The Men of Castel Milano St. Thomas Newsroom May 15, 2006 Good things are afoot. In fall 2005, the Catholic Studies department, drawing together resources, created a household at 2166 Summit Avenue consisting of five men, each majoring in Catholic Studies. Under the direction of Dr. Don Briel, Father Michael Keating and Brian Green, the goal of this new household is to bring men together in an environment that allows for both spiritual and practical formation to take place; moreover, the house is a means for integrating the ideals of Catholic Studies and the Catholic intellectual tradition into the students’ daily lives. Simply put, it is meant to aid these men and those they will influence in the call to holiness.They are Catholic men. The men chose St. Augustine as their patron for his intellectual hunger and his conversion to Christ. In fact, the house has been officially dubbed the “Castel Milano,” as Milan was the place where Augustine grew in great knowledge of the faith under the teaching of St. Ambrose. The original five household members, now four, were a mix of a freshman, a sophomore, and three juniors: Philip Schumaker, Jacob Olson, Brett McCaw, Matthew Snyder and Joseph Librande, respectively. McCaw, after spending a semester in the house, decided to enter the seminary, saying that the household “provided an ample opportunity to strengthen and enrich my faith.” Schumaker has also been greatly influenced by the household: “The formation and spiritual life has helped in my discernment of vocation … because our house is totally focused on God, and we are truly striving to become saints.”They are a brotherhood. “We are a brotherhood and this, most of all, has affected me,” Snyder said. “I never realized the importance of a solid group of brothers until I entered the house.” Spending time around the kitchen table in conversation, the men have discussions on a number of Catholic topics, anything from natu- From left to right: Matthew Snyder, Jacob Olson, Philip Schumaker, and Joseph Librande ral family planning to grace and free will. Yet they engage one another not only at the dinner table but also on the basketball court daily for exercise and good competition.They are sons of the Church. Though good Catholic fraternity is an important part of the household’s unity, prayer is considered much more important. The Eucharist and Our Lady stand at the core of their fraternity. Each day, the men wake each other up at 5:30 a.m., and sometimes earlier, so that they can arrive at the university’s 7 a.m. Mass early to pray and meditate. “Getting daily prayer in is essential,” Librande said. “If all else fails, the one thing that matters each day is that I get up early for silence and Mass.”They are scholars and gentlemen. At 6:30 p.m. every Sunday the house holds a potluck dinner, inviting anyone who is up for enjoying the day’s rest in prayer, laughter and deep conversation. At one point, Snyder had a regular book club meeting at the house, held just prior to the weekly dinner. Transforming this slightly, Librande hopes to make it more of a “readings” time, when students can come to read aloud and listen to Catholic classics in prose and poetry.These are the men of Castel Milano. Though one cannot see exactly where the will of God will put them, it is clear that – truly – good things are afoot.