Monday, January 28, 2013

(108) Our 2012 Family Newsletter

            We hope that all of you are enjoying the Christmas season.  May it all bring us closer to Christ and His mother.  May the Christ child bless you abundantly in the coming new year.  I was on time with our Christmas greeting and here’s our annual newsletter for 2012.  It will probably be a little long; so I put in subtitles to make it easier to scan and read only what interests you.  I tried to shorten it by putting in links to my blogs to whatever you might be interested in for greater detail for future reading if time permits.  I would suggest that you write an annual family newsletter or individual one if single because a collection of them on disk or hard copy makes for a great family history for posterity after we’re gone.  If you do it; I’ll read it.  Promise!  I’d be most interested.

            Naomi and I went on the March for Life in Washington January 22-23 as we did in and 2010 with a busload of people from our parish and two others of southeastern Ohio along with a few non-Catholics.  The Catholic Women’s Club and a second collection helped to underwrite it.  It’s a great experience. Our entire family went in 2008.  For a detailed account of it, click on On the bus I had a long dialogue with a former witch and a Protestant minister.  She seemed to be so sympathetic to the Church and observed how misunderstood Catholics are.  Later she followed her daughter into the Catholic Church.  An even greater experience would be going with a group to pray at an abortion clinic.   

       Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood Abortion Mill ( and author of the book, “Unplanned”,  repeated and emphasized in a televised talk that the single most effective thing that one can do for the Pro-life cause is to simply pray silently and peacefully in front of an abortion clinic.   The love showed despite some risk had a profound effect upon her.  Sidewalk counseling is only effective if one is well trained.

            John-Paul, Our First College Graduate. We did a lot of traveling in 2012.  First was our trek by our salvage ’04 Chevy Cavalier (bought at 120,000 miles and now at 205,000) to Ave Maria University near Naples (see for a virtual tour), Florida for John-Paul’s graduation.  However, Naomi missed it because of the prom and Stephanie was in the middle of final exams.  Stephanie, however, visited him for Holy Week.  John-Paul graduated Magna Cum Laude as a member of the University’s eighth graduation class with a demanding double major in Math and Economics with an emphasis on a Catholic liberal arts education.  Having taken four years of college courses at the University of Rio Grande as a high school student, he was able to transfer many courses that facilitated a double major.  He was also named the Outstanding Economics Student, thus utilizing his full tuition scholarship to the utmost.
Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, was the commencement speaker, a friend of Ave Maria University President H. James Towey (see  He was one of George W. Bush’s senior advisers and member of his senior staff who attended Cabinet meetings as Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives from 2002 to 2006.  He was also Blessed Mother Theresa’s counsel in the U.S. for 12 years.  Towey is determined to keep Ave Maria University an authentic Catholic Christ centered campus despite rapid growth with aspirations to be a top academic institution as Notre Dame.  One faculty member says this is very doable because the faculty is behind the concept as opposed to St. Vincent College where he was previously president.  Michael Novak, one of their professors, was decorated by the President of Poland and gave a lecture on social justice at the Presidential Palace (see  On our way back we stopped at St. Augustine, Florida which has a definite Spanish colonial flavor and a well preserved colonial fort.  It’s really worth the stop (see

Celebrating the 60th Wedding Anniversary of cousin Martha and Joe Loya at the Byzantine Cathedral in Parma was a highlight for the extended family.  Deacon Greg Loya and his six sons as altar boys all participated in the Mass.  They were married in St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church in East Pittsburgh in May 1952.  Their wedding reception featured a Hungarian gypsy band.  Fred (bless his soul) was a baby and John was a cute ten year old runt who managed to get in on every wedding picture.  Martha and Joe had more than their share of crosses over the years including the tragic death of their only daughter, but stuck it out with faith and courage.  They were rewarded with the joy of having eight grandchildren and one of their four sons being a dedicated priest (Fr. Tom) and another a deacon (Greg).

Another highlight was the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Betty and Bob Foley (Martha’s brother).  Congratulations!  May they have many more anniversaries together.  May we all do as well.  I just got out of the Army in time to attend their wedding in Philadelphia in October 1962. 

Finding His First Job. John-Paul found to be a great starting point after graduation.  We traveled to Stafford, Virginia at the beginning of June for an interview at a parish Catholic middle school and then to Benedictine Academy, a Catholic military high school in Richmond, a long shot for a guy with no teaching experience or education courses.  John-Paul is a natural teacher, having taught his four year old sister how to read and write while in the first grade, even writing lesson plans.  Before returning, we stayed one day with Stephanie’s classmate, Abby Quinan in Manassas, Virginia, the site of a major Civil War battle for a critical railroad junction.  We had a great time with the Quinan family and doing some sightseeing in town.  Her mother is amazing in home schooling I believe five children and working as a nurse.

When we returned, John-Paul found a newly posted ad for Ville de Marie Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona just outside of Phoenix.  All of a sudden, everything fell into place as often happens when it’s the Lord’s will.  The Headmaster, Mr. J. Hickle , called John-Paul an hour or so after he sent out his e-mail resume.  The next day JP was invited for an interview and given an offer before returning.  So he was able to finish his Accounting course at the University of Rio Grande and play softball in the Church Softball League while preparing to teach Math, Physical Science, Biology, and gym.

