Faith in Action Blog
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!
“Seeking to pass on the wisdom of Western civilization, which was founded on Christian principles, a grassroots movement of parents, educators and others is reviving classical education in the Catholic tradition.”
So begins Classical Education Makes a Comeback, a story in the latest edition of the National Catholic Register that features two graduates of the College who are at the forefront of the classical-education revival: Dr. Andrew Seeley (’87) and Mr. Michael Van Hecke (’86).
A tutor at the College, Dr. Seeley is also the executive director of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education in Ventura, California, which promotes authentic Catholic education and assists classical schools across the country. The goal of Catholic liberal education, he tells the Register, is “a Christ-illuminated understanding of what the human person is in all our capacities,” adding that “an encounter with Christ and Christian civilization fulfills and develops students.”
Mr. Van Hecke is the headmaster of St. Augustine Academy, a K-12 classical school with 150 students in Ventura, California, and president of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project. “We don’t want our children to aim for college and a career. We want them to aim for the good life,” he says. “Do you think our Founding Fathers (just) aimed for college and career? If they would have done that, we wouldn’t have America.”
The full story is available via the Register’s website.
Please pray for the repose of the soul of Kevin Long (’77), as well as the consolation of his beloved wife, Martha (Schaeffer ’76), and their family. After struggling for many years with multiple illnesses, Mr. Long died on August 19 at his home in Arlington, Virginia.
Mr. Long was born August 2, 1955, the only son of James and Esther Long. He is survived by his wife, Martha; his mother-in-law, Jane D. Schaeffer; sisters-in-law, Anne Forsyth (’81), Mary Richard (’82), Joan Waxtein (’85), and Laura Langley (’89); and 22 nieces and nephews: Jane (’11) and Michael Forsyth (’14); John (’13), Carmel (’15), Jeannette (’17), Robert (’13), Thomas, Dominic, and Paul Richard; Bernardo, Gabrielle, and Joseph Waxtein; and David (’15), Aaron (’16), Clare, Margaret, Kathleen, Gianna, Emma, Laura, Marie, and Celine Langley. He was preceded in death by his devoted brother-in-law, George Forsyth, his beloved father-in-law, John E. Schaeffer (a founding member of the College’s Board of Governors), and his mother, Esther Long.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Thomas Aquinas College, 10,000 Ojai Road, Santa Paula, CA 93060. May his soul, and those of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.
An alumnus of the College, Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. (’78), has agreed to become its next head chaplain. At the start of the upcoming academic year, Fr. Hildebrand will be taking over for the departing Rev. Joseph Illo.
Fr. Hildebrand first came to the College as a student in 1974. After graduating in 1978, he attended Mt. Angel Seminary in Oregon, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1984. A member of the Norbertine Fathers at St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange, California, he served as pastor of the 3,000-family St. John the Baptist Church in Costa Mesa before returning to the College as a chaplain in 2011.
“The love of Christ and His church has gathered us together here at Thomas Aquinas College,” says Fr. Hildebrand. “By study, reflection, and discussion we come to know God; by prayer and contemplation we come to love Him. The chaplains help to facilitate that love by ministering the Sacraments and providing spiritual direction so that the students may thrive humanly and spiritually.”
While making a summer pilgrimage along Spain’s Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Rev. Ramon Decaen (’96) encountered a familiar face — that of College tutor Dr. Carol A. Day. Writes Fr. Decaen:
“I was at about kilometer marker 40 when our group of four went on a 4 km side tour of a 12th century convent. We had a tour with four other pilgrims. I was shocked to turn and find Dr. Carol Day was one of those pilgrims! She was my college astronomy professor. Small world!”
Like Fr. Decaen, Dr. Day is hiking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, joined by another graduate of the College, Wendy-Marie Teichert (’81). Fr. Decaen is a priest in the Diocese of Lincoln (Nebraska), where he is the pastor of the Parish of Cristo Rey, the city’s largest Spanish-language church. He is also the diocesan director of Hispanic ministry, which serves some 148,000 Lincoln residents. Please pray that he, Dr. Day, and Miss Teichert will continue to be blessed along The Way!
Now featured on the College’s website is an interview with the Very Rev. John M. Berg, F.S.S.P. (’93), Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter:
I have heard it said that in the early days of the College, Founding President Ron McArthur would get offers from people saying, “If you only did this, or if you only started doing that, then we would really get on board with this project, or it could really be a success.” That happens to a religious order, too. A bishop may say, “Oh, you could come to this diocese if you would just start doing this or that.” You have to have the courage or the foresight to say, “No, if we do that, we will lose the identity of what we really are.”
I try to model my leadership of the Fraternity after Dr. McArthur’s leadership of the College, and that means being able to say, “No, we do one thing here and we do it really, really, well. I am sure that other colleges do great things, too, and some kids should go there, but we are not meant to do that. It’s just not what we do.”
Follow the link to read the whole interview.
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!