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Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Rev. Mike Perucho, associate vocations director for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with the four Thomas Aquinas College alumni who are studying for the priesthood in the Archdiocese: Paul Collins (’14), Edward Seeley (’16), Michael Masteller (’13), and Jorge Moncada Hernandez (’18) Rev. Mike Perucho, associate vocations director for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with the four Thomas Aquinas College alumni who are studying for the priesthood for the Archdiocese: Paul Collins (’14), Edward Seeley (’16), Michael Masteller (’13), and Jorge Moncada Hernandez (’18)

On Wednesday four alumni who are studying for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles returned to their alma mater to give a vocations talk to the College’s students. The late-afternoon session began and ended with some comments from Rev. Mike Perucho, the Archdiocese’ associate vocations director, in between which students heard personal talks from each of the alumni seminarians.

First among them was Jorge Moncada Hernandez (’18), a member of last year’s graduating class, who spoke of how he discerned his vocation, how his time at the College aided him in that process, and how he now longs to serve the people of Los Angeles as a priest. “This place definitely helped me in my vocation. It gave the foundation that we need to be good priests and also good men,” said Mr. Moncada. “And what we need right now in the Church are priests who are men really willing to understand their manhood and bring that to the people of God, and this place definitely helped me a lot in growing that.”

Next came Edward Seeley (’16), who described the spiritual and intellectual formation that the seminarians receive at the Archdiocesan seminary. “It’s a graduate-level program — so that’s a little easier than here,” he joked. “I find it’s very, very helpful to have had the formation here, because you’re able to see the unified picture more easily. You’re able to say, ‘Well, I can draw on St. Thomas or St. Augustine, and then look at what the more modern teachings of the Church are and how that fits in with them, how they integrate and connect.”

The next speaker, Paul Collins (’14) discussed his more particular vocation: Although studying for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where he will begin and end his ministry, he will serve for as many as 20 years between those periods as a chaplain for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. “I felt a call to be a Navy chaplain because they have a real need right now,” said Mr. Collins. “There are less than 50 priests serving the entire Navy — that’s the least-served diocese in the whole world” — a deficiency he is working hard to ameliorate.

Finally Michael Masteller (’13) spoke about his experience as a seminarian, including learning Spanish and coming to know the wide range of cultures within the Archdiocese. He also described his discernment, how he deepened his prayer life while at the College, and how he became assured of God’s call while teaching high school in Wisconsin for two years after his graduation. “Working at a diocesan high school, seeing where our culture is at, the difficulties that a lot of youth are going through — that just really touched my heart,” he said. “Because there were a lot of good kids there, bright, and you could just see that they wanted more. I definitely felt called to be on the front lines with the people, wherever they are.”

The seminarians stayed on campus through dinner, where they met with students and visited with Chaplain Rev. Cornelius M. Buckley, S.J., whom Mr. Moncada later thanked on Facebook:


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.


Edward Seeley (’16) Edward Seeley (’16) | Photo credit: The Rome Experience

“Being in Rome has been awe-inspiring,” writes Edward Seeley (’16). “We are being formed as men preparing for the priesthood, in order to help save souls through a knowledge of the history of the Church, through the beauty she has produced, and the firmness and maternal affection with which she proclaims Christ the Truth.”

A seminarian for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Mr. Seeley is in the Eternal City as part of The Rome Experience, a summer program run under the auspices of the Bishops Advisory Board that allows seminarians from throughout the U.S. to “pray and study in the heart of the Catholic Church, beside the Chair of St. Peter, and at the tombs of the saints and martyrs.” The program includes pilgrimages to several holy and historically significant sites, the major basilicas of Rome, and the Catacombs, as well as a trip to the Shrine of St. John Vianney in Ars, France; .

In a Postcard from Rome, published on The Rome Experience website, Mr. Seeley recounts the group’s general audience with Pope Francis, dinners with Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Stafford, and a visit and tour of the Basilica of St. Mary Major. He also describes interactions with fellow tourists who “obviously aren’t used to seeing a group of young seminarians tromping through small side streets or the ruins of ancient Rome,” and who “engage us in dialogue, often about their difficulties with the Church and the problems they face in their lives.”

Providing these inquirers with pastoral advice can be challenging, the young seminarian admits, but “what gives me the strength and hope to continue is being able to ask the saints that we visit for their intercession and guidance.” Adds Mr. Seeley, “When you come to the tombs of great men like St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Philip Neri, or those of Catherine of Siena and Claire of Assisi, you realize that you are not alone but can rely for aid on those who have gone before us.”


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.”


A group of Los Angeles priests and seminarians leading a Eucharistic procession down Hollywood Boulevard for the First World Day of the Poor. Photo: Alexandra Cooper, Angelus News

 

The above photo, from a recent story in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Angelus magazine, features a group of priests and seminarians leading a Eucharistic procession down Hollywood Boulevard for the First World Day of the Poor. Carrying the cross is David Allen (’10), a graduate of the College and a seminarian for the Diocese of Monterey who is studying at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ St. John’s Seminary..

