Faith in Action Blog
Srs. Mary Thomas and Mary Andre
Thomas Aquinas College Senior Rachel Bright reports the following wonderful news from Tehachapi, California, where her sister and another alumna have made their first professions with the Norbertine Canonesses of the Bethlehem Priory of St. Joseph:
Two alumnae religious, Sr. Mary Thomas, O.Praem. (Alison Bright ’09), and Sr. Mary Andre, O.Praem. (Annie Huguelet ’11), recently made their first profession of vows as cloistered Norbertine Canonesses and received their black veils. The Rite of First Profession took place during Mass on the morning of June 6, the Feast of St. Norbert, in the monastery’s chapel. The Very Rev. Alphonsus Mary Hermes, O.Praem., provost of the priory, offered the Mass. Earlier that morning, the canonesses had been vested and received their religious names.
The families of Sr. Mary Thomas, Sr. Mary Andre, and the three other canonesses who also made their first vows were able to witness the professions from the small lay portion of the chapel. Each sister had previously handwritten her profession and read the following text:
“I renounce the world and I promise a conversion of my ways and life in community, especially in poverty, consecrated chastity, and obedience, according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of the Canonesses Regular of the Order of Premontre, to you Mother Prioress and to the sisters for three years.”
After Mass, the families visited with the newly professed and vested, as well as many of the other sisters, who remained behind the grille of the visiting parlor. It was a very joyful time. The Norbertine Canonry in Tehachapi, now home to 29 sisters, continues to growing rapidly, with two young women set to enter this summer.
Thanks be to God!
By God’s grace, the College has been blessed with 60 alumni priests to date, and more are still on the way. The latest young graduate to answer God’s call is Justin Lefevre (’00), who this month is entering the Sacred Heart of Jesus Monastery in Portland, Oregon — the first Maronite monastery in the Western United States. He will be a postulant with the Monks of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and he will soon begin preparing for the priesthood. “The College and its intentions will be in the monastery’s prayers continually,” he writes. And may he be in all of our prayers as he continues to discern his vocation.
Please say a prayer for Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. (’78), a graduate of the College and one of its four chaplains, who today celebrates the 30th anniversary of his ordination.
Fr. Hildebrand is one of three priests from the Class of 1978, having received the Sacrament of Holy Orders at the hands of Timothy Cardinal Manning, then the Archbishop of Los Angeles, on June 16, 1984. He was one of the College’s first alumni priests, who now number 60, with another ordination set for this fall.
Over the last three decades, Fr. Hildebrand has served at various churches in Los Angeles and Orange counties, including seven years as the pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Costa Mesa. He returned to his alma mater as a chaplain in 2011.
Thanks be to God for this good and faithful priest!
On Easter Sunday, CBS Sunday Morning featured the above segment about the Benedictine Sisters of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, who have topped the Billboard Classical Music Chart with their albums of sacred music. Two of the nuns, Sr. Mary Josefa of the Eucharist, OSB (Kathleen Holcomb ’07), and Sr. Sophia Eid, OSB (’08), are alumnae of the College. Sr. Mary Josefa can be seen — front and center in — the video’s choir shots.
Last summer Sr. Mary Josefa sat for a rare interview with the Cardinal Newman Society, in which she discussed the role of liturgy, sacred music, and Catholic identity in higher education Among her notable responses, Sr. Josefa had these kinds words to say for her alma mater:
I chose to attend Thomas Aquinas College because it integrated classical and Catholic education; I was fascinated by the liberal arts program, with its consideration and discussion of original sources, introducing the student to the perennial questions with which mankind has always grappled, but I was further drawn by the Catholic identity of the school, which orders this program of studies in order to lead the student from the contemplation of created truth to the contemplation of God Himself. …
At TAC, I was blessed to be part of a community that was really unified and ordered by its Catholic identity. I attended daily Mass and Rosary with my teachers and fellow students; the chapel was the central point of the campus and teachers and students always would stop on the way to or from class for a visit; everyone acknowledged senior theology as the culminating point of the curriculum to which all the other classes were ordered; in these and countless other ways, I experienced a community that recognized that the invisible realities are more real, more important than the visible ones. Naturally, this greatly nourished the inclination that I had had to religious life since I was young. Many of my fellow students were also drawn to religious life as a result of the strong Catholic community and contemplative program of studies, and having peers considering a vocation really strengthened my own.
The full interview is available via Catholic Education Daily.
By God’s grace, on Saturday, May 10, the Most Rev. Gregory Parkes will ordain Deacon Matthew Busch (’04) into the priesthood of Jesus Christ for the Diocese of Pensacola–Tallahassee (Fla.). Deacon Busch will the College’s 60th alumnus priest. His ordination will take place at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pensacola.
