Faith in Action Blog
Meghan Duke (’08) and Elizabeth (McPherson ’99) Claeys (Photos: Dana Rene Bowler)
Wednesday morning, while the United States Supreme Court held oral arguments in the case that the College and 34 co-plaintiffs have filed against the HHS Contraceptive Mandate, Women Speak for Themselves organized a rally outside the Court. Among the speakers at the rally were two alumnae of the College, Meghan Duke (’08) and Elizabeth (McPherson ’99) Claeys.
A former managing editor of First Things who is now a writer in The Catholic University of America’s Office of Marketing and Communications, Miss Duke spoke about her time volunteering for the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have become the focal point of the national debate on religious freedom. Mrs. Claeys, who is chairman of the Washington, D.C., Board of Regents, spoke about the importance of the Catholic faith to the College and pressed the key points in the College’s case. The full text of her remarks is available via the College’s website.
Among the many friends of Thomas Aquinas College who have lent their spiritual assistance to the College’s legal effort against the HHS Contraceptive Mandate are the Missionaries of Charity. This morning, the Sisters of Bl. Mother Teresa’s order in New York City offered their daily Mass intention and an “emergency novena” on the College’s behalf — thanks to the intercession of an alumnus priest.
Rev. Nicholas Callaghan (’96), a priest serving the Archdiocese of New York, offered today’s 7:00 a.m. Spy Wednesday Mass for the Sisters at their convent on East 145th street in the Bronx. “The MC sisters were very happy to agree to have the College and the case as the intention of the Mass,” reports Fr. Callaghan. “Given the urgency of the case and the fact of the arguments today, they offered an ‘emergency novena’ immediately after Mass. This, as you may know, was a hallmark of Bl. Teresa: Nine Memorare prayers said in a row. It was her go-to solution in moments of crisis and is held in high esteem by the sisters. A particular feature of the ‘emergency novena’ this morning, which I have never encountered before, was the addition of an antiphon, chosen by them as appropriate for the subject of our petition today.”
Fr. Callaghan scanned the Sisters’ chosen antiphon, posted above.
Thanks be to God!
Dr. Adam Seagrave ('05)In honor of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Services, Dr. Adam Seagrave (’05) has penned a thoughtful piece for The Public Discourse about the role of the national parks — and Nature more broadly — in the American political tradition. “Over the past 400 years, we Americans have had a very different relationship with nature than the Europeans have,” writes Dr. Seagrave, “and this relationship has powerfully informed what is best in our political culture and public discourse.”
An assistant professor of political science at Northern Illinois University, Dr. Seagrave is the author of The Foundations of Natural Morality: On the Compatibility of Natural Rights and the Natural Law and editor of Liberty and Equality: The American Conversation. A regular contributor to The Public Discourse, Dr. Seagrave observes, “It was because of Americans’ early and unique experience with ‘Nature’ that they came to embrace Locke’s political philosophy in the eighteenth century, with its emphasis on the importance of natural rights and the natural law for politics.” Yet as the country became further removed “from this original experience of nature, through the passage of time and the development of artificial civilization and culture, the original meaning and political significance of nature progressively began to be forgotten. … By the early twentieth century, we were ready to ‘progress’ beyond the founders’ and Lincoln’s ideas, which now seemed naïve, about the political relevance of a grand and significant ‘Nature.’”
By restoring our awe, or reverence, for nature, Dr. Seagrave concludes, the National Parks play a vital role in helping Americans to “connect — or rather reconnect — with something important and distinctive about our national heritage.”
The full article I available via The Public Discourse.
- Alumnus Examines ISIS and Philosophy (2015)
- Alumnus Reviews Fellow Grad’s New Book (2015)
- College’s Latest Alumni Author (2014)
- Two Class of 2005 Authors in The Public Discourse (2013)
- What Pro-Lifers Can Learn from Frederick Douglass (2013)
- Recent Reads by Alumni Authors (2012)
Sierra Silverstrings, featuring the children of Eve (Bouchey ’97) and Jeremy McNeil (’96)
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, KOLO 8, the ABC affiliate in Reno, Nevada, has put together the following segment about Sierra Silverstrings — a local Irish band whose members are the children of Eve (Bouchey ’97) and Jeremy McNeil (’96):
“When people say you play together, you stay together, it’s kind of true, because we were friends, but now we know each other better,” young Brigit McNeil tells KOLO News. “It’s hard to explain. It connects us. We play together, and when you play music, it’s such a joyful thing to create those sounds with each other.”
According to the Sierra Silverstrings website, the band is booked for three shows today, St. Patrick’s Day, and another two more on Saturday, the Feast of St. Joseph.
