At the start of the upcoming academic year, there will be a new head and a new member of the Thomas Aquinas College chaplaincy. Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. (’78), a graduate of the College who has served as a chaplain since 2011, is succeeding the departing Rev. Joseph Illo as head chaplain. Meanwhile, Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P., who served as one of the College’s chaplains from 2006 to 2012, is returning after two years in Alaska.
Rev. Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. (’78)A native of Connecticut, Fr. Hildebrand first came to the College as a student in 1974. After graduating in 1978, he attended Mt. Angel Seminary in Oregon. He 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 coming to the College as a chaplain in 2011.
Fr. Hildebrand regards his new role as head chaplain as an opportunity to aid members of the community in the spiritual life. “The love of Christ and His church has gathered us together here at Thomas Aquinas College,” he says. “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.”
Rev. Paul Raftery, O.P.Like Fr. Hildebrand, Fr. Paul is celebrating his 30th anniversary as a priest, having been ordained in 1984. He holds a Masters of Divinity degree from St. Albert’s College and a licentiate in the history of liturgy from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California. Prior to coming to the College in 2006, he worked on college campuses and in parish ministry in Arizona, Oregon, and Northern California. For the last two years he served as the parochial vicar at Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage, Alaska.
“I have been supporting a truly rich Catholic liturgy, parish, and family life in the wilds of Alaska,” he says. “The apostolate was inspiring. The winters I got through without too much trouble, and the Alaskan wilderness I am definitely going to miss.” Yet Fr. Paul is delighted to return to California. “I am once again privileged to be serving all the important work of the College,” he adds. “What a great blessing to come back!”