Faith in Action Blog
Patrick Cross (’14), self-portrait
This blog recently featured an illustrated tribute to martyred French priest Rev. Jacques Hamel, penned by alumnus cartoonist Patrick Cross (’14). The work is one of several cartoons that Mr. Cross — who is, by day, a counselor in the College’s Admissions office — has drawn in recent months as he launches a career in editorial cartooning. Already, his efforts have borne some success: Mr. Cross produces cartoons weekly for CatholicVote.org, as well as occasionally for GlennBeck.com.
“I’ve always been interested in politics, and I’ve always been interested in art,” Mr. Cross reflects. “But it was my parents who first suggested that I combine the two loves together in editorial cartooning.”
The idea began to take root during his Senior Year, when College Governor Berni Neal spoke at an on-campus career panel. Upon learning about Mr. Cross’ professional interests, Mrs. Neal revealed that she was friends with Michael Ramirez — the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, formerly of the Los Angeles Times — and offered to arrange a meeting. “Ramirez was my favorite cartoonist growing up,” recalls Mr. Cross. “I went down to see him at the end of my Senior Year. We talked for about an hour and a half. That really put a fire in my belly.”
Mr. Cross began publishing his cartoons on his website and a Facebook page in January, and soon his work began generating attention. His goal, he says, is to produce cartoons that succeed on a variety of levels. “There are many layers,” he says. “You can have something that is funny in a slapstick sort of way. But some readers are looking for more.” Here, he adds, one sees the value and versatility of a classical education. “If you have an education that shows you how to identify principles, causes, effects, and prior causes, then you can do much better work.”
Patriotism infuses Mr. Cross’ art — a patriotism, he says, that has been with him all his life, but which deepened during his time at the College. “I’ve always loved the American founding. I’ve always believed in the principles of the country. But what my education at TAC really did, especially Junior Year, is show me why I believed in those things. In reading the Federalist Papers, the founders, and Abraham Lincoln — all in the context Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics, which we were studying in philosophy — I was able to locate the American experiment, or the American founding, in the context of the Western tradition. I came to a better understanding of why self-governance is good, why a government that promotes political prudence is such a gift, and also how we must not take any of it for granted.”
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!
Madeleine Lessard (’16)A member of the College’s newest graduating class, Madeleine Lessard (’16) will formally launch her career on August 1, when she starts a position as an analyst for Economic Partners in Denver, Colorado. “The company values intangible assets of corporations,” Miss Lessard explains, such as patents, brand identity, and goodwill. As an analyst, she will be “taking in a lot of data and analyzing what’s most important, writing reports on it, and also editing reports from other people.”
While a student at the College, Miss Lessard worked in the Admissions Office, which proved to be fortuitous. When one of Economics Partners’ executives called Admissions Director Jon Daly to ask if he could suggest any candidates for an open position, Mr. Daly recommended Miss Lessard, who then traveled to Denver for a battery of interviews, culminating in her hire.
The position is “not what I thought my Thomas Aquinas College education was preparing me for,” Miss Lessard admits. “But then everything they asked me in my interview seemed perfect for a TACer. They asked me to define critical thinking, and they wanted to hear all about my math background. They were also interested in learning about the seminar method because they thought that was similar to the way they work together in their meetings.”
Additionally, the company will be sponsoring Miss Lessard as she studies for a Chartered Financial Analysts degree, which typically takes two-to-three years, or longer, to obtain, suggesting a long-term commitment. “I’m hoping that I love it, and they love me, and this is something I can stay in as long as I want to continue working,” she says.
Please pray for her success!
A tribute to Rev. Jacques Hamel, who was martyred today in Normandy, by alumnus cartoonist Patrick Cross (’14):
“Jesus Christ promised great rewards to the disciples who would leave all things, including marriage and the family, in order to follow Him,” says Rev. Gary B Selin (’89). “Jesus Himself was poor, celibate and obedient to the Father’s will. Likewise, the priest seeks to imitate Jesus in these ways through his priestly ministry and life.”
An assistant professor and the formation director at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Fr. Selin is the author of the newly released Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations, published by The Catholic University of America Press. In a recent interview with the Zenit news agency, Fr. Selin remarked, “The collective ignorance among Catholics of the scriptural, patristic, and theological foundations for priestly celibacy is widespread.” Yet he is hopeful that his scholarly work, will help “enable the faithful to form their minds about celibacy according to the teaching of the Church, rather than according to the relentless secularism of the media.”
The full interview is available via Zenit.com.
Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, and Patrick Mason (’03), state deputy of the Knight’s New Mexico state council
Nearly a decade ago, Patrick Mason (’03), then a freshly minted attorney in Gallup, New Mexico, joined his local council of the Knights of Columbus. Much to his surprise, he soon found himself elected chancellor, the council’s third-highest position. Then, when his council’s grand knight was tragically killed by a drunk driver, and its terminally ill deputy grand knight entered hospice care, Mr. Mason — a new Knight and still only in his 20s — became the council’s leader.
By God’s grace, the council thrived, attracting new, younger members, and earning the prestigious Star Council Award from the Knights’ Supreme Council. Mr. Mason began representing his council at regional and national conventions and, in short order, was elected state advocate for the Knights in New Mexico. He then proceeded to work his way through the state organization’s ranks, culminating in his election, in May, as state deputy — the highest state-level position within the Knights of Columbus.
There are only approximately 70 KofC state deputies, or their foreign equivalents, in the world, and among those, Mr. Mason — a husband and father of two sons, with a third child due in October — may well be the youngest. At 35 years of age, he is also the youngest man ever to hold the position in New Mexico. In June, he traveled to Connecticut for a leadership orientation, during which he met with the Knights’ national Board of Directors as well as Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.
