St.Thomas Lumen A Catholic Studies Publication FALL/WINTER 2021
“… transfigured – glorified in Christ …
a dance of illumination, saturated
with the light of heaven.”
St.Thomas Lumen FALL/WINTER 2021
Published by the University of St. Thomas Center for Catholic Studies 55-S
2115 Summit Ave. St. Paul, MN 55105 (651) 962-5700
Catholic Studies Communications Karen Laird Associate Director, Center for Catholic Studies Editor Brant Skogrand ’04 MBC, APR, CPPM Designer Carol Garner Photographers Mark Brown Liam James Doyle Contributors Elizabeth M. Kelly ’08 CSMA Kateri Kuplic ’21 Adam Pilon ‘21 CSMA/J.D. Michelle Rash ‘16, ‘24 CSMA Katy Shimp ‘22 Jared Zimmerer Jessica Zittlow Aleman ’13 CSMA Cover image Icon by Nicholas Markell ‘84, markellstudios.com
Creating a Culture of Encounter . ...... 4 Campus Profiles: New Provost and Catholic Studies Advisory Board ........................................................ 8 Cover Story: Honoring the Communion of Saints With St. Paul Iconographer. .............. 12 News/Did You Know?......................... 14 Chasing Dreams, Promoting Dignity............................... 16 What We're Reading and Watching....................................... 20 What Did You Say to the Father? . ... 22 CSMA Master's Essay: American Religious Liberty and Catholic Perspectives................. 24 From LOGOS Journal: Beauty, Order and the Moral Imagination .......................................... 26 ‘On Eagle’s Wings’ Composer to Retire............................. 28 Alumni Notes and News. ................... 30
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Expression of God The Expression of God’s Word Recently, we were talking with an alumna of Catholic Studies and she told us, “Catholic Studies got into me – in how I thought, how I dated, how I worked and now how I raise my kids.” This is the Incarnation in action. One of the extraordinary claims of Christianity is that Jesus is the Word made flesh and that in this mystery “the mystery of man truly becomes clear.” found a rich and innocent faith expressed in a simple question from one of the girls after coming out of adoration: “What did you say to the Father?” (Page 22) Liz Kelly ’08 CSMA describes an important partnership we have started with the archdiocese providing a mission and culture formation program for all principals CATHOLIC STUDIES EXPLORES THE IMPACT OF THE INCARNATION ON THOUGHT AND CULTURE.
and teachers (Page 4). Drawing upon the Church’s educational tradition of 2,000 years, the program centers its content on the impact of the Incarnation in Catholic education. And maybe most profoundly, Michelle Rash ’16, ’24 CSMA tells the life of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was born in Sudan in 1869, kidnapped and sold into slavery. Her life was a powerful witness to the culture of life and displays the universality of Christ’s mission (Page 12). The icon cover of this issue of Lumen is of St. Josephine and was commissioned by the Murphy Institute and will be housed at the School of Law in Minneapolis.
God’s Word is expressed in ordinary ways in this issue of Lumen such as occupations to design women’s swimsuits that are modest but elegant, to provide doula services for women after pregnancy, and to serve clients who are struggling with marriage and family problems (Page 16). These three Catholic Studies alumni are bringing the love and mind of Christ into their secular professions and championing the cause of human dignity in those they touch. Katy Shimp ’22 tells of her experience teaching tween Latina girls catechesis at St. Francis de Sales, where she
JOHN F. BOYLE, CHAIR DEPARTMENT OF CATHOLIC STUDIES
MICHAEL NAUGHTON, DIRECTOR CENTER FOR CATHOLIC STUDIES
St. Thomas Lumen Fall/Winter 2021 Page 3
By Liz Kelly ’08 CSMA This fall, St. Thomas Creating a Culture of Encounter FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND COLLABORATION GAINS INTEREST FROMAROUND THE COUNTRY
By ELIZABETH KELLY ‘08 CSMA
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Catholic Studies launched a new collaboration – the first of its kind – with the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis Office for the Mission of Catholic Education, to form Catholic educators in a deeper understanding of the shared mission and vision of Catholic education, including greater cultural competency. Following the pilot program this past fall, Mission, Culture, and Emerging Questions in Catholic Education (MCEQ) is garnering interest around the country. Chief architects of the MCEQ curriculum are Director for the Center for Catholic Studies, Dr. Michael Naughton , and Director of Educational Quality and Excellence for the archdiocese, Dr. Emily Dahdah . The University of St. Thomas Continuing and Professional Education Program (CAPE) has been an essential collaborator providing the technological platform. Other instructors include Danielle Brown from the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, Joshua Blonski , dean of student life and Latin instructor at Providence Academy in Minnesota, Lucía Báez Luzondo, J.D. , who serves as director of the Office of Intercultural Ministries for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and Aaron Benner ’92, ’95, ’20 MA , dean of students at Hill-Murray School. The course will bemade available to all principals and teachers throughout the archdiocese to complete at their own pace. The programconsists of 10 hours of online, in-person and conference teaching on the role of Catholic educators. “And it’s just the beginning,” says Naughton.
