Faith in Action Blog
The College has received word that on the Feast of All Saints, November 1, Maria Barrett (’14) will enter the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary. There, as a postulant, she will join the Dominican Nuns of Summit, New Jersey, in their life of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and recitation of the Holy Rosary.
Despite sensing a vocation to the religious life for many years, Miss Barrett admits that, until recently, she never expected to become a Dominican. In an interview at the time of her graduation, she explained that she had not considered the Order of Preachers until her senior year, when she providentially stumbled upon a copy of One Mind and Heart in God: Dominican Monastic Life. “I put it on my shelf, and then only sometime later started reading it,” she said. “And it was kind of amazing, because it was exactly what I wanted.”
The serenity of life at the College, Miss Barrett said, gave her the peace of mind and contemplative setting that allowed her to discern God’s call more clearly. “Here, things are slower, so you are able to think more deeply and pray more.”
Please keep Miss Barrett and her vocation in your prayers.
A member of this past year’s graduating class, Sarah Dufresne (second from left, above) is serving as the College’s resident assistant this year. This past weekend, she hosted a pancake breakfast for the students, a slideshow of which is available via the College’s website.
Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. (’78), now serving as the College’s head chaplain, recently gave a “tutor talk” entitled “The Sanctification of Time and the Liturgy of the Hours.” Text and audio are available via the College’s website.
The photo above shows the Most Rev. Kevin William Vann, Bishop of Orange, at the ordination of Frater Jacob (Joseph Hsieh ’06, left), O.Praem., to the transitional diaconate. The ordination took place on June 21 at the Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Shortly thereafter Frater Jacob, a seminarian with the Norbertine Fathers at St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California, departed for the Eternal City. “I am at the Norbertine Generalte, the place where Norbertines from all over the world stay to study in Rome,” he writes. “I’m here to study theology and music for a year, then I will go back and teach chant at the Abbey.”
Yet that is not Frater Jacob’s biggest news. “My ordination to the priesthood will be, God willing, on June 27, 2015 — less than a year away!” he adds. “Pray for me!”
“We have books and catechism classes to educate the mind, but the heart is captivated above all by the majesty and mystery of divine worship.”
So writes Dr. Peter Kwasniewski (’94) — a professor of theology and philosophy, an instructor of music, and the choirmaster at Wyoming Catholic College — at Corpus Christi Watershed, where he blogs regularly. As the above quote suggests, the liturgy, its music in particular, is near and dear to Dr. Kwasniewski’s heart — so much so that he has recently authored Sacred Choral Works, a book containing 20 years of his musical compositions for the sacred liturgy. Complementing the book are three CDs featuring recordings of nearly all the compositions, so as to facilitate their learning for choir directors and members alike:
“Without the Bread of Life, there is eternal death for us,” Dr. Kwasniewski continues. “That is why, as long as the New Evangelization means what it should ― the proclamation of the truth that Jesus is Lord and there is salvation in no one else, either for the individual or for society ― it will also always and everywhere begin and end in the sacraments, and in particular, the Most Blessed Sacrament, in which, says St. Thomas, the common good of the entire universe is found.”
On a recent episode of EWTN’s Life on the Rock, the show’s young viewers heard some music and words of wisdom from several members of the Thomas Aquinas College community. Appearing on the show was the Hope and Justin Band, named for Thomas Aquinas College Regent Justin Schneir and his wife, Hope. Backing up Mr. and Mrs. Schneir were three recent graduates of the College: Sean Wood (’13) on the fiddle, Daniel Bagdazian (’13) on the bass guitar, and Gabriel Bagdazian (’14) on the keyboard. (Band appears at the 8:40 mark in the video below.)
In the episode Mr. and Mrs. Schneir described how their band came into being when various friends — including several students of the College — would visit their Camarillo home for Tuesday-night jam sessions. From thence sprung the music that, the band’s members hope, will evangelize audiences with its simple focus on the true, the good, and the beautiful.
Toward the end of the show, the hosts interviewed Mr. Wood, who discussed how he wrote about this theme of evangelization through the arts for his Senior Thesis at the College. “My thesis was basically how an encounter with beauty can lead us to God, tracing the thought from Plato up to Thomas Aquinas, to John Paul II and von Balthasar,” he said. “Those encounters really open our heart to become receptive to God’s love. And I think they’re really necessary in order for a true conversion, and in order to really see the Faith as something not merely worth following, but worth giving your life for.”
Music that is “authentically human,” Mr. Wood continued, can show us “what the human condition is, and see that we are made for so much more.”
The Cardinal Newman Society has issued its 2014 Catholic Education Honor Roll, recognizing 71 Schools of Excellence “marked by the integration of Catholic identity throughout all aspects of their programs and excellence in academics.” To make the list, the Society explains, schools must have “an institutional commitment to providing a truly integrated and faithful Catholic education across all disciplines and in all areas of student activities.”
Notably, four of the just 71 schools honored on this year’s list — less than 5 percent of the Catholic high schools in the United States — are headed by Thomas Aquinas College alumni:
- Marguerite (Ford ’79) Grimm is the headmaster of Saint Monica Academy in Pasadena, California.
- Luke Macik (’87) is headmaster of The Lyceum in South Euclid, Ohio
- Rev. Mark Moriarty (’95) is the superintendent of St. Agnes School in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the pastor of the parish.
- Michael Van Hecke (’86) is the headmaster of Saint Augustine Academy in Ventura, California.
“The Honor Roll schools are a reminder that Catholic education is getting better every day—not only academically, but in the renewal of Catholic identity,” says Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick J. Reilly. “We are delighted to see the increased level of competition among the schools that participated in the program this year.”
Congratulations to Mrs. Grimm, Mr. Macik, Fr. Moriarty, and Mr. Van Hecke!
Having completed his coursework, Aaron Lee (’07) will soon be declaring candidacy for a Ph.D. at the University of Maryland. Mr. Lee works with the university’s Joint Quantum Institute, conducting research in the areas of atomic physics, condensed matter, and quantum information. He is a contributing author to two large studies that the group published within the last year in the journals of Nature and Science.
Meanwhile, on the home front, Mr. Lee and his wife, Ada (Doi ’07), have announced the arrival of their third child and first son, Andrew Joseph McArthur, born in June.
On August 12 Br. Richard Berquist (’10) entered the novitiate for the Dominican Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Two weeks later, on the Feast of St. Augustine (August 27), he was vested and received the Dominican habit during compline.
Br. Richard (top row, second from left) with his fellow novices
Br. Richard 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 fellow alumnus, Rev. Michael Hurley, O.P. (’99). Prior to joining the Dominicans, Br. Richard earned a master’s degree in philosophy at The Catholic University of America. Please pray for him and all his fellow novices as they discern their vocations!