Just two weeks later, Joshua Mayer (’03) will be ordained to the transitional diaconate on Saturday, May 24, for the Diocese of Gallup (N.M.). Mr. Mayer is currently a second-year seminarian at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colo., where he studies under the direction of another Thomas Aquinas College alumnus, Rev. Gary Selin (’89), the school’s formation director.
Finally, Br. Andrew Marie Norton, O.S.B. (’06) will be ordained to the priesthood on Sunday, October 26. A Benedictine monk, Br. Andrew is one of 11 Thomas Aquinas College alumni at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Okla. Like Mr. Mayer, he also benefits from the direction of a fellow alumnus, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82), the Abbey’s co-founder and subprior.
Please pray for these faithful young men and their vocations!
By God’s grace, Joshua Mayer (’03) will be ordained to the transitional diaconate on Saturday, May 24, for the Diocese of Gallup (N.M.). Mr. Mayer is currently a second-year seminarian at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colo., where he studies under the direction of another Thomas Aquinas College alumnus, Rev. Gary Selin (’89), the school’s formation director.
A few months later, Br. Andrew Marie Norton, O.S.B. (’06) will be ordained to the priesthood on Sunday, October 26. A Benedictine monk, Br. Andrew is one of 11 Thomas Aquinas College alumni at Our Lady of the Annunciation of Clear Creek Abbey in Hulbert, Okla. Like Mr. Mayer, he also benefits from the direction of a fellow alumnus, Rev. Mark Bachmann, O.S.B. (’82), the Abbey’s co-founder and subprior.
Please pray for these faithful young men and their vocations!
“Last night I dreamt that Mission Today took place at TAC,” writes Jillian Cooke (’04) on her Facebook page.
Mission Today is a conference sponsored by the Fr. Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata, a worldwide secular institute of pontifical right, of which Miss Cooke is a consecrated member. In 2010 she took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The purpose of her commitment, she explained in an article for the Thomas Aquinas College Alumni Newsletter, was, “living the intimacy of the cloister in the world of secular society.”
Four years later, Miss Cooke will be a featured speaker at the Missionaries’ conference on Saturday in West Covina, Calif. There she will speak alongside Rev. Edward Benihoff, whom Archbishop José Gomez recently appointed as Director of the Office for the New Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Her talk, “An Analysis of Mary’s Role in Evangelization,” is one of a series of presentations on the theme, “Dialogue and Inculturation: The Relationship Between Charism and Culture.”
“I turned into my 18-year-old self,” continues Miss Cooke’s Facebook post about her dream of returning to her alma mater. “It was hilarious, once I woke up.”
She then gets to the heart of the matter: “Why am I telling you this? BECAUSE THERE IS ONLY ONE DAY LEFT TO REGISTER, AND I KNOW THAT IF YOU COME YOU WILL LOVE IT. There are no chalkboards. THANK GOD.”
Indeed, Friday is the last day to register, so go sign up now — before it is too late!
One year ago Sr. Erika Brown (’11) entered the first stage of formation, or candidacy, for the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. Tomorrow, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Sr. Erika will enter the second stage, or postulancy. According to the Carmelites’ website, the postulancy — which typically lasts 6-9 months — is a time “to deepen the postulants’ awareness of their personal consecration to Christ through their personal commitment to prayer, doctrinal study and communal living.”
“I feel so blessed to be a part of this Carmelite community praying ‘in the heart of the Church,’” wrote Sr. Erika last year. “The Lord has been working in my life in wonderful ways. I am so grateful for my time at Thomas Aquinas College: It fostered a desire to know and love the Lord which could not be quenched. God is so good!”
Please pray for Sr. Erika as she continues to answer God’s call!
In the Catholic Business Journal, Br. Andrew James DeSilva (’03) tells about his adventures of chaperoning 24 college students on a trip to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day. A member of the Community of St. John, Br. Andrew James describes the pilgrimage as having three dimensions: “Service, Formation, and Pope.” The students, who mostly hailed from Seton Hall University, spent time serving the poor with the Missionaries of Charity, being formed through daily Mass and morning and night prayer, and seeing Pope Francis up close when he paid a surprise visit to the slum where they were working.
The students he brought to Rio, says Br. Andrew James, were from “very different faith levels,” yet all no doubt grew in holiness through the experience. The Holy Father, he adds, has a gift for reaching the hearts of young people:
“Pope Francis understands the thirst of our youth for an Absolute, helping them find a Name for what it is that they are searching for; giving them a direction for their journey beyond normalcy. This World Youth Day (as they all are) was an experience of the Church. A young Church who is excited, and ready to take up the challenge given to them by Jesus in the Gospel: ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.’”
… about another alumna sister!
Sarah Kaiser (’02) made her first profession of vows in the Carmel of Our Mother of Mercy and St. Joseph, Alexandria, S.D., on July 26, the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne. Her name in religion is Sr. Anne Therese of the Child Jesus.
Sr. Anne Therese requests prayers for perseverance in her vocation and promises to return the favor.