Catholic Familyland. At the beginning of July our family helped out at Catholic Familyland (see just outside of Steubenville. Prior to that we had to bet fingerprinted and go through an FBI background check by diocesan regulations.  Now they’re going from one extreme to the other.  After a home visit, Stephanie worked for the summer at Thomas Aquinas College in the cafeteria.  We did such tasks as helping to supervise the 500 foot water slide, help out in maintenance and setup for events, bus tables, etc.  It’s great as a family retreat.  About 100 families attended the six days of pray and play. Each had their own cabin with room for 1 family of eleven.  There’s something for all members of the family.  

All attend Mass in the morning with enthusiasm and have religious talks and activities.  The afternoons are filled with water slides, swimming, softball, soccer, basketball, tennis, volleyball, and even chess with tournaments.  Joseph won the chess tournament and John-Paul had his best games ever in the basketball tournament which his team won.  After a catered supper, there’s a rosary & marshmallows bonfire night, an amateur show, a square dance, family banner night, etc.  Later in the evening, the teens have a couple of hours of fun and faith formation with a night of Eucharistic Adoration.  Several confessors hear confessions every afternoon, each under the shade of a tree.  For more detail and information, see and a future blog of mine at  Their has the complete Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Then there's a weekly guide to teach the faith at home, because the primary educators in the Faith are the parents.  In addition, provides a wide selection of television programs to watch at your convenience instead of being tied down to a particular time.

Westward Ho!  At the beginning of August, we helped John-Paul buy a salvage 2010 Honda Civic and decided to help him to drive it to Phoenix as well as assist him in finding an apartment and moving in.  The trip was so long (almost three days) that I thought at times we were in a covered wagon.  Finally, we made the descent form a high plateau of the Rocky Mountain chain.  It’s almost providential that our good friends, Richard & Celina Koczwara and their beautiful family live in Mesa, another suburb of Phoenix and operates an 11 room motel (see  We had a wonderful stay with them and thoroughly enjoyed their traditional Polish hospitality for almost a week while looking for an apartment with John-Paul.  This city in the middle of the desert is beautiful, especially during winter, but it was an oven when we were there……115 F…….still more comfortable than the muggy 90 F in the east.  One afternoon we had a fascinating visit to the Goldfield 1890s vintage ghost town a half hour away (see

John-Paul’s school, Ville de Maria Academy (see, a Catholic college prep school with only about 75 students, has only a handful of students in each class, great for individual attention in its classical liberal arts curriculum.  Its small faculty is very dedicated to make the school Christ centered with the faith integrated into all of its courses while still being very good academically.  We’re very happy that John-Paul has a key role in this very noble enterprise that has so much potential.  Next year it will occupy the closed St. Daniel School.  With more space in a parish environment, it hopes to expand and be better able to compete with the excellent charter schools in the area. 

Visiting Stephanie at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California.  Finally, we drove the car across the desert with its occasional almost blinding sandstorms into California to visit Stephanie at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula just outside of northwest Los Angeles.  The scenery there is breathtaking, being nestled in a bowl surrounded by mountains with a newly constructed church standing out.  That together with the landscaping, ponds, gardens, & an orange grove plus Spanish colonial type architecture makes it one of the most beautiful campuses in the world.  The functioning pendulum and statues of great scholars further gives a great learning atmosphere.  Click on for a slide show on its home page.  Naomi was already there for a two week summer great books program for high school seniors. 
The beautiful church recently constructed dominates the campus.  Much of any Mass there is in Latin.  We attended one Liturgy during the week in the old Tridentine Mass completely in Latin.  I thought I was in a time capsule going back to the 1950s as a kid.  They have a staff of full time priests to attend to the spiritual development of the students as well.  Most of the students attend daily Mass and each dorm has prayer to end the day. 
Being ranked among America’s Top Colleges by the U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and the Princeton Review, Thomas Aquinas College is probably the best Catholic liberal arts college in the country (See  The entire very demanding standard curriculum for all graduates is based upon reading the great books in the original……Aristotle, Homer, Plato, Augustine, Aquinas with some readings in the original Latin, Shakespeare, Euclid with the same proofs & propositions, Einstein, etc.  Reading and discussing these pioneering works puts the student in the shoes of the pioneer intellectual who encountered obstacles, road blocks, and contradictions.   The student goes through the same discovering and reasoning processes as the original scholars to obtain insights and arrive at the truth in the advancement of knowledge throughout history…….Theology, Philosophy, Mathematics, and the empirical sciences with labs.  

