I suppose, with all of the attention being given to the economy these days, it is only natural that we might think of our work in terms of investments. I have to admit, though, that when we first started considering the program in Catholic Studies, it was not in terms of investment banking.
And yet the analogy seems appropriate in many respects. Even the Holy Father, John Paul II, lends some credence to the metaphor. In “Novo Millennio Ineunte,” he writes that “Young people have given us an encouraging testimony of their generous availability.” He continues, “we must learn to interpret that heartening response, by investing that enthusiasm like a new talent (cf. Matthew 25:15) which the Lord has put into our hands so that we can make it yield a rich return.”
“Investing that enthusiasm like a new talent.” It strikes me that it captures precisely what we’re trying to accomplish in Catholic Studies.
Students come with an enthusiasm for a Catholic, academic formation. There are nowmore than 140 students seeking majors or minors in Catholic Studies, combining their interests in a Catholic formation with a remarkable range of other majors including biology, classical languages, mathematics, journalism and Russian.
Students come with an enthusiasm for intellectual formation. Recognizing that a program in Catholic Studies must form all aspects of intellectual life, not merely its academic expression, the undergraduate program continues to sponsor Engaging Truth sessions, in which students are invited to “think out loud” about issues pertaining to Catholic life. Questions about the responsibility of voting, the use of one’s leisure time and the ways of appropriating Scripture have allowed students to bring their questions and interests into the light of reflective conversation.
Our commitment to the overall formation ofthe student does not end with mere intellectual concerns. This semester we’ve introduced, as a development of the Engaging Truth sessions, Engaging Beauty, in which students and faculty are lead through a series of questions and conversation, all directed around a particular workof art. Dr. Michal Frenzel shared meditations on art during the liturgical season of Lent as a way of introducing students to the comprehensive vision of Catholic life.
Finally, students come willing to invest their spiritual concerns. We are especially blessed with the presence of St. John Vianney Seminary on our campus. The presence of so many young men willing to respond to the demands of the Gospel in such a compelling way gives witness to Catholic Studies. And in return, Catholic Studies offers intellectual formation and development of students’ interests and endeavors.
During other spring semester events, Catholic Studies offered a spring retreat to 25students who focused on the varieties of prayer within the Christian tradition. In addition, women particularly were invited to consider the nature of their unique vocation in the Church.
And Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, O.P., spoke to students about the importance of discerning a religious vocation. These are some of the latest efforts on the part of Catholic Studies to meet the concerns of students willing to invest themselves in a program of formation that is both faithful and comprehensive. Only with the grace of God, the returns will yield a very rich harvest.