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Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

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!

Angela (Andersen ’87) Connelly Angela (Andersen ’87) ConnellyThe News Tribune of Tacoma, Washington, recently named its list of six reader-columnists who will grace its pages for the upcoming year. Among those so honored is Angela (Andersen ’87) Connelly, an alumna of the College, a member of its Board of Governors, and the president of the Washington Women’s Network. “The list of criteria we provide to aspiring columnists is long and includes words like engaging, thought-provoking, inspirational, poignant, and most of all, local,” writes the News Tribune editorial board. “The goal is to identify creative people who love the South Sound as much as we do.”

After noting that Mrs. Connolly “is on a crusade to combat teen homelessness in Tacoma” and “serves on numerous community boards,” the editorial asks: “Did we mention she’s mother to nine kids?” This is good news, as far as the board is concerned: “Suffice it to say, the North End resident will not run out of material.”

The first of Mrs. Connolly’s regular columns, which appears in today’s edition of the News Tribune, deals with her aforementioned anti-homelessness crusade. “As a mom,” she writes, “I am begging everyone — every leader, non-profit, church, business, concerned citizen — to come sit at the table and wrap these kids and our community in love, support, and shelter.”

Heavenly Crown

Just in time for Christmas, St. Joseph’s Press has released a coloring book featuring historically accurate illustrations of women saints — all illustrated by Dominique Shema (’07).

Yet Heavenly Crown: Coloring Book and Lives of the Saints is not, as its subtitle indicates, merely a coloring book. Accompanying Miss Shema’s finely detailed line drawings are essays about each of the depicted saints. The work thus serves as a combination of creative outlet, spiritual reading, and catechetical tool for artists of all ages.

“I love history, especially all the little details that let you imagine what it would have been like to live back then,” Miss Shema explains. So the author researched each saint extensively in order to make sure that her drawing would be as authentic as possible. “For example,” she notes, “the ship in St. Margaret of Scotland’s picture is inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the Battle of Hastings, an important event in St. Margaret’s life. The herbs in St. Gertrude’s garden at Nivelles are herbs that would commonly have been grown in a medieval monastery garden. For many of the pictures, I went a step further and drew the whole thing in whatever art style was current at the time.”

Heavenly Crown: Coloring Book and Lives of the Saints is available for purchase via the St. Joseph’s press website.

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.

Rose Carlman (’17) Rose Carlman (’17)

As noted last week, on Saturday Rose Carlman (’17) ran the Hartford Marathon, her tenth 26.2 miler in the last two years. She completed the race in less than three hours — 2:59:07 — setting a new personal record and besting most of the competition. Among the 56 women in her age bracket (20-24), Miss Carlman came in first place! She also achieved the 11th fastest time among all 684 women and 48th place among all 1,618 runners, both male and female.

“It was amazing!” she writes of the race, which she ran to raise funds in honor of Luke Dunn, a 17-month-old boy — and the son of a longtime family friend — who died of a malignant liver tumor in 2015. “It’s so rewarding to run for charity,” she says. “It really motivates me and helps me to focus on others. The whole experience has been eye-opening about how one act of kindness, one race, can raise awareness and spark charity not only in myself but in others as well. It’s been such a positive endeavor, and I’m grateful to be able to put my running to good use.”


Rose Carlman (’17) Rose Carlman (’17)Less than two years after completing her first marathon, Rose Carlman (’17) is running in her tenth 26.2 miler this Saturday in Hartford, Connecticut, for a cause dear to her heart.

“I’m running for the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center,” she writes, on behalf of Luke Dunn, a 17-month-old boy — and the son of a longtime family friend — who died of a malignant liver tumor in 2015. “Luke’s parents have set up a foundation to help families who have lost children to cancer, and I am raising money for them through the hospital where Luke was treated.” To that end she has formed a fundraising team, Team Love 4 Luke.

