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Faith, Mission in Action

Mission in Action: Giving Back With the Tools We Have Been Given

Guest Blogger: Kristina M. Gigstad (’06)
Senior Associate, Sackett Law Firm, Milford, Iowa
Treasurer and Board Member, Lakes Regional Healthcare Foundation Board

PictureThe St. Thomas Law mission to integrate faith and reason was planted like a seed at the root of everything else I learned in law school, shaping who I am and what I do.  It affects how I see things and what I think.  It was because of this mission that I saw an adversity as a calling to do more for others.

Our 2 year old daughter was born with a rare medical condition.  It has been one of the most overwhelming things I have ever been through.  My battle began with just trying to understand her condition and consulting with countless doctors.  When we finally found a doctor, we were told insurance would not cover the treatment our daughter needed even though it was medically necessary.  I had to use the entire breadth of my legal training, fighting insurance for months, before we were able to get the treatment covered.  When we eventually got insurance approval I knew it was only because God had given me the tools to reach that outcome.

Facing the prospect of not being able to help our daughter seemed impossible for me to imagine.  Yet I could recall many law school teachings about this very type of injustice and our duty as UST lawyers to correct them.  As difficult as our situation felt, I felt lucky because I had the education to read a hundred page insurance policy and to understand it.  I couldn’t help but think of all of the other mothers in my situation that did not have those tools or the money to hire an attorney.

When I was asked to join the Lakes Regional Healthcare Foundation Board I knew this was my opportunity to help give to others as God had given to me.  In the midst of healthcare reform, our goal is to provide continued access to quality healthcare.  Though federal funding has been drastically reduced, we refuse to sacrifice our standards.  Instead, we are pursuing private funding and a number of measures to ensure that the health of our community is put first.  It feels wonderful to be able to try to make a difference in this way.

I remember when I applied to St. Thomas I wrote in my admissions essay that I felt called to go there.  Today I can see why I was called to be there: so that I would grow in my faith; so that I would see my duties to God and His people; and so that I would have the tools for the many other callings God has planned for me.


Living the Mission Daily: Paul Haverstock ’10

There are a lot of good law schools.  St. Thomas stands out among them for having a faith-based mission.  That’s why I chose to go to here: I wanted to be in a place where academic excellence was encouraged to draw from the Christian, and specifically, Catholic intellectual tradition.  It takes courage to be a place that officially invokes Catholic tradition in today’s cultural climate.

It also takes courage to be a priest.  After graduating from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in 2010, I entered Catholic seminary in the hopes of someday serving God and the Church as a priest of Jesus Christ.  Persuing this path means freely giving up the possibility of getting married and having a biological family.  It will also require promising obedience to my bishop and his successors: in other words, someone else will get to decide where I go and what I do.  Why would someone willingly choose this path?

Because God is real.  And, because He is worth giving everything up for.  These two points are true for every person, whether they are Catholic or not; whether they believe in God or not.  He’s there, and He loves each person.  He loves us just exactly as we are.  And at the same time, He wants us to change, so that we can become the kind of people who are capable of being happy with Him, in His all-holy presence, for eternity.  Everyone likes the first part (God loves us), and nobody, including me, likes the second part (we need to change and repent).

What does this have to do with law school?  Well, UST Law has a non-traditional mission, and I’m certainly on a non-traditional path for graduates of UST Law (or any law school).  I didn’t go to law school thinking that I would enter seminary: that decision  gradually emerged out of prayer, but it was aided by the faith-friendly atmosphere of UST Law, especially in the form of daily mass and the presence of priests and committed Christians on the faculty.

After finishing two years of philosophy studies at St. Paul Seminary, I am now in Rome doing my first of four years of theology, along with 250 other men from around the United States, Canada, and Australia.  Our residence overlooks St. Peter’s basilica and the Vatican, providing a constant reminder of the fact that our unity comes through our loyalty to the successor of Peter: the Pope. God-willing, I’ll be ordained a priest in 2016, when I look forward to giving back to God out of the abundance of gifts He’s given me, not the least of which I count to be my time spent at our alma mater.

Please keep me in your prayers!  UST Law remains in mine too, especially in this exciting time of new leadership. (Congratulations to Dean Vischer!)

Grateful to God and Alma Mater,


Faith, Student Perspective

Vatican II’s declaration of religious freedom: The view from Europe

Submitted by Lucas S., 2L Guest Blogger

The Most Reverend Charles Morerod, OP, was once at a religious conference in Geneva, Switzerland, when an African priest posed the question, “Should we allow people to change religions?” Bishop Morerod didn’t want to answer the question, and no one else did either, so the question went largely unanswered. “It is not obvious,” said Bishop Morerod, speaking on religious freedom at the law school last week, “even as Christians, to respect religious freedom.”Bishop Morerod specifically addressed Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom.”

Most Reverend Charles Morerod, OP

Bishop Morerod specifically addressed Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom. It has been especially difficult for the European mind to accept the concept of religious freedom. History has shaped the European attitude toward religious freedom. Historically, a European’s religion was decided by their birthplace. If you didn’t accept the official religion of your country, then you were in big trouble. The wars of religion in Europe were evidence of the danger posed by different religions co-existing in the same country. The power of the official state churches rivaled that of the governments. Even today, churches in Europe have a tight hold in their respective states. In France in 1905, cities were required, by law, to pay the expenses of all the church buildings in France built before 1905. Even today, the official churches of some European nations hold a large amount of secular influence. Continue Reading

Faith, Student Perspective

Daily Discipleship

Submitted by Lucas S., 2L Guest Blogger

Last spring, the Christian Legal Society started a daily devotional meeting for law students and faculty called Daily Discipleship. The meetings take place at noon in Room 326. Attendance is usually between ten and twenty students and the meetings revolve around three elements of the Christian walk – Bible reading, discipleship and prayer.

A view into the Chapel of St. Thomas More

Bible Reading

Each day, the group reads from the same daily readings which are said at mass. The Catholic daily readings follow a pattern which flows from the Christian calendar – revolving around events such as Easter and Christmas. This provides a structure for the year and culminates in celebrations of the key events which are central to the Christian faith from the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In participating in the same readings which are said at mass, Daily Discipleship is seeking unity of spirit and faith with their Catholic brethren. Catholics and Protestants share the same Lord and Savior; and, although men have caused divisions in the Church, Christ is not divided. Protestants disagree with many of the traditions of the Catholic church, but communal Bible readings is not one of them. It is a wonderful tradition which fosters unity in the body of Christ, and one of the goals of Daily Discipleship  is to foster unity. Continue Reading

Faith, Student Perspective

Integrating faith and vocation: Blackstone Legal Fellowship

Submitted by Rachana C., 2L Guest Blogger

This past summer I participated in the Blackstone Legal Fellowship with Alliance Defending Freedom (“ADF”). ADF, formerly known as Alliance Defend Fund, was founded in 1994. They are a Christian legal ministry that is dedicated to “transforming the legal system” and advocating for “religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family.”

The Blackstone Legal Fellowship ( is a rigorous nine-week internship program that brings together law students from all around the country and world, grounds them in natural law principles, introduces them to foundation and sources of our laws, and places fellows with internships in various public-policy and legal organizations domestically and abroad. All our transportation costs and most meals were paid for, we received a handsome stipend, and gained legal experience in practice areas in which we were interested. Continue Reading