Faith in Action Blog
A 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)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
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!
A tribute to Rev. Jacques Hamel, who was martyred today in Normandy, by alumnus cartoonist Patrick Cross (’14):
“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.
Under the Rule of St. Benedict, the community must be self-sufficient, and the brothers have taken up a successful brewing business to help pay the bills. For several years they have marketed their Birra Nursia in Italy, and in April they began — with Br. Augustine (Philip Wilmeth ’13) as their brewmaster — selling in the United States, too. Birra Nursia’s two beers, a blond ale and a Belgian strong ale, are now both available for purchase throughout the U.S. via the monastery’s website.
In an interview with Rev. Dwight Longenecker, Br. Augustine explains that, for the monks, brewing is part of their life of prayer. “The goal of our life is to pray always, whether brewing, cooking, or walking down the corridor,” he said. “Continual prayer; it may happen when we are brewing or bottling or drinking or while we are praying.”
Thomas Aquinas College Governor Bernarda Neal helped coordinate the U.S. launch of Birra Nursia, which has attracted considerable media attention. In addition to the segment on Fox News, the monks have enjoyed coverage in Aleteia and the Los Angeles Times, which proclaimed, “If holy contact is paramount, Birra Nursia delivers the most monk for your buck. From the hilltop monastery in central Italy, there are no laymen involved in the production or packaging of the beer, and no retailers or bartenders between you and this Benedectine brew.”
Rev. Mr. Miguel Gaspar Batres, O.Praem (’08) talks to students at St. Michael's Abbey Preparatory School The College just learned of another alumnus who was ordained to the transitional diaconate over the past weekend: Rev. Mr. Miguel Gaspar Batres, O.Praem (’08). The Most Rev. Kevin William Vann, J.C.D., Bishop of Orange, ordained Frater Miguel, a Norbertine monk at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California, on Saturday, June 25, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Costa Mesa.
Following the ordinations of Rev. Messrs. Jeffrey Hanley (’13) and Maximilian Nightingale (’13) on Saturday, plus Rev. Mr. Deneys Williamson (’10) on May 26, that makes four new deacons in the last month — and, by God’s grace, four new priests within the next year.
Thanks be to God!
On June 6, 1991 — the Solemnity of St. Norbert — Rev. Francis Michael Gloudeman, O.Praem. (’84), received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Twenty-five years later, this Norbertine priest of St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California, is celebrating his Silver Jubilee. Thanks be to God!
Please pray for Fr. Francis, that God may continue to bless him in his service of Christ and His church.
In April, this blog reported that Deneys Williamson (’10) had requested prayers for his upcoming ordination to the transitional diaconate. Now, in a new letter to the College, he writes, “Thanks for all your prayers!”
By God’s grace, the Rev. Mr. Williamson’s ordination took place, as planned, on May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, at the Basilica of Saint Apollinaire in Rome. “The ordination went off well, and everyone had a truly lovely day,” writes Rev. Mr. Williamson, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, South Africa, who has studied at Rome’s Sedes Sapientiae seminary since 2011.
The photo below shows the newly ordained deacon with several Thomas Aquinas College alumni who were on hand for the occasion:
Above: Jeff Hanley (’13), a seminarian for the Diocese of Kalamazo, Michigan; Br. Augustine, O.S.B. (Philip Wilmeth ’13), a novice at the Monastero di San Benedetto in Norcia, Italy; Deacon Williamson; Maggie Tuttle (’10), who works as a lead for talent solutions support services at LinkedIn; and Tom Sundaram (’09), who is currently studying in Rome
Whenever the matter of mandatory priestly discipline arises, the arguments put forth in its defense are typically practical in nature, touching on matters pastoral or even financial, but seldom theological. Recognizing this shortcoming in the ongoing discussion, Rev. Gary B Selin, STD (’89) has authored a new scholarly work, Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations, which proposes a systematic theology of priestly celibacy, ordered around the Eucharist.
An assistant professor and the formation director at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Fr. Selin holds a doctorate in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America, which is the publisher of this, his first book. Priestly Celibacy, according to the publisher’s description, explores the “Christological, ecclesiological, and eschatological dimensions” of the Church’s ancient discipline:
“The volume begins with a summary of the biblical foundations of clerical continence and celibacy, and then reviews the development of the discipline in the Latin Church from the patristic era to the twentieth century, while also tracing the emerging theology that underlies the practice. The focus then switches to the teaching of Vatican II, Paul VI and subsequent magisterial texts, as elaborated through the threefold dimension of celibacy. The final two chapters consists of Selin’s original contribution to the discussion, particularly in the form of various proposals for a systematic theology of priestly celibacy.”
Released on April 14, Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations includes a foreword by His Eminence J. Francis Cardinal Stafford, Major Penitentiary Emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary and the former Archbishop of Denver. The book is available via Amazon.com.