Kayla (Kermode ’12) Six
Four years ago, as she was wrapping up her Senior Thesis, Kayla (Kermode ’12) Six was recruited by the insurance conglomerate WellPoint for a process-consulting position at its Thousand Oaks headquarters. Four years later, WellPoint is now called Anthem, Mrs. Six has risen to the position of sourcing manager, and she has been named to the supply-chain industry’s list of 30 under 30 Rising Stars.
The list, which is a joint venture of the Institute for Supply Management and ThomasNet, “highlights the accomplishments of rising supply management professionals” under the age of 30. “During her four years in procurement, Six has been the enterprise-wide strategic sourcing lead for multiple business areas and spend categories simultaneously,” reads her “30 Under 30” profile. Says Anthem’s director of strategic sourcing, Greg Antoniono, “Kayla’s ability to gain mastery of technically complex areas of sourcing, manage demanding internal clients and still drive innovation and great results — 37 percent savings in a mature category is just one example — is extraordinary.”
The profile additionally notes that Mrs. Six “is most proud of negotiating an integrated voice-response contract, which had to be coordinated and collaborated with more than 40 business owners to implement consolidation and create a joint-governance model between Anthem and the supplier. The project had to assure compliance to regulations, drive innovation, address current issues and opportunities and track service level agreements.”
Just last month, Mrs. Six returned to her alma mater to offer students advice at a Career Strategies Workshop.
Rev. Miss Therese Ivers, JCL, OCV (’03) and His Holiness Pope Francis (L’Osservatore Romano Photo Service)
To mark the end of the recently concluded Year of Consecrated Life, the Vatican hosted an international symposium, “Consecrated Life in Communion,” which culminated in a February 1 audience with His Holiness Pope Francis. Among those in attendance — and privileged to meet the Holy Father personally — was an alumna of the College and a consecrated virgin, Rev. Miss Therese Ivers, JCL, OCV (’03).
Rev. Miss Therese Ivers was one of about 600 members of the Ordo Virginum from around the world who participated in the Symposium. Sacred virgins are consecrated to Christ, but unlike religious sisters, they do not live in community. Instead they devote their lives to the service of Christ and His church in some other way. Rev Miss Ivers, for example, is a canon lawyer living in Rome. An experienced judge and advocate, she specializes in the theology of consecrated life and law. She holds a diploma from the Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in the Theology and Law of Consecrated Life.
“I did not know I’d meet the Pope, but knee injuries had me in a wheelchair, which put me in the front section for the audience,” she recalls. “My companion for the Symposium was a consecrated virgin who recently retired as a firefighter. I am glad she was able to meet the Pope with me after all the pushing she did over cobblestones.” A video clip of the two consecrated virgins meeting Pope Francis is available below:
When asked what she said to Pope Francis, Rev. Miss Ivers replies, “I simply said, ‘Holy Father.’ He asked me to pray for him, and I asked for his prayers. That was it and he blessed me.”
Joseph O'Brien (’93)In the pages of the Catholic Business Journal, Joseph O’Brien (’93) profiles three Catholic priests who are, as he puts it, “making confession a hallmark of their own Year of Mercy.” The managing editor of the Adoremus Bulletin, Mr. O’Brien asks the priests to explain the importance of penance, what role it has played in their vocations, and why it is so important to the ongoing Jubilee Year. Among those he consults are two of his old friends from Thomas Aquinas College, classmates Rev. Mark Moriarty (’95) and Rev. Jonathan Perrotta (’95), both pastors of Midwestern parishes.
Rev. Mark Moriarty (’95)The pastor of St. Agnes Parish in St. Paul, Minnesota, Fr. Moriarty (’95) recounts how his time at the College — and particularly the influence of then-chaplain Rev. Gerard Steckler, S.J. — heightened his appreciation of God’s mercy and, in turn, helped lead him to his vocation. “I was impressed with [Fr. Steckler’s] casual way of inviting us to experience mercy when he invited incoming freshmen to have 10 minutes of spiritual direction each week,” he says. “It wasn’t just a formality, but combined true vulnerability with a lifting of the veil of God. … I thought that was a truly beautiful thing. So that affected me in terms of my interest in being a priest.”
Rev. Jonathan Perrotta (’95)Fr. Perrotta (’95), meanwhile, observes that, as matter of human psychology, “There is overwhelming evidence that we have a need to confess, to speak to another our sins, even when we don’t go away knowing we have been forgiven.” Yet this sense of unburdening one’s self, he adds, is nothing compared to the true relief that comes when one avails himself of sacramental confession, thereby “knowing all of my sins have been completely destroyed; the sin and the guilt are no longer there.” In these moments, Fr. Perrotta tells Mr. O’Brien, “God and his mercy are present.”
