Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

August 24,
2016

Monks of Norcia crestA powerful earthquake struck central Italy early this morning, just 6.5 miles southeast of Norcia, birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica, and home of the Benedictine community at Monastero San Benedetto, of which three Thomas Aquinas College alumni are members. The earthquake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 6.2, has been followed by some 200 aftershocks, including one with a 5.5-magnitude tremor. It has reportedly leveled homes, churches, and shops, killing at least 120 people.

The monks of Norcia report that they and their guests have experienced no serious injuries, but several of the buildings in their 1,000-year-old monastery have suffered significant damage. Rev. Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B., told Catholic News Service that the Basilica of St. Benedict, which the monks serve, suffered “considerable structural damage” and that its façade “seems to have detached” from the rest of the building. As a precautionary measure, the brothers are temporarily relocating to the International Benedictine headquarters in Rome, although two monks will remain in Norcia to keep watch over the basilica and monitor the developing situation.

Please pray for the Monks of Norcia, for the people of central Italy, and, most especially, for the eternal rest of all those who have died.


Ryan Truss (’16) Ryan Truss (’16)From as far back as he can remember, Ryan Truss (’16) has sensed a vocation to the priesthood. “For a time I considered entering seminary right after high school, but I decided to come to the College first,” he recalls. “I thought the education offered here would be a really good grounding for a priest and also a good way to discern if that was what God was calling me to. I came here and met a lot of great friends who supported me in my discernment and showed me what it’s like to live a joyful, authentically Catholic life. And the chaplains were amazing examples of holiness.”

On August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, Mr. Truss will enter Kenrick-Glennon Seminary for his native Archdiocese of St. Louis. He is the Class of 2016’s second seminarian to date: On August 6, classmate Edward Seeley entered St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California, for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“Studying theology draws the students here into a closer friendship with God and helps us to prioritize what is important in life,” reflects Mr. Truss. As such, he adds, his time at the College “helped me to see the need for the priesthood, and how much priests are needed in the world to bring people the sacraments so that they can love God, grow closer to Him, and inherit eternal life.”

At Kendrick-Glennon, Mr. Truss hopes to study under a fellow alumnus, Dr. John Finley (’99), a professor of philosophy. By God’s grace, he will be ordained to the priesthood in 2021. Please keep him in your prayers!


Rev. Samuel Ward, Associate Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, joins Edward Seeley (’16) and his father, tutor Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87), at Commencement 2016 Rev. Samuel Ward, Associate Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, joins Edward Seeley (’16) and his father, tutor Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87), at Commencement 2016

On Saturday a member of the College’s most recent graduating class, Edward Seeley (’16), will enter St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California, to study for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“I’ve been discerning a vocation since about age 9,” reflects Mr. Seeley, the third son of tutor and fellow alumnus Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87). “I’ve had a lot of priests who really inspired me, both in the parish and in my family. I’ve thought about it a lot, but at the College, I was able to discern better what sort of priest I wanted to be. I  considered the religious life, and then went to a few vocations talks. Then I talked a bit to (former chaplain) Fr. Illo, and he really inspired in me a love of the secular priesthood.”

Among the College’s 65 priestly alumni there are, as of yet, no Archdiocese of Los Angeles priests, but that is changing.  Mr. Seeley follows in the footsteps of Michael Masteller (’13), who entered St. John’s last year. By God’s grace, in six years, there will be two alumni priests in Los Angeles, with many more still to come.

“My time at the College, particularly reading St. Augustine, really enriched my spiritual life,” says Mr. Seeley. “Knowing that all of God’s graces are a free gift, and not something we merit, has changed the way I pray. And living in community together, seeing God’s face in the people around us, has been something I couldn’t get anywhere else.”

Please pray for Mr. Seeley and his vocation!


Patrick Cross (’14), self-portrait Patrick Cross (’14), self-portrait

This blog recently featured an illustrated tribute to martyred French priest Rev. Jacques Hamel, penned by alumnus cartoonist Patrick Cross (’14). The work is one of several cartoons that Mr. Cross — who is, by day, a counselor in the College’s Admissions office — has drawn in recent months as he launches a career in editorial cartooning. Already, his efforts have borne some success: Mr. Cross produces cartoons weekly for CatholicVote.org, as well as occasionally for GlennBeck.com.

“I’ve always been interested in politics, and I’ve always been interested in art,” Mr. Cross reflects. “But it was my parents who first suggested that I combine the two loves together in editorial cartooning.”

