, including smatterings of Latin and references to Rousseau. “To write historical fantasy, you have to do a lot of research,” notes Mrs. Cohoe, who credits the College’s Great Books curriculum with helping her to better understand history’s would-be alchemists as well as the characters she brings to life. “Reading primary sources and really getting into the minds of the writers in that time — and seeing the coherence of their world views, rather than just judging them from a modern perspective — helps me to write better historical fiction.”

Mrs. Cohoe lives with her husband, Caleb (’06), a philosophy professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and their three children in Colorado. Previously a Latin teacher at a classical Christian school, she left the classroom earlier this year to dedicate more time to her writing. Her next work, Bright Ruined Things — which she likens to “The Tempest meets The Great Gatsby” — is due to be released in fall 2021.

29, 2020

Franz Wall ('16)Please pray for Franz Wall (’16), who was injured seriously in a skiing accident on Saturday. “He is currently in critical condition, having crushed his spine, and the doctors fear he could be paralyzed for life,” reports Giorgio Navarini (’17). “At this point, it is of chief importance that we storm heaven for Franz in his hour of need.”

Friends and family have begun the following novena to Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, whose intercession has healed two others with similar conditions. Please join them in praying the novena, and encourage others you know to pray as well.

Day 1

Jesus says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “The faith given to me in Baptism surely suggests to me that of yourself you will do nothing; but if you have God as the center of all your actions, then you will reach your goal.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, teach me true poverty of spirit. Help me understand that God cares for me; and that He asks me, in return, to care for others, especially those in need. Guide me to make choices in my life which will show a preference for service of God and neighbor, rather than accumulating financial wealth and social advantage for myself. Give me a special love for the poor and the sick.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is the Lover of the poor, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Day 2

Jesus says: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “Our life, in order to be Christian, has to be a continual renunciation, a continual sacrifice. But this is not difficult, if one thinks what these few years passed in suffering are, compared with eternal happiness where joy will have no measure or end, and where we shall have unimaginable peace.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, teach me that I must be able to mourn if I will be able to rejoice. Show me how to face my sorrow, and not avoid it or pretend that it does not exist. Help me to enter into any present sorrow, so that my soul can empty itself and be filled with God’s peace.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is our Consoler, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Day 3

Jesus says: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “With violence you sow hatred, and you harvest its bad fruits. With charity, you sow peace among men – not the peace that the world gives, but the true peace that only faith in Jesus Christ can give us in common brotherhood.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, guide me in claiming my rightful inheritance as a child of God and heir of His kingdom. Show me, by your own example, how to be slow to anger, and gentle in my dealings with others. Help me to show forth the peace of Christ by speaking words of peace, and by living a life of peace.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is meek and humble of heart, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Day 4

Jesus says: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “What wealth it is to be in good health, as we are! But we have the duty of putting our health at the service of those who do not have it. To act otherwise would be to betray that gift of God.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, help me to seek God’s righteousness, His plan for my life and for the salvation of the world. Show me the way to self-surrender, so that I may desire nothing more than to be of service to the Lord and His Kingdom. Lead me to the table of love, where I will be satisfied.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is righteous and just, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Day 5

Jesus says: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “St. Paul says that “the charity of Christ urges us.” Without this flame, which should burn out our personality little by little and blaze only for other people’s griefs, we would not be Christian, let alone Catholic.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, teach me by your example of mercy to open my heart more widely to those in need, especially the poor and the sick. Guide me in extending that mercy both to friends and strangers, to those who love me and those who do not. Help me to reflect God’s own mercy, especially in words and deeds of forgiveness.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is gracious and merciful and just, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Day 6

Jesus says: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “I beg you to pray for me a little, so that God may give me an iron will that does not bend and does not fail in His projects.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, lead me in the path of purity, for only those who are clean of heart can behold God’s face. Help me to be faithful to the covenant I have made with God in Baptism, that I may always be loyal to His commands and thus offer Him sincere worship. Show me by your life how to be single hearted and completely, unswervingly, dedicated to proclaiming thekingdom of God here on earth.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is pure love and holiness, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Day 7

Jesus says: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “I offer you my best wishes – or, rather, only one wish, but the only wish that a true friend can express for a dear friend: may the peace of the Lord be with you always! For, if you possess peace every day, you will be truly rich.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, despite your daily struggles, you found peace by fostering your own well being in work, study, and play; in prayer alone and with others; in silence and in song, in laughter and in serious conversation with friends. Guide me to that inner peace which will enable me to share peace with others.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is our peace, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Day 8

Jesus says: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “To live without faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle for truth – that is not living, but existing.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, teach me silence in the face of personal humiliation and unjust criticism. But guide me to be courageous like you in standing on the side of God’s truth. Help me to be faithful to Him in all things, so that His Will may be done in and through my life. Show me how to persevere in the struggle for those things which are holy and honorable.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who is the source of grace and truth, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Day 9

Jesus says: “Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account.Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.”

Pier Giorgio responds: “We who by the grace of God are Catholics must steel ourselves for the battle we shall certainly have to fight to fulfill our program and to give our country, in the not too distant future, happier days and a morally healthy society. But to achieve this we need constant prayer to obtain from God that grace without which all our powers are useless.”

We pray: Blessed Pier Giorgio, show me how to bear all wrongs patiently. Help me to accept the sufferings which others inflict on me because of my desire to be faithful to Jesus.

Blessed Pier Giorgio, I ask for your intercession in obtaining from God, Who protects the innocent, all the graces necessary for my spiritual and temporal welfare. I confidently turn to you for help in my present need: (mention your request.)

Cover of Being Catholic, by Suzine Andres ('87)Fresh off of her recent books about Saint Thérèse, prolific alumna author Suzie Andres (’87) has added a new title to her oeuvre: Being Catholic: What Every Catholic Should Know.

Co-published by Ignatius Press and the Augustine Institute, Being Catholic is the latest in a series of What Every Catholic Should Know volumes, edited by Joseph Pearce and Christopher Blum of the Augustine Institute. Whereas previous editions covered God, literature, and salvation, Mrs. Andres’ entry looks at some of the essential customs, traditions, and practices of living the Faith. Topics include the Sacraments, the layout of a church, and basic information about the Mass, the Blessed Mother, angels and saints, the hierarchy, and the liturgical calendar.

 Suzie Andres (’87)Suzie Andres (’87)“I wrote this volume after Chris Blum conceived the idea of a more universal answer to the question of what every Catholic should know about living the Faith, especially in light of the concern that in our day many Catholic customs and traditions, and the truths of the Faith they rest upon, are in danger of being forgotten,” says Mrs. Andres. “Chris approached me to write the book in the hopes that my conversational writing style and deep love of the Faith (fostered so much by my four years at TAC!) would produce a book that was accessible and fun to read while conveying the great wealth of the treasures of the Church.”

Out in time for Christmas, Being Catholic: What Every Catholic Should Know is available at Catholic Market. “I’m hoping the book will be the perfect gift for converts,” adds Mrs. Andres, “or a tool used by priests and parishes to help in the formation of those entering or returning to the Church.”

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Patrick Nazeck (’19) -- quote 2

“Here I am surrounded by other people my age who share my interests, who value their education as much as I do, and whom I can have fun with while still learning about big ideas. It is an awesome experience that I have never found anywhere else.”

– Patrick Nazeck (’19)

Ridgecrest, California


“Thomas Aquinas College is doing on the undergraduate level exactly what should be done. The College's alumni and alumnae prove that with this kind of education you can go on and do anything.”

– Dr. Ralph McInerny (†)

Scholar and Writer