Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

The video above promotes the release of a new musical album, Benedicta: Marian Chant from Norcia, which features the voices of three alumni monks: Rev. Thomas Bolin, O.S.B. (’96), Br. Mary Evagrius Hayden, O.S.B. (’08), and Br. Philp Wilmeth (’13).

The three graduates are members of an 18-member Benedictine community at Monastero San Benedetto, a 1,000-year-old monastery in Norcia, Italy, birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica. Fr. Thomas serves as the community’s subprior; Br. Evagrius is currently pursuing graduate studies at the International Theological Institute in Trumau, Austria; and Br. Philip is set to make his simple vows on September 8, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The album, drawn from the monks’ daily life of prayer, features 33 tracks of Gregorian chant, including traditional Marian antiphons such as “Regina Caeli” and “Ave Regina Caelorum,” as well as previously unrecorded chant versions of responsories and an original composition, “Nos Qui Christi Iugum.” Benedicta: Marian Chant from Norcia is available for sale via, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and directly from the Monks of Norcia website.

The video above comes from this year’s Easter Vigil Mass, offered by His Holiness Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica. Chanting the Exsultet is a graduate of the College, Frater Jacob, O.Praem. (Joseph Hsieh ’06).

A Norbertine canon and a transitional deacon, Frater Jacob is currently studying theology and music at the Norbertine Generalte in Rome. He is due to return stateside in time for his ordination to the priesthood on June 27. 


Exsúltet iam angélica turba cælórum:
exsúltent divína mystéria:
et pro tanti Regis victória tuba ínsonet salutáris

Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation
sound aloud our mighty King's triumph!

Alleluia, alleluia, He is risen!

Rev. Gerard George Steckler, S.J.In 2008 Dean Brian T. Kelly (’88) introduced Rev. Gerard George Steckler, S.J., at an Alumni Association dinner held in the former chaplain’s honor. In light of Fr. Steckler’s death last week, the College has published the text of Dr. Kelly’s remarks — a beautiful recollection of a good and holy priest.

Please continue to pray for Fr. Steckler and the repose of his soul.

Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J.

It is fitting that during this, the Church’s Year of Consecrated Life, Thomas Aquinas College marks the 30th anniversary of one of its most beloved priests, Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., who died on February 19, 1985.

A graduate of the Université Laval in Quebec, Fr. McGovern previously taught at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., before coming to Thomas Aquinas College in early 1972. He served as a member of the faculty and, later, the Board of Governors until his death in 1985. The following year he posthumously received the College’s highest honor, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion.

Eleven alumni of the College have share some of their memories of the late tutor and Jesuit, which you can read here.

Rev. Christian Felkner, O.S.B. (’01) made a homecoming visit to his alma mater this week, and this morning he offered Mass in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. Photos from this morning’s Mass are available in the slideshow below:

  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner
  • Fr. Felkner Mass 2015
    Slideshow: Homecoming Mass for Fr. Felkner

Fr. Felkner is a monk at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma, where priests offer the Mass in the extraordinary form. He is among the College’s newest alumni priests, having been ordained — along with Rev. Andrew Norton, O.S.B. (’06) — on October 26, 2014.

Bishop Parkes ordains Fr. Busch
The Most Rev. Gregory Parkes, Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, confers the Sacrament of Holy Orders on Rev. Matthew Busch (’04) at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pensacola, Florida, on May 10, 2014. Source: Knights of Columbus, Tallahassee

“Sixty,” reflects Rev. Matthew Busch (’04), upon learning that he is Thomas Aquinas College’s 60th alumnus priest. “That is a very divisible number.”

These wry words bespeak two notable characteristics about this newly ordained priest of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. First, Fr. Busch is a mathematical thinker, ruminating on the works of Galileo and Decartes and, in his spare time, devising patentable software algorithms. Second, he is personable, even gregarious — at ease in any crowd and quick with a joke or a witty rejoinder. These two qualities both played an important role in helping him to discern his vocation.

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Fr. McGovern

Following the lead of Gregory A. Pesely (’77), Kelly Geier (’76) has offered some of his own memories of late tutor Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J. Mr. Geier, a senior software engineer at Welch Allyn in San Diego, writes:

“I had the privilege on many occasions to play tennis with Dr. McArthur and Fr. McGovern. Fr. McGovern, when on the court, was a serious competitor.

“During meals at the TAC cafeteria, Fr. McGovern frequently joked that no one had eaten more ‘TAC food’ than he had. But, he said, ‘I feel fine,’ and he laughed.

“As a tutor, regardless of the subject matter, his enthusiasm was infectious to all of us.

“On a number of occasions, Fr. McGovern heard my confession. Despite my disappointment in myself, he was always kind, encouraging, and wise in his advice.

“When he delivered his homilies, he had a gift for inflaming the hearts of his listeners with the same love for God that he had.”