“This is a part of a much larger effort on behalf of the archdiocese to form its educators,” says Dahdah. “We have 90 Catholic schools, each so unique, but we all want to be working with the same vision, a shared language and way of understanding the Church’s vision for education.” “This is about a philosophy of Catholic education,” Naughton adds. “Catechetical programs are important, but they cannot address questions like, ‘How do I deal with math as a Catholic educator? Do I teach math in any different way at a Catholic school than I would at a public school?’ Once you take in ‘wonder’ and ‘a created order,’ you can ask, ‘Why does math work?’ Because there’s a created order. It’s getting down to the roots of a created order, the Logos.” Dahdah, who did her dissertation on intercultural competency in elementary educators through the University of Minnesota, adds that “The Church is an expert on human dignity. We’re drawing on 2,000 years of tradition, laying out a positive vision of the human person. Faith not only transcends culture, but it also greatly enlivens culture.” Naughton and Dahdah are keen to point out that the purpose of education is not simply career preparation, but to pass on the best of a culture to draw out the best in a student so as to make right judgments about the world. “The Church is an exquisite expert on intermingling of cultures of all sorts,” says Dahdah, “and a great mediator through culture as well.” She points to the eradication of legal racialized slavery in the U.S. as an example.
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Joshua Blonski, upper school dean of students at Providence Academy, instructs Catholic educators during the innovative MCEQ course.
“Cultures are groups of people with a collective personality,” she says, “and cultures can have wounds, just like persons can have wounds ... But the Church’s vision of the dignity of the human person helped us to work toward confronting an evil (legal slavery). You can see what happens to cultures when they encounter the light of Christ – they are made more beautiful.” “We want to prepare students for the world they’re going to live in,” says Naughton. “You want to create a culture that is interdisciplinary, where science and faith speak to one another. It has to be an encounter of the mind with the heart; material reality has a spiritual source to it.” Multiple opportunities are available for further study through the master’s program in Catholic Studies. Teachers and administrators who complete MCEQ can continue their formation with a Two-Course Study. Additionally, a Graduate Certificate for Mission and Culture in Catholic Education, a full graduate program consisting of five courses
plus a capstone project, is also offered. The certification centers on the pursuit of equipping students to understand what a true Catholic
25-plus years in education, I’m still learning about race issues,” he says. “There has to be a way to speak about racism without automatically demonizing one race.” “Racism is a sin,” he added, “and we have to work to root it out like any other sin.”
education entails and how to articulate that philosophy in a school.
The Murray Institute at the University of St. Thomas pays 100% for eligible continuing education of archdiocesan teachers and staff to attend the University of St. Thomas. This makes obtaining a graduate certificate or full master’s degree from St. Thomas Catholic Studies completely free for Catholic school teachers in the Twin Cities. CREATING CLASSROOMS BUILT ON HUMAN DIGNITY, EQUITY AND HOPE Central to the conference component of the MCEQ curriculum is St. Thomas alumnus Aaron Benner ’92, ’95, ’20 MA, who spent most of his career teaching elementary school. He now serves as dean of students at Hill-Murray School. “I tell people all the time, just because I’m a Black male with
But he’s also sensitive to the realities of ignorance and
inexperience. In his conferences, Benner draws from his years in the classroom and working with parents to address even practical issues, like insisting on having a translator present in parent-teacher conferences for parents who do not speak English. He points to a common error that especially inexperienced teachers may make in this scenario. “Many teachers will look at the translator [only] instead of looking at the parent,” he says. “You must look at the parent and give them the respect they deserve, and you never, ever have the student translate for the parents. ... These are things you learn.”
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And while many Catholic schools, whose classrooms are increasingly expanding in cultural diversity, are working to increase diversity on their faculty, he warns against tokenism. “Equity doesn’t just mean having African Americans on your teaching staff,” he says. “Once they’re in your school, you have to ask yourself, are you developing them as teachers, are you developing them to be leaders?” Benner, who won a settlement against Saint Paul Public Schools in 2019, knows these challenges personally. He was forced to quit his teaching position there when the school district retaliated against him for criticizing the district’s racial equity policy, which set lower standards for African American students. It was an especially stressful season, but Benner, a daily communicant, was bolstered by his faith. “It was like God was saying to me, ‘I’m going to take care of you.’ We just have an amazing God. I am not going to apologize for what God has done in my life.”
Benner says, “but it all comes back to the Bible: I have to forgive! I have to forgive people who might harmme, who might discriminate against me. ... That’s tough, but that’s Christlike. I don’t want that to be forgotten when we talk about the Church and equity and racism.” Benner himself attended Catholic school as a child, calling it “a game changer” in his life. He graduated from Saint Agnes School having received an award for his outstanding work in religion class as a senior. He recalls, “The nuns at Saint Agnes taught me the faith from the ground up and I just fell in love with it. “I hope to bring some practical solutions that Catholic leaders can share in their own schools,” he says. “Even something as simple as having pictures of Catholic saints in the hallways from the wide array of backgrounds and ethnicities represented there. Children need to see saints who look like them.” In face of the racism he has experienced himself he says, “I could choose hate if I wanted to, but that’s what the devil wants.
Aaron Benner ’92, ’95, ’20 MA
“There’s a new push to be in people’s faces, to be angry,”
“I have hope.”
