How did you become interested in Catholic Studies?I became interested in Catholic Studies when my best friend told me that she had just signed up to major in a great new program. I went to the Catholic Studies house with her, talked to Kathy Fell and Dr. Don Briel, and signed on as a major.
Why did you decide to major in Catholic Studies?The program seemed really solid, and the students and faculty were very enthusiastic about developing the program. Catholic Studies is filled with thoughtful, optimistic people who are striving for personal holiness and working to strengthen the Church on campus and in the community.
How have you integrated Catholic Studies with the rest of your academic work?I am graduating with a double major in Catholic Studies and Spanish, and a minor in philosophy. Catholic Studies has provided a firm foundation for the rest of my studies at St. Thomas. Through my Catholic Studies classes I have learned the value of a liberal arts education. Furthermore, the program has taught me how to think and act as a Catholic student. I have come to see my time at St. Thomas not as preparation for a specific career, but rather as a formation of my intellectual habits and personal character.
What are some of the highlights you’ve experienced in Catholic Studies? How can I discuss Catholic Studies without speaking about my friend and mentor, the chair of the department, Dr. Christopher Thompson? I first met him when I took his Christian Moral Theology class my sophomore year. He has graciously offered much advice, support, and encouragement, especially while I have been preparing to attend graduate school for theology. Not only that, but he’s a great teacher. Another highlight was the semester I spent at the Bernardi Campus in Rome in spring 2002. It was a unique and exciting opportunity to study in Rome and to live in community with otherstudents who take their faith seriously. Living in Rome, I experienced firsthand the rich history of the Church as it has kept an ongoing dialogue with architecture, art, music, politics, literature, etc. Our in-class studies ranged from the impact of Christian democracy to themes in Dante’s Divine Comedy to the significance of Baroque architecture. We also had the privilege of volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity in their house for men. Through their joyful, humble attitudes, the sisters taught us how to grow in holiness while serving the poor. Above all, my experience in Rome taught me to think more seriously about my vocation. I was living with students who were trying daily to discern God’s call for their lives. I was surrounded by religious brothers and sisters, priests, and faithful laypeople at the Angelicum. Finally, there were four young deacons from the North American College who served our community. I watched these courageous young men prepare themselves to make the ultimate countercultural decision: to give up marriage and family in order to wholeheartedly give themselves to the Church. I cannot tell you how inspiring it was to attend the ordinations of these men! My Rome experience was not simply a time to passively absorb the sights and the sounds. Rather, it was a time in which I was encouraged to actively discern my own relationship with God and my role in the Church.
What do you hope to take with you from the Catholic Studies program?I know that Catholic Studies has prepared me well for graduate studies in theology. I will take with me the knowledge and the intellectual habits I have developed through the program. Also, I will take with me the enthusiasm and the love for the Church that so pervades the Catholic Studies community. I hope that I can be a witness in the intellectual world to truth and love, just as my professors and fellow students have been witnesses to me.
What are your post-graduation plans? I plan to attend graduate school in pursuit of a doctorate in theology. I have been accepted to graduate programs at Marquette University, Catholic University of America and Boston College. I am interested in studying moral theology, especially as it is understood in the Thomistic tradition. Ultimately, I want to become a theology professor, and I would love to teach at a university like St. Thomas. Maybe someday I will even have the privilege of again working with Catholic Studies, but this time as a professor and not as a student.