Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Br. Reginald (Ryan ’97) Wolford, O.P. Br. Reginald (Ryan ’97) Wolford, O.P.Please pray for Br. Reginald (Ryan ’97) Wolford, O.P., who, by God’s grace, will be ordained to the priesthood this weekend.

On Saturday — the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux —the Most Rev. Robert J. Hermann, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of St. Louis, Missouri, will ordain Br. Reginald in the city’s St. Dominic Priory. Fittingly, Br. Reginald will offer his first Mass the next morning in a church named for St. Thérèse, Little Flower in Richmond Heights. He will be the College’s 66th alumnus priest.

“I would just like to express my thanks to God for my Thomas Aquinas College experience,” said Br. Reginald at the time of his ordination to the transitional diaconate. “Four years’ studying Aristotle, and a good start in St. Thomas, have proven invaluable to my subsequent education; but most of all I am thankful that my time at the College led to my conversion to Catholicism and my eventual pursuit of the priesthood.”

Thanks be to God!

06, 2016

It has been a big week for alumni Dominicans in the Order’s Western Province! First, on September 1, Br. John Winkowitsch (’04) and Br. Athanasius Thompson (’12), entered the novitiate, receiving the habit of the Order of Preachers, at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, San Francisco:

 First-year Western Dominican novices: Br. John Winkowitsch (’04), top-center, and Br. Athanasius Thompson (’12), bottom-left (photo: Western Dominican Novitiate) First-year Western Dominican novices: Br. John Winkowitsch (’04), top-center, and Br. Athanasius Thompson (’12), bottom-left (photo: Western Dominican Novitiate)

Br. Athanasius signs the Vestition book. (Photo: Western Dominican Novitiate) Br. Athanasius signs the Vestition book. (Photo: Western Dominican Novitiate)


Then, on September 3, five brothers professed first vows on Saturday, including Br. Patrick Rooney (’15):

Br. Patrick Rooney (’15) (Photo: Western Dominican Novitiate) Br. Patrick Rooney (’15) (Photo: Western Dominican Novitiate)


Below is a photo of all the Western Province’s first- and second-year novices with Novice Master Rev. Anthony Rosevear, O.P.

Western Dominican novices

There are currently eight alumni among the Western Province Dominicans: Rev. Augustine Hilander, O.P. (’99), Rev. Michael Hurley, O.P. (’99), Rev. John Tom Mellein, O.P. (’99), Rev. John Marie Bingham, O.P. (’00), Br. John Winkowitsch, O.P. (’04), Br. Richard Berquist, O.P. (’10), Br. Athanasius Thompson, O.P. (’12), Br. Patrick Rooney, O.P.  (’15).

August 24,

Monks of Norcia crestA powerful earthquake struck central Italy early this morning, just 6.5 miles southeast of Norcia, birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica, and home of the Benedictine community at Monastero San Benedetto, of which three Thomas Aquinas College alumni are members. The earthquake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 6.2, has been followed by some 200 aftershocks, including one with a 5.5-magnitude tremor. It has reportedly leveled homes, churches, and shops, killing at least 120 people.

The monks of Norcia report that they and their guests have experienced no serious injuries, but several of the buildings in their 1,000-year-old monastery have suffered significant damage. Rev. Benedict Nivakoff, O.S.B., told Catholic News Service that the Basilica of St. Benedict, which the monks serve, suffered “considerable structural damage” and that its façade “seems to have detached” from the rest of the building. As a precautionary measure, the brothers are temporarily relocating to the International Benedictine headquarters in Rome, although two monks will remain in Norcia to keep watch over the basilica and monitor the developing situation.

Please pray for the Monks of Norcia, for the people of central Italy, and, most especially, for the eternal rest of all those who have died.

Br. Patrick Rooney ('15)A group of Western Province Dominican novices recently traveled to Salt Lake City, where they spoke about their vocations with students at the St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Newman Center, which serves the University of Utah. Among the young Dominicans to share their stories was a member of last year’s graduating class, Br. Patrick Rooney (’15).

“Because he was interested in apologetics and philosophy, [Br. Patrick] attended Thomas Aquinas College in Southern California,” reports Intermountain Catholic. There, he learned “to love the liturgy and Gregorian chant,” and he joined the choir. “I wanted to become a monk, but I also wanted to be a philosopher,” he reflects. “In the next few months, I found out that I could be both in the Dominican Order.”

Br. Patrick is now undergoing the first year of Dominican formation at St. Dominic’s Church in San Francisco, where he assists the church’s pastor and a fellow alumnus, Rev. Michael Hurley, O.P. (’99). Please pray for him and all his fellow novices!


Under the Rule of St. Benedict, the community must be self-sufficient, and the brothers have taken up a successful brewing business to help pay the bills. For several years they have marketed their Birra Nursia in Italy, and in April they began — with Br. Augustine (Philip Wilmeth ’13) as their brewmaster — selling in the United States, too. Birra Nursia’s two beers, a blond ale and a Belgian strong ale, are now both available for purchase throughout the U.S. via the monastery’s website.

In an interview with Rev. Dwight Longenecker, Br. Augustine explains that, for the monks, brewing is part of their life of prayer. “The goal of our life is to pray always, whether brewing, cooking, or walking down the corridor,” he said. “Continual prayer; it may happen when we are brewing or bottling or drinking or while we are praying.”