“We need to work and ask for the grace to build a culture of encounter, of this fruitful encounter, this encounter that returns to each person their dignity as children of God, the dignity of living. We are accustomed to this indifference, [whether it be] when we see the calamities of this world or when faced with the little things. We limit ourselves to saying: ‘Oh, what a shame, poor people, they suffer so much,’ and then we move on. An encounter, however, is different: If I do not look, – seeing is not enough, no: look – if I do not stop, if I do not look, if I do not touch, if I do not speak, I cannot create an encounter and I cannot help to create a culture of encounter.” – POPE FRANCIS
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PROVOST EDDY ROJAS JOINS ST. THOMAS
Dr. Eddy Rojas , St. Thomas’ new executive vice president and provost, arrived in the Twin Cities this past August enthusiastic about joining the university. Rojas arrives with seven years at a Catholic institution and several more in higher education under his belt, and well aware of the challenges and opportunities St. Thomas will face in the near future. “We have many challenges in higher education. …The number of high school graduates is declining, especially in the Midwest. Family incomes have been stagnant in the past years and tuition has increased. Understanding the challenges includes understanding financial issues. We know that for many families, the ability to pay is an issue. Families have had a hard time seeing the value of higher education if it takes thousands of dollars to achieve. If you look at the research, the perception is that you don’t need to go into higher education to be successful. And when you take into account the demographic and economic pressures, you can see that it is not going to be easy for us – for all of the institutions of higher ed.”
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One of his plans includes ensuring that there’s more diversity at the university. “Having economic diversity at St. Thomas is important, racial diversity is important, it is also important to have geographic diversity,” says Rojas. Rojas, a practicing Catholic, grew up in a small town in Costa Rica and attended University of Costa Rica as a first-generation college student before getting accepted to graduate school in the U.S. Animated by faith and his own journey through the U.S. higher education system, he prides himself on getting to know others and understanding their needs and concerns. “I am passionate about serving people, especially those frommarginalized groups,” he says. “I have received many blessings in
my life and because of that, I have a responsibility to work for the betterment of society. My values are nonnegotiable. I believe that the values of our Catholic universities should also be nonnegotiable. But how do we bring those values to life, how do we implement what we believe, and what are the specific tools or mechanisms that we use?We need to be ready to adapt to change, according to the times and the circumstances.” Rojas believes “To be authentic as an institution is to embrace our Catholic intellectual tradition, to embrace Catholic social teaching, to have a strong liberal arts foundation, especially at the undergraduate level, but also at the graduate level. …
I don’t see how we can call ourselves a Catholic university without having liberal arts right at the core center, at the heart of everything that we do. I will be the first one to tell you that I recognize that I am a better engineer because of that year of liberal arts education, but, most importantly, I’m also a better person because of that.” The original version of this article, “New Provost Has a Game Plan,” fromAug. 2, 2021, was written by St. Thomas Newsroom’s Sheree Curry and can be found at news. stthomas.edu .
CATHOLIC STUDIES ADVISORY BOARD UPDATES
FATHER CHRIS COLLINS
about becoming a Jesuit was the opportunity to study any discipline in depth in addition to philosophy and theology, while also engaging in different kinds of ministry, from retreat work, to missionary activity, from teaching to service with the poor. “University ministry is very similar in that regard,” says Collins. “A university has people engaged in learning and service in the world from every possible direction.” He went on to say that “At a comprehensive university like St. Thomas, with every kind of academic discipline present, and faculty, staff and students from all kinds of backgrounds,
Father Christopher Collins ‘93, SJ , who was raised in Phoenix and graduated high school in Dallas, has a deep-rooted Minnesota connection that first attracted him to St. Thomas when he transferred to the university as a sophomore in 1990. He joins the Catholic Studies Advisory Board as the St. Thomas vice president for mission, a position most recently held by Father Larry Snyder, who retired in June 2021. University ministry is a natural fit for the Jesuit. Part of what was so attractive to Collins
St. Thomas Lumen Fall/Winter 2021 Page 9
including religious experiences and traditions, or even none at all, keeping the question of God and faith alive and present in all kinds of different settings is a tremendous challenge and opportunity. In such a setting, faith can actually come alive like never before for students. … It certainly did for
me when I was a student here. Because of experiences inside and outside the classroom, and because space is created … to look for how God might be present in all of our activities and relationships, this is precisely the time when students can be challenged in the faith [yet] also have it deepened has over 25 years of experience consulting in the areas of employee compensation and performance management and has worked with some of the largest health care systems in the U.S., as well as clinics and hospitals across the country. Prior to founding Altura Consulting Group in 2003, Bares was employed as a compensation consultant with RSM McGladrey, Inc., Riley Dettmann & Kelsey, and Willis Towers Watson. Bares received an MBA degree from the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and a BA degree from St. Catherine University. She has served on the board of directors ThomasWinkels is a principal of AdvancedWealth Management Group, a Minneapolis-based wealth coaching firm. He also is a shareholder of AdvisorNet Financial. Winkels received his undergraduate degree from St. Thomas and later served as the president of the school’s alumni association and as the alumni representative on the St. Thomas Board of Trustees. He earned his certified financial planner designation from the College for Financial Planning and is a member of the Financial Planning Association.
and broadened beyond what they might have experienced as children.” “[T]he challenge to seek God in all things, as St. Ignatius of Loyola often encouraged people to do,” says Collins.
