St. Thomas Aquinas Forum

Each year, the St. Thomas Aquinas Theological & Catechetical Forum offers a weekend of intensive study of a particular area of theological interest. Led by Aquinas College faculty members and other distinguished scholars, the Forum unites academic study, discussion, and the liturgy of the Church. Attendance can be counted toward hours needed for diocesan catechist certification programs.

Proclaiming and Living the Gospel of the Family

February 13–14, 2015


Monsignor Albin J. Grous Pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Drexel Hill, PA and former Official for the Congregation for Catholic Schools in the Vatican
Helen Alvaré Professor at George Mason University School of Law
John Garvey President of the Catholic University of America
Katrina Zeno JPII Resource Center for Theology of the Body and Culture
Sister Terese Auer, O.P. Theology Teacher at John Paul the Great High School
Dr. Richard Bulzacchelli Professor of Theology at Aquinas College


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9th Annual St. Thomas Aquinas Forum

Proclaiming and Living the Gospel of the Family

“Our reflections must keep before us the beauty of the family and marriage, the greatness of this human reality which is so simple and yet so rich, consisting of joys and hopes, of struggles and sufferings, as is the whole of life… We are called to acknowledge how beautiful, true and good it is to start a family, to be a family today; and how indispensable the family is for the life of the world and for the future of humanity. We are called to make known God’s magnificent plan for the family and to help spouses joyfully experience this plan in their lives, as we accompany them amidst so many difficulties.”
—Pope Francis

Just months after the bishops meet with the Holy Father in Rome for the Synod on the Family, the 9th Annual St. Thomas Aquinas Forum will be examining this same theme. Join us as we celebrate this great gift, examining the role of the family in the Church, in society, and in God’s plan from the beginning. As the synod preparatory document stated, “The family is an inexhaustible resource and font of life in the Church’s pastoral activity. Therefore, the primary task of the Church is to proclaim the beauty of the vocation to love which holds great potential for society and the Church.”

Talk Descriptions

Rev. Msgr. Albin J. Grous, S.T.D.

The Family: the Sanctuary of Life

In preparation for the World Meeting of Families 2015 convening in Philadelphia later this year, Msgr. Grous will examine the Christian family as a school of love, justice, forgiveness, and mutual respect in the midst of a world darkened by selfishness and conflict and the cultural influences that challenge healthy family life.

Msgr GrousMsgr. Grous was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1987.  He earned an STD in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.  Throughout his priesthood, he has served as a parochial vicar and pastor in several parishes, has been appointed as a professor, academic dean and Vice Rector at SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Michigan, and from 2001-2008  was an Official for the Congregation for Catholic Education in Vatican City.  He has also been a chaplain and professor for St. John University study abroad program in Rome. He is currently Pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Drexel Hill, PA and is a board member of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC.  Msgr. has given presentations and retreats in the area of theology, spirituality and Catholic Education both nationally and internationally.

Helen Alvaré

Not a Zero Sum Game: Freedom for Women, for the Family, and for Religion
For the good of women and the good of society, Christians must engage in a hard conversation: what does women’s freedom truly include? Known for her work in getting the voice of real women heard in the public square, Helen Alvaré will tackle the issues facing women and the family today.

Helen AlvareHelen Alvaré is a Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law, where she teaches Family Law, Law and Religion, and Property Law. She publishes on matters concerning marriage, parenting, non-marital households, abortion, and First Amendment religion clauses. She is a consultor for the Pontifical Council of the Laity, chair of the Task Force on Conscience Protection of the Witherspoon Institute, and cooperates with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations as a speaker and a delegate to various United Nations conferences concerning women and the family. In addition to her publications in law reviews and other academic journals, Profes-sor Alvaré publishes regularly in publications such as the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, the Weekly Standard, and the Washington Examiner. Professor Alvaré received her law degree from Cornell University School of Law and her master’s degree in Systematic Theology from the Catholic University of America.

John Garvey

Familiaris Consortio: The Christian Family in the Modern World
In 1980, John Paul II met with the bishops of the world to discuss the role of the Christian family in the modern world. One of the fruits of that synod was John Paul II’s profound letter, Familiaris Consortio. What does this letter say to us today, on the heels of another synod on the family?

John GarveyJohn Garvey is the President of The Catholic University of America. He was the Dean of Boston College Law School from 1999 to 2010. In 2008 he was the President of the Association of American Law Schools. Apart from prac-ticing law, Garvey has taught at Notre Dame, the University of Michigan, and the University of Kentucky. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Religion and the Constitution (2011), which won the Alpha Sigma Nu Jesuit book award; and Sexuality and the U.S. Catholic Church (2007), which won the Catholic Press As-sociation award. From 1981–1984 he was Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States. He was elected to the American Law Institute in 1982.

