Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

Zach Cheeley ('08)

Please pray for the eternal repose of Zach Cheeley (’08), who passed away suddenly yesterday. Below is a message, received via one of Zach's classmates, from his parents:

“Today our beloved Zach was taken from this life to the next. After experiencing cardiac arrest early Thursday a.m., Zach was without oxygen for an unknown period of time: no pulse, no breathing. He experienced severe & irreparable brain damage as a result. 911 responded & he was revived after 20 minutes of CPR, so we're thankful for their efforts. We held out hope that things might turn around until the EEG revealed Saturday a.m. that there was no cortex brain activity at all & only minimal brain stem activity. So we removed the ventilator today after the organ transplant team was in place to take what Zach had signed on to donate, all this with unanimous family support. He passed peacefully at 12:35 p.m. today surrounded by his family that he loved so much. Zach was a rare breed & definitely a person who marched to his own drum.

“I can't begin to describe the sadness that I feel ... for losing him so young ... But, I trust an omniscient, omnipotent, sovereign Lord who loves Zach even more than I do.”

Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.


It's a Wonderful Life

In the new film Me Before You, alumna journalist Katrina Trinko (’09) sees the inversion of It’s a Wonderful Life.

Katrina Trinko (’09) Katrina Trinko (’09)Writing for the Daily Signal, of which she is the managing editor, Miss Trinko regards the differences between the two films as a barometer of cultural decline. Whereas the Hollywood of Frank Capra made “movies that affirmed life’s beauty, even when it’s tough, even when things are dark,” Me Before You “wants the audience to believe that personal choice comes first, even if it means leaving that ‘awful hole’ in loved ones’ lives.”

Thus, in It’s a Wonderful Life, we see how George Bailey’s loved ones would suffer without him. Me Without You, on the other hand, attempts to make the case that life is better for all those still living after the protagonist (a quadriplegic) commits suicide.

“But,” Miss Trinko observes, “it doesn’t work.”

Try as the filmmakers might, they are unable to put a happy face on a tragedy, and the movie concludes with an unintended, but undeniable, tone of sorrow and despair. Contrast that, Miss Trinko urges, with the ending of It’s a Wonderful Life — “an exuberant George Bailey kissing his kids and wife” — and there can be little doubt which Hollywood world view is not only good and beautiful, but also true.

The full review is available via the Daily Signal.


Rev. Francis Michael Gloudeman, O.Praem.On June 6, 1991 — the Solemnity of St. Norbert — Rev. Francis Michael Gloudeman, O.Praem. (’84), received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Twenty-five years later, this Norbertine priest of St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California, is celebrating his Silver Jubilee.  Thanks be to God!

Please pray for Fr. Francis, that God may continue to bless him in his service of Christ and His church.


Officer Rex (’90) and Serena (Grimm ’87) Mohun Officer Rex (’90) and Serena (Grimm ’87) Mohun

A two-decade veteran of the California Highway Patrol, Officer Rex Mohun (’90) has received “Officer of the Year” honors from the Kiwanis Club of Ventura — for the third time.

At a ceremony at Oxnard’s Tower Club on May 22, the civic organization presented its annual award — given to one officer from each law-enforcement agency in the county — to Officer Mohun, who previously received the honor in 1998 and 2014. The California Highway Patrol chooses its honorees via a vote of fellow officers, meaning that Officer Mohun has earned the highest regard of his peers. Below are the words that his superior, CHP Captain Terry Roberts, offered in his support:

Throughout the years, Officer Mohun has earned the respect and admiration of his fellow officers and supervisors. Officer Mohun has consistently and without exception displayed sound judgment, leadership abilities, and a strong work ethic that is second to none.

Officer Mohun has willingly taken on many responsibilities and collateral assignments within the Department. Officer Mohun is a dedicated Motorcycle Officer and serves as a vital member on the Coastal Division Protective Services Detail, which provides escorts and protection for visiting dignitaries. Officer Mohun has completed comprehensive training courses during his tenure and regularly serves in the capacity of Field Training Officer, Physical Methods of Arrest Instructor, Certified Motorcycle Training Officer, Range Master and Non-Lethal Training Ammunition Instructor, Special Response Team, Warrant Service Team, Taser Instructor, and Emergency Medical Response Instructor. To say that Officer Mohun’s contribution to each of these assignments is excellent would certainly be an understatement.