Winkels currently serves on the board of directors at Holy Spirit Academy, a private Catholic high school in Monticello, Minnesota, and he also served on several parish pastoral councils in the Twin Cities. He and his wife, Rose, have five children. He is a parishioner of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Community in Medina, where his family has been very active over the years. for the Twin Cities Compensation Network, including in the role of association president, and on the board of the Twin Cities Human Resources Association. She has volunteered extensively with both public and faith-based organizations. She has served as a faith formation teacher and parish council member, including serving as council president at the Church of St. George, and has served on the board of directors of Abria Pregnancy Resources Center. She currently serves with her husband, Keith, as program co-chair for the Twin Cities Legatus chapter.
Ann Bares is the founder and managing partner of Altura Consulting Group, LLC. Bares
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GRATITUDE FOR COMMUNITY As the dynamics of COVID have ebbed and flowed over the past two years, the desire to gather together has not. We are created to be in relationship to experience the deep human reality of community. For this we are grateful. We at Sitzmann Hall especially noticed this in our students, who sincerely desired to gather in any way possible. Their creative solutions to plan an “Evening of Arts” or an ice cream open house, while meeting social distancing guidelines, were remarkable. Our staff also found ways to provide safe study spaces and study snacks so students could get out of their residence halls, see others’ faces (masks and all), and talk in person rather than via Zoom. Spirits lifted, stories were shared, laughter was in the house again, and gratitude was in the air. As an alumnus and/or supporter of Catholic Studies, you are part of this community. We thank you for your prayerful and financial participation, and we encourage you to continue. Catholic Studies has a mission to explore the impact of the Incarnation, which is meant to be shared, and we invite you to continue actively supporting this mission in any way that you can. Pray for our students, faculty and staff; join us for daily Mass; follow us on social media; share a gift of support for scholarships or programs. Please know that we are grateful for you, our Catholic Studies community. Yours, Karen Laird, Associate Director and Nancy Sannerud, Program Manager
SHARE A GIFT WITH CATHOLIC STUDIES TODAY!
MAIL: Use the enclosed envelope. ( Checks payable to Catholic Studies. ) ONLINE: V isit https://link.stthomas.edu/give-center-for-catholic-studies OR scan the QR code on this page! PHONE: Call (651) 962-5705 to make a gift to Catholic Studies on your credit card or if you have questions about making a gift to Catholic Studies.
St. Thomas Lumen Fall/Winter 2021 Page 11
Murphy Institute News
HONORING THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS
With St. Paul Iconographer
By MICHELLE RASH ‘16 ‘24 CSMA
As part of an ongoing commitment to amplify the rich cultural and racial diversity within the Catholic Church, the Murphy Institute initiated a collaboration with a local artist this spring to begin work on a series of icons that will be housed at the School of Law in Minneapolis. The collection is a commission of St. Thomas alumnus Nick Markell ‘84 of Markell Studios, Inc. in Stillwater, Minnesota, and will feature saints whose origin, mission and charism represent the breadth of the Church’s reach throughout history. This project is part of a larger effort at the School of Law to continue to build its on-campus art collection.
Italy and joined the Canossian Sisters. During her time with the Canossians, Bakhita was widely esteemed throughout the community for her sweet disposition and the astounding charity that accompanied her through years of painful illness at the end of her life. The icon series project was originally announced April 12, 2021, during a two-part event, Fighting for Freedom: Neo-colonialism and the African Experience, with Nigerian-British speaker Obianuju Ekeocha. Ekeocha is an internationally known pro-life speaker who presented on the clash of the African culture and values with imposingWestern influences in the form of foreign aid, especially in health care. When she learned of the icon to be announced during the event, Ekeocha shared that she considers the saint a patron of her work. She was called to found her organization Culture of Life Africa while in prayer on Feb. 8, St. Josephine Bakhita’s feast day. The coincidence was a beautiful moment of providence for both Ekeocha and the Murphy Institute during preparations for the program. St. Josephine Bakhita was recognized by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2007 encyclical Spe Salvi as an example of the theological virtue of hope in action. In times where hope can be difficult to find, Bakhita’s example may serve as a reminder that, despite sufferings and injustice, goodness and joy may always be achieved through God’s grace. The icon of Bakhita will be located on the first floor of the School of Law, immediately outside of the Chapel of St. Thomas More.
The inaugural icon of the Murphy Institute’s series will feature St. Josephine Bakhita. Bakhita was born in Sudan in 1869, where she was kidnapped and sold into slavery as a young child. She suffered horrendous abuse as she spent several years in the slave trade until she was brought into the service of the Italian consul in 1883.
With the consul and his family, Bakhita was treated with kindness and they soon moved to Italy. Here she encountered the Canossian Sisters, and in 1890 Josephine was fully received into the Catholic Church. Shortly after, the consul’s family desired to return to Africa but Josephine refused to go. She was granted her freedom by the Italian courts since slavery was outlawed in Italy. Upon gaining freedom, Bakhita remained in
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Murphy Institute News
Artist and iconographer Nicholas Markell ‘84 is pictured in his home studio.
“The Word became flesh, and made his dwelling
among us, and we have seen His glory.” (john 1:14)
The word icon comes to us from the Greek eikon, meaning image. Often referred to as theology in color and windows to heaven, icons are a form of sacred art, the content of which is spiritual – they reveal a vison of a “Kingdom not of this world.” Iconographers paint, create or “write” icons as a way of expressing faith. They incorporate the use of symbols, bringing forth images of restored or renewed creation made possible through life in Christ Jesus. In the realm of art, iconography is the
intersection of art and faith. Icons are images of what is believed. Thus an iconographer is as much a minister as an artisan and an icon as much a sacramental as a work of art.
