“Beyond Career to Calling,” the Lilly Endowment project at St.Thomas, sponsors some 30 programs aimed at deepening awareness of the concept of personal and institutional vocation. Administered through the Center for Catholic Studies, Beyond Career to Calling reaches out to a variety of departments and disciplines.
For example, one program under the leadership of William Stevenson has focused on promoting vocations to priesthood and religious life. Stevenson, a theologian and member of the Catholic Studies faculty, has organized “Vocations Lunches,” in which individual priests come to talk with students about their own calling and about the lives they lead. Stevenson also has spoken at a weekly teaching and worship event organized by Campus Ministry called “Men’s Mondays.”
During January Term, Deborah Ruddy, also of Catholic Studies, organized a two-day workshop on Catholic social teaching. Fourteen St. Thomas faculty members from across the university participated in the workshop that focused on the interdisciplinary character of Catholic social teaching, particularly its relationship to the social sciences. John Coleman, professor of sociology at Loyola Marymount University, and Daniel Finn, professor of economics and theology at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, gave presentations on the relevance of Catholic social teaching for their respective disciplines. St. Thomas faculty participants included those from philosophy, theology, justice and peace studies, social work, sociology and economics.
The workshop aimed to prepare St. Thomas faculty not only to incorporate themes of the tradition into their own teaching, but also to encourage their involvement in national efforts to integrate Catholic social teaching across the undergraduate curriculum. Participants were encouraged to attend the Catholic Social Teaching Across the Curriculum conference on Oct. 23-24, 2003, hosted by the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought at St. Thomas. The conference will bring together scholars from around the country who are engaging Catholic social teaching within their disciplines.
Closer to home, eight St. Thomas students have been engaged this semester in internships designed to bridge the gap between classroom theology and the work of the Church. The program is organized by Christopher Thompson, chair of the Department of Catholic Studies, with the assistance of Natalie Martens. The program places students in organizations like the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, local parishes, and the archdiocesan newspaper. Under the guidance of mentors, the students are able to see how what they learn in the classroom shapes the workplace.