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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).


Over the course of the fall, three graduates of Thomas Aquinas College have appeared on the Catholic Answers Live radio program, answering callers’ questions about the Church and its teachings:

Dr. Michael Augros (’92)• On September 18, Dr. Michael Augros (’92), a tutor at the College, was the guest for a program entitled Your Immortal Soul. Over the course of the 60-minute interview, he answered questions related to his newly released book, The Immortal in You: How Human Nature Is More Than Science Can Say, which presents a philosophical argument for the reality and immortality of the human soul.

Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93)Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93), Chancellor for the Diocese of Orange, California, appeared on the October 20 episode, The Role of Catholic Women in the World, on which she addressed topics ranging from romance to work and motherhood. An ethicist and theologian, Dr. de Solenni is an expert on issues relating to women’s health, the new feminism, and culture.

Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94)Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), professor of philosophy at St. Michael’s Abbey, was the show’s guest for its November 6 episode, Situational Ethics. The conversation covered such subjects as “white lies,” addressing difficult moral truths within the context of family, and the perennial question about whether it is ethically permissible to lie to the hypothetical Nazis at your door.


Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms, Anton von Werner (1877) Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms, Anton von Werner (1877)

Rev. Nick Blaha (’02) Rev. Nick Blaha (’02)In his homily this past Sunday, alumnus priest Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02) took up the topic of the Reformation — the 500th anniversary of which falls on October 31 — and its meaning for Catholics today.

“Throughout my studies, I’ve wondered why was it that God allowed His church to be divided in this way, especially because much of Jesus’ prayer and ministry was centered on creating and fostering unity within the body of His believers,” he began. “For five centuries, Western Christianity has been divided, afflicted by a deep lack of unity in faith and belief and in worship. And while this is objectively undesirable — it’s explicitly contrary to Our Lord’s wish — still, I think, as Catholic Christians we have to hold fast to the truth that God is at work in this.”

A priest in the Diocese of Kansas City (Kansas) who runs the Didde Catholic Campus Center at Emporia State University, Fr. Nick was careful to note that the differences that divide Catholics and Protestants are serious. “Are we being faithful to God’s intentions for receiving the gift of eternal life?” he asked. “That’s not a trivial question. That can’t be brushed aside.” Nonetheless, he continued, “In the context of the Reformation, our approach should be: What gifts can we receive from one another? How can we learn?”

To that end, Fr. Nick then considered each of Luther’s three “solas” — scriptura, fides, and gratia (Scripture, faith, and grace) — through the lens of the teachings of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, with an eye toward areas of compatibility with Catholic doctrine. “We can benefit, I think, from receiving a great love for the words of Scripture and the revelation that comes to us through it,” he said, as an example. “To have the same eagerness to receive the gifts of grace through Scripture that Luther and other reformers did, I think, would benefit all of us enormously.”

The full podcast is available via the Didde Center website.


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Patrick Nazeck (’19) -- quote 1

“No one here tells us what to think. We read the great books, look into them deeply, and then discuss them actively in class, which has forced me to take responsibility for my own education.”

– Patrick Nazeck (’19)

Ridgecrest, California

NEWS FROM THE COLLEGE

“Thomas Aquinas College is lending a helpful hand to the Church to fulfill her mission. There is no doubt that this Christian environment that is nurtured here is the main cause why there have been so many responses to the call of God to the priesthood and to the consecrated life in the female and male students of your College.”

– Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski

Prefect Emeritus

Congregation for Catholic Education