Every aspect of creating an icon is a reflection of faith. The process is one of study, prayer and inspiration by the Holy Spirit. Traditionally iconographers begin by painting base coats of the dark areas, slowly adding lighter and lighter tones. This reflects the spiritual life – the process of moving from darkness into the light of God. Holy figures are depicted as illuminated from within, revealing the reality that the light of Christ is an interior light within believers.
Here, St. Josephine Bakhita is imaged as transfigured – glorified in Christ. She’s imaged as a dance of illumination, saturated with the light of heaven.
She wears chains, but ones that are broken. Thus, they are no longer a symbol of bondage, but liberation. No longer a limitation or the cause of despair, but of hope. As her left hand points to the Mother of God, who gave her comfort and maternal consolation, her right hand holds a cross, symbolic of the sacrificial love of her Lord Jesus whom she knew died for her and her freedom.
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Did you kno FIRSTVOLUMEOF ROLNICK’S POST-CHRISTENDOMSERIES RELEASED Catholic Studies News Confronted by multiple religious possibilities, the rise of atheistic naturalism, and moral relativism, one can easily become perplexed about what matters most – or be tempted to conclude that nothing could matter most. The first of three volumes of A Post- Christendom Faith, The Long Battle for the Human Soul by Theology Professor Philip Rolnick , examines major historical developments that have led to our contemporary confusion, so that we might chart a way forward. Rolnick begins with a theological assessment of the Reformation, Enlightenment, and French Revolution, three movements that attempted, and to some degree accomplished, basic reformulations of humanity. After the shock of the Reformation, with its faith-based criticism, the Enlightenment’s reason-based criticismmore or less set faith aside. The radical nature of Enlightenment criticism in turn led to the radical anthropological reformulations of the French Revolution – and then devolved into the Terror. Separated from Christian faith, and oftentimes fiercely opposing it, early forms of secular humanism poured their energies into reshaping social and political structures, while the crescendo of critique profoundly altered the spiritual landscape of the West. In this story of broken foundations, Rolnick is careful to show that the Church and the Gospel have never ceased to offer a very different foundation – trustworthy and eternally enduring. This first volume ends on a hopeful note, turning from the problematic humanism of recent centuries to a humanism grounded in incarnational faith. A Post-Christendom Faith, The Long Battle for the Human Soul is published by Baylor Press and can be purchased at barnesandnoble.com or, for a digital book, scribd.com .
KELLYCONTRIBUTORTONEW DEVOTIONAL RELEASEDBYNATIONAL ‘BLESSED IS SHE’ MINISTRY LOGOS Journal’s managing editor and “Deep Down Things” podcast co-host Liz Kelly is a contributing writer for the recently released Made New: 52 Devotions for Catholic Women , which provides rich reflections through the Gospels, substantive Scripture for prayer through Lectio Divina, and prompts for spiritual growth. The book is released by the creators of Blessed
is She, a popular Catholic online community for women. Each devotional entry includes: a Scripture reference; a devotion written by a Blessed is She community member; prompts for reflection; and designed full-color pages with original art. Made New is published by HarperCollins and available at christianbooks.com .
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ow? RYAN INSTITUTE UPDATES
Ryan Institute welcomes Dr. Tim Ketcher as the 2021-22 Ryan Fellow, principally an Opus College of Business faculty position, to pursue research in Catholic social teaching and business theory and practice. Ketcher is a longtime adjunct professor of ethics and business law with the Opus College of Business. He received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Illinois and has a wide breadth of experience in the corporate world. During his tenure as a Fellow, Ketcher will focus his research on the ethical implications of algorithms, big data and artificial intelligence for the traditional Christian understanding of the human person. In preparation for the 12th International Conference on Catholic Social Thought and Business Education, titled Freedom, Subsidiarity and the Spirit of the Gift, in Budapest, June 23- 25, 2022, the Ryan Institute is hosting a series of speakers. This fall, Dr. Zachary Stangebye, University of Notre Dame, joined the Ryan Institute to discuss national public debt, and Catholic Studies Professor Dr. Robert Kennedy joined for a conversation on taxation. Since 2011 the Vocation of the Business Leader , a partnership between Ryan Institute and the Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, has been translated into 15 languages. The newest edition is now available in Vietnamese for the first time, thanks to a group of faithful Vietnamese who have been studying Catholic social teaching together. The translation will be officially published in Ho Chi Minh City.
‘DEEP DOWN THINGS’ PODCAST SEASON 2 NOWAVAILABLE The second season of the LOGOS Journal’s “Deep Down Things” podcast is now live. Astronomer Christopher Graney of the Vatican Observatory kicked off the season with hosts Dr. Dave Deavel and Liz Kelly . Other guest topics include James Matthews Wilson, who explores the question “Souls or Selves?” and Jared Zimmerer from Word on Fire discussing the aesthetics of Russell Kirk. We also launched a podcasting partnership with Catholic Answers. Among other podcasting platforms, “Deep Down Things” can be found on the Catholic Answers podcast app. Visit patreon.com/ deepdownthings to become a member of the podcast community.