Officer Mohun lives in Santa Paula with his beautiful wife of 30 years, Serena (Grimm ’87). They are the proud parents of twelve children. Two years ago Officer Mohun had the honor of pinning the California Highway Patrol badge on his oldest son, Robert (’09), who is currently assigned to the Altadena Area Office.

Officer Mohun is a credit to the California Highway Patrol and the citizens of California. He is truly deserving of your recognition as the Kiwanis Club of Ventura Officer of the Year.


Hui Paul Thomas Liu (’03) Hui Paul Thomas Liu (’03) has been ill for some time. Lillian Cao Young (’06) received the following message from him this morning:

I just woke up because I felt I could not breathe. I think this is serious. Could you please ask the TAC friends to pray for me. Thanks. 

There is no official diagnosis, but Hui’s health has been slowly declining since he first became ill two years ago while he was in religious formation with the Missionaries of Charity in Mexico City. The Missionaries of Charity first sent him to Georgetown University hospital, and then to China for treatment. Lillian visited him in Shanghai at the end of November. She said that he is very peaceful and seems to have his mind wholly on God and the next life.

Please pray for Hui that he will obtain a diagnosis and be restored to good health.


photo from the ordination of Rev. Mr. Deneys Williamson ('13)

In April, this blog reported that Deneys Williamson (’10) had requested prayers for his upcoming ordination to the transitional diaconate. Now, in a new letter to the College, he writes, “Thanks for all your prayers!”

By God’s grace, the Rev. Mr. Williamson’s ordination took place, as planned, on May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, at the Basilica of Saint Apollinaire in Rome. “The ordination went off well, and everyone had a truly lovely day,” writes Rev. Mr. Williamson, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, South Africa, who has studied at Rome’s Sedes Sapientiae seminary since 2011.

The photo below shows the newly ordained deacon with several Thomas Aquinas College alumni who were on hand for the occasion:

Thomas Aquinas College alumni at the ordination of Deneys Williamson ('16)

Above: Jeff Hanley (’13), a seminarian for the Diocese of Kalamazo, Michigan; Br. Augustine, O.S.B. (Philip Wilmeth ’13), a novice at the Monastero di San Benedetto in Norcia, Italy; Deacon Williamson; Maggie Tuttle (’10), who works as a lead for talent solutions support services at LinkedIn; and Tom Sundaram (’09), who is currently studying in Rome


Jack Grimm ('15) in Kolkata, India

California Catholic Daily has recently published a series of letters that Jack Grimm (’15) wrote to his family during a six-week pilgrimage to the motherhouse of Bl. Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata (Calcutta), India. During his time, in which he wanted to experience the Missionaries’ life firsthand and participate in their works of mercy, he cared for the sick and hungry, served Mass, and prayed for the dead and dying. He also speaks frankly about the difficulties of such service — the constant noise, the exhaustion, the temptation to pride. Yet he concludes by describing his time in India, which culminated in Holy Week and the Easter Vigil at the motherhouse as “the most rewarding Lent of my life so far. Blessed be God.”

The full collection of letters is available via the California Catholic website:

  • Letter 1: “Today I went to Kalighat, which is the house of the dying and destitute people. It’s an amazing place, but very draining and sad at the same time.”
  • Letter 2: “Today I served Mass at Mother house. I was feeling sick so I didn’t want to go, but Mass was beautiful and of course miraculous.”
  • Letter 3: “This last week has been very good, although exhausting at times. I’ve been caring especially for the patients who can’t get out of bed, giving them bed baths and ointment, etc.”
  • Letter 4: “Kolkata is an amazing place, but the constant noise and smell, not to mention all the people, can be a little exhausting.”
  • Letter 5: “In general, life here has been very prayerful and beautiful. I still love doing the work with the patients. A number of them have died in the last couple weeks, so that has been more emotionally challenging.”
  • Letter 6: “Well, wonderful as Kolkata is, I still seem to be dreaming about home every night. Last night I dreamed we were all at Thomas Aquinas College for Mass.”
  • Letter 7: “Well, the last week has been a good one, but I was definitely beginning to feel a sort of spiritual dryness.”
  • Letter 8: “ I’ve realized that one of my goals this year, and for life in general, is to learn to love the silence.”
  • Letter 9: “Some people belong in books, they are just that good. R is one of those people.”
  • Letter 10: “A very happy Easter to all of you! Christ the Lord is risen indeed!

