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Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

 Members of the Knights of Columbus carry supplies from a truck Class of 2003 classmates Jeremy Boucher (left) and Patrick Mason (right) unload a trailer of supplies / Photo: Johnny Jaffe

The Knights of Columbus have published a wonderful story about the work that their members are doing to support vulnerable Native American populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Notable among those featured are two members of the College’s Class of 2003: Jeremy Boucher and Patrick Mason, the Knights’ national supreme director.

“Native populations are always hit disproportionately hard by pandemics,” Mr. Mason — a member of the Osage Nation and a board member of Life is Sacred, a prolife Native American organization — tells reporter Carl Bunderson. “The 1918 flu wiped out entire villages. The H1N1 death rate in Native American communities was four times the national average.”

In March, Mr. Mason, Mr. Boucher, and fellow Knights in their Gallup, New Mexico, council began filling a trailer with crates of donated and purchased food, which they distributed to local reservations. Their efforts soon expanded — all the way to native communities in Hawaii — and by early July the Knights had delivered more than $320,000 of relief in the form of boxes containing sufficient groceries to feed a family for two weeks. 

“Pope Francis is always talking about going out to the peripheries,” the article quotes Mr. Boucher as observing. The Knights of Columbus’ “Leave No Neighbor Behind” program — designed to aid those in need during the pandemic — “is really encouraging us to do that,” he continues, “to go outside of our comfort zone, and remember that it’s not just our family and friends who are our neighbors.”

Adds Mr. Mason: “I have great hope because God always brings great good out of bad situations — and I’m seeing the good that’s coming out of this and the love that’s growing between neighbors and peoples.” 

Marietta Grumbine (’14)

“We need ethical therapists, and this is why I have come to talk to you today,” Marietta Grumbine (’14) told a group of Thomas Aquinas College, California, students last week at a talk about psychology and counseling, sponsored by the Office of Career Services. “I have been where you are, and I know the formation that you have had. We need you.”

Marietta Grumbine (’14) Marietta Grumbine (’14)In the last year of a three-year Marriage and Family Therapy master’s program at Fuller Theological Seminary, Miss Grumbine is a counseling intern at the Phoenix Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter and addiction-recovery center where, she reports, she is blessed to perform daily three Spiritual Works of Mercy — “counseling the doubtful, comforting the afflicted or the sorrowful, and instructing the ignorant.”

The work of a therapist, however, “is not pretty, it’s not glamorous, and it’s heartbreaking sometimes,” Miss Grumbine cautioned. “Being a therapist is looking at all those things no one wants to look at — trauma, abuse, neglect, addiction — no one wants to look at those things. No one wants to look down and help. But we were told to do that. We were told to wash one another’s feet. We were told to look at the ugly things and serve. Being a therapist is that. It’s being a foot-washer.”

But it’s not for everyone. “Being a therapist is a calling, and I really want to stress that,” she continued. “If you’re still sitting here, hearing this talk, and if you have heard everything that I have to say about what therapy is really like, and what being a therapist is really like, and you are still interested … then you might be called to it.”

In the course of her hour-long presentation, “Beyond the Couch: Counseling and Clinical Psychology,” Miss Grumbine answered students questions about graduate-school options, various kinds of therapeutic practice, and the ethical challenges that a Catholic therapist may encounter. “You need to know what you believe,” she said, “and how you’re going to act on it.”

Counseling, she continued, serves an essential human need. “Everyone needs mental-health care, because we are human beings, just as everyone needs to be taken care of physically sometimes,” she explained. Because clients are often vulnerable, and the information they disclose can expose them to exploitation and manipulation, therapists must possess the highest ethical standards.

“There is a lot of beautiful work that can be done in therapy,” Miss Grumbine said. “But in order to do that work, you need to be trustworthy with people’s lives in your hands. That’s why I’m talking to you, because I’m hoping that you are those people, and I want to convince you to go be therapists.”

Thomas Graf ('19)A member of the College’s most recent graduating class, Thomas Graf (’19) is featured in the latest edition of Catholic Answers magazine, owing to one of the more amusing aspects of his job at the San Diego-based apologetics apostolate. In the editorial, editor Tim Ryland discusses some of Thomas’ discoveries while checking over YouTube’s auto-generated captions for CAL videos. Apparently algorithms struggle with the jargon of the Faith, producing some hilarious mis-transcriptions, such as:

  • A mac to the Heart (Immaculate Heart)
  • Pop a rat singer (Papa Ratzinger)
  • Tow mystic (Thomistic)
  • Kappa Gas is Live (Catholic Answers Live)

Mr. Graf interned at Catholic Answers between his junior and senior years at the College, and is now a fulltime employee in its video, radio, and marketing departments. “Having a firm foundation in the philosophy and theology of the Catholic faith,” he said at graduation, “will help me to communicate these very difficult, higher concepts with the broader world” — starting with YouTube!

