Faith in Action Blog
The Life Legal Defense team, led by Katie Short (’80, right) with David Daleiden (center)
The video below shows the co-founder and vice president of the Life Legal Foundation, Katie Short (’80), appearing yesterday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress. Last year, after Mr. Daleiden released a series of videos exposing the abortion industry’s trade in fetal body parts, the National Abortion Federation filed a lawsuit against him, obtaining a preliminary gag order that has kept additional video footage from public view. In her appearance before the Ninth Circuit, Mrs. Short argued that the gag order undermines the public interest by placing an unconstitutional prior restraint on Mr. Daleiden’s right to free speech.
The Life Legal Foundation is representing Mr. Daleiden in three separate lawsuits filed by fetal tissue broker StemExpress, the National Abortion Federation, and Planned Parenthood.
Rev. Gary B Selin, STD (’89, right), with his Denver seminarians
In Our Sunday Visitor, author Jim Graves has published a thoughtful profile of Rev. Gary B Selin, STD (’89), a graduate of the College who is both a priest and a shepherd of future priests in his capacity as an assistant professor and formation director at the Archdiocese of Denver’s St. John Vianney Theological Seminary. “It can be exhausting,” Fr. Selin says of his demanding work, but the seminary “is a parish of souls that the Lord has given to me, and in that I find my peace and joy.”
The story describes Fr. Selin’s time at the College where, in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, he first discerned his vocation. “It was there I felt a tug on my heart,” he reflects. “Jesus was inviting me to grow in a deeper relationship with him in the holy Eucharist.” It also discusses his recently published scholarly work, Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations, which proposes a systematic theology of priestly celibacy, ordered around the Eucharist.
The full profile is available via the Our Sunday Visitor website.
Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87)A feature article in Catholic World Report tells the heartening story of Sacred Heart Academy in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a once-failing parochial school that is now thriving in every sense of the word. Enrollment, test scores, and fundraising are up. Parents have become more actively involved, and the spiritual life of the school is flourishing. The reason? Three years ago, Sacred Heart switched to a classical Catholic liberal arts curriculum — and some Thomas Aquinas College alumni have played an instrumental role in that transition.
“The vision to restore the school to the classical Catholic liberal arts tradition has become a reality,” writes author Leslie Fain, in no small part because of “the guidance of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, an organization dedicated to the renewal of Catholic education.”
The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education (ICLE) exists specifically to aid schools like Sacred Heart and the teachers who work there, offering conferences, development programs, in-service training, and consultation to would-be classical educators. Its executive director is Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87), a graduate who is now a member of the Thomas Aquinas College teaching faculty, and Michael Van Hecke (’86), the headmaster of St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, California, and president of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project.
The turnaround at Sacred Heart Academy is not an isolated incident, according to Dr. Seeley. With ICLE’s support, Catholic schools across the country are increasingly returning to the Church’s liberal arts tradition, and to great effect. “Academic communities rejoicing in the truth,” Catholic World Report quotes him as saying, “that’s what I find everywhere I go — the joy the students and teachers have at the schools we work with.”
Read the full story.
The four members of the College’s most recent graduating class pictured above — April Shonnard (’16), AnnaMaria Masteller (’16), Olivia Cobb (’16), and Emily McAtee (’16) — have recently returned from a pilgrimage along Spain’s Camino de Santiago de Compostela. There they were joined by another alumna, Maggie Tuttle (’10, second from left) and former College Chaplain Rev. Joseph Illo (left):
The group also traveled to Rome, where they met up with fellow graduate Sophia Cain (’16, second from right) for the canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta:
St. James and St. Teresa, pray for us!
On Sunday the College’s Office of Career Advisement hosted a Career Discernment Workshop in the student coffee shop. Leading the discussion were two graduates of the College who — having worked for some of the country’s most prominent corporations — were able to share their wisdom about how best to apply the benefits of a Catholic liberal education in the marketplace.
The first speaker was the College’s Director of Student Services, Mark Kretschmer (’99), who previously worked at Kinko’s Inc. After starting at an entry-level position, he was quickly promoted three times in his first six months, and at 23 years of age became the youngest branch manager in the Los Angeles market. As the branch manager for Kinko’s Granada Hills he was responsible for $1.5 million in annual sales.
In his presentation, Mr. Kretschmer shared lessons learned from his own entry into the workplace, stressing the importance of thoughtful preparation. “The discernment process is the hardest part of the whole job search, and it’s also the most important part,” he began. “The College has 1,976 graduates, and many of them are very successful in a wide variety of fields. Choosing the right field for you requires breaking the process down into steps and working through them.” He outlined what he defined as the four key steps of career discernment: self-assessment, exploring options, matching up one’s abilities and opportunities, and taking action.
The second speaker was a classmate of Mr. Kretchmer, Nathan Haggard (’99). A systems engineer at Apple Inc., Mr. Haggard manages the technical relationship with some of Apple’s largest enterprise customers such as Disney, Amgen, and Toyota. Before Apple, Mr. Haggard ran a digital-video consulting and production company for four years and taught video-editing classes at UCLA Extension.
“In my job I sit around a table and talk with executives about their technological needs, their business needs, and what we have to offer,” Mr. Haggard noted. “Sitting around a boardroom table and discussing a complex subject feels exactly the same to me as what you do at Thomas Aquinas College. And it’s not like you do it every once in a while; you do it day after day for four years. So you are already way ahead of a lot of other people out there.”
