On March 1st, Dr. Don Briel, director of the Center for Catholic Studies and avid Newman scholar, gave a lecture titled “Why Newman Matters,” the first of a series of lectures on Faith and Culture. Although he acknowledged a variety of possible reasons for the importance of John Henry Newman, Briel chose to speak about Newman as an educator who had profound insights into the nature and end of higher education. Newman’s Idea of a University was the primary source of Briel’s reflection.
Geroge Weigel, renowned author & biographer of Pope John Paul II
The O’Shaughnessy Education Center was buzzing with excitement on Monday, October 4 in waits for George Weigel to speak about his new book on the Venerable Pope John Paul II. The book is titled End of the Beginning-Pontificate of JPII. As a Catholic Leadership Intern, I had the privilege of being a greeter at the front doors of the auditorium. “Welcome. Thanks for coming! Enjoy the talk” echoed throughout the lobby. The mob of people was diversely populated with professors, priests, friends, students, and probably many more distinguished (yet unidentified) guests. From my vantage point, it was nice to see Weigel’s reception was a warm one. As the clock approached 7:30pm, Dr. Briel urged us (the super cool greeters) to herd people into the auditorium so the talk could begin. Being a 5’ 4” girl with a relatively “unbooming” voice, it wasn’t a surprise that no one really listened to me. However, once Weigel took the stage, people’s attention turned towards the front and my stature didn’t matter anymore.
Posted by Jace, UST freshman, Catholic Studies, Secondary Education, and Theology
The signs of waking up bright and early with the sun shining, the briefcases packed, and the charter bus waiting was the tip-off to an adventure of a lifetime! The Notre Dame Conference was the calling of a large sum of eager participants seeking knowledge in philosophy. Even though the trip towards South Bend, Indiana was suppose to take eight to nine hours, the cozy and warm welcoming twelve to thirteen hour bus ride (due to a flat tire) was a place of fellowship and the games ‘ninja,’ and ‘mafia.’ Beginning the trip off with this unique type of fellowship was stupendous because bonds that were made with several that continue to flourish. The conference started out with a bang, whether it was Michael Novak, Alice von Hildebrand, or numerous of other very intellectual philosopher’s, the Tommie students were “mind-blown” and yet our babbling mouths would not stop talking about what we’ve just learned. With this Notre Dame couldn’t have been a better campus, whether it be the grotto, the stadium, or (my favorite) the marvelous ‘Touchdown Jesus,’ Tommies were in awe at the beauty that this school had to offer! The fellowship flourished on the trip back, even though some games were permitted to play… the students of St. Thomas gained many experiences, much knowledge, and a unique fellowship that was taken back to our home, University of St. Thomas.
Posted by Ellie, UST Sophomore, Psychology, Music, and Catholic Studies
How many times do we leave a gathering thinking,“ well that was fun”, but yet are left with an underlying feeling that somehow there was an element of meaninglessness in the way we spent our time. As soon as I walked into the beautiful new Albertus Magnus chapel to begin the first Catholic Studies community night, I knew this would be a very fruitful gathering. The mass was beautiful, with not an empty chair to be had. Following mass, we all piled into the gathering space, definitely challenging the room’s capacity, to listen to Father Laird’s powerful reflection on Mary and her role in our lives. After joining together in raising our thoughts to the call to receive our Lord and His will in ourselves, we shared in a most delicious Italian meal and had the opportunity to discuss this reflection. The whole evening had its focus on Christ and the meaning our lives have when we live in communion with our brothers and sisters, imitating our mother, Mary. I can’t believe that anyone left our gathering without a feeling of true fullness and nourishment which was rooted in the fellowship, support, and community experienced, but definitely not hindered by the wonderful pasta!
Posted by Mary, Catholic Studies staff member
(Pictured above: Donald Codden and Kecia Rehkamp actors in the “I Do I Do!” conference segments)
The Center for Catholic Studies continues to keep busy over the summer months. One recent event that Catholic Studies co-sponsored was the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers’ conference, “Becoming a Marriage-Building Church.” As co-sponsor of the event, the Center for Catholic Studies was brought in at the early planning stages of the event. The conference and pre-conference was held June 22-28th on the St. Thomas campus. The focus of the conference was to encourage Church members to be an active part of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage (NPIM).
The days were filled with guest lecturers ranging from bestselling author Christopher West to our very own Father Peter Laird (who graciously filled in for a keynote speaker, only days before the event started).
Before each keynote lecture there was prayer followed by a fun scene from the play “I Do I Do!” performed by the Donald Codden and Kecia Rehkamp. The play’s only prop was a large poster style bed donated from the local Slumberland store, which was kept on stage for the duration of the conference. The bed served to transition the scenes of the life of a marriage from getting married, to having children, to monitoring teenagers out past their curfews, to the quiet blankness of an empty nest. Throughout the week many conference participants could be seen quickly walking from the various residence halls to the OEC Auditorium so as not to miss the next scene of the play. This very clever tactic thought up by Chris Codden helped to keep attendees on time and ready for the keynote speakers!
The warm, somewhat muggy week was filled with prayer, business meetings, workshop sessions, three floors of vendors in Murray-Herrick atriums, celebration of the Eucharist at the St. Thomas Chapel, as well as Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul to close the Pauline year. The Mass, presided over by Archbishop John Nienstedt, S.T.D., was followed by a wedding cake reception. Attending the Mass was particularly exciting for many of the conference attendees, especially those who traveled from other states and countries, as the Cathedral had just received the special distinction of shrine status, being the only shrine in North America dedicated to Saint Paul.
A little fun was also thrown in with an ice-cream social and barbeque dinner with a very special guest appearance – the Father Guido Sarducci character of Saturday Night Live fame! Father Sarducci entertained the all-ages crowd before the Karaoke fun began and finished the night.
Chris Codden, President of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers, summed the week up: “The conference hosted more than 500 people from the United States, Canada, the Bahamas and Australia, which included nine archbishops and bishops and 50 clergy. We feel the conference was a great success and look forward to the fruit of the work begun here; to the impact on the culture and society; to becoming a “Marriage-Building Church”.
(Pictured above: Conference Mass at the University of St. Thomas Chapel)
Posted by Phil, UST Senior, Philosophy and Catholic Studies
Some of the hardest questions in a Catholic’s life are questions of faith and vocation. How do these two interact? How do we incorporate one into the other, and what influence should faith have on my vocation and vice versa? Even more fundamental then this is the question, “To which vocation is God calling me?” The Radical Encounters event, sponsored by Campus Ministry and Catholic Studies, was geared toward asking (and answering!) these questions of faith and vocation.