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Faith in Action Blog

“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.”

Updated April 3, 2020

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), posted 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 exchange quickly went viral, and questions soon arose to its origins, which Fr. Zeiler has now clarified. “My sister sent me the same anonymous meme,” Fr. Zeiler explains. “I thought it was great, so I tried to copy and paste from a text on my cell phone onto Facebook. But since it didn't allow me to do that, I simply rewrote it on Facebook, but changed and embellished a few things. I had no idea that it would be shared so many times and cause this viral sensation, or that people would fight to attribute it to me! … I had no intention to pretend I came up with it! You can share this information with whomever you like. God bless you!”

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!

Rev. Gary Selin, S.T.D. (’89) Rev. Gary Selin, S.T.D. (’89)“Amid new challenges to priestly celibacy at the Vatican’s Amazon Synod and from other corners of the Church,” writes the Cardinal Newman Society, the Church needs witnesses who are “well-prepared to dispel errors and misconceptions about this important discipline of Catholic priests.” Among these witnesses, the story continues, is Thomas Aquinas College alumnus Rev. Gary Selin, S.T.D. (’89), formation advisor and assistant professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and the author of Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations.

As part of its ongoing Profiles in Faithful Catholic Education series, the Newman Society has published an interview with Fr. Selin, whose book presciently preceded the renewed debate on priestly celibacy by three years. “The principal reason for celibacy is that it perfects the configuration of the priest with Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church,” he says. “Celibacy consequently allows the priest to give himself more freely to the Church in imitation of Christ.” 

He also discusses his time at the College. “I treasure the memories of the many wonderful hours in the classroom, as I learned from the sources of wisdom of the Great Books that formed our Western civilization, under the guidance of our well-formed tutors of the college,” says Fr. Selin. “These excellent conversations continued over meals, during walks, and into late night in the dormitories. One can never put a price tag on these conversations that made life worth living.”

This experience, he adds, proved invaluable in preparing him for his current work with seminarians. “My time at the College helped me begin to acquire the virtues necessary in becoming a disciple before learning to be a leader,” observes Fr. Selin. “I am very grateful to the College for giving me the environment in which I was able to grow in those virtues.”

The full interview is available via the Cardinal Newman Society website.

New Dominican novices, including Br. Michael Thomas Cain (’18, second from left) and Br. Kevin Peter Cantu (’15, right) New Dominican novices, including Br. Michael Thomas Cain (’18, second from left) and Br. Kevin Peter Cantu (’15, right)

The Dominican Friars of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus report the joyful news that, on Thursday, four men entered their novitiate — among them, two recent Thomas Aquinas College graduates, Br. Michael Thomas Cain (’18) and Br. Kevin Peter Cantu (’15).

Br. Michael Thomas, according to the Friars’ website, “draws inspiration from St. Thomas Aquinas, whose brilliant intellect was united with an intense humility.” The newly habited novice joined the Dominicans, he says, because “the world’s need for Christ is urgent,” and “the Dominican is called to bring the light of Christ to all nations.”

The province’s profile of Br. Kevin Peter notes that, while at the College, Head Chaplain Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P., “introduced him to the Dominican life.” Br. Kevin Peter has a devotion to a fellow Dominican, St. Juan Macias, “who like his contemporaries St. Martin de Porres and St. Rose of Lima, cared for the poor and marginalized.” As a member of the Order of Preachers, the story observes, he “desires to preach Christ crucified.”

Thanks be to God for these young men’s faith and their willingness to answer God’s call! Please pray for them as they continue to discern their vocations.

Rev. Andrew De Silva (right, ’03) with Joseph W. Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark and his fellow new priests at their May 25 ordination Rev. Andrew De Silva (right, ’03) with Joseph W. Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark and his fellow new priests at their May 25 ordination.


On Saturday, May 25, His Eminence Joseph W. Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark (New Jersey), conferred Holy Orders upon Rev. Andrew J. De Silva (’03), making him Thomas Aquinas College’s 73rd alumnus priest.

“You will participate in Christ’s ministry. You will share with all humanity the Word of God you have already received with joy,” Cardinal Tobin told Fr. De Silva and his five fellow ordinandi at Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. “In memory of the Lord’s death and Resurrection, carry Christ’s death with you and walk with Him in newness of life.” (See the Ordination Mass in the video player at the bottom of this post.)

Fr. De Silva is the son of Dr. Norman P. De Silva (’75), a member of the College’s first graduating class who went on to become a tutor before passing away in 1985.In addition to serving as a priest for the Archdiocese of Newark, Fr. De Silva is a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves Chaplain Corps.

