Browsing Category


Classes, Faculty & Staff

The Church dwells among a modern people

Written by Jace Bravo ’13 –  Catholic Studies and Communication and Journalism

“I sought to hear the voice of God and climbed the topmost steeple, but God declared: “Go down again – I dwell among the people.” – John Henry Newman

As I climbed to the second floor of the Catholic Studies building I discovered a classroom with students itching to learn more about the topic of our course: Modernity and the Church. I have had only one other in-class experience with Father Keating besides this one and words cannot begin to describe how much I enjoy his classes.  I think the consensus among my fellow students is that after each class everyone wants to just walk downstairs and dwell in the Albertus Magnus chapel.

Inside the heart of the classroom sit many students always eager to hear the words of our fearless leader, Father Keating.  As we come to class every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we anticipate the beginning of the class when Father clasps his hands together and begins—always on time—with the St. Thomas Aquinas prayer.  Although many of us in the class have loud laughs, loud voices, and show up in the middle of the prayer looking like a deer in the headlights as we map our way to an open seat, Father Keating never fails to grab each of our attention with a simple reverent gesture.  Every class period we learn something that we have yet to experience before, or we have experienced it, Father introduces it in a gripping unique way.

This course has opened my eyes to many things about the Church and the modern era.  We have learned about the French Revolution and how one revolution drastically changed much of the world’s understanding of religion.  We are beginning to see the role the Church has played during times when many believed the Church had sung its last hymn.  Father Keating consistently notes how the Church always marvelously pulls through these drastic times singing even louder hymns of praise.  The class is filled with readings from past popes, past philosophers, as well as past theologians. No matter the reading, Father Keating continues to instruct us that although there may be people trying to sing different songs, the Church always stands faithful to the one true hymn taught by Jesus and practiced since the days of St. Paul.

 I do not know how to explain what goes on in the mind of Father Keating, nor any other Catholic Studies professor, but what I do know is that the Holy Spirit’s presence is quite evident in all Catholic Studies courses.

(photo: Fred Conrad/New York Times)

Catholic at UST, Classes, Rome Abroad, Student Profiles

An Immense Gift for Seminarians

Written by Colin Jones ’14, Philosophy, Catholic Studies, and Classical Languages

When I first came to Saint John Vianney Seminary, my academic advisor gave me two reasons why I should major in Catholic Studies in addition to my required Philosophy major.  One, it wasn’t very hard to do, since a few of the classes overlapped with the seminary curriculum, and two, it offered the once-in-a-lifetime experience of studying in Rome.  Let’s just say it didn’t take me a very long time to make a decision (I mean, come on, it’s Rome!).  Before I had even taken my first class in Catholic Studies, I had declared it as one of my majors.

While you would probably be correct in saying that this was a rash, spur of the moment decision, looking back two years later I can honestly say that it was one of the best decisions I ever made.  And I haven’t even gone to Rome yet!

For a seminarian studying to be one day ordained to the priesthood, God willing, the Catholic Studies program at St. Thomas has been one of the most tremendous blessings of my formation.  In the two Catholic Studies classes that I have completed, and the one that I am currently taking in the program, I have been blessed with the rich, profound, and transformative experience of learning about the beautiful faith of the Catholic Church, the Church which I hope to one day take as my bride.

In Catholic Studies 101, The Search for Happiness, Fr. Keating gave us a description of the Church which I will never forget: “To believe the way of truth, to pray the way of sanctification, and to live the way of love and transformation.” As a priest, my ultimate task will be to impart this understanding of the Catholic Church to every man, woman, and child who walks through the doors of my parish.  It will be my job to teach my parishioners that it is only in the Catholic Church that they will obtain the truth, the sanctification, the love, and the transformation for which they so ardently long.  And it will be up to me to show my flock that in a world which so often sees religion, particularly the Catholic Church, as a detriment and a hindrance to society, it is actually only through the salvific teachings of the Church that we can become truly free.