  • Patrick Cross Cartoons 2016
    Slideshow: Patrick Cross Cartoons
  • Patrick Cross Cartoons 2016
    Slideshow: Patrick Cross Cartoons
  • Patrick Cross Cartoons 2016
    Slideshow: Patrick Cross Cartoons
  • Patrick Cross Cartoons 2016
    Slideshow: Patrick Cross Cartoons
  • Patrick Cross Cartoons 2016
    Slideshow: Patrick Cross Cartoons
  • Patrick Cross Cartoons 2016
    Slideshow: Patrick Cross Cartoons
  • Patrick Cross Cartoons 2016
    Slideshow: Patrick Cross Cartoons
  • Patrick Cross Cartoons 2016
    Slideshow: Patrick Cross Cartoons

The idea began to take root during his Senior Year, when College Governor Berni Neal spoke at an on-campus career panel. Upon learning about Mr. Cross’ professional interests, Mrs. Neal revealed that she was friends with Michael Ramirez — the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, formerly of the Los Angeles Times — and offered to arrange a meeting. “Ramirez was my favorite cartoonist growing up,” recalls Mr. Cross. “I went down to see him at the end of my Senior Year. We talked for about an hour and a half. That really put a fire in my belly.”

Mr. Cross began publishing his cartoons on his website and a Facebook page in January, and soon his work began generating attention. His goal, he says, is to produce cartoons that succeed on a variety of levels. “There are many layers,” he says. “You can have something that is funny in a slapstick sort of way. But some readers are looking for more.” Here, he adds, one sees the value and versatility of a classical education. “If you have an education that shows you how to identify principles, causes, effects, and prior causes, then you can do much better work.”

Patriotism infuses Mr. Cross’ art — a patriotism, he says, that has been with him all his life, but which deepened during his time at the College. “I’ve always loved the American founding. I’ve always believed in the principles of the country. But what my education at TAC really did, especially Junior Year, is show me why I believed in those things. In reading the Federalist Papers, the founders, and Abraham Lincoln — all in the context Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics, which we were studying in philosophy — I was able to locate the American experiment, or the American founding, in the context of the Western tradition. I came to a better understanding of why self-governance is good, why a government that promotes political prudence is such a gift, and also how we must not take any of it for granted.”


Br. Patrick Rooney ('15)A group of Western Province Dominican novices recently traveled to Salt Lake City, where they spoke about their vocations with students at the St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Newman Center, which serves the University of Utah. Among the young Dominicans to share their stories was a member of last year’s graduating class, Br. Patrick Rooney (’15).

“Because he was interested in apologetics and philosophy, [Br. Patrick] attended Thomas Aquinas College in Southern California,” reports Intermountain Catholic. There, he learned “to love the liturgy and Gregorian chant,” and he joined the choir. “I wanted to become a monk, but I also wanted to be a philosopher,” he reflects. “In the next few months, I found out that I could be both in the Dominican Order.”

Br. Patrick is now undergoing the first year of Dominican formation at St. Dominic’s Church in San Francisco, where he assists the church’s pastor and a fellow alumnus, Rev. Michael Hurley, O.P. (’99). Please pray for him and all his fellow novices!

 


Madeleine Lessard (’16) Madeleine Lessard (’16)A member of the College’s newest graduating class, Madeleine Lessard (’16) will formally launch her career on August 1, when she starts a position as an analyst for Economic Partners in Denver, Colorado. “The company values intangible assets of corporations,” Miss Lessard explains, such as patents, brand identity, and goodwill. As an analyst, she will be “taking in a lot of data and analyzing what’s most important, writing reports on it, and also editing reports from other people.”

While a student at the College, Miss Lessard worked in the Admissions Office, which proved to be fortuitous. When one of Economics Partners’ executives called Admissions Director Jon Daly to ask if he could suggest any candidates for an open position, Mr. Daly recommended Miss Lessard, who then traveled to Denver for a battery of interviews, culminating in her hire.

The position is “not what I thought my Thomas Aquinas College education was preparing me for,” Miss Lessard admits. “But then everything they asked me in my interview seemed perfect for a TACer. They asked me to define critical thinking, and they wanted to hear all about my math background. They were also interested in learning about the seminar method because they thought that was similar to the way they work together in their meetings.”

Additionally, the company will be sponsoring Miss Lessard as she studies for a Chartered Financial Analysts degree, which typically takes two-to-three years, or longer, to obtain, suggesting a long-term commitment. “I’m hoping that I love it, and they love me, and this is something I can stay in as long as I want to continue working,” she says.

Please pray for her success!


A tribute to Rev. Jacques Hamel, who was martyred today in Normandy, by alumnus cartoonist Patrick Cross (’14):

 


Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations“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 and Patrick Mason (’03) 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) 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.