The focus in this Christ centered institution is upon searching for the true, the good, and the beautiful in God’s creation.  The small classes (less than 20 students) with a total enrollment of 358 are based upon the Socratic Method (mainly discussion) with an emphasis upon rhetoric and developing the mind.  Classroom discussion even spills over into the cafeteria after class. 
Stephanie will have a general liberal arts degree quite equivalent to majors in Philosophy and Theology.  Many of their graduates teach and do parish work.  Others go on to graduate school to pursue a variety of specialties……law, business, medicine, education, etc.  Tragically, one of Stephanie’s friends there, Andrew Kent Moore ended up as a martyr for the pro-life cause in the Walk Across America.  You can read the details on my blog at  With each home visit, we see in Stephanie marked intellectual and spiritual growth.  She’s our scholar, a perfect fit for Thomas Aquinas College and she loves it.  In addition to the academic, Stephanie works 13 hours a week since they don’t give academic scholarships as such; participates in social functions; and takes part in different intramural sports.  Her high school varsity experience makes her a standout in basketball.

Back to Kent State.  After flying back to Columbus minus John-Paul and Stephanie, it was back to school for Naomi and Joseph.  In September Jaga and I attended the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Kent State University Catholic Newman Center.  Needless to say, the campus looked so different and it was great seeing old friends, especially Janet and Bob Stadulis who were wonderful to us, inviting us for Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving.  I wrote about it and the crucial importance of Newman Center or Club on the secular campus in my blog at
The visit of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue in October and later the visit of the Pilgim Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December (sponsored by the Knights of Columbus) were among the highlights of our parish devotions.  Our pastor combined it with Eucharistic Adoration for 24 hours each time.  It was such a privilege to be involved in its promotion.  To our great surprise, our local newspaper not only published much of my article on the first visit, but also published a photo of the statue in color on the front page.  For greater detail including fascinating facts about Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Guadalupe, see my blogs #95-96 for the former and #104-106 for the latter at
Naomi is a senior, her fourth year in the PSO program at the University of Rio Grande where she simultaneously receives high school and college credits for each course she takes there.  It’s still seven straight semesters of all A’s (one A-).  She continues on the Swimming Team for her base high school, Gallia Academy and hopes to make the district championship meet in her specialties of breast stroke and the butterfly.  Naomi works as a cashier nine hours a week at the El Toril Mexican Restaurant in town and three hours a week with the local Municipal Court. 
In November we made a campus visit to Franciscan University of Steubenville, a very Christ centered Catholic university.  This is one of the few Catholic Colleges that has remained very faithful to their original missions.  John Paul’s Ave Maria University and Stephanie’s Thomas Aquinas College are of the same mold.  Naomi plans to get a Bachelor Degree in Nursing and then go to graduate school to become a midwife.  We ran into one of the leaders of the Diocesan Youth Rally who is on the swimming team.  So she arranged to meet the Swimming coach and observe one of their practices.  Naomi is only a few seconds within the times of their best swimmers.  She fit right in and got a partial scholarship to boot.

Joseph is a sophomore, his first year in the same PSO program as Naomi at the University of Rio Grande.  The baby of the family is already the tallest of all of us.  He plays basketball and tennis in the spring for Gallia Academy.  He’s also one of the top members of his high school’s Quiz Bowl team.  He is an avid reader, subscribing to the Weekly Standard and regularly reads the National Review online.

Jaga continues as a full time mother since we have two kids still in the nest and the other two come home during the Christmas and summer breaks.  Our family is blessed.  That frees her to volunteer as a nurse in the Free Clinic we helped to found, to work in a soup kitchen, to be a member of the Catholic Women’s Club, and other activities as daily Mass and reading the Divine Office each day.  Because Jaga is a stay at home Mom, I can get involved in considerable volunteer work. 

Paul continues as a Eucharistic Minister to the sick.  I have learned the value of suffering in becoming closer to God and have the opportunity to unite one’s cross with the Lord’s cross, offering it all up as a dynamic prayer for the Church, the missions, for our country, and our loved ones.  In this way the sick person can be more valuable than the President!  The Knights of Columbus is also a great opportunity for fellowship and service.  I continue on the Steering Committee of the Diocesan Men’s Day of Renewal (see our Conference Blog by clicking on  Fr. Tom Loya has been one of our speakers and has four articles on that blog. I’m also vice-president of our free clinic (see Blogs #90 & 91 of 
Jaga and I are advisers to the Catholic Newman Club of the University of Rio Grande where I am Professor Emeritus and a member of the Chaplaincy Board.  With what time is left, I like to write for the Gallipolis Daily Tribune and my blog at  Take a look at the titles; I think that you’ll like at least some of them, especially Blog #102 on a detailed analysis of the unsustainability of the National Debt.  Being busier than ever in retirement is a lot better than becoming a couch potato and wither away.  Retirement is such an opportunity to serve on one’s own terms and pace while keeping sharp mentally and intellectually and utilizing past experience and skills acquired over the years for the benefit of God’s people.  On the fun side, I follow the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Steelers closely along with Rio Grande sports.  To keep in shape I try to take daily half hour walks and a weekly mile swim.  Changing strokes and keeping a good rhythm makes it rather easy. 
 So 2012 took us from a beach on the Atlantic Ocean at St Augustine to another beach on the Pacific Ocean at Ventura as we continue to carry on with our family, aspiring to grow spiritually and doing our part for the Church and the Community.  When you die, may the world be just a little bit better because of you.  God bless. 

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