Crucifix in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel

Please pray for the repose of the soul of alumnus Douglas Alexander (’77), who died on May 18. Please also pray for the consolation of his wife, Leslie, and their six children.

A member of Thomas Aquinas College’s third graduating class, Mr. Alexander was a convert to Catholicism, entering the Church at the Easter Vigil of his Freshman Year. After his graduation in 1977, he went on to earn a master’s degree in political philosophy from the Claremont University Graduate School. Throughout his life he held numerous positions in organizations dedicated to Catholic education and education policy, including the Free Congress Foundation, Seton Home Study School, and the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, where he served as executive editor.

Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in pea

26, 2018

Members of the Morlino family in Rome for the October canonization of St. Katharina Kasper Members of the Morlino family in Rome for the October canonization of St. Katharina Kasper

In late October, alumna Genevieve Morlino (’17), along with her brother Dominic (’21) and their family, traveled to Rome for what she describes as “a rather momentous event” — the canonization of a family member.

St. Katharina Kasper St. Katharina Kasper“St. Katharina Kasper started the Congregation of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ in Germany in 1850, and her order has spread throughout the world,” writes Miss Morlino. “My mom and her sisters are some of her closest living relatives.” Miss Morlino’s late grandmother attended St. Katharina’s beatification in 1978. There she met His Holiness Paul VI, who presided over the beatification and whom, in God’s providence, His Holiness Pope Francis also canonized this October, alongside St. Katharina. “When we heard she was being canonized,” says Miss Morlino, “we all knew we had to go.”

A recent story in the National Catholic Register tells the history of St. Katharina, the miracle that led to her canonization, and the Morlinos’ decision to witness the solemn occasion. “Katharina Kasper was my grandmother’s great-great aunt,” the story quotes Miss Morlino’s mother, Fran, as saying. “We didn’t really think we would get [to Rome] this soon, but when we heard about the canonization we said, ‘Well, we’ll do what it takes to get there.’”

Spurred by her love of Jesus in the poor and the ill, St. Katharina established the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, along with four other women, in a small wooden house. Their mission is to minister to the sick and needy, especially children, and they are known for their love of simplicity. In the years since its founding, the community has spread from St. Katharina’s native Germany to Brazil, England, Germany, India, Kenya, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, and the United States.

Meanwhile Miss Morlino, like her great-grandmother’s great-great aunt, is serving the poor as a program development assistant at Catholic Charities of Ventura County.

St. Katharina Kasper, pray for us!

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.

Photo of the Hilol Rojo program, taken by David Trull (’15) Photo of the Hilol Rojo program, taken by David Trull (’13)


David Trull (’15) David Trull (’13)Early this year David Trull (’13) took three months from his career as a financial-services professional to serve as a volunteer for Hilo Rojo, a Peruvian nonprofit that aids communities afflicted with extreme poverty. There he worked on the outskirts of the city of Trujillo, where, he says, “government services do not reach,” and many of the residents “do not possess official documentation of any kind … and thus find themselves perpetually locked out of productive activity and participation in the larger society.”

Although he was initially brought on to assist with fundraising and development, he quickly found himself “teaching both music and English in the elementary school,” he says. He also assisted physiotherapists in aiding the local disabled population, which ordinarily struggles to get by with little or no medical care.

“Though trying at times, the experience illustrated to me the importance of human connection, and of attempting to make this connection whenever and wherever we are able,” says Mr. Trull. “Though many of the sources of poverty in the Third World are structural, the examples of many other volunteers and those who run Hilo Rojo have convinced me of the power of simple love and friendship to effect change. Though my time there was short, I feel humbled to have been part of such a wonderful operation, and plan to participate again in the future.”

As a Christian and, particularly, as an alumnus, he considers such service to be something of a calling. “There are many people in the world who feel that they have been forgotten,” he says. “Those of us privileged with a formation from Thomas Aquinas College are in a perfect position to spread the message that that is not the case.”

Stephen Grimm (’75)Benefactors, friends, and the families of St. Monica Academy in Pasadena, California, recently hosted a “Gatsby Gala,” at which they honored the school’s longtime choir director, Stephen Grimm (’75). As part of the night’s festivities, the treasurer of the school’s Board of Directors, Khushro Ghandhi, presented Mr. Grimm with the Ostia Award — named for the Italian port town where St. Monica and her son, St. Augustine, shared a vision of heaven — in recognition of the work that Mr. Grimm has done for the school since its founding in 2001. “Stephen is an especially appropriate winner of this award,” reads the tribute that accompanied its presentation, as “he has often brought us to experience, from the mouths of our own children, heavenly beauty.”