“The way I look at it, throughout history — for example, after Pearl Harbor or even 9-11 — men stood up in defense of their country,” says Mr. Mason. “In a lot of ways, the Knights of Columbus provides a similar kind of opportunity for men to stand up in defense of the Church and families. It allows them to stand up and be, as Pope St. John Paul II said, ‘the strong right arm of the Catholic Church.’”
With 105 councils and 10,000 members, the Knights of Columbus is the largest Catholic lay organization in New Mexico. “As part of my duties, I have to meet with bishops, correspond with members of the Church hierarchy, and inspire and form our men in the Faith,” he says. “Being able to pull from my knowledge of the true, the good, and the beautiful, and being able to communicate the ideas that I developed and found at Thomas Aquinas College, has really helped me in all those regards. If it weren’t for the strength and faith that the College gave me, I don’t think I would be doing this.”
“Feeling a little subdued by (or furious at) the unfolding drama of the presidential race?”
Suzie Andres (’87)So asks alumna author Suzie Andres (’87) in a new article posted on Catholic Exchange. “Never fear,” she answers, “the Church always has the answer, lovingly drawn from her store of treasures, old and new.”
The article, coinciding with yesterday’s Feast of the Prophet Elijah, illustrates how the story of Elijah, “put into the context of history,” shows that “we don’t have it as bad as we like to think.” Moreover, the Church, through her prayers and liturgies, offers no shortage of opportunities for consolation and hope.
“So for those of us who are having a bit of a time with the political dramas of our own day, let us give ourselves (and the world) a break,” Mrs. Andres concludes. “Turn off the news, tear our eyes away from the internet, go to the mouth of the cave (or in our room where we can shut the door), and spend a few minutes in remembrance of the Mysteries which save us.”
If you need any help, an excellent place to begin is with Mrs. Andres’ article, Elijah: Our Model of Peace in Chaos.
A recent NBC News report describes how a contingent of California Highway Patrolmen has traveled to Cleveland to help local authorities ensure safety at this week’s Republican National Convention. Among the special-response team members chosen for this operation is a graduate of the College, Officer Rex Mohun (’90), who was recently named Officer of the Year for Ventura County.
Due to security concerns, the CHP has disclosed neither the number of officers it has dispatched nor the nature of their assignment. Yet given political tensions surrounding the presidential campaign, the ongoing threat of terrorism, and the recent outburst of violence against police officers that has plagued the nation, the security risks are significant.
Officer Mohun’s wife, Serena (Gimm ’87) reports that his family is praying the Prayer to St. Michael for his safety. Let us all join them in this prayer, for Officer Mohun and for law-enforcement officials everywhere:
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1667/1670
In the Year of Mercy and the Catechist, a lengthy, thoughtful talk that Martha (Schaeffer ’76) Long presented at the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia’s February conference for catechetical leaders, has recently been made available online.
A lady of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a master catechist, and an expert on catechesis and sacred art, Mrs. Long has been teaching religious education in Arlington for more than 20 years. Her talk, presented to parish catechetical directors and coordinators, is a wide-ranging examination of the origins and purpose of jubilee years, a thorough analysis of the role of mercy throughout the Old and New Testaments, a study of various artistic depictions of the parable of the Prodigal Son, and a practical account of how Catholics can avail themselves of the special graces that the Holy Father has made available in this extraordinary year.
It is also a testimonial about mercy in the life, and death, of the believer.
In a rather personal portion of the talk, Mrs. Long speaks candidly about her husband, Kevin Long (’77), who, after a decades-long struggle with severe bipolar disorder, took his life nearly two years ago. Since then, Mrs. Long has received countless spiritual consolations and numerous hints, some bordering on the miraculous, of Kevin’s eternal rest. “My constant prayer since August 19, 2014, has been for mercy. And I believe that Our Lord hears those prayers and will grant Kevin mercy, for as the psalmist says, ‘His mercy endures forever,’” she reflects.
Noting that “there are no limits to God’s mercy,” Mrs. Long remarks, “Divine Mercy is the form that God’s eternal love takes when He reaches out to us in the midst of our need and our brokenness. Whatever our misery might be — sin, guilt, suffering, or death — He is always ready to pour out his merciful, compassionate love for us, to help in time of need.”
The full address is available, in PDF format, via the Diocese of Arlington’s website.
Emily McBryan (’11), photo: The Catholic University of America
“Emily McBryan has always been intrigued by the ‘big questions.’”
So begins a profile of Miss McBryan, Class of 2011, on the website of The Catholic University of America, where she is now pursuing graduate studies in English literature. “During her undergraduate years,” the profile says, describing her time at Thomas Aquinas College, “she studied the heavyweights of philosophy and theology — Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Kierkegaard — eager to know whether the things she had been taught in high school would withstand scrutiny.”
In philosophy and theology tutorials, she found the intellectual substantiation she sought, but it was in her seminar classes — reading great works of literature — that she discovered her passion. “I found that literature encompasses all of those things philosophy and theology are talking about,” Miss McBryan says. “Literature offers an account of the human experience, of man trying to make sense of his being in the world.”
After graduating from the College, she taught three years of middle and high school English, before enrolling at The Catholic University, where she is concentrating on literature of the American South. There, she is joined by Sophia (Mason ’09) Feingold, who is completing a doctorate, and she will soon be joined by Jane Forsyth (’11), who will enter the literature program in August.