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Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Christopher Zehnder (’87) was a recent guest on EWTN’s Journey Home, where he told the story of his conversion to the Catholic faith, and the invaluable role that a fellow alumnus, Kevin Long (’77), played in it.

The friendship began when Mr. Zehnder was a sophomore in high school, and Dr. Long was his Latin teacher. “He was a student at Claremont Graduate School in political science, and I found out he went to a rather strange college … called Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula,” Mr. Zehnder recalls. “After a while he and I began to have conversations.”

When Mr. Zehnder exhausted his high school’s Latin curriculum, Dr. Long offered to continue teaching him on the side. “He thought I might want to translate some medieval Latin, so he brought in the first question of the Summa Theologiae,” says Mr. Zehnder. “Our Latin classes became more than just Latin classes. They became philosophy and theology classes, and we began to discuss all sorts of things … all tending toward the Catholic faith.”

One evening, when Dr. Long and his wife, Martha (Schaeffer ’76), had Mr. Zehnder over for dinner, the teacher and the student got into a theological argument. “I was going to prove to him that Purgatory was contrary to Scripture,” says Mr. Zehnder. The conversation didn’t go as planned. “He presented me such arguments that Purgatory wasn’t contrary to Scripture; in fact, does it make any sense that a soul that is stained with sin would go into the next life, in the presence of God, stained with sin? There has to be some purification.”

At Dr. Long’s recommendation, and after attending another college first, Mr. Zehnder enrolled at the “rather strange” alma mater of his mentor. “When I went to TAC, it was as if it was in a different world,” he says, “and I also was received into the Church there.”

Since then, Mr. Zehnder has dedicated his professional life to Catholic education. He is the general editor of the Catholic Textbook Project, which aims to create a new generation of textbooks for parochial schools that accurately, beautifully, and engagingly reflect the Church’s contribution to human history. A high school teacher and former headmaster, he has authored three of the project’s books: From Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of AmericaLight to the Nations II: the Making of the Modern World; and Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. He has also recently begun a series of novels set during the Reformation, A Song for Else, the first two installments of which, The Vow and The Overthrow, are available from

Thanks be to God!

In gratitude for Mr. Zehnder’s conversion, please say a prayer for Dr. Long, who passed away in 2014. May his soul and those of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Dan and Rose (Teichert) Grimm (both ’76) Dan and Rose (Teichert) Grimm (both ’76)

The family of Rose (Teichert ’76) Grimm reports that she has been diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer and will soon undergo aggressive treatment. Her daughter Wendy-Irene Zepeda (’99) requests friends pray “to two Blesseds specially dear to my mom: Bl. John Henry Newman and Bl. Solanus Casey,” and helpfully suggests the following two prayers:

Prayer through the intercession of Bl. Solanus Casey

O God, I adore You. I give myself to You. May I be the person You want me to be, and may Your will be done in my life today.

I thank You for the gifts You gave to Blessed Solanus. If it is Your will, grant the canonization of Blessed Solanus so that others may imitate and carry on his love for all the poor and suffering of our world.

As he joyfully accepted Your divine plans, I ask You, according to Your will, to hear my prayer for Our Lady’s intentions for Rose Grimm, especially that if it be Your will she be speedily, completely healed, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“Blessed be God in all His designs.”



Prayer through the intercession of Bl. John Henry Newman

O God our Father, You granted to Your servant Blessed John Henry Newman wonderful gifts of nature and of grace, that he should be a spiritual guide in the darkness of this world, an eloquent herald of the Gospel, and a devoted servant of the one church of Christ. For his insight into the mysteries of the Kingdom, his zealous defense of the teachings of the Church, and his priestly love for all your children, we pray that he may soon be numbered among the canonized saints, and that You grant, through his intercession, all Our Lady’s intentions for Rose Grimm, especially a speedy and complete cure, if that be Your holy will. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Dan and Rose (Teichert) Grimm (both ’76) Dan and Rose (Teichert) Grimm (both ’76)

Urgent prayers are requested for Rose (Teichert ’76) Grimm, who was recently diagnosed with a large abdominal tumor, most likely cancer and possibly metastasized. She is now undergoing various tests and procedures. Please pray that, if it be God’s will, she will be speedily healed.

The Haggard Family

Although Thomas Aquinas College escaped the Thomas Fire largely unscathed, the same cannot be said for the broader College community. Among the many victims are Jessica (Kelsey) and Nathan Haggard (both ’99), who, along with their eight children, lost their home in the Ventura hillsides. Yet the family, now staying in the home of Mr. Haggard’s mother and planning to rebuild, remains beautifully faithful and hopeful, as evidenced by a profile (scroll to the bottom of the page) in today’s Wall Street Journal.