In my current Catholic Vision class with Dr. Junker, this has been precisely the topic at hand.  We have been reading everything from the Gospel of John, to Pope Benedict’s homilies on creation, to St. Augustine’s City of God, and in doing so have delved into two of the deepest realities of humanity with a “Catholic lens,” showing how the human person only comes into his true self when he is in union with Christ.  It is my prayer that, as a priest, I will be able to help others to see the world through this same “Catholic lens,” and thus show them the way to Christ.

In his 2012 letter to seminarians on the topic of Intellectual Formation, Cardinal Wuerl of Washington states that “ you are required to take so many courses in Catholic teaching, history and philosophy so that you are not only aware of the immense gift of the Catholic tradition, but that you are also well prepared to access it, understand it, appropriate it and share it”

While the Catholic Studies program is by no means a “required” field for SJV seminarians, it fits exactly into this description of intellectual formation which Cardinal Wuerl describes.  Through the Catholic Studies program, I have indeed gained a much greater awareness of and appreciation for the “immense gift of the Catholic tradition,” and have become “well prepared to access it, understand it, appropriate it and share it.” If it be the Father’s will that I one day bring Christ to world as his priest, I have no doubt that the beautiful gift of the Catholic Studies program will be an immense blessing for my priesthood.

And I haven’t even gone to Rome yet.  Praised be Jesus Christ!




Learning how doubt can strengthen faith.

Written by Megan Hastings ’14, Studio Art and Catholic Studies

       My experience with Catholic Studies has been more than an opportunity to grow in knowledge, it has been an incredible opportunity for formation as a person. I came into college with a faith that was founded on “heart-knowledge” of the Lord, but through Catholic Studies, and learning fundamental truths, it has allowed my faith to flourish with a new and rich depth. I am currently taking a course titled, “Faith and Doubt” which is both a Catholic Studies and Philosophy course. My experience in this class has been exceptional. It is never an issue of desiring to do the homework because I truly want to be learning the course material. The material not only inspires my personal faith, but allows me to gain a faith-filled perspective on life that is so significant in relating to others. Continue Reading


It’s good to be Catholic during times such as Midterms…

St-Joseph-of-CupertinoFeeling stressed and nervous about your midterm examinations? Well, here is a study tip: ask for the intercession of our wonderful saints! One in particular to be pointed out when taking tests is St. Joseph Cupertino. Here is his story.

St. Joseph was born at Cupertino, in the diocese of Nardo in the Kingdom of Naples, in 1603. His mother considered him a nuisance and treated him harshly. Joseph soon became very slow and absent-minded. He would wander around, going nowhere, his mouth gaping open. But he had a bad temper, too, and so, he was not at all popular. He tried to learn the trade of shoemaking, but failed. He asked to become a Franciscan, but they would not accept him. Next, he joined the Capuchins, but eight months later, they sent him away because he could not seem to do anything right. He dropped piles of dishes and kept forgetting to do what he was told. His mother was not at all pleased to have the eighteen-year-old Joseph back home again, so she finally got him accepted as a servant at the Franciscan monastery. He was given the monks habit and put to hard work taking care of the horses. About this time, Joseph began to change. He grew more humble and gentle, more careful and successful at his work. He also began to do more penance. Now, it was decided that he could become a real member of the Order and start studying for the priesthood. Although he was very good, he still had a very hard time with studies. The examiner providentially asked him to explain the ONLY thing he knew well, and so he was made a deacon, and later a priest. Continue Reading


Woman and Man: much more than a philosophical question


Written by Martin Sicam ’13, Mathematics Major and  Catholic Studies Minor

When a man and a woman look upon each other, what does each see? Why does the Church exclude women in the Priesthood? Why do we call God “Father” and never “Mother”? In the philosophically based class Woman and Man (taught this Fall by Professor Elizabeth Kelly), we delve deep into questions such as these to arrive at intrinsic truths. On the first day of class, we were instructed to write down what we think it means to be a man or what it means to be a woman. It is a simple task to note the stereotypical characteristics of each. But those answers only satisfy what it means to be like a man or woman. We want to know what it really means to be man and woman, male and female, father and mother Continue Reading


Cath301: Reflections on the Catholic Vision



          Chalk shatters, dissipating into clouds of white dust. Numerous diagrams cover the board, intersecting into webs of chaos. The students, wide-eyed and alert, write vigorously, notebook pages flying, hoping not to miss a single word. One could only encounter such excitement in Dr. Junker’s 301 class.