A member of the College’s most recent graduating class, Miss Carlman ran her first marathon, in Van Nuys, California, while still a sophomore. She then immediately set her sights on larger goals: Over the next year she ran marathons in Los Angeles and Ventura as a precursor to Boston — the world’s oldest and most prestigious annual marathon — which she finished in just 3 hours and 11 minutes in 2016.

Since graduating from the College this spring, Miss Carlman has worked in the specialty running/triathlon business while also interning in the equine industry. She has recently been accepted into a the Master’s in Leadership and Management program at the University of LaVerne.

“We are so appreciative that Rose Carlman will be running the Hartford Marathon on October 14 to raise funds for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center,” says Luke’s mother, MaryJo Dunn, who calls Miss Carlman’s Team Love 4 Luke “a wonderful cause in memory of our little angel.”

Please pray for her safe running and success!

The Landing of Columbus, by John Vanderlyn (1775-1852) The Landing of Columbus, by John Vanderlyn (1775-1852)

Bringing a balanced perspective to the rancorous arguments that recur each Columbus Day, alumnus attorney Patrick Mason (’03) — a member of the Osage Nation and the youngest member of the Knights of Columbus national Board of Directors — has penned a thoughtful article for Real Clear Politics about the legacy of Christopher Columbus.

Patrick Mason (’03) Patrick Mason (’03)Although regularly maligned as a genocidal villain, Columbus was “the proto-immigrant,” says Mr. Mason, and his concern for human rights was “far better than most for his time.” Columbus has become, Mr. Mason argues, a convenient scapegoat for every wrong ever perpetuated against Native Americans, even though most occurred hundreds of years after his death. “By blaming Columbus for five centuries of history, we ignore the majority of that history and risk repeating it,” says Mr. Mason. “For any Native American, that should be truly terrifying.”

How should Americans regard Columbus and mark the day named in his honor? Says Mr. Mason:

Columbus Day is a day for us to remember that bold and courageous voyage in 1492 that led to the first sustained contact between two very different worlds. It is a day to remember the many good things that have come out of that contact, such as the founding of the United States, the first lasting democratic republic.

It is also a day to remember our failings as a country, such as the Trail of Tears and the forced removal and re-education of native children in the 20th century — episodes … [which] the explorer neither caused nor condoned.

Mr. Mason proposes more, however, than simply remembering:

While activists are quick to unfairly blame Columbus … I have yet to see a group of protestors from the city get their boots dirty while trying to make a difference for those in need on the reservations. I do, however, see the constant presence of committed groups, like the Knights of Columbus, providing quality coats for children in winter, boxes upon boxes of food every fall, and love and friendship every day.

This Columbus Day, instead of spreading a hateful and misleading history from the comfort of our easy-chairs, I would call on all Americans to follow the example of groups like the Knights of Columbus.

Donate your time, effort and money to the hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico, Florida and Houston. Reach out to the peripheries in your own neighborhood. Bring companionship to your lonely elderly neighbor. Form friendships with those who are suffering.

Good advice for Columbus Day and for always!

Patrick Mason (’03) introduces his sons to Donald Cardinal Wuerl

Photo: Teak Phillips, St. Louis Review

The above photo, which recently appeared on the cover of the print edition of the St. Louis Review, features Patrick Mason (’03) introducing his three young sons to Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C. The Masons and His Eminence were both in St. Louis earlier this month for the Knights of Columbus’ Supreme Convention, where Mr. Mason was elected to the KofC’s national Board of Directors. At 36 years old, he is the board’s youngest member.

Mr. Mason’s tenure with the Knights began nearly a decade ago, when, as a freshly minted attorney, he joined his local council in Gallup, New Mexico. Much to his surprise, he soon found himself elected chancellor, the council’s third-highest position. Then, when his council’s grand knight was tragically killed by a drunk driver, and its terminally ill deputy grand knight entered hospice care, Mr. Mason — still only in his 20s — became the council’s leader.