For many more such words of pastoral wisdom, read the full article on the Catholic Business Journal website.
The Rosary and funeral Mass for Loraine (Ivers ’81) Hoonhout will take place this Saturday, March 12, at St. Louise de Marillac Parish in Covina, California. The Rosary will begin at 8:45 a.m., and the Mass at 9:30 a.m. Burial will follow at Holy Cross cemetery in Pomona, after which there will be potluck reception at the home of Julia and Martin Bowles. (Directions will be provided at the cemetery.) If you would like to bring a dish, please contact Loraine’s sister, Maureen Coughlin (’79).
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
164 Apollo Road, SE
Carrollton, OH 44615
Shield of Roses
P.O. Box 9053
Glendale, CA 91226
Please pray for the soul of Loraine (Ivers ’81) Hoonhout, who, following a years-long struggle with liver cancer, passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of Saturday, March 5.
Please also pray for the consolation of her family, including her beloved husband of 30 years, Ronald; their three children, Clare (’08), Peter, and Lisa Davis; her 3-month old grandson, Christopher Davis; her two brothers, Jim and Harry; and her four sisters, all of whom are graduates of the College: Maureen Coughlin (’79), Marian Hartzell (’82), Jessica Langley (’85), and Sr. Maria Basiléa (Margaretha ’88).
The Rosary and funeral Mass for Mrs. Hoonhout will take place this Saturday, March 12, at St. Louise de Marillac Parish in Covina, California. The Rosary will begin at 8:45 a.m., and the Mass at 9:30 a.m. Burial will follow at Holy Cross cemetery in Pomona, after which there will be a reception; details are forthcoming.
May her soul, and those of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Writing on his personal blog, Mark Langley (’89) reviews an off-Broadway performance of a new play — written and directed by a Tony and Pulitzer award-winning author — about two late members of the Thomas Aquinas College family, Louise and John Schmitt.
Louise and John SchmittThe Schmitts were the parents of seven Thomas Aquinas College alumni, including Mr. Langley’s wife, Stephanie (’89), and the grandparents of six graduates and six current students. Mr. Schmitt, moreover, joined the teaching faculty in 1974 and was instrumental in organizing the College’s first Commencement ceremony. He left in 1979 to found the Trivium School, a residential high school offering a classical curriculum in Lancaster, Massachusetts. Many Trivium graduates have gone on to attend the College, and several of the College’s alumni have gone on to teach at Trivium.
Yet the reason that Mr. and Mrs. Schmitt figure so prominently in John Patrick Shanley’s recently debuted Prodigal Son has to do with their work prior to their time at the College, specifically in the 1960s, when Mr. Schmitt was the founding headmaster of the St. Thomas More School in New Hampshire. One of his students was a talented but rebellious boy who found his time at the school to be transformative. That student was Mr. Shanley, who has gone on to great acclaim as the screenwriter of Moonstruck and Doubt.
Featuring music by none other than Paul Simon, Prodigal Son tells the story of Jim Quinn, a character based on the adolescent Shanley. The Schmitts show extraordinary patience and dedication to the young man, for reasons, the audience learns, having largely to do with their own great personal suffering. As Mr. Langley writes:
“Mr. and Mrs. Schmitt .. share a well concealed sorrow, a sorrow caused by the tragic death of their own son. This sorrow becomes the source of Quinn’s redemption. Their hearts softened by grief, and harrowed by suffering, impel them to see the good in Quinn, despite his many expellable indiscretions, and they are able to see him through to the end — drawing out his hidden talents and mercifully allowing him to graduate — thus providing him with a sense of self-worth and new opportunity. …
“The play revealed a hidden chapter in the lives of John and Louise Schmitt. The events occurred when my wife was only a year old. Perhaps strangely, yet somewhat typical of many in that generation, Stephanie’s parents did not air their personal lives. They never spoke about these events to me and rarely if ever to their own children. In point of fact, John and Louise Schmitt suffered through not just one, but the tragic deaths of two of their children.”
The founder and the academic dean of The Lyceum, a classical school in Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. Langley writes that Prodigal Son “is about the mysterious role that suffering plays in life — even the seemingly senseless suffering and heartbreaking pain that comes with the death of one’s own child, one’s own son.” His wife, and her siblings, he adds, are “grateful for the gift that Shanley had given them through this play,” as it has helped to give them “an answer about the mysterious workings of God’s grace in the deaths of their siblings … deaths whose explanations until now had been consigned to the inexplicable mysteries of God’s Divine plan.”