St. Thomas Lumen Fall/Winter 2021 Page 15
Common Good Profile
Chasing Dreams, Promoting Dignity By KATERI KUPLIC '21
A FASHIONDESIGNER. A POSTPARTUMDOULA. ATHERAPIST. ATTHE SURFACE, CATHERINE HUSS ’14, LIZZY THIBAULT ’19 AND JAKE VOELKER ’08 DON’T SEEM TO HAVE MUCH IN COMMON BEYOND THEIR CATHOLIC FAITH. THEIR FIELDS ARE WILDLY DIVERSE. BUT BENEATH THE SURFACE, THESE THREE CATHOLIC STUDIES ALUMNI HAVE TWO THINGS IN COMMON: AN ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT AND A DESIRE TO CHAMPION THE CAUSE OF HUMAN DIGNITY. Not one of them works in a specifically faith-oriented field. They are out in the world using their wonderfully unique gifts to remind their clients of their value and the value of every human person, whether that be by drafting designs for higher-coverage swimsuits, doing a load of laundry for a new mother, or lending a listening ear. In each of their businesses, the human person is cared for, respected and cherished.
Catherine of Siena … and company Born in Minnesota and raised
way. Her senior project aimed to fill this gap. She created a line of swimsuits and even came up with the name of her future company: Siena and Co., inspired by her time in Siena, Italy, during the Catholic Studies Rome Semester. But it was the 2020 quarantine which finally pushed her to turn her senior project into a business. “I had a lot of free time, and I figured, ‘No more excuses,’” says Huss. Using her savings, she began to design her collection of suits. Huss was full of ideas. She finally settled on three tops and three bottoms, all channeling a classic Italian style and providing more coverage than the typical swimsuit. The suits are sophisticated, feminine, and made
Catholic, San Diego-based fashion designer Catherine Huss followed her two older brothers to St. Thomas to learn more about her faith. While earning her degree in Catholic studies, Huss also studied apparel design at St. Catherine University. After graduating in 2014, she moved to California to work in fashion. But her dream had always been to start her own business. The idea for her business first came to her in college. She had grown frustrated by her inability to find a swimsuit with all the components she wanted: decent coverage, a classic look, and made in an ethical
Catherine Huss ‘14
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Common Good Profile
“We are more than
just our body.”
to serve the Body of Christ. “Our vocation,” says Huss, “is to love the people God has put in front of us. We don’t need to complicate it any more than that.” More information about Siena and Co., along with a link to Catherine Huss’ Kickstarter account, can be found at siena-co.com. Championing motherhood Discerning her future in adoration, Lizzy Thibault began creating a list of all her gifts, no matter how insignificant or bizarre, and asked herself, “In what vocation or in what way can these serve him?” When she first heard of postpartum doulas, she knew she had found her calling. “I saw a need and wanted to fill it,” she says. Having graduated from St. Thomas in 2019 with a degree in Catholic studies and a minor in philosophy, Thibault completed her training through Modern Doula Education and became a self-employed postpartum doula this year. Thibault describes the role of a doula enthusiastically. The term refers to a person who helps and supports a mother around the time of childbirth. Most common are birth doulas, who assist in the process of birth itself. Postpartum doulas, on the other hand, provide physical, emotional and practical
to complement a wide variety of body types, which required Huss to rework aspects of her original designs after trying them on models of different shapes and sizes. When it comes to the fit of her swimsuits, Huss highlights the phrase “confident coverage and fit.” “As women, we have so many things going against us to really thrive and be ourselves and who God created us to be,” she says. “Finding clothing that helps us feel confident and our best selves is important.” On the one hand, coverage is about presenting ourselves in a way that honors the dignity and worth of ourselves and others. But at the same time, it is a wonderfully practical approach. The wearer can swim freely, play beach volleyball, and run after kids without worrying about her suit riding up or slipping down. Huss’ suits allow women to function in the world – not just look beautiful. “We are more than just our body,” she says. But these are no dowdy bathing costumes. There is an undeniable beauty to Siena and Co.’s sleek, elegant designs. The styles are designed to be flattering and
to fit well “holistically” – not over- accentuating any one part of the body. When it came to sourcing materials, Huss sought fabrics that were made from recycled materials. She is proud of the fact that her suits are sustainably made, a response to God’s call to be good stewards of the Earth. Even more importantly, she wanted to ensure that everyone working on her suits was treated with dignity. Her suits are sewn in factories where all workers – the majority of whom are Latina – receive a fair wage and work in a healthy environment. Siena and Co. officially launched in July with a Kickstarter campaign (an online platform that allows customers to preorder products before they are produced). Huss’ next steps involve collecting feedback from these initial customers andmaking any necessary improvements to her suits. Reflecting on her Catholic studies degree, Huss notes two ways that the Catholic mindset has influenced her: by impelling her to put the dignity of the human person at the center of all decisions and by inspiring her to use her unique gifts
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Common Good Profile
Thibault, “not only through the challenges of raising a baby and the expected sleep deprivation …but they oftentimes also experience a lot of tension and conflict between who they always thought they were and who they are trying to become.” Her job is to be there for them as they navigate this identity change. She equips women with the tools to be the best mothers they can be and reassures them that “God did intend for this baby to exist, and he intended you to be the mother.” Thibault’s own battles with mental health have uniquely prepared her for this role. Over the years she has dealt with chronic illness, dietary restrictions, anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Now, she treasures the fact that she can relate to newmoms struggling with their mental health: “I found it consoling to realize that many of my struggles, while they are not the same as what a postpartummom goes through, have really built a great foundation for becoming ... the kind of doula God wants me to be.” In her role as a doula, Thibault supports the dignity of both women and children. “Understanding the dignity of human life and the dignity of motherhood … is intrinsically entwined with the vocation of a postpartum doula,” she says. She notes that there is an “attack on motherhood” in our culture. Moms are shamed for staying at home and for having careers; Thibault celebrates each mother’s unique gifts and calling. As she continues to gain clients, Thibault hopes to work specifically with mothers whose children have
children with Down syndrome, Thibault knows firsthand the joy that they bring to families. She hopes to walk with mothers through the challenging emotions associated with the diagnosis, validating their disappointment and fear while rejoicing with them over the gift of their child. Thibault considers postpartum doulas to be “one of the missing links in the pro-life movement” – a movement that is often accused of being merely “pro-birth.” Postpartum doulas are a concrete reality that pro-lifers can point to when they are accused of abandoning the mother and child after birth has taken place. Thibault is out to prove that the Catholic Church does indeed care for life beyond the womb. Moms are shamed for staying at home and for having careers; Thibault celebrates each mother’s unique gifts and calling.
