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Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

August 16,

The Meet Our Alumni section of this website features a new profile of Brenna Scanlon (’06), who puts the Faith into action every day as the principal of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish School in Oxnard, Calif. “There has been a real need to make sure that our schools are Catholic, first and foremost, and working on moving these children and their families toward holiness,” she says. A short video about Miss Scanlon and her school is posted below, and you can read the whole profile here.

Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93)A frequent guest on the Catholic Answers Live radio program, Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) recently ventured into less friendly airwaves. At the recommendation of the office of Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput, Dr. de Solenni appeared on an episode of NPR’s “On Point” to discuss the topic, “Ordaining Women Priests.” Despite being outnumbered — her two fellow panelists were both excommunicated Catholic dissidents, and the host and most of the callers decidedly took their side — she did a commendable job of defending the all-male priesthood as instituted by Christ. To quote from her opening remarks:

“In order to understand the Church’s position on this you have to go to a more metaphysical reality, and that is the relationship between Christ and the Church. From the perspective of Catholic theology, that relationship between Christ and the Church is spousal; it’s husband and wife, bridegroom and bride. And the priest is seen as someone who — in the Latin we say is in persona Christi — he’s someone who is in the person of Christ. And it doesn’t mean he just stands in for Christ, it means he really takes on the person of Christ, and that’s why in the Mass he’s able to transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. So for Catholics that’s not a symbol that’s an actual reality, and this relationship between Christ and the Church is not a symbol, it’s an actual reality. So when we talk about all-male priesthood it’s because that man who becomes a priest is actually representing Christ in His fullness, which includes His maleness.”

You can stream the program or (Dr. de Solenni enters at about the 11:30 mark), or download the podcast.

Sermons of Bl. John Henry NewmanTo be sure, reading the sermons of Bl. John Henry Newman is inspiring, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to hear them? Now you can, thanks to the voice of Michael Six (’79) who plays the part of the blessed cardinal in a new audiobook of His Eminence’s homilies produced by Catholic Audio Publishing. (A sample of the recordings, featuring the sermons Bl. John Henry gave after his entrance into the Church, is available here.)

Meanwhile, Mr. Six’s wife, Julia (Schmitt ’81), recently graduated with a master’s degree in theology from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary (religious studies division) in Philadelphia. She is currently teaching theology at DeSales University in Center Valley, Penn.

Greg Pfundstein ('05)Over at National Review Online, Greg Pfundstein (’05) has written a new article, The Misguided Birth Control Crusade Continues, in which he critiques the Obama Administration’s requirement that all insurance plans fully cover contraceptive devices and sterilization surgery. Writes Mr. Pfundstein:

“President Johnson’s fruitless War on Poverty kicked off the nation’s misguided birth-control crusade with grants for ‘family planning’ in 1965. The effort was redoubled in 1970 when, thanks to the efforts of John D. Rockefeller III and George H. W. Bush, Title X of the Public Health Service Act was signed into law by Richard Nixon the day after Christmas. Since 1970, the out-of-wedlock birthrate has tripled to 41 percent. With the help of the Supreme Court with its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, we have also seen the number of abortions spike through the 1980s and reach an equilibrium today at between 1.2 and 1.3 million annually. Both results are at least unexpected from the perspective of a public policy based on the premise that access to contraception will decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies. But perhaps such an outcome should not be surprising.”

Mr. Pfundstein is the Executive Director of the Chiaroscuro Foundation, non-profit philanthropy in New York. He  holds a licentiate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America, and serves on both the Patient’s Rights Council and the Pro-Life Commission of the Archdiocese of New York.

Frater Maximilian Christopher Okapal, O.Praem. (’02)On June 25 Frater Maximilian Christopher Okapal, O.Praem. (’02), was ordained to the transitional diaconate at Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Frater Maximilian is a brother at St. Michael’s Abbey of the Norbertine Fathers in Orange County, and he is currently studying theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome. He attended the Beatification of Bl. Paul II; you can read about his experiences on his blog, and see his photos in the recent issue of the Thomas Aquinas College Alumni Newsletter.

