Sunday, March 25, 2018

Reviving Thomism in Tulsa


How many of our Local Church's diocesan priests have received an adequate exposure to the writings of St. Thomas, especially the Summa Theologica?  Few if any,  I'm afraid to be the case. 

Though, I do hear our Bishop Emeritus Slattery is very Thomistic!

So how can our priests and pastors give an integral, reliable catechesis, advise in the confessional,  or marriage preparation without a solid,  anchored,  and wise theological system, as that of St. Thomas?  Go off the writings of Teilhard de Chardin or Karl Rhaner?  Or even by reading books by then Cardinal Ratzinger published by Ignatius Press? 

That would be like practicing for the NBA playoffs with a nerf ball and one of those little plastic hoops you attach to a bedroom door. 

The restoration of Catholic tradition today requires not only observing the lex orandi, the "law of prayer," through the Church's liturgical tradition.  This work also requires preserving the lex credendi, the "law of belief," by maintaining the theological tradition of going first and foremost to St.  Thomas, to understand revealed Doctrine

Wouldn't you agree?

On one side of the coin we have to be honest that Thomism has not been preserved in our Local Church of the Tulsa Diocese, and throughout the Universal Church;  on the other side of the same coin we can highlight positive works of restoring and preserving the thought and spirit of the Angelic Doctor here in the Heartland, and elsewhere.  

Thomism in the Tulsa Diocese, Here's a List:

1. The Fraternity of St. Peter priests - who pastor Most Precious Blood parish just southwest of downtown Tulsa,  near Chandler Park.   Thomistic principles  permeate their daily,  pastoral works,  which they learned in the seminary.  At Our Lady of Guadalupe seminary,  in Nebraska,  the seminary program is thoroughly Thomistic, explicitly in line with what even Vatican II itself mandated.

2. The Clear Creek monks - thankfully Abbot Forgeot of their original Motherhouse in France,  i.e. Notre Dame de Fontgombault Abbey in France,  preserved Thomistic studies for their priest monks,  who went on to found Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma.  Within the monastery walls, the priest professors teach seminary-style classes to brothers preparing for the priesthood.   Talking in the past to Abbot Anderson and Fr. Bethel in particular,  who teach,  it is evident they espouse a classical Thomism. 

3. Professor William Dunn, S. T. L.   A professor of Thomistic theology and philosophy at Tulsa's Pastoral Studies Institute,  at the Chancery.  For years he has taught St. Thomas, classes being open to anyone wanting to more deeply pursue Truth.  Come prepared for an enlightening, sit-down lecture/discussion, and to read from the Summa itself.  I hear Joey Spencer, Director of the PSI, also has a love of Aquinas. 

4. James DePrisco is a traditional Catholic family man and professional, who lives in the Tulsa Diocese.  He is a published Catholic author and podcaster, who has extensively studied the philosophy of St. Thomas over the years.   He often incorporates Thomistic thought into what he has to say.

5.  Joseph Ostermeir (me!).  Feel free to check out my Thomistic podcasts at the top of the screen, for what they are worth. I happened to earn an MA in Catholic Philosophy, based mainly on St. Thomas and Aristotle, through Holy Apostles College and Seminary's distance education program,  in order to complete the philosophy phase of seminary.  I once discerned a priestly vocation, before later getting married.  The take away wasn't a professional career as a scholar, but rather the core philosophical teachings and principles of St.  Thomas,  which I continue to apply in my daily life and vocation.  They are a blessing I want to share.

The podcasts are meant as a basic, condensed introduction to Thomistic philosophy, to inspire others to learn more.  I plan to do more blog posts and podcasts on Thomistic topics soon.  Possible subjects include the Natural Law, Medical Ethics for health care professionals, Thomistic cosmology vs. that of Stephen Hawking, a Thomistic critique of Artificial Intelligence, etc.  Should be fun!

Did I miss anyone?  Other examples of Thomistic Revival in Eastern Oklahoma?

Have a bless-ed Holy Week!


  1. I look forward to more of your podcasts about the philosophy of St. Thomas.

  2. Thanks Julian. I'm working on a podcast about medical ethics, since there's a good # of trads I know who work in the health field. Plus one on Artificial Intelligence since a trad I know is working on a doctoral thesis about it, plus some computer guys I know are talking about how AI is becoming a hot commodity in their industry. Thomism can be very lofty and speculative, but it seems to me that for most people who study it, it comes down to applying it in a very practical way in their avocations and state in life. A parent can apply principles found in St. Thomas' Treatise on Virtue, for example, in molding their approach to discipline. An engineer can use principles from natural philosophy to help him look more clearly at the physics of their design. The applications could go on and on, and not only for seminarians and priests. That at least was the view of Pope Leo XIII.