Lizzy Thibault ‘19
support in the three months after the baby is born. Thibault’s work includes everything from offering lactation support, to cleaning the new mother’s house, to offering a few hours of child care so that the mother can shower and rest. Thibault notes that many new mothers feel profoundly out of their depths when it comes to caring for the new life that has been entrusted to them. They often experience a surreal feeling when returning from the hospital with their infant as the reality of their new roles sinks in. “A lot of moms feel blindsided when they enter into motherhood,” says
Lizzy Thibault is a certified postpartum doula and founder of Ascend Doula Care, LLC.
Freedom and self-compassion “I always knew that I wanted to serve people. I knew that I wanted to make some meaningful difference in people’s lives,” says Jake Voelker , a marriage and family therapist who graduated from Saint John Vianney College Seminary in 2008 with joint degrees in philosophy and Catholic studies. After discerning
received a diagnosis of Down syndrome. As a sister to three
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Common Good Profile
mechanism to avoid dealing with the real issues at hand. The addicted person turns to porn when he or she feels lonely, overwhelmed or inadequate. Voelker has found that many of his clients turn to porn because they lack genuine connections. Ironically, porn erodes the connections they do have and stands in the way of forming deep romantic bonds.
relax and be kinder to themselves. “I think our culture and often our own families don’t value human dignity. We don’t give each other enough love and compassion and empathy. We’re too busy.” He wanted to create that space for understanding that the culture lacked. In his practice, Jake gives people space to be themselves. He honors their experiences, their traumas, their fears and their dreams, believing that in doing so, he is honoring their dignity as persons. As a therapist, Voelker is most interested in the psychological effects of trauma. He describes how harmful experiences, whether demonstrably significant or seemingly insignificant, cause us to form negative beliefs about ourselves, which can lead to a whole slew of unproductive coping mechanisms. In order to defeat these beliefs and behaviors, we must process the experience that allowed them to be formed in the first place. Voelker uses a process in his practice known as EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), which simulates REM sleep to help patients process traumatic memories. When it comes to his other specialties, Voelker sees them through the lens of trauma, always searching for the roots of the behaviors he encounters. One of his areas of focus is pornography addiction – a direct attack on the dignity of both men and women. He notes that porn is highly addictive and that, once the addiction begins, it is often used as a coping
Jake Voelker ‘08 (center)
out of seminary, Voelker moved to Chicago, where he spent a year leading pilgrimages to holy sites across the globe. Upon returning to Minnesota, he became intrigued with the field of therapy and applied to Saint Mary’s University in Winona. Two years later, he graduated from its satellite campus in Minneapolis with a degree in marriage and family therapy. Even in high school, Voelker’s friends would often come to him for advice. He loved listening to people and hearing their stories, giving them space to express their emotions. “I imagine Jesus was a good listener,” he says – someone who truly stopped what he was doing to focus on the person in front of him, who listened without formulating a response. Voelker always strove to be that kind of listener. Working as a therapist was a natural transition. His counseling philosophy is simple: “People are too hard on themselves.” Voelker wants people to
Voelker, as a seminarian in 2007, with Pope Benedict during Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Voelker estimates that around 75% of his clients are Catholic. This means that he can address the whole person, including the spiritual side, in his therapy sessions, often praying with clients. To drive home his message of self-compassion, Voelker has a devotion to Divine Mercy and has passed out copies of St. Faustina’s diary as a component of his practice. Jake Voelker can be found at jakevoelker.com. In addition to his private practice, Voelker works as an independent contractor for Parkdale Therapy Group (parkdaletherapy. org), Saint John Vianney College Seminary, and the Archdiocesan Tribunal.
“We don’t give each other enough love and compassion and empathy. We’re too busy.”
