Faith in Action Blog
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!
Kathryn Claahsen (’12), Bridget Heffernan (’13), Clara Diodati (’17), Bridget Lynch (’12), Meghan Reichert (’18), Emily Sanchez (’17), and Emily (Barry ’11) Sullivan
The seven women pictured above, four alumnae and three current students at Thomas Aquinas College, all participated in the recently concluded GIVEN Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C.
Organized by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious — whose former chair, Sr. Regina Marie Gorman, O.C.D., was the College’s 2015 Commencement Speaker — the forum included 300 Catholic lay women from across the United States, joined by 75 religious sisters. Its purpose was to provide faith formation to selected attendees, aiding them in their work within their parishes, communities, or dioceses. The weeklong forum included talks from prominent women leaders within the Church, such as Helen Alvaré and Sr. Mary Prudence Allen, R.S.M., as well as small mentoring groups.
In order to attend the forum, participants had to complete a rigorous application that included three letters of recommendation and a detailed action plan for upcoming projects related to their work or apostolates. All expenses for the forum, including travel and accommodations at The Catholic University of America, were paid for through the generous support of the Hilton Foundation.
Sr. Mary Josefa of the Eucharist (left) and her fellow Benedictine, Sr. Judith Marie of Jesus, upon making their solemn vows The College has just received the joyful news that on April 9, Sr. Mary Josefa of the Eucharist, OSB (Kathleen Holcomb ’07), made her Solemn Profession of Vows as a member of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles. The vows took place during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at St. James Catholic Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, with the Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the Most Rev. James Vann Johnston, Jr., presiding.
There are now 41 professed religious among the College’s alumni, and 65 ordained priests.
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.
California Catholic Daily has recently published a series of letters that Jack Grimm (’15) wrote to his family during a six-week pilgrimage to the motherhouse of Bl. Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata (Calcutta), India. During his time, in which he wanted to experience the Missionaries’ life firsthand and participate in their works of mercy, he cared for the sick and hungry, served Mass, and prayed for the dead and dying. He also speaks frankly about the difficulties of such service — the constant noise, the exhaustion, the temptation to pride. Yet he concludes by describing his time in India, which culminated in Holy Week and the Easter Vigil at the motherhouse as “the most rewarding Lent of my life so far. Blessed be God.”
The full collection of letters is available via the California Catholic website:
- Letter 1: “Today I went to Kalighat, which is the house of the dying and destitute people. It’s an amazing place, but very draining and sad at the same time.”
- Letter 2: “Today I served Mass at Mother house. I was feeling sick so I didn’t want to go, but Mass was beautiful and of course miraculous.”
- Letter 3: “This last week has been very good, although exhausting at times. I’ve been caring especially for the patients who can’t get out of bed, giving them bed baths and ointment, etc.”
- Letter 4: “Kolkata is an amazing place, but the constant noise and smell, not to mention all the people, can be a little exhausting.”
- Letter 5: “In general, life here has been very prayerful and beautiful. I still love doing the work with the patients. A number of them have died in the last couple weeks, so that has been more emotionally challenging.”
- Letter 6: “Well, wonderful as Kolkata is, I still seem to be dreaming about home every night. Last night I dreamed we were all at Thomas Aquinas College for Mass.”
- Letter 7: “Well, the last week has been a good one, but I was definitely beginning to feel a sort of spiritual dryness.”
- Letter 8: “ I’ve realized that one of my goals this year, and for life in general, is to learn to love the silence.”
- Letter 9: “Some people belong in books, they are just that good. R is one of those people.”
- Letter 10: “A very happy Easter to all of you! Christ the Lord is risen indeed!
Among the many friends of Thomas Aquinas College who have lent their spiritual assistance to the College’s legal effort against the HHS Contraceptive Mandate are the Missionaries of Charity. This morning, the Sisters of Bl. Mother Teresa’s order in New York City offered their daily Mass intention and an “emergency novena” on the College’s behalf — thanks to the intercession of an alumnus priest.
Rev. Nicholas Callaghan (’96), a priest serving the Archdiocese of New York, offered today’s 7:00 a.m. Spy Wednesday Mass for the Sisters at their convent on East 145th street in the Bronx. “The MC sisters were very happy to agree to have the College and the case as the intention of the Mass,” reports Fr. Callaghan. “Given the urgency of the case and the fact of the arguments today, they offered an ‘emergency novena’ immediately after Mass. This, as you may know, was a hallmark of Bl. Teresa: Nine Memorare prayers said in a row. It was her go-to solution in moments of crisis and is held in high esteem by the sisters. A particular feature of the ‘emergency novena’ this morning, which I have never encountered before, was the addition of an antiphon, chosen by them as appropriate for the subject of our petition today.”