Dr. Adam Seagrave ('05)Dr. Adam Seagrave ('05)“Most of us have a profound appreciation for our mothers that transcends description,” begins Dr. S. Adam Seagrave (’05) in a new essay, timed for Mother’s Day, in The Public Discourse. An assistant professor of political science at Northern Illinois University, Dr. Seagrave then proceeds to consider the current state of motherhood in terms of social and public policy.

Americans’ affection for their mothers, he observes, does not translate into an appreciation for motherhood itself, particularly the stay-at-home variety. “As long as full-time motherhood does not produce some immediate economic benefit, economic and social pressures will continue to effectively foreclose this choice for many women,” he writes. “If it matters that women have a genuine choice in their own pursuit of happiness, this is a serious problem. It becomes even more serious when we consider that fully 84 percent of women don’t think it’s best for their children for them to work full-time outside the home. Women have indeed been empowered to work outside the home, but in many cases and in many unforeseen ways, they also have been forced to do so against their wishes.”

So, as his Mother’s Day gift to moms elsewhere, Dr. Seagrave proposes “a significant tax deduction for households with a full-time parent … on the order of 150 percent of the mean individual income.” That may not seem as charming as a bouquet of roses or a box of chocolates, but, “such a deduction would provide women with a less constrained choice between being a full-time mother and pursuing work outside the home. It would also signal the value that society should place on the inestimable contribution of motherhood.”

And, on Mothers’ Day in particular, what could be more worthwhile than that? “Motherhood is a more important task for society than any other private occupation or public service,” Dr. Seagrave concludes. “No woman who would choose full-time motherhood should be unduly constrained by economic or social pressures to give up her all-important vocation.


Book cover: Priestly CelibacyWhenever the matter of mandatory priestly discipline arises, the arguments put forth in its defense are typically practical in nature, touching on matters pastoral or even financial, but seldom theological. Recognizing this shortcoming in the ongoing discussion, Rev. Gary B Selin, STD (’89) has authored a new scholarly work, Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations, which proposes a systematic theology of priestly celibacy, ordered around the Eucharist.

An assistant professor and the formation director at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Fr. Selin holds a doctorate in systematic theology from The Catholic University of America, which is the publisher of this, his first book. Priestly Celibacy, according to the publisher’s description, explores the “Christological, ecclesiological, and eschatological dimensions” of the Church’s ancient discipline:

“The volume begins with a summary of the biblical foundations of clerical continence and celibacy, and then reviews the development of the discipline in the Latin Church from the patristic era to the twentieth century, while also tracing the emerging theology that underlies the practice. The focus then switches to the teaching of Vatican II, Paul VI and subsequent magisterial texts, as elaborated through the threefold dimension of celibacy. The final two chapters consists of Selin’s original contribution to the discussion, particularly in the form of various proposals for a systematic theology of priestly celibacy.”

Released on April 14, Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations includes a foreword by His Eminence J. Francis Cardinal Stafford, Major Penitentiary Emeritus of the Apostolic Penitentiary and the former Archbishop of Denver. The book is available via Amazon.com.


Deneys Williamson“After five intense, happy years of seminary,” writes Deneys Williamson (’10), “I will be ordained to the diaconate, in view of the priesthood!” The ordination will take place on May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, at the Basilica of Saint Apollinaire in Rome. A seminarian for the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, South Africa, Mr. Williamson has studied at Rome’s Sedes Sapientiae seminary since 2011.

“I kindly ask that you remember me, especially now, and I assure my prayers for everyone in the greater Thomas Aquinas College family here before the tombs of the Apostles,” he adds. “I remember our alma mater often and very fondly. God bless you all!”