Mr. Allen is one of four alumni studying for the priesthood in L.A., along with Michael Masteller (’13), Paul Collins (’14), and Edward Seeley (’16). May God bless them!


 

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).


Derek Remus ('11)

“Thought you might like to know,” writes Derek Remus (’11), “that Bishop William McGrattan of the Diocese of Calgary, Alberta, has called me to be ordained to the transitional diaconate.” The blessed event will take place at the end of Advent, on December 23, just in time for the newly ordained deacon to proclaim the Gospel and preach the homilies throughout Christmas.

It was four years ago — two years after his graduation from the College — that Mr. Remus entered St. Joseph’s Seminary in Edmonton, Alberta, for the Diocese of Calgary. By God’s grace, he will be ordained to the priestood next summer, making him the first alumnus to serve as a diocesan priest in Canada!

Please keep an all alumni seminarians in your prayers.


The above video features Br. John Winkowitsch, O.P. (’04), who made his first profession as a Western Dominican Province friar on September 2. “What do I love more than anything in the world?” he asks. “I love the truth, and I love Jesus Christ, and I love the Church. I want to lay down my life sharing that love with others, sharing that truth with others.”

Making his first profession alongside Br. John last month was fellow alumnus Br. Athanasius Thompson (’12). The two visited campus last fall to meet with students interested in joining the Dominican Order. “Hopefully we’ll get back to TAC sometime this academic year to talk about vocations,” says Br. John. “It’s always wonderful to return home to TAC, where I was baptized Freshman Year!


Sean Wood ('13)

Friends of Sean Wood (’13) staged a lively and generous farewell for him last weekend at a benefit concert at the Camarillo, California, home of College Regent Justin Schneir and his wife, Hope. The concert, The Barnyard Folk Fest, raised just enough  funds — almost down to the penny! — to cover what remains of Mr. Wood’s student-loan debt, and thus paves the way for his entering the religious life. One week from today, on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mr. Wood will begin his postulancy with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in the Bronx, where, by God’s grace, he will spend a life of service to the poor on the streets of New York City.

For the last several years Mr. Wood has been the fiddler for the Schneirs’ eponymous band, Hope and Justin, playing alongside fellow graduates Daniel (’13) and Gabriel Bagdazian (’14). To send him off, his bandmates put together the Barnyard Folk Festival as a final hurrah and an opportunity to wipe out his debts before he takes this next step in his vocational discernment. The Hope and Justin Band headlined the concert, which drew hundreds of music lovers and well-wishers to the Schneirs’ home and involved the help of countless volunteers — many of them TAC alumni, students, and parents — who acted as performers, cooks, vendors, drivers, and technicians to make the day possible.

Thanks be to God for the Schneirs and the many generous souls who lent their time, treasure, and talent to the support of this would-be priest. And thanks be to God for Mr. Wood’s willingness to answer His call.

“We are astounded by the goodness of people,” write Hope and Justin on their Facebook page. “Sean is going to be a most excellent priest and friend of the poor. He loves you all!”


Michael Masteller (’13) Michael Masteller (’13)

The photo features Michael Masteller (’13) enjoying the sweet taste of victory, delivered in the form of a cold cup of Italian gelato.

A seminarian for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Mr. Masteller is in the Eternal City as part of The Rome Experience, a six-week summer program run under the auspices of the Bishops Advisory Board that allows seminarians from throughout the U.S. to “pray and study in the heart of the Catholic Church, beside the Chair of St. Peter, and at the tombs of the saints and martyrs.” The program includes pilgrimages to several holy and historically significant sites, such as the Shrine of St. John Vianney in Ars, France; the major basilicas of Rome; and the Catacombs.

The Rome Experience also features an annual Circle the Vatican Race, in which the program’s director, Rev. Eric Nielsen of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, challenges seminarians in a sprint along the arms of St. Peter’s Square. This year’s winner was none other than Mr. Masteller, who — in addition to receiving the prized cup of gelato — will have his name forever memorialized on a plaque listing the names of “Circle the Vatican” victors.

As part of the Rome Experience, Mr. Masteller and his fellow seminarians recently enjoyed a visit from an old friend of the College, His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke, patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the College’s 2010 Commencement Speaker:

Michael Masteller (’13) with His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke, patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta Michael Masteller (’13) with His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke, patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta

Please pray for Mr. Masteller and all of the College’s alumni seminarians!


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Isaac Cross (’19) -- quote 1

“The Discussion Method gives you a sense of finding the truth for yourself, and thereby owning it, rather than being told what to think.”

– Isaac Cross (’19)

Leominster, Massachusetts

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