Fr. Callaghan scanned the Sisters’ chosen antiphon, posted above.
Thanks be to God!
Rev. Miss Therese Ivers, JCL, OCV (’03) and His Holiness Pope Francis (L’Osservatore Romano Photo Service)
To mark the end of the recently concluded Year of Consecrated Life, the Vatican hosted an international symposium, “Consecrated Life in Communion,” which culminated in a February 1 audience with His Holiness Pope Francis. Among those in attendance — and privileged to meet the Holy Father personally — was an alumna of the College and a consecrated virgin, Rev. Miss Therese Ivers, JCL, OCV (’03).
Rev. Miss Therese Ivers was one of about 600 members of the Ordo Virginum from around the world who participated in the Symposium. Sacred virgins are consecrated to Christ, but unlike religious sisters, they do not live in community. Instead they devote their lives to the service of Christ and His church in some other way. Rev Miss Ivers, for example, is a canon lawyer living in Rome. An experienced judge and advocate, she specializes in the theology of consecrated life and law. She holds a diploma from the Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in the Theology and Law of Consecrated Life.
“I did not know I’d meet the Pope, but knee injuries had me in a wheelchair, which put me in the front section for the audience,” she recalls. “My companion for the Symposium was a consecrated virgin who recently retired as a firefighter. I am glad she was able to meet the Pope with me after all the pushing she did over cobblestones.” A video clip of the two consecrated virgins meeting Pope Francis is available below:
When asked what she said to Pope Francis, Rev. Miss Ivers replies, “I simply said, ‘Holy Father.’ He asked me to pray for him, and I asked for his prayers. That was it and he blessed me.”
Rev. Patrick Carter, O.S.B. (’05), Governor Lloyd Noble, President Michael F. McLean, Dr. John Nieto (’89), and Rev. Peter Miller, O.S.B. (’07)
This past Sunday, the Most Rev. Edward J. Slattery, Bishop of Tulsa, ordained into the holy priesthood of Jesus Christ two Thomas Aquinas College alumni: Rev. Patrick Carter, O.S.B. (’05), and Rev. Peter Miller, O.S.B. (’07). Fr. Carter and Fr. Miller are two of the 11 Thomas Aquinas College alumni serving at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma.
Among the alumni and friends of the College who traveled to Northeastern Oklahoma for the occasion were President Michael F. McLean, Governor Lloyd Noble II, and Dr. John Nieto (’89). A senior tutor, Dr. Nieto gave the new priests a small foretaste of their monastic life when he taught them Gregorian chant in the College’s Schola Cantorum.
With these two latest ordinations, the College can now claim — by God’s grace — 64 alumni priests! Deo gratias!
Three members of the Class of 2015 — Samantha Flanders, Tori Miller, and Joanna Kaiser — have recently returned from a post-graduation mission trip to Port au Price, Haiti, where they worked with the Missionaries of Charity. Writes Miss Flanders:
“We began every morning at 5:00 a.m. in the chapel with morning prayer, meditations on Scripture, and Holy Mass; after which I would go and help take care of the 115 babies (mostly suffering from malnutrition) that the sisters provided care for in the compound. Once a month I would help the sisters with a food distribution to 900 needy people. We would give them 10 cups of rice and beans, 30 cups of cornmeal, 1cup of oil, 1can of tomato paste, and 1chicken. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, I would help out at the sisters’ St. Joseph wound clinic. The poor people of Haiti would come in long lines and wait for us to dress their wounds, mostly third-degree burns covering their arms and legs, and injuries such as machete hacks and bullet wounds.
“The weather was very humid and balmy. Every day my clothes would be drenched in sweat, and in the afternoon the heat was usually unbearable. It is truly incredible how much the MC sisters endure. Not only do they put up with the heat but they also live in such a detached way — it is truly a beautiful vocation. The trip was an amazing experience, and I am so grateful to God for all of the benefactors who supported it, and especially to all the angels He put on my road. I was able to meet a lot of other wonderful volunteers in Haiti.”
Miss Flanders and Miss Kaiser are currently continuing their journey with a 33-day pilgrimage to Spain, where they are backpacking 800 km. of the Camino de Santiago.