St. Thomas Lumen Fall/Winter 2021 Page 19
“poetic” approach to learning and believing. The volume includes an essay by Portsmouth Abbey Abbot Thomas Frerking that demonstrates Newman’s understanding of the Benedictine charism both in education and more broadly, and an introduction by Scala Foundation Director and Princeton Theological Seminary Professor Margarita Mooney. The latter is the editor of the second book I’m reading, The Love of Learning: Seven Dialogues on the Liberal Arts (Cluny), which includes edited conversations with figures such as Robert George and Baylor University political philosopher Elizabeth Corey on the idea, practice and experience of true learning. DAVID FOOTE In connection with my class on secularization, I have been reading biographies of Goethe, Nietzsche, and Heidegger by Rüdiger Safranski; a book on Charles Taylor and Alasdair MacIntyre by Jason Blakely ( Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and the Demise of Naturalism: Reunifying Political Theory and Social Science ), and I am just starting a biography of Isaiah Berlin by Michael Ignatieff. ERIKA KIDD Because I spent the summer teaching a graduate course on Mary, the Mother of God, I’ve been reading a lot about Mary’s life, including old favorites (like Cardinal Ratzinger’s Daughter Zion ) and new-to-me gems (like Charles Peguy’s Portal of the Mystery of Hope ). I also recently read Catholic novelist Donna Tartt’s The Secret History , a gripping but thought- provoking thriller about what happens when university education goes terribly awry.
WHAT WE’RE READING AND WATCHING
A popular question Department of Catholic Studies faculty get asked from students and alumni alike is where can one go to keep learning? As teachers, their natural inclination is to, foremost, dive into learning more so they can, too, think critically as to act wisely. Here is a sample of what some of our professors have been reading and watching over the last several months.
BILLY JUNKER I read Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich, a 14th-century English mystic, in preparation for my Catholic Vision course being held this fall. I’m also reading Alan Bray’s The Friend , which is a fascinating study of the complexities of kinship and public friendship in the pre-modern church and world.
I’m reading several volumes on education for an essay I’m doing. Current Catholic Studies Graduate Program student and Portsmouth Institute Director Chris Fisher’s A Benedictine Education (Cluny) publishes Newman’s little-known essays on the Benedictines and their
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JOHN BOYLE In 1936, a crew of American students from the University of Washington beat all the elite rowing teams in the U.S. and went on to win the gold medal at the Olympics in Berlin in a race rigged against them by the Nazis. Daniel James Brown tells the story in his The Boys in the Boat . I didn’t know anything about crew when I started. The personal stories as well as the competitions are riveting. The story is as inspiring a story of determination and challenge in the face of hardship and obstacles as one could want. I couldn’t put it down. FATHER MARTIN SCHLAG In early fall, my interest was focused on the notions of freedom and liberty. I started off with a classic: St. Augustine, De libero arbitrio . Written long before the Pelagian controversy, Augustine is refreshingly positive about human nature in this early book of his. … Another book that has made a great impression on me is James Chappel, Catholic Modern: The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Church . It is an analysis of Catholic social thought among Catholic intellectuals in France, Germany and Austria between 1920 to 1970. Up to the 1930s, Catholics generally rejected the modern state and fought for a return to a “Christian state” of the Middle Ages. With the onset of authoritarian governments, the tide shifted, and two branches formed, which the author calls “Catholic paternal modernism” and “Catholic fraternal modernism.” This book is eye-opening for contemporary developments. … If you want me to recommend a movie, I don’t hesitate: “News of the World” with Tom Hanks. A great piece that
I have seen three times and will definitely watch again. MICHAEL NAUGHTON I recently read two books, one spiritual and the other philosophical. The spiritual book is from a good friend of St. Thomas Catholic Studies, Father David Meconi, titled Christ Alive in Me: Living as a Member of the Mystical Body (Emmaus Road Publishing). It is a very accessible and deeply profound book on the presence of Christ’s life in our life. The other book is by Jeffrey Nicholas titled Reason, Tradition and the Good: MacIntyre’s Tradition-Constituted Reason and Frankfurt School Critical Theory . The book puts into dialogue Critical Theory – which is having a significant impact on education, government, religion and other sectors of society – and the Catholic Thomistic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre.
begins to draw inferences from this, and she soon starts to reverence the sun, and even develops a pretty intense prayer life. That all reminded me of Shakespeare’s character Caliban, who likewise makes some striking theological inferences based on his experience, and that was all the hint I needed: I decided to spend as much of the rest of my summer as I could with Shakespeare, and reread some plays I never get the chance to teach: first “The Two Noble Kinsmen,” then “Cymbeline,” then “Pericles, Prince of Tyre,” and then “Troilus and Cressida.” Reading great works with no schedule, no reason to rush, no goal in mind beyond enjoying them: what an idea!
I recently read a number of the essays of Father James Schall, the late Jesuit political philosopher. His best collection is probably The Politics of Heaven and Hell . I also read Andrew Roberts’ biography of Churchill, one of the most dynamic and curious lives of the 20th century. The film, “Darkest Hour,” about the critical first weeks Churchill served as prime minister, while a bit loose with facts here and there, is eminently worth watching as an example of determined leadership under stress.
My reading this past summer started with Kazuo Ishiguro’s understated, beautifully written Klara and the Sun , a very moving fable about artificial intelligence, what it is that defines the human as opposed to the machine, and, surprisingly, what used to be called “natural religion.” Klara is an AI creature who is solar-powered; she
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