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Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

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 CatholicPhilly.com. “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.


The above video features Rev. Derek Remus (’11), the College’s newest — and 72nd! — alumnus priest. Fr. Remus was ordained to the sacred priesthood on June 29, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, by the Most Rev. William McGrattan, Bishop of Calgary, at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

“Today,” observes the Calgary Herald, he is “a rare breed: an Alberta-born young priest serving in his home province.” Indeed, Fr. Remus is the first priest to be ordained in Calgary in three years. In August he began service as an associate pastor at Holy Spirit Parish in southwest Calgary.

“I want to reach out to young people by showing them that the Faith is reasonable and it is only in God and in Christ they can be truly happy,” he says. “It is important these days to show the Faith is not opposed to reason and not opposed to science. I have a missionary mentality to go out and preach the truth to everybody.”

Thanks be to God!


Derek Remus (’11) Derek Remus (’11)Please say a prayer for Deacon Derek Remus (’11), who, by God’s grace, will be ordained to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ on June 29, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

Born and raised in Alberta, Canada, Deacon Remus discerned his vocation, in part, while a student at Thomas Aquinas College. “Coming to the College has helped me in my vocation discernment,” he remarked at the time of his 2011 graduation. “Studying St. Thomas, philosophy, and theology has increased my love of the intellectual life and has made me think more about a kind of teaching and preaching vocation in the priesthood.”

Three months after his graduation, he departed for six months of missionary work in Peru. After returning to Canada, he was accepted as a seminarian for the Diocese of Calgary and began studies at St. Joseph Seminary in Edmonton, where he earned a Master of Divinity Degree. The Most Rev. William McGrattan, Bishop of Calgary,  ordained him to the diaconate last December and, on Friday, will ordain him to the priesthood at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

“We give thanks to God for the gift of Deacon Derek’s call to the priesthood,” announces the Diocese of Calgary’s website, “and we invite and encourage the faithful of the diocese to come and join in the celebration of the conferral of Holy Orders.”


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!


Rev. Miguel (Gaspar ’08) Batres, O.Praem. Rev. Miguel (Gaspar ’08) Batres, O.Praem.

Photos | Homily Audio

On the first Sunday of Advent — the day before the outbreak of the Thomas Fire, which forced the end of the academic year on campus and has devastated so many — the College was blessed by the visit of a newly ordained alumnus priest, Rev. Miguel (Gaspar ’08) Batres, O.Praem. That morning, Fr. Miguel offered Mass, then gave his priestly blessings to the faithful, in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Two weeks and a catastrophic natural disaster later, his homily seems especially poignant.

“Often in our lives we experience many things, good and bad,” the Norbertine father observed. “The good, we have no problem receiving. But the bad, we prefer to bury under the carpet, or pretend it never happened.”

  • Rev. Miguel Batres -- College Chapel 12-03-18
    Slideshow: Fr. Miguel offers Mass in the Chapel
  • Rev. Miguel Batres -- College Chapel 12-03-18
    Slideshow: Fr. Miguel offers Mass in the Chapel
  • Rev. Miguel Batres -- College Chapel 12-03-18
    Slideshow: Fr. Miguel offers Mass in the Chapel
  • Rev. Miguel Batres -- College Chapel 12-03-18
    Slideshow: Fr. Miguel offers Mass in the Chapel
  • Rev. Miguel Batres -- College Chapel 12-03-18
    Slideshow: Fr. Miguel offers Mass in the Chapel
  • Rev. Miguel Batres -- College Chapel 12-03-18
    Slideshow: Fr. Miguel offers Mass in the Chapel
  • Rev. Miguel Batres -- College Chapel 12-03-18
    Slideshow: Fr. Miguel offers Mass in the Chapel
  • Rev. Miguel Batres -- College Chapel 12-03-18
    Slideshow: Fr. Miguel offers Mass in the Chapel
  • Rev. Miguel Batres -- College Chapel 12-03-18
    Slideshow: Fr. Miguel offers Mass in the Chapel
  • Rev. Miguel Batres -- College Chapel 12-03-18
    Slideshow: Fr. Miguel offers Mass in the Chapel
  • Rev. Miguel Batres -- College Chapel 12-03-18
    Slideshow: Fr. Miguel offers Mass in the Chapel
  • Rev. Miguel Batres -- College Chapel 12-03-18
    Slideshow: Fr. Miguel offers Mass in the Chapel
  • Rev. Miguel Batres -- College Chapel 12-03-18
    Slideshow: Fr. Miguel offers Mass in the Chapel

Yet even in the bad, he explained, God’s will is at work. “In God’s divine providence, there are no accidents. Our God is a loving God; our God is merciful. He is all-knowing; He is all-powerful,” Fr. Miguel continued. “Everything that happens, good or bad, God uses. We may not see how, but we can be sure that, in His love for us, everything —from the worst experience to the best — God will use to help us work out our salvation.”

So how should the Christian respond in times of distress?

“When the journey gets difficult, because that it will, find consolation in the Incarnation. Our Lord did not leave us to suffer on our own,” said Fr. Miguel, looking forward to Christmas, now only one week away. “Our Lord came to this world knowing He would suffer a horrible passion, yet He did it anyway, and out of love. It is through His wounds that we are saved; His pieced hands and feet, His pierced heart, from where flows the blood and water by which we are redeemed.”

The full audio of Fr. Miguel’s homily is available through the below player:

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The above video, from a recent report on the PBS NewsHour, features several members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, whose CD, Requiem, spent 13 weeks atop the Billboard classical-music chart. The segment includes several quotes from Rev. Joseph Lee, F.S.S.P (’00), academic dean at the Fraternity’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska, as well as appearances by Rev. Matthew J. McNeely, F.S.S.P. (’99) and Rev. Fr. Rhone Lillard, F.S.S.P. (’00).

Released in May, Requiem is a beautifully mastered recording of the Fraternity priests and seminarians chanting the repertoire for the Mass and Burial of the Dead. It is published by DeMontfort Music, which produced the similarly chart-topping CDs of the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, whose members include two alumnae: Sr.. Mary Josefa of the Eucharist, OSB (Kathleen Holcomb ’07), and Sr. Sophia of the Holy Eucharist, OSB (Gina Marie Eid ’08).


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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

NEWS FROM THE COLLEGE

“Thomas Aquinas College knows this — that the life of the mind involves the spiritual life as well — and that is why I have always thought of this institution as a college in the image and likeness of John Paul II.”

– George Weigel

Papal Biographer