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Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Franz Wall (’16) Franz Wall (’16)

 

“Since I was 15 years old I knew I wanted to be a dentist,” says Franz Wall (’16). That dream is now one step closer to reality, as Mr. Wall has been admitted to the Navy Health Professional Scholarship Program — under which he will receive a full scholarship to dental school, plus a stipend, valued at upward of $600,000. In exchange for the benefits, he will be required to serve for three years as a Navy dentist in active duty. “After my service obligation I will be returning to Mariposa, California, to start my own private dental practice,” he says.

Knowing at such a young age that he wanted to be a dentist presented Mr. Wall with a dilemma when it was time to choose a college. Because the typical approach for pre-dental students is to earn a bachelor’s degree in medicine or science, a liberal arts degree “seemed obsolete and ineffective,” he admits. “I was aware of the impressive reasoning skills and deep faith that the students of Thomas Aquinas College possessed, but I had a hard time discerning how that would help me as a dentist.”

His opinion changed, however, when he sought the advice of admissions officials at some prestigious dental colleges. “They explained that they wanted to teach the medicine, and they would rather I had a broad base of knowledge before I specialized,” Mr. Wall recalls. “This information made TAC an easier choice.”

Upon graduating in 2016 he completed prerequisite classes for dental school at the University of California, Merced. He then took the Dental Admissions Test and scored in the 98th percentile, upon which he applied and was one of the first six students accepted to the University of Pacific’s Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry this year.

In addition to his studies, for the last year and a half Mr. Wall has been working both as a dental assistant and for Mariposa County’s Oral Health Program. “We have been working for the last year on educating the community on oral hygiene and connecting underprivileged community members to oral health care,” he writes.

Looking forward — and back — he is pleased with his unconventional choice of a college. “The four years I spent at TAC have been some of the best years of my life,” he says. “I was able to grow closer to God through the support of many strong Catholic men and women, with daily sacraments and wonderful priests for advice. I was able to grow personally through the many good conversations and interactions I had with the people I met. I was able to learn how to think critically, how to make sense of any argument, and how to explain complicated concepts to people clearly. As years pass since my graduation, I realize more and more the value of my education and cannot be thankful enough.”


Dr. Thomas A. Cavanaugh (’85)

At its upcoming national convention, University Faculty for Life will award its Rupert and Timothy Smith Award for Distinguished Contributions to Pro-Life Scholarship to a graduate of the College, Dr. Thomas A. Cavanaugh (’85). The organization, which presents the award annually to honor “scholarly achievement and service of the pro-life movement,” chose Dr. Cavanaugh for his work on medical ethics, particularly as it pertains to euthanasia.

A professor of philosophy at the University of San Francisco, Dr. Cavanaugh is the author of  Hippocrates’ Oath and Asclepius’ Snake: the Birth of the Medical Profession, which Oxford University Press published last year. The book examines the Hippocratic Oath through a broad survey of Ancient Greek myth, drama, culture, and language. Drawing on extensive research, it addresses the subject of physician-inflicted harm, particularly doctor-assisted suicide, which Dr. Cavanaugh finds to be antithetical to medicine’s therapeutic ethic.

Over the last year, Hippocrates’ Oath and Asclepius’ Snake has received critical praise from a wide range of sources. Writing for America, Dr. Christopher Kaczor called the book, “required reading for anyone interested in the ethics of medicine.” In Commonweal, Mary McDonough declared that Dr. Cavanaugh “has recovered the root of medical ethics.”

As a recipient of the Smith Award, Dr. Cavanaugh will find himself in select company. Past hnorees include such luminaries as Dr. Robert P. George, Dr. Hadley Arkes, and Rev. Robert Spitzer, S.J.


Zoe Appleby (’18) Zoe Appleby (’18)Last Friday Zoe Appleby (’18) presented a research paper, “Exploring the Public Museum as an Urban Monument: LACMA and the Zumthor Debates,” at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. A graduate student in art history at the University of California, Riverside, Miss Appleby delivered her presentation as part of a seminar class at the Getty Research Institute, “Monumentality and its Discontents.” She was one of only nine students accepted into the graduate-level class, drawn from diverse departments, all related to the study of art and architecture, at universities from throughout Southern California. 

“The L.A. County Museum of Art has planned in the near future to demolish most of its main buildings and build one new complex in their place. It has hired the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor to design the new campus,” says Miss Appleby, explaining her research project, paper, and presentation. “I used this perhaps historic event to explore, philosophically, the ways in which a public museum can be considered an urban monument and related issues. The main issues I investigated were the museum as a monument to what it houses (the art), as a monument to the city it belongs to (Los Angeles), as a built environment for people to engage with inside and outside, how the museum interacts with its immediate urban environment, and the debate over whether museums have a duty to preserve their own past as embodied in the layers of their architecture.”

