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Alumni, Service, Student Profiles

Being “Christ in the City”

Written by Abby Kowitz, Catholic Studies Alumna, Class of 2012

As a recent college grad, most people nod their heads in approval when I tell them I have a degree in Accounting, but that same head nod quickly turns into a sort of confused neck spasm when I nonchalantly add that I also have a degree in Catholic Studies; and the great paradox is, that if given the ultimatum, I would drop the Accounting and cling to my Catholic Studies education in a heartbeat. Why? Because Catholic Studies has not only formed my perspective of my work, but has permeated every aspect of my life.

When it came time to decide what to do after graduation, one thought continued to ring loud and clear: “Our times need disciples for Christ who are willing to put their lives on the line for the sake of the Gospel.” Okay…that sounds great, but how do we actually do it? How do we do the seemingly impossible placed on our hearts by a realistic yet demanding Father?

I started to answer this by recognizing that I am a daughter of God and a member of the Body of Christ. I have been given everything with which to do anything, just not the controller. I have been called to use my talents and gifts to serve the Lord under no conditions, and after pretending for many months that my plan was better than His, I admitted that He knew better and am now serving as a missionary with Christ in the City in Denver, Colorado for one year.

Something that I will forever hold onto from my Catholic Studies education is that true leadership has everything to do with our being and nothing to do with our title; it is who we are, and not what we do. It has taken four months of humble missionary work for me to really internalize that definition in a practical way. Being a missionary, you are on the bottom of the Totem Pole… and I mean the literal bottom.

Why can’t someone more qualified process payroll as the Accountant for Christ in the City? Why does it matter that it’s me and not a random social worker counseling the young women who walk into the crisis pregnancy center? Couldn’t I be doing something better with my time than washing dishes by hand for the fifth time that day for my fellow missionaries and community members?

The answer is that it does matter that this person is me. I need to be the one processing payroll, and sitting with that vulnerable woman, and washing what seems like hundreds of dishes, because by recognizing that it is not what I am doing, but that I have literally been called to be Christ in these moments, that those seemingly small things take on the capacity to permeate and radically change our culture.

 “Our times need disciples for Christ who are willing to put their lives on the line for the sake of the Gospel…”

Thank you, Catholic Studies, for inspiring this desire within me, and thank you Jesus and Mary, for giving me the courage and grace to respond to it through Christ in the City!

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!



Alumni, Student Profiles

For the sake of learning.


Written by Kelsey Willits, Alumna ’11, current CSMA graduate student
At the midway point of my college years I realized that I had lost my love of learning.  Rather than pursuing my studies for their own sake, I found myself fettered to the instrumentality of acquiring ‘A’s to adorn my transcript.  School was becoming work, a mere mechanical production, quite contrary to true meaning of school, which, believe or not, is leisure.  Yearning to be pierced by the wonder of the academic adventure, to enter deeply into the art of learning, I began the process of letting go of studying in order to do something and instead started pursuing it in order to become someone, that is, the woman that God calls me to be. 
By the end of the fall semester of my senior year, I reached a point where the thought of not being in school the following year was next to unfathomable.  My heart hungered to continue to partake of the feast of knowledge, to chew slowly on its delicacies, allowing the individual flavors to color the palate of my mind.  I now find myself a third of the way through the Catholic Studies Masters Program and with yet greater gumption I continue to exclaim, ‘I love school!’  What am I going to do with it, I often get asked?  I am not sure.  Who am I going to become?  I pray a better daughter, sister, friend, and, God willing, one day, an adorer of Christ in Heaven.

Catholic at UST, Catholic Residences, Student Profiles

Today, I’m studying to be a Catholic priest…



Written by Talyor Leffler ’13, Philosophy and Catholic Studies


Five years ago, I had a make-believe conversation in my head with those little old ladies during Vocation Awareness Week. They would say, “Young man, you would sure make a good priest,” to which I would respond, “You’re crazy, ma’am. Please go pick on someone else. That’s the last thing on earth I would spend my entire life suffering through.” Today, I’m studying to be a Catholic priest.

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Faith and Career, Student Profiles

Catholic Ideals in Business

As a business student who is also in Catholic Studies I have learned how easy it is to compartmentalize my life. I can study business and look at the world through the lens of dollars and cents and a few hours later be sitting in a Catholic Studies Class reading Pope John XXIII.

Not only is this dichotomy of thought unhealthy, it is also unwarranted. The Catholic Leadership Intern program this year really brought me to this realization. This year we, the Catholic Leadership Interns, looked at the topic of Catholic ideals in business. We have covered many different topics, ranging from changing the culture of a business institution, to the best way to structure a business in view of the Catholic Ideal.

With all of these topics covered, there was one theme that permeated through them all and stuck in my mind. This realization was that the way I view people should never change. The contrast in views I stated above should never happen when viewing another human being. The only perspective that should be held when viewing another person should be the Catholic view, Continue Reading

Faith and Career, Rome Abroad, Student Profiles

Quo Vadis?

The following account was written by Paul Solomon, a senior studying at the St. John Vianney College Seminary.

Many of us are familiar with the famous “Quo Vadis?” account from the Acts of Peter. St. Peter is fleeing the city of Rome to avoid persecution and death, and as he is departing along the Via Appia he encounters Christ. Peter questions Him, “Where are you going?” Christ responds, “I am heading to Rome to be crucified once again.” Ultimately, St. Peter rethinks his decision and returns to Rome, becoming a martyr for the faith. Continue Reading

Student Profiles

More than the Facts: How Catholic Studies Complements Elementary Education


My final semester of college strays far from that “ideal” schedule every freshman dreams of—only 3 classes, plenty of naps, no 8:00am’s, not having to walk to South campus.  Instead, I wake up in time to pray Morning Prayer with the women I live with and am out the door  every day by 7:15am.  With my coffee in hand, I walk four blocks to St. Mark’s School where I spend the entire day student teaching.  Continue Reading

Student Profiles

Finding Hope During the Dark Days of Preparation

McQuills Slides

Matt McQuillan, Senior Catholic Studies student, writes of his experience preparing for his last Tommie baseball season this Spring as he spends a much deserved Spring Break in Florida with the team.  His reccount of the toils and tribulations of such preparations seem to be reminiscent of each Catholic’s journey during the Lenten Season.  This is a great opportunity for reflection on this Lenten experience, as the Eternal Ray of Hope, Jesus in the Resurrection, remains waiting on the horizon to dispell the long dark days of Lent.  Here is Matt’s experience:

It has been a very, very long winter.  The long dark days, the high cost of heating a poorly insulated duplex, and the seemingly endless cycle of snow emergencies have all contributed to its incessancy.  But for myself, and the University of St. Thomas baseball team, this winter has been particularly long.  Perhaps it was the month of 5:30 A.M. practices we endured.  More likely it is the monotony of attempting to practice baseball indoors by doing the same drills day after day…after day.  Needless to say, there were many mornings when we asked ourselves, “is this really worth it?” Continue Reading