Sister Terese Auer, O.P.

Marriage, Family, and Human Flourishing
Sister Terese’s talk will center on the vital importance of marriage and family for the flourishing of human life and society; and, within this framework, will examine significant threats faced by these fundamental institutions in the current cultural climate.

Sister Terese AuerSister Terese Auer, O.P., Ph.D. is a member of the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia of Nashville, Tennessee. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. Sr. Terese has over 30 years teaching experience at the high school and college levels, including 10 years at Aquinas College in Nashville. Sister Terese is currently serving as Chair of the Bioethics Department at Pope John Paul the Great High School in Virginia.

Richard Bulzacchelli, S.T.D.

Creation Theology and Christian Marriage: Why the Church’s Teachings on Sex and Matrimony Can’t Be Changed
The Biblical self-revelation of God as “Yahweh Elohim”— the God who creates the world from nothing—provides the key to understanding the Church’s constant teaching and tradition about marriage and sexual morality. It’s not just about saying no to things people want to do, but about faith in God: about who we say God is, what the world means, and what it means to be made in His image and likeness.

Rich Bulzacchelli

Dr. Rich Bulzacchelli is Associate Professor of Theology at Aquinas College and a Senior Fellow at the St. Paul Cen-ter for Biblical Theology. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Saint Vincent College, an M.A. in Christian philosophy from Marquette University, an M.A. in religious studies at Providence College, and an S.T.L. in systematic theology from the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, and an S.T.D. from the International Marian Research Institute with a specialization in Mariology and concentrations in theological anthropology and the thought of Karol Wojtyła/Pope John Paul II. He is published on a range of topics and personalities in theology and philosophy, including medical ethics, the Virgin Mary, St. Thomas Aquinas, Bl. Duns Scotus, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope St. John Paul II, and Pope Bl. Paul VI. Bulzacchelli’s most recent book is “Elohim Created”: A New Look at the First Creation Narrative (Nashville, TN: The Aggiornamento Project, 2012).

Katrina Zeno

The Family as a Saving-Nuptial Community in the Writings of St. John Paul II
John Paul II wrote: “Families, become what you are!” In doing so, he laid out a plan for families to be a place where not only the salvific love of God is experienced, but Trinitarian spousal love as well. In her enthusiastic way, Katrina will tackle the unwavering significance of the family in God’s plan of salvation “in the beginning,” “in Christ,” and “in the world” today.

Katrina ZenoKatrina Zeno, M.T.S., is the coordinator of the John Paul II Resource Center for Theology of the Body and Culture for the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona, and a graduate of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Washington, DC. She is the co-foundress of Women of the Third Millennium as well as the founder of Katrina co-hosted a 13-part series on EWTN on Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” and she is the author of Discovering the Feminine Genius: Every Woman’s Journey; The Body Reveals God; and When Life Doesn’t Go Your Way. Born and raised in San Diego, California, Katrina earned her B.A. in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio where she lived for 23 years until moving to Phoenix in 2005.


Friday, February 13

12:30 p.m. Check-in
1:00 Welcome
1:15 Creation Theology and Christian Marriage: Why the Church’s Teachings on Sex and Matrimony Can’t Be Changed, by Richard Bulzacchelli, S.T.D.
2:30 Break
2:45 Not a Zero Sum Game: Freedom for Women, for the Family, and for Religion, by Helen Alvaré, J.D.
4:00 Break
4:30 Holy Hour and Vespers
5:30 Dinner: Msgr. Albin J. Grous on The Family: the Sanctuary of Life

Saturday, February 14

9:00 Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
9:45 Continental Breakfast
10:30 Familiaris Consortio: The Christian Family in the Modern World, President John Garvey
11:45 Break
12:00 The Family as a Saving-Nuptial Community in the Writings of St. John Paul II, Katrina Zeno
1:15 Lunch
2:30 Marriage, Family, and Human Flourishing, Sister Terese Auer, O.P.

Past Forums

2014 St. Thomas Aquinas Forum

Topic: Modern Man: Who are We Evangelizing and Why?

Friday–Saturday, February 14–15, 2014
on the Dominican Campus

The keynote was delivered by Father Thomas Rosica, C.S.B. Other speakers include Dr. Ralph Martin, Sister Thomas More, O.P., Dr. Brad Peper, and Sister Elinor, O.P.

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2013 St. Thomas Aquinas Forum


Date: February 15–16, 2013
Location: The Dominican Campus

Forum Audio

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For full information about the topics and speakers, please download the full Forum brochure (2 Mb PDF)


Faith & Reason
featuring acclaimed Philosopher, author, and Christian apologist Peter Kreeft, Alan Schreck, Peter Pagan, Sister Mary Angelica, O.P., and John Cuddeback.

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