A collection of those inspiring homilies is now available for all to read and treasure. Copies of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., are available via the College’s online form.

As Mr. Geier notes, “We are truly blessed that Fr. McGovern was a part of the College.”

Fr. McGovern

The recent release of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., has stirred up some dear memories for Gregory A. Pesely (’77):

Gregory A. Pesely (’77)“I had the great honor of serving at the altar with Fr. McGovern. (I helped out in the sacristy to set out his vestments. And, as I helped out with facilities, I had a few opportunities to help him with his dwelling place at the old campus.) He once confided that it usually took him 8-10 hours to craft, perfect, and memorize every homily.

“I had always hoped that one day his homilies would be published. What a treasure that collection will be for both those who had the honor to study St. Thomas with him and those who just heard about him.

“I often sat with him at meals. He had an observant eye and a keen mind. For a few summers, his mom would come out and visit him. I was able to witness the most tender and devoted son a mother could ever hope for.

“One summer while teaching at the Archdiocesan Seminary in Camarillo, I did a foolish thing — I agreed to play a set of handball with him up in Ojai. I treated him to a few cold beers after he clobbered me.

“He loved music, and not only sacred music: Once we caught him singing, ‘I Am Getting Married in the Morning’ from My Fair Lady while finishing up his laundry in the old laundry room at Claretville.

“I then went up to Université Laval and served several times with his dear friend and fellow Jesuit, Rev. Pere E. Lacasse, S.J. (at days of recollection and during a weeklong Ignatian Retreat). Both were incredibly spiritual priests, but both were passionate Jesuits with great senses of humor and humility.

“I believe a lot of the early vocations were enkindled by those who were introduced to Fr. McGovern and his unmistakable, great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.”

Mr. Pesely is the mission integration manager for OSF Healthcare System in Peoria, Illinois — a Catholic health care system covering 11 different facilities, and the largest system in Illinois outside of Chicago. He advises the corporation on medical ethics policies and the training of some 15,000 associated personnel.

Copies of The Selected Sermons of Rev. Thomas A. McGovern, S.J., can still be ordered in time for Christmas via the online form.

Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02)After serving for three years as the parochial vicar at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka, Kansas, Rev. Nicholas Blaha (’02) has moved on to a new assignment. The young priest is now the head of campus ministry at Emporia State University, a 6,000-student, public university some 100 miles southwest of Kansas City.

It is a position for which he is well suited. Prior to entering the seminary in 2006, Fr. Blaha spent three years as a missionary on secular campuses for the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. That experience, he says, gave him a glimpse of what it would mean, as a priest, to serve as an alter Christus. “I saw God working in people’s lives, bringing about conversions,” he notes. “It wasn’t me doing it, but in some sense, it wouldn’t have happened had I not been there. That was a mark of the call of God; God is going to do this, but he won’t do it without me.”

Writing on Kansas City’s archdiocesan blog, Evangelized Kansas, Fr. Blaha adds that his time as a campus missionary gave him, “a front row seat to the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of young men and women” and “a sense that I could do this sort of thing for the rest of my life.” Providentially, he is now doing “this sort of thing” again as an ordained priest of Jesus Christ.

In that same blog post, Fr. Blaha also reflects on his four years at Thomas Aquinas College:

“I truly loved what I studied there, especially the theological works of our patron, St. Thomas Aquinas. The founders of the College emphasized that his work was the greatest synthesis of faith and reason our Church has ever seen — and that if there was any hope for a growth in understanding in our own age, it would have to take into account and build upon Thomas’s insights. Furthermore, the College was saturated with a Catholic culture, and the friendships I made there continue to sustain me to the present day, though we are separated often by thousands of miles.”

Please pray for Fr. Blaha, the souls in his care, and his work at Emporia State.

Rev. Christian Felkner, O.S.B. (’01), with his family at his October 26 ordination

As promised, here are some photos from the October 26 ordination of Rev. Christian Felkner, O.S.B. (’01), at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Oklahoma. The Most Rev. Edward J. Slattery, Bishop of Tulsa, presided, ordaining two College alumni — Fr. Felkner and Rev. Andrew Norton, O.S.B. (’06) — to the priesthood, and a third, Br. Jerome Hudson, O.S.B. (’03), to the transitional diaconate. More photos of the ordinations are available via the Abbey’s website.

With the ordinations of Fathers Felkner and Norton, the College now has 62 priests among its alumni. Eleven alumni are priests or seminarians at Clear Creek, including the Abbey’s subprior, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82).

“Please keep us all in your prayers, especially that we be made worthy of this great grace and also that we may always follow God’s will and not our own,” writes Fr. Felkner in a letter to the College. “Be assured of my prayers for you.”

Fr. Felkner, O.S.B. (’01), foreground, with several of his confreres and Bishop Slattery