Legend has it that the day was overcast and rainy when Dr. Don Briel entered Dr. Michael Naughton’s office in the ‘theology outpost’ on Grand and Finn and began a revolutionary conversation containing his vision for a Center for Catholic Studies. The goal was to provide opportunities for interested students to explore the rich and comprehensive tradition of Catholic thought and culture. Naughton wasn’t the only faculty member interested in the fledgling project. Once the conversations began, numerous faculty from across a variety of disciplines offered their ideas and support. Naughton recalls the atmosphere of those early conversations. “It was a moment when I felt a lot of excitement – the sense of hope for the future, the sense of creating something new. I had full confidence that this project would lead to greater things.”
Greater things indeed. Nearly 20 years after the 1993 establishment of the Department of Catholic Studies, the Center for Catholic Studies has matured into a thriving and vibrant entity that garners international and national recognition. The first graduating class had two double majors and one minor. Last year’s graduating class consisted of 18 graduate students, 17 undergraduate students with Catholic Studies minors and 59 undergraduate students majoring in Catholic Studies. Fifty of the students graduating with a major in Catholic Studies were double majors and five triple majors. In addition, there are now more than 70 Catholic Studies programs in the country and others emerging throughout the world.
Dr. Don Briel, director for the center, notes, “We did not anticipate the full potential of Catholic Studies and its ability to attract talented young men and women from around the country and around the world for its programs. The later development of the Center for Catholic Studies; Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture; the Catholic Studies/Angelicum Program in Rome; the institutes focusing on leadership, Catholic thought and culture; faculty seminars; collaborations with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Holy See’s Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, the Pontifical Council for Culture and Cor Unum; as well as collaborations with Catholic universities around the world, have made a vital contribution to the renewal of Catholic life and thought on campus and around the world.”
The Center for Catholic Studies will host a gala celebration Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, in Woulfe Alumni Hall in the Anderson Student Center to reflect upon and celebrate the accomplishments of the past 20 years. Alumni and supporters of Catholic Studies are encouraged to attend this inaugural event. The purpose of the gala is to renew alumni connections, develop avenues in which to expand the center’s programs, and to advance the broader mission of a revitalized Catholic identity not only on campus but also on a national and international level.
The Center for Catholic Studies reflects a comprehensive and collaborative model of interdisciplinary studies and houses the following programs:
The Department of Catholic Studies offers both a graduate program and an undergraduate major and minor for more than 300 students. In addition, students run projects such as The Signature magazine, a campuswide Mass and discussion evening called the Catholic Edge, film nights and the Latin Club.
The John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought coordinates a wide range of academic programs, international symposia on the relation of Catholic thought and management education, research projects on the implication of Catholic social thought for business and the common good.
The Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law and Public Policy is a joint venture with the School of Law that addresses the complex relations of Catholicism and law in contemporary culture by means of conferences, seminars and a speaker series on public policy issues.
The Joseph and Edith Habiger Institute for Catholic Leadership focuses on leadership development for undergraduate students. It comprises six programs that integrate intellectual and spiritual formation with residential living and professional preparation.
Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture is an interdisciplinary quarterly journal that attracts submissions from international and national authors.
The Catholic Studies/Angelicum Rome program offers students a semester study abroad experience that includes study at the Angelicum, community life at the Bernardi Residence, spiritual formation and service projects.
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