Both professionals took questions from the students, offering their assistance and networking help as needed. “In the real world you get these complex ideas and these conflicting priorities, and you have to think about them critically, communicate with others, bring people to understanding, and work your way slowly toward a goal,” said Mr. Haggard. “I think this kind of education gives you a huge advantage.”
Please say a pray for the family of Mary (Gisla) and Matthew Peterson (both ’01), whose five-week-old baby, Joseph, died suddenly last Friday, September 30. “We are overwhelmed not only with grief,” Mr. and Mrs. Peterson write, “but also by the outpouring of love and grace we have received over the last few days.”
There will be a viewing and Rosary at noon on Friday, October 7, followed by a funeral Mass at 1:00 p.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Escondido, California. There is also an online donations page for those who would like to assist the Petersons with their medical and funeral expenses.
“Thank you so much for your prayers,” the couple writes. “We are doing our best to offer up the suffering of this cross for our family and our friends. Sustained by our faith, we are blessed to be part of such a community of friends.”
Thanks to Br. Lorenzo Laorden, O.P., of the Dominican Central Province, who has generously shared with the College his photos from the ordination of Rev. Reginald (Ryan ’97) Wolford, O.P.
On Saturday, October 1 — the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux — the Most Rev. Robert J. Hermann, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of St. Louis, Missouri, ordained Fr. Reginald in the city’s St. Dominic Priory. Fittingly, Fr. Reginald offered his first Mass the next morning in a church named for St. Thérèse, Little Flower in Richmond Heights. He is now working toward his licentiate in sacred theology from the Liturgical Institute at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake.
Fr. Ryan is the College’s 65th alumnus priest. Thanks be to God!
Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93)Last week the Most Rev. Kevin Vann, Bishop of Orange, California, created a new position in his diocese — Theological Consultant to the Office of the Bishop — to which he appointed, effective immediately, an alumna of the College, Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93).
In her new role, Dr. de Solenni “collaborates and advises key members of the Curia, including the Bishop, on pertinent matters of theology, doctrine, and Church history,” according to a diocesan press release. She will also continue in her responsibilities as the associate dean of the Augustine Institute’s new satellite campus at the Christ Cathedral in Orange.
“Pia is an inspirational and well-respected theologian and leader,” said Bishop Vann, who presided at the College’s Convocation ceremonies in 2013. “We are blessed as a Diocese to benefit from her expertise, passion, and faith. I look forward to the many gifts that she will bring to the people of Orange.”
An ethicist and theologian, Dr. de Solenni (’93) is an expert on life issues, issues relating to women’s health, the new feminism, and culture. After graduating from Thomas Aquinas College, she earned a Sacred Theology Baccalaureate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) and a Sacred Theology Doctorate, summa cum laude, from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. In 2001 Pope St. John Paul II awarded her the Prize of the Pontifical Academies for her groundbreaking dissertation — an analysis of feminist theories in the light of St. Thomas Aquinas’ teachings. (Fellow graduate Dr. John R. Mortensen (’97) would become only the second North American to win this same prize in 2010.)
Dr. de Solenni has published articles in The Wall Street Journal Europe, The Washington Post, National Catholic Reporter, Our Sunday Visitor, and National Review Online. She has also appeared on MSNBC, Hardball with Chris Matthews, The O’Reilly Factor, CNN, and ABC News, among others. She also appears regularly on the Catholic Answers Live radio program.
Joshua Brittain (’15)The Arizona Republic last week published a compelling story and video about the Class of 2015 Commencement Speaker, Joshua Brittain (’15), who has succeeded his father, Tom (’96), as the Head Coach of the Tempe Preparatory Academy varsity football team, and who suffers from cerebral palsy. “At 26, he can’t ski or roller-blade, and he needs help if he wants to climb the stairs to get to the top of the gym,” notes author Scott Bordow. “And there’s his gait, awkward and pronounced, the bend of the right knee, the right foot dragging across the gravel.”
“Yet to focus on his walk is to miss the point — and miss the man,” Mr. Bordow continues. “Cerebral palsy doesn’t define him. It never has. He’s certain it never will.”
Indeed, Mr. Brittain dismisses his mild case of cerebral palsy as a “minor cross” that is, like all crosses, a gift from God. “I’m very thankful that I have it because the things that are the most important in my life, my gift of soul and the very few virtues I have are in large part because of this,” he says. “Life isn’t about what you can’t do,” he adds. “It’s about getting the most out of what you have.”
To that end, he is making the most of his opportunity, at the unusually young age of 26, to coach a major high school football program, as well as in his day job as a history teacher at Chandler Preparatory Academy. He and his wife, Kaitlyn (Carlson ’16) are currently expecting their first child.
The Arizona Republic story notes that, when meeting with his students’ parents, Mr. Brittain “makes it a point to ‘walk strong’” — calling to mind these words from the Commencement Address he delivered some 18 months ago:
So, I exhort the Class of 2015, when it leaves these hallowed halls for the last time, leave with hearts full of love. Then, whatever road Our Lord asks you to walk, walk with courage; walk with a humble heart that longs to serve God and His church; and know that you walk with the illuminating power of love in your heart. For it is love that you have fostered and it is love that stands as a lighthouse for your soul.
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 65th 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!