In a recent article for Catholic Digest, published on the eve of his ordination, Fr. De Silva wrote about his experience as a manager for a large-scale wine retailer helped him to discern his vocation. Specifically a customer’s question about wines prompted him to reflect upon what it means for something (or someone) to be good:

I began thinking of the many times in my life I chose to pursue what I thought was good for me but in reality was simply pleasurable. I thought of the many times I had chosen the apparent good, forsaking the sometimes arduous task of determining what was truly good for me or others. …

Then I thought about God. No one knows the invisible background behind me or my choices better than the One Who created each one of us for no other reason than that we be truly happy. Before I was born, God knew me (see Jeremiah 1:5); God knew the entire story of my life and was constantly inviting me to live a good life — but never forcing me. …

[T]hat encounter, where for an instant I caught a little glimpse of what God must live so often with each one of us, remains a pivotal moment on my path toward joyfully serving the Church as one of her priests.

Fr. De Silva will return to California this weekend to offer a Mass of Thanksgiving at his home parish, St. Thomas Aquinas in Ojai, at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Rev. Christopher Manuele (’92) Rev. Christopher Manuele (’92)The College has received a prayer request for Rev. Christopher Manuele (’92), pastor of Saint Joseph Melkite Greek-Catholic Church in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and a chaplain at Gregory the Great Academy. Hospitalized and gravely ill with sarcoid disease as well as an extremely rare blood dyscrasia, Fr. Christopher will likely need to undergo aggressive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

Please keep him in your Lenten prayers!

The Ordination Mass of Rev. Derek Remus (’11) The Ordination Mass of Rev. Derek Remus (’11)

Upon receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders at the hands of the Most Rev. William McGrattan, Bishop of Calgary, on June 29, Rev. Derek Remus (’11) became Thomas Aquinas College’s 72nd alumnus priest — and the first ordained for a Canadian diocese.

“It’s a sign of hope,” the new priest proclaims, not only because ordinations are a reflection of God’s care for His people, but because, in recent times, they have been all too rare in Canada. Fr. Remus is the first new priest to be ordained in his home diocese in three years.

“The Church in Canada has been in crisis for a long time,” he says. “Every single day I am confronted with the reality of people who have not had good catechesis and formation in the Faith for years, declining numbers at Mass, people who are influenced by relativism — and these are the Catholics!” Add to the mix the latest revelations of scandal and cover-up in the Church, and a new priest could understandably get discouraged — but not Fr. Remus.

“It’s a lot of work,” he says of his vocation. “But there’s a lot of joy and satisfaction in carrying out that work. There’s a sense of peace that comes from knowing you’re doing the will of God.”

Words of Wisdom

“When I was 12, I was at a priestly ordination, and it was around then that the thought hit me,” Fr. Remus says. “‘This is what God wants me to do.’”

In his senior year of high school, he could not decide whether to enter the seminary right away, or if he should go to college first. A priest he knew proposed a compromise. “He advised me to go to college and get a degree in something that would be beneficial whether I went on to become a priest or not,” Fr. Remus recalls. That made the choice obvious: Thomas Aquinas College’s emphasis on philosophy and theology would be an excellent preparation for the seminary, but were he to choose another path, a liberal education would stand him in good stead professionally.

Looking back, Fr. Remus says, his time at the College was “the best four years of my life.” The reverent liturgies, the devout chaplains, and the like-minded, faithful friends all aided him in his discernment, as did the College’s classical curriculum. “Starting with the first semester of Freshman Year, reading and discussing Euclid, the Categories of Aristotle, and Sacred Scripture satisfied my natural desire to know,” he says. “And studying the highest truths — I think specifically of St. Thomas’ treatment of the priesthood of Christ — let me see what it means to be a priest.”

For the two years following his graduation, he worked as a tutor, paying off student loans, and then spent six months as a missionary in Peru. Around that time he also paid a visit to his alma mater for a conference on the social doctrine of the Church, where he received some encouraging words from his one-time tutor and mentor, the College’s founding president, Dr. Ronald P. McArthur.

“Dr. McArthur took me aside and said, ‘You can be a priest. You’ve got the qualities, and don’t let anybody stop you,’” recalls Fr. Remus. “His words remained with me throughout my time in the seminary. Whenever I was tempted to be discouraged or give up, they always came to mind.”

The education that Dr. McArthur and so many others had made possible likewise proved invaluable during Fr. Remus’ four years at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Edmonton. “I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t gone to Thomas Aquinas College,” he says. “The intellectual formation was critical; it allowed me to develop the ability to think logically, to follow through a logical argument, and thereby to make the most of my seminary education.”

The Good a Priest Can Do

His ordination this summer “was a time of great joy,” he says, but also “a humbling experience,” because “you sense the contrast between your own personal unworthiness and the dignity of the priestly office.” And just as his ordination was a “sign of hope” for the Church in a post-Christian culture, many more such signs have followed.

In his first assignment, Fr. Remus serves as the associate pastor at Holy Spirit Parish in Calgary. “Already, I have seen the good a priest can do,” he says. Among the faithful he has discovered a yearning for solid, even challenging, preaching. “One homily can do more good than one would think,” he observes, citing the testimonials of grateful parishioners.

Then there is the power of the sacraments in the lives of believers. “Saying Mass daily is something awesome — in the true sense of the word ‘awesome,’” says Fr. Remus. And the ability to absolve sins in the confessional is incomparable: “The reconciliation of even one sinner to God is of inestimable value, for, as St. Thomas said, the good of grace in one soul is greater than the good of nature in the whole universe.”

