I recently changed careers after seven years of service in youth retreat ministry. During that time, I didn’t get many questions about the reasons for my graduate work with Catholic Studies. After all, it’s for the job, right? Now, my work as a recruiter for finance and accounting executives combined with the reality of my undergraduate education (biomedical science) creates a seemingly nonsensical equation in the minds of many I meet. Then comes the inevitable question: “Why Catholic studies?” My one-class-a-semester pace has given me ample time to consider the question. Here are some brief answers.
First, education should not be simply a means to an end. “I am getting an education in X, so that I can get a job in X.” That is not education. That’s job training. Education is that which makes you a better person. Some things are worth knowing just to know them.
Second, faith and culture are inextricably connected. My actions as a person at home and at work are all affected by my beliefs. My faith is woven into the fabric of my life. I hope this is true for everyone. No matter what my profession — business, law, education, medicine, government — how I act is formed by what I believe.
Lastly, I remember that, as a Christian, my primary vocation is the pursuit of holiness. In this sense, education is “job training” for my most important job… that of living a life in imitation of Christ.
I am grateful for the vision of the Department of Catholic Studies and the University of St. Thomas for providing an education that is not simply career advancement but is personal advancement. My coursework has been challenging and enlightening. It has allowed me to more fully integrate my faith into all aspects of my life while pursuing it at a pace that still allows me to live my life. It has made me a better husband, father, supervisor, employee, citizen and Christian. Now when people ask me “Why are you pursuing Catholic studies?” I respond, “The real question is: Why aren’t you?”