Thomas Aquinas College Governor Bernarda Neal helped coordinate the U.S. launch of Birra Nursia, which has attracted considerable media attention. In addition to the segment on Fox News, the monks have enjoyed coverage in Aleteia and the Los Angeles Times, which proclaimed, “If holy contact is paramount, Birra Nursia delivers the most monk for your buck. From the hilltop monastery in central Italy, there are no laymen involved in the production or packaging of the beer, and no retailers or bartenders between you and this Benedectine brew.”

Rev. Mr. Miguel Gaspar Batres, O.Praem (’08) talks to students at St. Michael's Abbey Preparatory School Rev. Mr. Miguel Gaspar Batres, O.Praem (’08) talks to students at St. Michael's Abbey Preparatory School The College just learned of another alumnus who was ordained to the transitional diaconate over the past weekend: Rev. Mr. Miguel Gaspar Batres, O.Praem (’08). The Most Rev. Kevin William Vann, J.C.D., Bishop of Orange, ordained Frater Miguel, a Norbertine monk at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California, on Saturday, June 25, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Costa Mesa.

Following the ordinations of Rev. Messrs. Jeffrey Hanley (’13) and Maximilian Nightingale (’13) on Saturday, plus Rev. Mr. Deneys Williamson (’10) on May 26, that makes four new deacons in the last month — and, by God’s grace, four new priests within the next year.

Thanks be to God!

 Student and Alumnae at the GIVEN Forum Kathryn Claahsen (’12), Bridget Heffernan (’13), Clara Diodati (’17), Bridget Lynch (’12), Meghan Reichert (’18), Emily Sanchez (’17), and Emily (Barry ’11) Sullivan

The seven women pictured above, four alumnae and three current students at Thomas Aquinas College, all participated in the recently concluded GIVEN Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C.

Organized by the Council of  Major Superiors of Women Religious — whose former chair, Sr. Regina Marie Gorman, O.C.D., was the College’s 2015 Commencement Speaker — the forum included 300 Catholic lay women from across the United States, joined by 75 religious sisters. Its purpose was to provide faith formation to selected attendees, aiding them in their work within their parishes, communities, or dioceses. The weeklong forum included talks from prominent women leaders within the Church, such as Helen Alvaré and Sr. Mary Prudence Allen, R.S.M., as well as small mentoring groups.

In order to attend the forum, participants had to complete a rigorous application that included three letters of recommendation and a detailed action plan for upcoming projects related to their work or apostolates. All expenses for the forum, including travel and accommodations at The Catholic University of America, were paid for through the generous support of the Hilton Foundation.

Sr. Mary Josefa of the Eucharist (’07) and her fellow Benedictine, Sr. Judith Marie of Jesus, upon making their solemn vows Sr. Mary Josefa of the Eucharist (left) and her fellow Benedictine, Sr. Judith Marie of Jesus, upon making their solemn vows The College has just received the joyful news that on April 9, Sr. Mary Josefa of the Eucharist, OSB (Kathleen Holcomb ’07), made her Solemn Profession of Vows as a member of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles. The vows took place during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at St. James Catholic Church in St. Joseph, Missouri, with  the Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, the Most Rev. James Vann Johnston, Jr., presiding.

There are now 41 professed religious among the College’s alumni, and 65 ordained priests.

Deo gratias! 

Rev. Francis Michael Gloudeman, O.Praem.On June 6, 1991 — the Solemnity of St. Norbert — Rev. Francis Michael Gloudeman, O.Praem. (’84), received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Twenty-five years later, this Norbertine priest of St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California, is celebrating his Silver Jubilee.  Thanks be to God!

Please pray for Fr. Francis, that God may continue to bless him in his service of Christ and His church.

Jack Grimm ('15) in Kolkata, India

California Catholic Daily has recently published a series of letters that Jack Grimm (’15) wrote to his family during a six-week pilgrimage to the motherhouse of Bl. Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata (Calcutta), India. During his time, in which he wanted to experience the Missionaries’ life firsthand and participate in their works of mercy, he cared for the sick and hungry, served Mass, and prayed for the dead and dying. He also speaks frankly about the difficulties of such service — the constant noise, the exhaustion, the temptation to pride. Yet he concludes by describing his time in India, which culminated in Holy Week and the Easter Vigil at the motherhouse as “the most rewarding Lent of my life so far. Blessed be God.”

The full collection of letters is available via the California Catholic website:

  • Letter 1: “Today I went to Kalighat, which is the house of the dying and destitute people. It’s an amazing place, but very draining and sad at the same time.”
  • Letter 2: “Today I served Mass at Mother house. I was feeling sick so I didn’t want to go, but Mass was beautiful and of course miraculous.”
  • Letter 3: “This last week has been very good, although exhausting at times. I’ve been caring especially for the patients who can’t get out of bed, giving them bed baths and ointment, etc.”
  • Letter 4: “Kolkata is an amazing place, but the constant noise and smell, not to mention all the people, can be a little exhausting.”
  • Letter 5: “In general, life here has been very prayerful and beautiful. I still love doing the work with the patients. A number of them have died in the last couple weeks, so that has been more emotionally challenging.”
  • Letter 6: “Well, wonderful as Kolkata is, I still seem to be dreaming about home every night. Last night I dreamed we were all at Thomas Aquinas College for Mass.”
  • Letter 7: “Well, the last week has been a good one, but I was definitely beginning to feel a sort of spiritual dryness.”
  • Letter 8: “ I’ve realized that one of my goals this year, and for life in general, is to learn to love the silence.”
  • Letter 9: “Some people belong in books, they are just that good. R is one of those people.”
  • Letter 10: “A very happy Easter to all of you! Christ the Lord is risen indeed!