Thumbnail of video with Fr. Miguel Batres Rev. Miguel Batres, O.Praem. (’08)

One of the College’s newest alumni priests, Rev. Miguel Batres, O.Praem. (’08), is now featured on The Abbot’s Circle, a digital library of spiritual resources from the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California. In a four-minute video, he considers the question, What is the Mass?

“The Mass is the most perfect prayer anyone can offer,” says Fr. Miguel. “There is a great, great, infinite distance between man and God, and we ourselves do not have the means to give God the perfect worship, to give God the perfect praise. And so it is Christ Himself who gives us that means through that sacrifice. Through the institution of the Eucharist, through the institution of the priesthood, He makes the Mass possible.”

The second youngest of 11 children of Mexican immigrants, Fr. Miguel came to Thomas Aquinas College in 2004 at the recommendation of his parish priest. He became acquainted with the Norbertines through one of the College’s then-chaplains, Rev. Charles Willingham, O.Praem., and entered the Norbertine Order shortly after his graduation. While in the seminary, he studied in Rome, where he three times had the privilege of chanting at papal Masses. He was ordained to the priesthood in 2017, and he returned to offer Mass at his alma mater just last year.

Since his ordination, Fr. Miguel has taken on the role of his community’s provisor, charged with providing for its material needs. He offers Masses in Spanish at nearby parishes, teaches religion at the abbey’s prep school, and reaches a far wider audience through his work on The Abbot’s Circle, beginning with his video about the Mass.  

“The Mass,” he says, “is ultimately about giving God that praise, that adoration which he deserves form all of His creation.”

Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem., (’94) is a regular guest on Catholic Answers Live Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), is a regular guest on Catholic Answers Live. Photo: @catholiccom

“You’ve been in Massachusetts because you’re a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College,” began host Cy Kellett on a recent episode of Catholic Answers Live.

“That’s right,” replied Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), a professor of philosophy at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado California. A regular guest on the apologetics radio program, Fr. Sebastian appeared on the November 5 episode to discuss religious freedom. But before getting to the topic of the day, Mr. Kellett wanted to know about the Norbertine priest’s alma mater. Among “all of us out here on the West Coast,” he said, “there’s a general amazement at the quality of students that are being turned out by Thomas Aquinas College.”

And so Fr. Sebastian described his recent trip to the Bay State, where he spoke on the College’s New England campus at a celebration of its recent approval from the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. “Thanks be to God, the College received the gift of a campus — with a number of buildings and so forth on a 100-acre property,” he said. “I was there to give a Mass and a little talk … and it was a very good, wonderful event.”

To which Mr. Kellett replied, “Congratulations to your alma mater embarking on this new endeavor. We can all pray that it’s successful!”

The entire interview — including Fr. Sebastian’s commentary about religious freedom — is available via the Catholic Answers website.

Rev. Mr. Andrew De Silva (’03) Rev. Mr. Andrew De Silva (’03)“In spite of all this,” writes the Rev. Mr. Andrew De Silva (’03) of the Church’s ongoing abuse scandal,  “I still feel called by God. Am I naive?”

A seminarian and transitional deacon for the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, Deacon De Silva is a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves Chaplain Corps. By God’s grace, he will be ordained to the priesthood next spring. Like most Catholics, he is appalled and outraged by the daily revelations of filth and negligence in the Church, but his faith remains strong, as does his yearning to embrace his vocation. Why?

“I want to be a Catholic priest; because of all the incredible men who are good and holy priests and have helped and supported me in my own life,” he writes in “Because of the much-needed ministry I have been privileged to provide already as a religious brother; doing Army chaplain ministry and as a seminarian. Because God has chosen to make Himself present in the Eucharist in the hands of a priest. Because we as Catholics believe that the priest, despite his own frailty, has the awesome power to forgive sins. But mostly, because God has called me in this incredible way, and I wish to answer that call.”

Deacon De Silva has no illusions about the difficulty of ministering in a church whose own leaders have done so much to discredit it. “I know that when I am ordained a priest in May, much of the institutional goodwill for the Catholic priest will not exist as it used to,” he remarks. “I cannot change this. I can, however, take up the challenge to have greater faith in the God Who calls me. With His immeasurable help overcoming my own weakness, I can resolve to be ever more united to His Son the priest, and yes, the victim.”

Thanks be to God for Deacon De Silva’s faithful witness. Please pray for him as he approaches his ordination.

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Isabella Hsu (’18) on discussion method

“In our classroom discussions, we are responsible for our own education. We have to get our hands dirty, to figure out the material, to let it become part of us and make us better people. That is real learning.”

– Isabella Hsu (’18)

Redondo Beach, California


“The Church will flourish through the inspiring example and praiseworthy endeavors of Thomas Aquinas College.”

– The Most Rev. Pietro Sambi (†)

Apostolic Nuncio to the United States