Skip to comments.Not so much catechism as conviction (Thomas Aquinas College Produces a Harvest of Priests)
Posted on 08/20/2007 12:50:05 PM PDT by NYer
Five alumni of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula were ordained to the priesthood this year, bringing the total number of alumni priests to 47. The college also boasts 20 graduates who are religious brothers and sisters, and an additional 35 in seminaries preparing for the priesthood.
These numbers are especially striking for a small, private college with only 2100 alumni and a maximum enrollment of 350 students.
California Catholic Daily interviewed Fr. Sebastian Walshe, a TAC graduate now belonging to the Norbertine St. Michael's Abbey in Silverado, California. Father Walshe has been a Norbertine priest for two years.
Does everybody at Thomas Aquinas College major in theology or religious
Fr. Walshe: No, there are no majors, no areas of specialization. The college follows the Great Books curriculum and the Socratic method of teaching.
Do most of Thomas Aquinas students go straight from devout Catholic families to this enclave of Catholic piety?
Fr. Walshe: Some do, but that was certainly not the case with me. I was raised Lutheran and became a convert to the Catholic faith at age thirteen.
And then you thought, "I need some serious catechism..."?
Fr. Walshe: No, I started out studying Electrical Engineering at the University of California at Irvine. But while that was job training, it wasn't really an education. That's why I enrolled in Thomas Aquinas. What TAC gave me was not so much "catechism," but the conviction that faith is something that can deepen through the application of reason.
So, can you "reason" yourself into religion?
Fr. Walshe: No, I don't think that's true. But you can dispose yourself to be open to religious truths, and you can remove impediments to the Faith. Grace builds on nature; if your mind is well-ordered at the natural level, you can be more receptive to grace.
There are secular, non-Catholic colleges, such as St. John's in Annapolis, where the Great Books curriculum has been helpful in spurring conversions to the Catholic faith.
Fr. Walshe: But Thomas Aquinas College is a truly Catholic milieu. One reason for the vocations from TAC is the integrity of the curriculum with the faith as it is concretely lived out.
It's not just a theory. Even the 5-10% of the students who are not Catholics are expected to live in a manner consistent with Catholic principles. Most graduates will choose the vocation of matrimony: they marry and build outstanding, child-rich Catholic families. At the same time, at TAC there is a constant awareness of the primacy of religious life as a vocation. The vowed celibate religious life is encouraged and honored.
What's your advice to other Catholic colleges?
Fr. Walshe: If you're a student, you need the leisure to integrate what you think, what you believe, and how you act. Joseph Pieper wrote a book about this. A Catholic college should be faithful to the magisterium and provide students with the leisure and moral environment to think through the big questions: "Why am I alive? What am I supposed to be doing? Where am I going? What is God?" In that kind of environment, the harvest will be rich.
They're building a church - it's well under way - designed by Duncan Stroik, an architect who designs churches, not food courts/hotel lobbies posing as such.
There's a pattern which is perfectly obvious when it comes to nurturing vocations but AmChurch just covers its eyes and ears.
Um, sounds like you're assuming they want more vocations. But what would lots more priests do but put those parish life collaborators (or whatever they call themselves), running their prayer services and all, out of work?
The interior of the church reminds me of San Lorenzo in Florence, Italy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_di_San_Lorenzo_di_Firenze
In fact, they look pretty similar to me. Neat!
Well, actually the TAC church has a rounded ceiling while San Lorenzo has a flat ceiling. Still...
Yeah, I agree, when I first saw that, I was reminded of that church in Florence.
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Hooray for my Alma Mater!!!!
Course if I had had my way, I would have been married to one of those newly ordained priests! Looking back, God did better by both of us!
Fr. Walshe: No, I started out studying Electrical Engineering at the University of California at Irvine. But while that was job training, it wasn't really an education.
Hehehe... Did anyone catch "Life is Worth Living" this week? This is pretty much what Bishop Sheen said. I couldn't agree more. I began with Mechanical engineering and ended up at the feet of the Angelic Doctor.
Most schooling today is job training --at best. It's certainly not true education.
I've heard more than one loony assert that the vocations crisis was God's gift to the Church and His way of getting more lay people "involved".
Not to mention His way of getting female priests, and married priests, and openly practicing homosexual priests . . .