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Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

 Suzie Andres (’87)Suzie Andres (’87)A regular writer on Catholic Exchange, alumna author Suzie Andres (’87)一道本不卡免费高清 opens her with a timely question: What is the Perfect Christmas Gift?

“This is the kind of question my husband asks for a living,” Mrs. Andres writes of Dr. Anthony P. Andres, a member of the Thomas Aquinas College teaching faculty. “At the beginning of every class, he asks an opening question like the one we’re asking now. And, as it sometimes happens in my husband’s classes, we could give the correct answer to our question straight out of the chute, but, not to answer a question with another question, then where would we be?”

Drawing on her own recollection from the discussions around the College’s classroom tables, Mrs. Andres notes that an immediate correct answer hardly means the end of the conversation! “Sometimes, no one believes the person who instantly hit on the right answer,” she observes. “Other times, it takes a lot of back and forth before the meaning of the answer is clear, or the evidence for it.”

Which then brings her back to her opening question about the perfect Christmas gift. “Baby Jesus!” she answers without hesitation. “The Father gave Him to us, and we can do no better than imitate the Giver of all good and perfect gifts. The Infant Jesus is the very reason we give each other gifts at Christmas time, so why not recognize that not only is He ‘the reason for the season,’ but He’s actually the one real gift we need to give and get?”

Yet despite answering her question so quickly, Mrs. Andres continues with much worthwhile “back and forth” about how一道本不卡免费高清 we can give the Perfect Gift to those we love. Her suggestions are creative and excellent — e.g., prayers, sacramentals, spiritual books — especially her reflection on “covert giving,” that is, gifts for “those people in your life to whom you would like to give Jesus, but you know that, for one reason or another, it makes more sense to give Him in a hidden way.”

If you’re looking for ways to give the gift of Jesus — not just on Christmas, but throughout the entire Christmas season and beyond — Mrs. Andres has provided a of answers. 


Raymond Tittmann (’94) Raymond Tittmann (’94)After reviewing nearly 900 nominations, the legal-news website Law360 has identified 160 lawyers as its — “attorneys who have distinguished themselves from their peers over the past year through high-stakes litigation, record-breaking deals, and complex global matters.” Among those included is a Thomas Aquinas College alumnus: Raymond Tittmann (’94).

一道本不卡免费高清A partner in the Los Angeles office of Wargo French, Mr. Tittman is a litigator specializing in insurance coverage, class and collective action, unfair competition, and complex commercial litigation. This year, he “helped a subsidiary of The Home Depot negotiate a global settlement of thousands of claims brought by homeowners and their insurers,” write the website’s editors, “landing him on the list of Law360’s 2019 Insurance MVPs.”

In its , Law360 discusses how Mr. Tittman was able to negotiate a $100 million class-action lawsuit down to a $24 million settlement. “Working with the varied stakeholders instead of against them, we were able to create a win-win opportunity to achieve global peace for all concerned,” he says. The story also describes his “most challenging case” of the year, representing seven insurance underwriters in a complicated dispute for which there was no known precedent. “Solving your client’s problem,” he notes, “almost always requires a creative solution to narrow disputes rather than expand them.”

Asked why he chose to become an insurance attorney, Mr. Tittman references his time at the College. “I always tell people, if you can read Aristotle, you can read an insurance policy,” he says. “Every time I’m asked to parse a sentence in a policy or debate the meaning of the word ‘occurrence,’ I feel like I’m back in college.”


Margaret Walsh (’15) Margaret Walsh (’15)一道本不卡免费高清“I enjoy working with students and seeing them have these amazing moments where they realize they can do more than they thought they could,” says educator and entrepreneur Margaret Walsh (’15). “They start moving forward, faster and faster, and get so excited about their accomplishments.”