Continue Reading


Catholic Studies and Communications

Posted by Vanessa, UST Senior, Catholic Studies and Communications and Journalism

If you major in both Catholic Studies and Communications and Journalism, what kind of career will you end up in? The options are seemingly limited. Perhaps you will find yourself writing for your local diocesan newspaper or doing advertising campaigns on behalf of EWTN. You might even declare your final vows and go on to publish your convent’s monthly newsletter. Or, is it actually possible that combining Catholic Studies and Communications and Journalism might open doors rather than close them?
Although I never intended to take part in the Catholic Studies program as a segue into an explicitly Catholic career, most people who are unfamiliar with the program tend to assume as much. My undergraduate experience in Catholic Studies has been a testament to the importance of faith in all areas and situations of life. Our belief in God should not be an aspect of ourselves separate from the others. Above all else, it should be the detail of our being that is most infiltrated throughout the rest: “I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your loving kindness and Your truth” (Psalm 40:10).
Upon graduation this coming May, I hope to find a job in the area of Communications. My focus has been in Visual Communication, and I would be absolutely thrilled if I could one day be a Graphic Designer. This career is not obviously linked to faith, but it is if I choose to make it so! Because of the Catholic Studies Department and its faculty, I will be able to move ahead into the workplace, confidently taking Christ with me. My daily prayer is that I might reflect Christ to all I encounter and – regardless of whether an environment be religious or secular – be a constant witness to his perfect love.



Posted by Jim Carrico, UST Graduate Student, Master of Arts in Catholic Studies
Last Thursday (10/22/09) the CSMA students hosted the second annual Fall Disputation. A disputation is a formal discussion upon some philosophic question, always phrased in a yes / no form. At this latest discussion the question posed was, “Is execution a legitimate form of punishment?” Most would agree that as a form of defense, execution could be resorted to in some instances. However the question was crafted so as to exclude this consideration and rather focus on the point of whether it is justifiable purely as a form of punishment. This question was elucidated by Dr. Kennedy and then taken up by, Dr. Wojda and Dr. Lu. What followed was a riveting examination of the nature of punishment in general and its aims. The fruit of the evening was that everyone went away with a more lucid sense of what issues were involved in the question. The CSMA students intend to host many more disputations in the future. So keep your eyes peeled and be sure to reply to emails and postings with any intriguing questions you may have. We are always looking for topics!

Classes, Faith and Career, Student Profiles

Catholic Studies and Science

Posted by Matthew, UST Senior, Chemistry and Catholic Studies
I could not really picture what my college experience would be like if I had not chosen to be a Catholic Studies major. The courses, by design, target the person as a whole seeking to advance the intellect and increase a person’s capacity for learning in a way that, in my opinion, no other department at St. Thomas can replicate. One would think that that my mind would be in two parallel worlds if I was studying Thermodynamics and Quantum Mechanics at the same time as the Life and Thought of Cardinal Newman and Pathways and Practices of Christian Spirituality; however, it is quite the contrary. Catholic Studies combines faith and reason together, without compromising either, to create a fulfilling and deeply humanizing atmosphere. The philosophical, historical, and theological aspects of Catholic Studies courses have improved my analytical skills by teaching me to examine a subject logically, from a historical context, and with prudence. Chemistry has given me a sense of how little we actually understand about the natural world and, as a result, manifests how important it is to study our, as Chesterton says, “little sister earth” with a rational, ethical, and an imaginative procedure.