“A devout Roman Catholic family, the Haggard children say prayers every night,” writes reporter Nour Malas. “They have made it a point to carry over lessons of kindness and giving into their daily prayers. ‘When we do our family rosary at night, we have been making sure expressly that we do prayers of thanksgiving for everyone that has helped us, everyone that we know and don’t know, and the generosity of others,’ Mrs. Haggard said.

“‘The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,’” her husband added, quoting from a version of the Bible, ‘has new meaning for us.’”

Please continue to pray for the Haggards and all those affected by the fire!

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.

Andrew Baird (’04) and Steve Fitzpatrick (’04) Andrew Baird (’04) and Steve Fitzpatrick (’04)

Andrew Baird (’04), who is battling cancer, has sent in the following update on his condition:

Last I wrote, Fr Josh Mayer (’03) was here with me in the hospital and I had just finished my first round of chemotherapy. I have since gone home to recover, done my second round of treatment as an outpatient, and am now being visited by Steve Fitzpatrick (’04) and am at home recovering once again. In the words of my family doctor, all has gone remarkably well so far. That said, “remarkably well” has been a bit of a surprise, and the war rages on. There’s still a long road ahead.

Thank you, beyond words, for all of the prayers, works, joys, and sufferings you’ve offered up for me. I believe, now more than ever, that they have a great deal to do with why I am doing so well. Our Lord said, “Ask and it will be given to you.” Please continue to ask God for my healing. I will continue to keep all of you in my prayers.

Continued prayers for Andrew and his family!

Crucifix in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel

Serena (Grimm ’87) Mohun sends along the sad news of the passing of Pat Gallaher (’89).

Pat Gallaher died last night after a fairly prolonged battle with cancer. He had been living in Alaska for many years, but has recently been back down in Bakersfield, California, to be cared for by his sister. Many will remember Pat as a kind, gentle outdoorsman. He is the one who stocked the down-below ponds with trout and crayfish, which lasted many years past his one-year stint as a freshman. I will always remember him teaching me, and others on the Kaiser desert trip, to shoot his .44 Magnum!! May he rest in the peace of Christ.

Mr. Gallaher’s funeral will take plane at St. Albert’s Church in San Jose, California, on Saturday, June 17, at 9:00 a.m. Please pray for the repose of his soul.

Rev. Josh Mayer (’03) and Andrew Baird (’04) Rev. Josh Mayer (’03) and Andrew Baird (’04)

Andrew Baird (’04) has written in with an update on his medical condition:

Hello all!

A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with cancer. We are still trying to figure out exactly what type; the doctors have some leads, but nothing has been nailed down definitively. We know that that it’s a rough case and treatment will be intense. But I’m up for it!

I went in for my first round of chemotherapy on Friday night and have thankfully been feeling great ever since. No bad side effects. My breathing has been easier, and I’ve gotten good rest. I’m currently in the hospital but expect to go home sometime this week to gear up for Round Two of chemo in a few weeks.

I’ve been entirely humbled and wowed by the love and support I’ve received from friends and family here in Wisconsin. They’ve moved mountains to be with me, and I love them for it. On top of that, Rev. Josh Mayer (’03) decided to swing out last minute and has been hanging with me the past several days. We’ve had a great time chilling and have celebrated Mass each day in the hospital room. Life is good.

I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and prayers that have come my way. Please keep them coming. I’m certain that much of my positive attitude entering into this situation is due to the grace that I’m receiving from all of your prayers. We ask for the intercession of both St. Peregrine and St. André Bessette for my strength and healing as the journey continues.

Onward and upward!

Much love to all,
Andrew Baird (’04)

Please continue to keep Andrew and his family in your prayers!

Chapel candle rack

Andrew Baird (’04) is a Wisconsin hospital, suffering from cancer throughout his upper body. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.

 Dr. Richard D. Ferrier Dr. Richard D. FerrierThomas Aquinas College tutor Dr. Richard Ferrier and his son, Edward (’99), have returned home from their kidney-transplant surgeries. “Many thanks to all for your prayers,” writes Dr. Ferrier. “The new kidney is functioning well for me, and Edward is recovering well from his surgery. I am praying for all of you.”

Please continue to keep the Ferriers in your prayers, that they may enjoy a speedy recovery.

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Matthew Dugan (’18)

“When you’re discussing the great works you have to assimilate what’s being said by the author to your own understanding. Rather than passively receiving information, we’re becoming self-learners and independent thinkers, making the great ideas our own.”

– Matthew Dugan (’18)

Wayzata, Minnesota


“Thomas Aquinas College has always been thoroughly Catholic in its identity. It's an outstanding program of studies, founded on a loyalty to the Chair of Peter and to the Magisterium of the Church.”

– Raymond Cardinal Burke

Prefect Emeritus, Supreme Tribunal

of the Apostolic Signatura