Shortly after graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 2015, Miss Walsh founded , an online tutoring and remediation service for students of all ages with special needs. “We work with students with reading remediation, students who have dyslexia, or dysgraphia — where they can’t get their thoughts out on paper — or students who have autism or autism-related symptoms,” she says. “There’s a whole umbrella of learning difficulties that the reading remediation and education therapy that we offer can help.”

Miss Walsh holds a master’s degree in special education and has received specialized training from Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes and Equipping Minds Cognitive Therapy. Her company, which is based in Southern California but offers its services globally via the Internet, consists of five teachers, three of them TAC alumnae.  “We’re doing remediation, which is different from what a lot of schools do,” she says. “A lot of times the mentality that I hear and see is, ‘Let’s help you learn how to live with your disability.’ What we’re trying to do is say, ‘Let’s help you increase your abilities so that you can do more than what a diagnosis is predicting you can do right now.’”

The approach is all-encompassing. In addition to academic instruction, Secret Garden offers nutritional consultation as another means of identifying students’ learning difficulties. Wherever possible, its teachers — who are all Catholic — use faith-based reading materials, such as stories about the lives of saints, to add a spiritual dimension to their students’ education. “We’ve chosen to bring Catholic materials in so that we can provide that opportunity for the students to explore their faith while at the same time increasing their academic ability,” Miss Walsh explains. “That is at the heart of why I started this business.”

一道本不卡免费高清The goal of Secret Garden Educational Pathways is to enable students to grow cognitively so that they can “start to enjoy school,” says Miss Walsh, and bolster their long-term educational prospects. “Wherever God takes them, we’re trying to help them improve their potential and improve their capabilities so they can do more.”


Sr. Mary Catherine Eddyblouin (’19) Sr. Mary Catherine Eddyblouin (’19)The first of last year’s graduates to answer God’s call to the priesthood or religious life is Sr. Mary Catherine Eddyblouin (’19), who entered the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, on August 22, the Feast of the Queenship of Mary.

一道本不卡免费高清“I went to Thomas Aquinas College to study theology and philosophy, and it was there that the idea of a religious life began to come back into my heart,” on the Sisters of Mary website. “Before my junior year, my mother told me in no uncertain terms that I was going on a retreat with the Ann Arbor Sisters, whom we had heard about for many years. I dutifully went, expecting no more than to have a good retreat and return to normal life. Instead, it was like the world turned inside out! It became clear that this was where God had been leading me all my life. Suddenly, everything seemed to fall into place, revealing I was on a path I had been following without even knowing!”

Before she graduated from the College, Sr. Mary Catherine remarked that “the spiritual formation here is amazing, but the intellectual formation was also instrumental in getting me to realize my vocation,” allowing her to come to know and love God more deeply. “Mathematics, especially, brought me to more fully see the beauty of God,” she added, and it was the opportunity to keep learning that led her to the Sisters of Mary. “The Dominicans teach and they preach — that’s what they do,” she recently the Bangor Daily News. “They study for their entire lives. … That’s something that was very attractive to me about them.”

Sr. Mary Catherine is one of five Thomas Aquinas College alumnae with the Ann Arbor Dominicans, where she prays alongside Sr. Mary Margaret (Eileen ’00) O’Brien O.P.Sr. Theresa Benedicta (Sarah ’02) Block, Sr. Juan Jose (Elisabeth ’09) Sedler, O.P., and Sr. Maria Jerome (Alma ’11) Poelman, O.P. As a postulant, she now wears the Sisters’ blue-and-white uniform, but she will not receive the full habit until she enters the novitiate next year.

一道本不卡免费高清Please pray for Sr. Mary Catherine, her vocation, and all alumnae sisters!

 


Pat Cross (’14) Pat Cross (’14)

一道本不卡免费高清Earlier this month, Thomas Aquinas College bid farewell to an alumnus who has been instrumental in establishing the New England campus, and who is now leaving to devote his energies to his next professional pursuit — editorial cartooning.

