THE GRACE OF ENCOUNTER In a 2016 meditation from St. Marta Chapel, Pope Francis challenged his flock 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.” His plea did not seem nearly as heavy then as it does today. This year has been a reminder of the fragility of truly life-giving encounter. It has been a reminder that working for and preserving the common good cannot be reduced to prescriptive and proscriptive norms; it needs the operation of grace to be a life-giving antidote. It has been a gift to explore this with our alumni. One of the most touching reflection is from alumna Cassandra Schwetz ‘17 , a staff member with Little Sisters of the Poor Holy Family residence in St. Paul ( Page 18 ). Despite the new suffering that her residents and their families, staff and religious sisters are experiencing under pandemic restrictions, the face of Christ remains with them. Alumna Kristen Grant ‘18 CSMA uses historian Christopher Dawson as a guide to understand humanity’s need to encounter the “world of spirit” in the struggle to repair a broken world ( Page 20 ).
Graduate Program Director Dr. Erika Kidd and alumnus Gerriet Suiter ‘19 CSMA consider the significance of St. Newman’s “genius loci,” understood not so much as “place as place” but “place as people,” in effective online education ( Page 14 ). Pope Francis often reminds us of the significance of the family in Catholic social teaching as the primary institution – or “cell of society” – for realizing the principles of communion and fruitfulness. Especially in the family, individuals mature in relationship to one another, and children are born and nurtured. These goods of the family, developed through the intimate encounters of family life, can influence how these principles are expressed in our larger economic and political institutions. This summer we sat down with three alumni families to explore the grace of mission and encounter in their own lives ( Page 4 ).
JOHN F. BOYLE, CHAIR DEPARTMENT OF CATHOLIC STUDIES
MICHAEL NAUGHTON, DIRECTOR CENTER FOR CATHOLIC STUDIES
St. Thomas Lumen Winter 2020 Page 3
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