Patrick Mason (’03) Patrick Mason (’03)By God’s grace, the council thrived, attracting new, younger members, and earning the prestigious Star Council Award from the Knights’ Supreme Council. Mr. Mason began representing his council at regional and national conventions and, in short order, was elected state advocate for the Knights in New Mexico. He then proceeded to work his way through the organization’s ranks, culminating in his election, just one year ago, as the Knights’ state deputy for New Mexico — the highest state-level position within the Catholic fraternal organization.

“The way I look at it, throughout history — for example, after Pearl Harbor or even 9-11 — men stood up in defense of their country,” said Mr. Mason last year. “In a lot of ways, the Knights of Columbus provides a similar kind of opportunity for men to stand up in defense of the Church and families. It allows them to stand up and be, as Pope St. John Paul II said, ‘the strong right arm of the Catholic Church.’” In his leadership of the organization, he has often found himself drawing upon his formation at the College. “Being able to pull from my knowledge of the true, the good, and the beautiful, and being able to communicate the ideas that I found and developed at Thomas Aquinas College, has really helped me,” he said. “If it weren’t for the strength and faith that the College gave me, I don’t think I would be doing this.”

In addition to being a new member of the Knights’ national board, Mr. Mason is a  partner at the law firm of Mason & Isaacson, a husband, and the father of the three boys pictured above, all under 5. May God bless him in all his good work!

Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93)Less than a year after being named the Theological Consultant to the Office of Bishop in Orange, California, Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) has been appointed as chancellor of the Diocese — the highest and most senior position available to the laity.

“Pia is an inspirational and well-respected theologian and has proven herself a thoughtful and humble leader within our Church,” said the Most Rev. Kevin Vann, Bishop of Orange. “We are blessed as a Diocese to benefit from her expertise, passion, and faith. I look forward to the many gifts that she will continue to bring to bear in service to the people of Orange.”

As chancellor, Dr. de Solenni will play a central role in supporting Bishop Vann’s organizational and ministerial efforts in the nation’s 12th largest diocese, with over 1.3 million Catholics. She will serve as lead administrator/secretary of the Curia, official archivist, record keeper, and Bishop Vann’s strategic and theological advisor. In this latter capacity, she will review, at His Excellency’s request, his writings and teachings, offering observations and consultation drawn from her expertise on matters of doctrine or dogma. Dr. de Solenni’s appointment is effective as of Monday, August 28.

An ethicist and theologian, Dr. de Solenni is an expert on life issues, issues relating to women’s health, the new feminism, and culture. After graduating from Thomas Aquinas College, she earned a Sacred Theology Baccalaureate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) and a Sacred Theology Doctorate, summa cum laude, from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. In 2001 Pope St. John Paul II awarded her the Prize of the Pontifical Academies for her groundbreaking dissertation, an analysis of feminist theories in light of St. Thomas Aquinas’ teachings. (Fellow graduate Dr. John R. Mortensen ’97 became only the second North American to win this prize in 2010.)

Dr. de Solenni has published articles in the Wall Street Journal Europe, the Washington Post, the National Catholic Reporter, Our Sunday Visitor, Crux, and numerous other publications. She has also appeared on MSNBC, Hardball with Chris Matthews, The O’Reilly Factor, CNN, and ABC News, among others.

“It is a tremendous honor to serve the Diocese of Orange as Chancellor,” says Dr. de Solenni. “I am very grateful to Bishop Vann for his confidence in me and for giving me this opportunity.” 

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Isabella Hsu (’18) on integrated curriculum

“It is amazing to read all the different works from a wide range of disciplines, and see the same truth popping up again and again — whether it’s in Euclid, or theology, or natural science. It all comes together to form a full picture.”

– Isabella Hsu (’18)

Redondo Beach, California


“The Church will flourish through the inspiring example and praiseworthy endeavors of Thomas Aquinas College.”

– The Most Rev. Pietro Sambi (†)

Apostolic Nuncio to the United States