“Pat Cross (’14)  has been a mainstay in our office through extraordinary times at the College,” says Admissions Director Jon Daly. “He was the first Admissions counselor — and for that matter, the first and only employee — on the New England campus for nearly two years. He brought the place to life when he first set foot there.”

一道本不卡免费高清Mr. Cross joined the Admissions Office shortly after his graduation in 2014 and worked on the California campus until 2017. He then headed to his home state of Massachusetts to help establish the East Coast campus, where he welcomed and gave tours to prospective students and their families. “For a year and a half, I was pretty much all alone here, before students arrived this summer,” he remembers.

“It was edifying to see how people back in California had a vision for this place, and how members of the local community were praying to make that vision a reality,” says Mr. Cross. “And it is inspiring to see how all those efforts and prayers have been realized. I am so impressed with the students out here, how they have risen to the occasion, and how devoted they are to the success of the College. I really admire them, and I am optimistic. I think TAC has a bright future in New England.”

While living on the New England campus, Mr. Cross worked only part-time for the Admissions Office. In his spare hours, he busily launched a successful career as an editorial cartoonist and illustrator. In just two years, he has established a foothold at the , First Things一道本不卡免费高清, CatholicVote, , and , where he is published regularly. Yet to keep progressing in his line of work, he needs to start giving it all of his time. “It’s hard to make it in a field like this,” he says, “unless you’re really giving your full attention.”

So, much to the disappointment of his erstwhile colleague and the College’s students, Mr. Cross has left Admissions work behind, and now works fulltime as a cartoonist. “I’ve always been very interested in the state of our country and the Church,” he reflects. “When I was younger I wanted to be Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but I very quickly learned you need to use the skills God gave you. For me, that’s always been art.”

Complementing his artistic talents, he says, are the analytical skills he developed at his alma mater. “There’s no way I would be able to approach the issues that we’re facing today without the foundation that I approach them with — the Catholic Western tradition — which I try to bring to bear on every issue,” says Mr. Cross. “That’s what TAC is all about: establishing the universals and hopefully giving us the wisdom so that we can apply them to the particular circumstances of our lives.”

Before he departed, the New England students — many of whom he had personally introduced to the College — threw a party in his honor. “Pat is a great man and we will miss him just as greatly,” says Mr. Daly, “sure though we are that he is fulfilling an even greater purpose in his work.”


Patricia Kessler (’87)Please pray for the repose of the soul of Patricia Kessler (’87). A senior attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, on assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania, she had taken a short vacation to do some scuba diving in the Red Sea. On November 1, when fire broke out on the boat, it appears that she helped other passengers to escape, but did not make it off herself. Her family presumes that she died in the ordeal.

After her graduation from the College in 1987, Patty earned her juris doctorate from the University of Notre Dame. She then joined the U.S. Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, where she served as senior defense counsel, department head, and advisor to the Judge Advocate General. For the next seven years she worked as an assistant U.S. attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, followed by eight years in private practice. She returned to the Justice Department in 2015 as a senior trial attorney in the Asset Forfeiture Section of the Criminal Division.

A lifelong friend has paid tribute to Patty saying,

一道本不卡免费高清I have poignant memories of long, philosophical conversations with Patty during college. She studied TRUTH. It gave her pleasure to examine: “What is Truth? How do we know the truth about anything? What does it mean to seek truth? Why should we seek truth? Should we seek truth for truth’s sake? What if the truth does not change the outcome of a situation?” She concluded that seeking the truth, speaking the truth and acting on the truth, and constantly wrestling with the truth is what we all must do to achieve a happy life, or our world will devolve into the Hobbesian description, which is “nasty, brutish and short.”

Please keep Patty in your prayers, and please pray for the consolation of her family, especially for her two daughters.

 

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


Thomas O’Hara (’18)Two months after he graduated from Thomas Aquinas College in 2018, Thomas O’Hara married classmate Misha (Johnston ’18), and the couple departed for Prague. Mr. O’Hara had discovered that he could pursue an electrical-engineering degree inexpensively at the Czech Technical University, and his wife — who spent much of her childhood in the Czech Republic and spoke the language fluently — would be very much at home.