The tribute continues:

The fifth of Bill and Irene Grimm’s 17 children, Stephen grew up immersed in classical music. At the age of 5, he started to compose his own tunes on the piano and when he was 8 he joined the St. Philip’s boys’ choir and began formal piano study. By high school, he was performing all over Southern California as the accompanist and sole baritone for the Grimm Family Singers. By the time he reached college, Stephen had internalized a large repertoire of music, was composing his own, and was an accomplished pianist and accompanist.

Throughout his busy career as a professional vocalist, director, and accompanist, Stephen made time to teach voice, piano, and choir to countless students, mostly children, often pro bono. Few professionals have the patience to work with children, but Stephen Grimm has made it his life’s work. At one point, he was conducting five choirs driving hundreds of miles a week — Saints Felicitas and Perpetua Church, Thomas Aquinas College, Mayfield Senior School, St. Francis High School, and Christ the King Homeschool — mostly youth choirs, all successful choirs — either in festivals, recordings, or grateful parishioners.

In 2018 Stephen is still conducting — a grateful group of adults in Pasadena Pro Musica but also the St. Monica Academy Choir. That’s 107 teens! His choirs, even of children, are always notable for the beauty of their tone quality, even when, as at SMA, he teaches all students, without auditions. His philosophy is that “anyone can be taught to sing.” We believe him because we have seen him turn “tone deaf” kids into star performers! It can be done, but it takes heroic patience. There may be the occasional bursts of exasperation, but Stephen’s students are never fooled by his gruffness: When he is upset, they know it was because he cares about them and about the music, and that he expects excellence from them.

Stephen has been blessed in his life and career with the support of Laura, his beautiful wife of 40 years, who is also a talented musician. He is also the proud father of three children, Gabriel, Elizabeth, and Gregory, and the even prouder “Papa” to 15 grandchildren!

Part of the mission, the vision, of St. Monica Academy is to put students in possession of their cultural legacy. Thanks to Stephen Grimm, our students have an appreciation and love of their musical heritage, especially of the Church’s choral traditions. Our graduates have taken that love with them all over the world. Thank you, Mr. Grimm, for sharing so much heavenly beauty with us!

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.

Anne Forsyth speaks to students

Why is it the Christian’s responsibility to welcome strangers and to extend hospitality to them? How can we best make the stranger feel welcome in our home — or on our campus?

Women of Thomas Aquinas College considered these and related questions at the latest installment of the ongoing Dorm Talk series, “The Virtue and Practice of Hospitality,” presented by alumna Anne S. Forsyth (’81). For reasons both personal and professional, Mrs. Forsyth has had decades of experience in the art of hospitality — which she readily shared with her young audience.

“In the word of the Old Testament and among the ancient Greeks, hospitality was enjoined, on the one hand, by God, and the other, by the culture, in large measure for protection against the evils that the stranger was subject to,” said Mrs. Forsyth. “In the order of grace, Our Lord gives us an additional and higher reason to be hospitable — namely that the stranger and the guest bear the image of God and should be received and cared for accordingly. The Christian virtue of hospitality then demands that we care for our guests as a way of expressing our love for Christ Who is present in them.”

As the director of college relations since 2004, Mrs. Forsyth has long been responsible for welcoming friends, both old and new, to Thomas Aquinas College. Yet her work, or service, in hospitality goes back much further. Her parents, Jane and John Schaeffer, were deeply involved in the founding of the College, and as such frequently welcomed the founders to their home in San Francisco, where Mrs. Forsyth learned to be a hostess from her gracious mother. She later married George Forsyth, a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, and their family spent considerable time living overseas, hosting and entertaining foreign officials and diplomats.

“If your guests are staying overnight, organize your shopping, table settings, and room preparations so you get them done well in advance,” Mrs. Forsyth advised her audience. “Choose a menu that allows you to do a good deal of the prep work ahead of time, and a minimal amount of work once guest arrive.” Every act of service, she observed, is an opportunity to honor one’s guests. “We can even elevate our simple acts of care and hospitality,” she said, “by being mindful of the image of God in our other family members whom we prepare a meal for, or the baby we give a drink of water to, or the elderly grandfather who must now be spoon-fed.”

Now in its fourth year, the Dorm Talks typically consist of a 45-minute presentation, refreshments, and a question-and-answer session that has, on occasion, run well into the night. “These informal talks provide spiritual and moral guidance to the female students to complement the rigorous intellectual studies we have here, and help foster relationships between the girls and the female tutors, tutor wives, and other female role models in the College community,” says Resident Assistant Jeannette Richard (’17), who organizes the events along with Student Activities Director Kayla Grimm (’20). “I am so grateful to Anne and to all the wonderful women who have come to share their wisdom and spend an evening with the girls. They are all such lovely examples of Catholic womanhood!”

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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 is uniquely positioned and equipped to let light shine once more in our world, in our society, in our communities, in our families, in our relationships.”

– Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, S.T.L., D.D.

Archbishop of Oklahoma City