Alison Bright (’09) and Annie Huguelet (’11)
Alison Bright (’09) and Annie Huguelet (’11)

Alison Bright (’09) writes that, having recently earned a master’s degree in sacred theology from the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria, she plans to enter the Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph in Tehachapi, Calif. She will be joining Annie Huguelet (’11), who entered the same Southern Californian monastery shortly after her graduation in May.

Sr. Mary Oda
Sr.Mary Oda (’02)

Another alumna at the Priory is Sr. Mary Oda (Jenny Tilley ’02), who made solemn profession of religious vows in January. Her mother, Kathy Tilley, writes that “it was a magnificent ceremony,” taking place at the Saint John Cathedral in Fresno, and Sr. Mary Oda “is deeply happy.” After Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean sent Sister a Mass card on behalf of the College, she wrote back: “Praised be Jesus Christ! Thank you for your prayers and for having a Mass celebrated for my intentions for the occasion of my solemn profession. I appreciate very much your ongoing spiritual support of my vocation and our Norbertine community. Please be assured of my prayers and my warm greetings to all my friends at Thomas Aquinas College.”

Please pray for the vocations of our beloved alumnae sisters!

Mark Donnelly sings "O Canada"The Vancouver Sun recently ran a profile about Mark Donnelly (’89), who is famous in parts north for leading crowds in the singing of “O Canada” at Vancouver Canucks’ home games. But rousing the fan faithful is not his only talent:

With a degree in music from UBC and a liberal arts degree from Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., he worked for a parish in Scranton, conducting Gregorian chant and 16th-century polyphony (counterpoint), his specialty. He also taught logic, ethics and introduction to philosophy at a seminary, as well as coaching hockey, which he has played since he was 12. …

He also teaches voice, sings professionally and conducts the chant and polyphony at Holy Family Church in Vancouver. “It’s crazy,” he says. “The practical thing for me has always been music, and that’s how I’ve supported my family through the years.”

Mr. Donnelly and his wife, Catherine (Becher ’87) are the proud parents of nine children in a family that shares his love for music:

The family that plays together also sings together. Most of the children sing in the church choir, and Donnelly has recorded a CD with the three eldest, Sean, Colleen and Theresa. He kept getting requests to record a CD of the anthem, but since two songs are not enough for an album, they recorded 16 Christmas carols, plus the American and Canadian anthems.

The CD can be heard/purchased at Mr. Donnelly’s website, but to experience his spirited rendition of “O Canada” at its best, see the video below of his performance before game 5 of this year’s Stanley Cup finals. As Mr. Donnelly explained to the Sun, “An anthem’s not a solo. It’s for a group of people, and a national anthem’s for a nation full of people.”

John Hall ('10)Deneys Williamson ('10)Two members of last year’s graduating class have written in to let the College know that they are becoming seminarians, with hopes of eventually being ordained to priesthood.

The first is John Hall (’10), who will be entering Mt. Angel Seminary for the Diocese of Helena in August. “I will be sure to keep the College in my prayers,” writes Mr. Hall, “as I know that you there keep us alumni in yours.”

The second is Deneys Williamson (’10), who has been admitted into the Sedes Sapientiae seminary in Rome for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg. A talk Mr. Williamson gave in 2010, about the role the College played in helping him discern his vocation, is appended to the end of this post.

Mr. Hall and Mr. Williamson join two fellow Class of 2010 seminarians, Charlie Goodwin and David Allen, who are studying at St. Michael’s Abbey of the Norbertine Fathers in Silverado, Calif.

Dr. Nathan Schmiedicke (’00) appeared on the July 3 episode of EWTN’s “Sunday Night Prime” with host Fr. Benedict Groeschel, discussing the subject, “Studying the Bible at Home.” Dr. Schmiedicke is a Scripture scholar at the Classical Liberal Arts Academy, where he is the director theology and biblical studies. Watch the video from his appearance here:

July 13,

Above are some beautiful clips taken from the June 19 ordination of Rev. Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist. (’06). You can read about the ordination on Pater Edmund’s blog, or see photos here.

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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


“Thomas Aquinas is already the preeminent Catholic college in the country.”

– John Cardinal O’Connor (†)

Archbishop of New York