Once in Prague, however, he realized that his interests lay elsewhere — and that his Thomas Aquinas College education had prepared him in ways he didn’t even know.

“I got really interested in the programming classes that I was taking,” Mr. O’Hara says. “A lot of my associates complimented me on how fast I picked it up, which was the result of the logical reasoning  — and especially the math — that I had learned at TAC. Programming is really just applied math and logic, and the College had prepared me well in both.”

一道本不卡免费高清So he decided to pursue a computer-science degree and to seek employment in a computer lab. When applying for a job, he found himself, once again, relying in ways unexpected on his Catholic liberal education.

“There were 30 other people applying for the same position and, frankly, most of them were much more qualified than I was in terms of their knowledge of programming. But they hired me because of my enthusiasm for learning,” Mr. O’Hara says. “I like to think that I love learning naturally, but I know that I learned to love learning even more at the College. I became very enthusiastic about just figuring things out, analyzing, trying to think outside the box. All of that was cultivated at TAC, especially the analytics and working with people in order to solve a specific problem.”

Now Mr. O’Hara works at which conducts research for, among others, , one of the world’s largest cybersecurity, machine learning, and AI firms. Among his projects, he maintains “honeypots” — machines that have been left deliberately unsecure, or infected with malware — in order to monitor the strategies of hackers, and thus develop Intrusion Prevent Systems. In October, Google sponsored him to attend , an international cybersecurity conference in London, and he also participated in the conference in Prague.

一道本不卡免费高清On top of his busy academic and professional life, Mr. O’Hara is also a new father. Six months ago he and Mrs. O’Hara welcomed twins — Thomas Edmund and Hannah Marie. The young family plans to stay in Prague until he completes his degree, then return stateside.

The family of Misha (Johnston ’18) and Thomas O’Hara


Major Tulsi L. Rogers (’98) Major Tulsi L. Rogers (’98)

The newspaper of the U.S. Armed Forces, Stars and Stripes, recently on a historic legal event that took place in the famed Courtroom 600 at the Justizpalast一道本不卡免费高清 in Nuremberg, Germany. For the first time in more than 70 years, members of the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps were returning to practice law at the very site where they once tried war criminals of the Third Reich. Among the attorneys present was an alumnus of Thomas Aquinas College, Major Tulsi L. Rogers (’98).

As part of an exhibition designed to demonstrate the differences between the German and American legal systems, Major Rogers participated in a two-part mock trial. In the first trial, German attorneys prosecuted a defendant charged with assault and robbery. Then, Major Rogers and his colleagues conducted a similar trial — same facts and charges —under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

一道本不卡免费高清There was no jury in the German trial, and it was mostly the judge who examined the defendant and the witnesses; whereas in the American trial attorneys asked most of the questions. The outcomes, however, were similar. “We arrived at essentially the same verdict for the accused, although different punishments,” says Major Rogers. “The UCMJ gives a greater latitude to the panel in punishing the offender, from ‘no punishment’ to whatever the maximum is in the code.”

As the Officer in Charge at the Army’s 7th Army Training Command in Vilseck, Major Rogers manages a staff of some 20 lawyers and paralegals. “We provide legal advice and client services to eligible personnel and assist commanders with both administrative law issues and criminal prosecutions under the UCMJ,” he explains. “The legal center provides services to both the Army’s commanders and the soldiers, family members, and retirees that live in the community.” 

一道本不卡免费高清When he came to the College as a freshman in 1994, Major Rogers was already 22 years old and a member of the Army Reserve. (He served part time with a unit in Santa Barbara.) He earned his juris doctor at the Ave Maria School of Law in 2004 and went on active duty in 2007. Since last summer he has been on his second tour of duty in Germany, having served in Kaiserslautern from 2012 to 2015. Previously he also served in Korea and Iraq.  He now lives in Bavaria with his wife and classmate, Audrey (Keeler ’98), and their four children.