Her Thomas Aquinas College education, Miss Appleby reports, has been a blessing as she pursues her graduate studies. “I use my TAC training in textual analysis, in Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry, in Greco-Roman history, in modern philosophy (such as Kant and Hegel), in poetry and literary theory, in Aristotelian cosmology,” she writes. “I could go on and on.”


Susan and Michael Waldstein Drs. Susan (Burnham ’78) and Michael Waldstein (’77)
photo: Monica Torreblanca,
The Troubador

The Troubadour, the student newspaper of the Franciscan University of Steubenville, recently featured an endearing profile of two of the university’s newest theology professors, both graduates of Thomas Aquinas College: Drs. Susan (Burnham ’78) and Michael Waldstein (’77).

The story chronicles how the Waldsteins met on Susan’s first day at the College, which, she admits, she had been reluctant to attend, thinking she would prefer to pursue a degree in chemistry or biology. Yet once she began the College’s program of classical liberal education, her perspective changed. “I learned a different way of looking at nature by studying the natural philosophy of Aristotle,” she says. “I realized that looking at nature in that way contributed to theology and that there could be a theology of biology.”

The couple married just three days after her graduation. From there, says Susan, “We went around, and he got degrees and I had babies.”

Michael earned a master’s in philosophy from the University of Dallas, a licentiate in Scripture from the Pontificium Institutum Biblicum in Rome, and a doctorate in New Testament studies from Harvard Divinity School. Following eight years as a theology professor at the University of Notre Dame, he then declined an offer of tenure to become the founding president of the International Theological Institute (ITI) in Gaming, Austria. In 2008 he joined the theology faculty at Ave Maria University, and one year ago he came to Franciscan to launch a doctoral program in theology.

While homeschooling eight children — four of whom are now fellow Thomas Aquinas College alumni, and two of whom are current students — Susan went on to earn a master’s and a licentiate degree in theology at ITI. She wrote and defended her doctoral dissertation for the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, while homeschooling the couple’s youngest three children in Florida. She, too, now teaches theology at Franciscan. In addition, the couple serves on the Pontifical Council for the Family, appointed as members by Pope St. John Paul II. 

Through it all, they have maintained a beautiful witness, in both their personal and professional lives, to the goodness of marriage and family. “Their prime classroom was their home,” writes Troubadour editor-in-chief Allegra Thatcher, “where they raised a happy family in extraordinarily simple ways.”


Rev. Christopher Manuele (’92) Rev. Christopher Manuele (’92)The College has received a prayer request for Rev. Christopher Manuele (’92), pastor of Saint Joseph Melkite Greek-Catholic Church in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and a chaplain at Gregory the Great Academy. Hospitalized and gravely ill with sarcoid disease as well as an extremely rare blood dyscrasia, Fr. Christopher will likely need to undergo aggressive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

Please keep him in your Lenten prayers!


David A. Shaneyfelt (’81)For the second year in a row, alumnus attorney David A. Shaneyfelt (’81) has been named one of Southern California’s Super Lawyers— an annual roster of top attorneys within various regions of the United States. “Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement,” the guide notes. Only 5 percent of lawyers are named to the list, following a rigorous nomination and peer-review process that considers such factors as verdicts, settlements, professional honors, experience, pro-bono work, and community service.

“Honestly, recognition like this makes me squirm,” says Mr. Shaneyfelt. “There are so very many TAC attorneys and they are all super in my mind. And because of our formation I think we all share the same passion and the same priorities — faith, family, work, and in that order. In the end, that’s what counts, and I’m sure none of us would be clear on the end if we hadn’t been formed by TAC in the beginning.”

A lawyer in Camarillo, California, Mr. Shaneyfelt has represented numerous private and public business entities in disputes against insurance companies and joint powers agencies — earning him the title of “Top Rated Insurance Coverage Attorney,” according to Super Lawyers. He practices with the Alvarez Firm, where he works alongside fellow alumnus Justin Alvarez (’97).


Thomas A. Alexander (’99) Thomas A. Alexander (’99)Earlier this month, this blog featured an update about Thomas A. Alexander (’99), who is currently serving as the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for counter narcotics and global threats. Since then, Mr. Alexander has written in with some kind words about his alma mater:

“I rely on the College’s training each and every day,” he says. “Foremost is the ability to quickly analyze and methodically resolve complex matters; then, to prioritize sound facts and morals in my decision making. I am never afraid to defend a position rooted in these fundamentals.”

And a postscript: The book from his liberal education that has made the most lasting impression? Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America.


Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. (Alison Bright ’09) makes her final vows Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. (Alison Bright ’09)

 

The following wonderful news comes via the family of Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. (Alison Bright ’09):

Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. (Alison Bright ’09) and family Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. (Alison Bright ’09), and familyIt is with great joy that we announce that Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem., made her Profession of Solemn Vows (final vows) as a Norbertine Canoness in Tehachapi, California, on the Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord.

The Very Rev. Thomas Nelson, O.Praem. offered the Mass and gave the homily, in which he spoke of how the three evangelical counsels, which Sr. Mary Thomas professed that day, are symbolized in the three manifestations of Christ at Christmas:  poverty at his manifestation to the shepherds, obedience in the coming of the Magi, and chastity in the Presentation in the Temple.

Sr. Mary Thomas, who entered the community on October 7, 2011, is one of three Thomas Aquinas College alumnae at the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph, the others being Sr. Mary Oda (Jennifer Tilley ’02) and Sr. Mary Andre (Anne Huguelet ’11).  Since the Holy See’s elevation of the community to an independent canonry within the Norbertine Order on January 29, 2011, the monastery has grown substantially, from 20 to over 40 canonesses.

Please keep Sr. Mary Thomas and the Norbertines in your prayers!

 Norbertine sisters at the final vows of Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. (Alison Bright ’09): The Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph

Photos courtesy of Rudy Aguilar, Adoremus Photography

 


Dr. Samuel Caughron (’96) talks to TAC students

“It’s really strange to be back here giving a talk,” confessed Dr. Samuel Caughron (’96), who visited the College’s California campus last week to deliver a presentation for the Career Service Office, “So You Think You might Want to be a Doctor?” Yet the president and CEO of MAWD Pathology Group, which serves 18 hospitals in the greater Kansas City area, returned to his alma mater nonetheless, because, as he put it, “The world needs more TAC graduates in healthcare.”

Dr. Samuel Caughron (’96) Dr. Samuel Caughron (’96)Over the course of the 90-minute discussion, Dr. Caughron took students’ questions, described what the life of a physician entails, and offered advice on applying to medical school. He also spoke about how his Catholic liberal education informs his work. “I think that an education at Thomas Aquinas College is the best education you can have going into medicine,” he said. “All the technical science — you can get that later. What you are doing here for these four years is incredibly important to be the complete physician.”

Indeed, Dr. Caughron continued, the longer he works as a doctor, the more he appreciates that a medical education, while essential, is insufficient for the true practice of medicine. “As your career progresses, the importance of your TAC education magnifies,” he said. “Our understanding of politics, of human nature, the nature of man, the nature of the world, is tremendously valuable as you get further into practice and you are asked to be on hospital committees to sort out complex questions, you are asked to be involved in regulatory discussions. ‘What is the role of government in the life of man?’ Such questions come back and have an application of relevance which you, as a physician, are going to have the opportunity to shape in your community.”

Moreover, “on a practical level,” he continued “the discussion style of classroom learning that we have here actually is tremendously useful. I’ve ended up in numerous leadership positions because of my ability to sit with a group of peers in a community and assimilate and summarize the ideas being discussed.”

Dr. Caughron’s advice ranged from a discussion of how the College’s students can best complete their prerequisites for medical school to simple tips about how to make the busy, harrowing life of a medical student most palatable. (Hint: Take a gap year, and don’t “put life on hold” — that is, delay marriage and family — just to complete professional training.)

By sharing the lessons learned over the course of his career, Dr. Caughron explained, he hoped to facilitate the careers of future fellow alumni. “Getting into and through medical school is a complex path,” he said. “As with any road, knowing the journey ahead is helpful.”


Crucifix in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel

 

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Andrew Baird (’04) and for the consolation of the his family. Andrew passed away yesterday after a courageous battle with cancer. “I am told that he was very grateful for our prayers over the last two years, especially yesterday,” reports Alumni Relations Coordinator Aaron Dunkel (’06). “His passing was peaceful.”

Saints of God, come to his aid!
Come to meet him, angels of the Lord!
Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.

May Christ, Who called him, take him to Himself;
may angels lead him to Abraham's side.
Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.

Give him eternal rest, O Lord,
and may Your light shine upon him forever.
Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.

We commend our brother, Andrew, to you, Lord.
Now that he has passed from this life,
may he live on in Your presence.
In Your mercy and love, forgive whatever sins he
may have committed through human weakness.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen


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John Jost (’17)

“When you first arrive here, the upperclassmen are almost like your heroes because they’re at the place — or approaching the place — where you want to be, both intellectually and spiritually. It promotes friendship in a way that I have never seen before.”

– John Jost (’17)

Algonquin, Illinois

NEWS FROM THE COLLEGE

“I am grateful to Thomas Aquinas College for educating new leaders for our Church, leaders who are grounded in their personal relationship and commitment to Jesus Christ.”

– Most. Rev. George Niederauer

Archbishop Emeritus of San Francisco