Rev. Gary Selin, S.T.D. (’89) Rev. Gary Selin, S.T.D. (’89)“Amid new challenges to priestly celibacy at the Vatican’s Amazon Synod and from other corners of the Church,” the Cardinal Newman Society, the Church needs witnesses who are “well-prepared to dispel errors and misconceptions about this important discipline of Catholic priests.” Among these witnesses, the story continues, is Thomas Aquinas College alumnus Rev. Gary Selin, S.T.D. (’89), formation advisor and assistant professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and the author of Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations.

As part of its ongoing series, the Newman Society has published an interview with Fr. Selin, whose book presciently preceded the renewed debate on priestly celibacy by three years. “The principal reason for celibacy is that it perfects the configuration of the priest with Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church,” he says. “Celibacy consequently allows the priest to give himself more freely to the Church in imitation of Christ.” 

He also discusses his time at the College. “I treasure the memories of the many wonderful hours in the classroom, as I learned from the sources of wisdom of the Great Books that formed our Western civilization, under the guidance of our well-formed tutors of the college,” says Fr. Selin. “These excellent conversations continued over meals, during walks, and into late night in the dormitories. One can never put a price tag on these conversations that made life worth living.”

一道本不卡免费高清This experience, he adds, proved invaluable in preparing him for his current work with seminarians. “My time at the College helped me begin to acquire the virtues necessary in becoming a disciple before learning to be a leader,” observes Fr. Selin. “I am very grateful to the College for giving me the environment in which I was able to grow in those virtues.”

The is available via the Cardinal Newman Society website.


The family of Noreen (Barr ’79) and Kevin McCann The family of Noreen (Barr ’79) and Kevin McCann

Please pray for Noreen (Barr ’79) McCann, mother of Jack (’09), Molly (’11), Maggie (’13), Martin (’16), Patrick (’17), and Bridget (’20). Mrs. McCann has developed a tumor on her ankle, which, pending further testing, may be cancerous. “I know very little right now. In the coming days and weeks I will be seeing new doctors and having more tests,” she writes. “One thing I know for certain: God answers prayers and He likes to show how generous He can be to those who have faith.” She asks that friends join her praying that her tumor is benign or treatable.

一道本不卡免费高清Mrs. McCann is praying through the intercession of and to . She shares the following prayers, two of her favorites:

The Memorare

一道本不卡免费高清Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

 

Novena Prayer to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

一道本不卡免费高清O Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord Jesus and our Mother, penetrated with the most lively confidence in your all-powerful and never-failing intercession, manifested so often through the Miraculous Medal, we your loving and trustful children implore you to obtain for us the graces and favors we ask during this Novena, if they be beneficial to our immortal souls, and the souls for whom we pray. Amen.

一道本不卡免费高清(Here privately form your petitions.)

You know, O Mary, how often our souls have been the sanctuaries of your Son, Who hates iniquity. Obtain for us, then, a deep hatred of sin and that purity of heart which will attach us to God alone, so that our every thought, word, and deed may tend to His greater glory. Obtain for us also a spirit of prayer and self-denial, that we may recover by penance what we have lost by sin and at length attain to that blessed abode where you are the Queen of angels and of men. Amen.


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Thomas Cavanaugh (’18) -- quote 2

一道本不卡免费高清“My time here has really refined the way I think, read, and understand. It has allowed me to think about things more critically and logically.”

一道本不卡免费高清– Thomas Cavanaugh (’18)

一道本不卡免费高清Larkspur, California

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“I am deeply touched by the quality of the intellectual and spiritual formation that you offer. The study of philosophy should lead to a conviction that truth can be known, articulated, and defended. Your college shows that this is possible, and on a high level!”

– Rev. Wojciech Giertych, O.P.

Theologian of the Papal Household