Extras from the Spring 2011 Issue of Franciscan Way Magazing
It was not what was said, but it was the Franciscan priests as teachers, and it was that I joined them. I was in the Franciscans for five years and led a wonderful spiritual life. I was turned down for solemn vows and did not get ordained a priest, but I did get a teaching position at the then Saint John Vianney Seminary as a science and math teacher.
We were a small, close-knit school in the 50s, and we personally knew all the faculty, from Father Egan on down. So, it's difficult to pick out just one bit of advice. But in thinking back, I would like to remember Father Bonny [Bonaventure] Kiley, TOR, who was a little radical at times. He wanted you to stand up for your beliefs, even when they went against the grain of the establishments. Only then would good change be possible.
Dr. Carrigg was also adamant about majoring in a subject, not just in secondary education. I later did so at Purdue.
When I attended the College of Steubenville from 1954 to 1959, Dr. Felicigan taught history and had a great influence on me. My parents wanted me to be a lawyer, but along with the teaching of Dr. John Carrigg, I couldn't get enough history. I became a high school history teacher and then a school administrator and never regretted my decision.
The best advice that I received was from Professor Ruth Troy. She encouraged me to enroll in graduate school, which I had never planned to do. Graduate school at Xavier along with my degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville changed my life and my lifestyle.
Dr. John J. Carrigg: "Never let the classroom get in the way of your education." I took this advice and passed it on to my two sons, one of whom took it to heart, requiring six years to get his Bachelor of Science degree before going on the get his advanced degrees in geophysics
My favorite professor from my college days at Steubie U—in fact, my favorite teacher period—was Dr. Stokely.
I was a biology major and the first day, when I came into the classroom, I was shocked! Dr. Stokely was only about four feet tall. He was standing on a platform at the front of the room so he could reach the blackboard and see the students that he was lecturing. He had no arms—just two or three little projections from the shoulder area that mimicked little fingers. It was the classic look of those babies born to mothers that took Thalidomide.
I thought to myself, "This poor man." I felt so sorry for him, but I also thought that I would have a hard time in his class. How could I spend four years in this classroom? How would I ever be able to learn from him, rather than pity him? I knew he was the department head and so I would have to be in his classroom for many of my classes: Anatomy, Cell Physiology, etc.
"Doc" Stokely began his lecture standing on the platform. His voice was soft, yet strong. His style was straightforward, and I could tell he loved the subject matter and he loved to teach. He picked up a piece of colored chalk and began to illustrate on the board. He changed chalk colors and continued to teach and draw. It was amazing! It was interesting! It was magical! It was the best lecture ever and the time flew by.
At the end of the class, I realized that I had never even thought about his handicap since he began speaking. Every class I attended of his was the same—he was a teacher. He was great. From him, I learned many things, but most importantly, not to judge anyone by their exterior, but by the fire within. God bless Dr. Stokely!
When covering a subject that was really unimportant, accounting professor Ed Kelly would always say, "It's like a wart on the end of someone's nose—forget about it."
Ed Kelly, the great accounting teacher during the 60s, always said, "Debits are on the window side and the credits are on the door side." He taught the basics of accounting, and it has helped me throughout my life.
I cannot remember the exact words that George Gable said to me my senior year, but it was something like, "Stop to smell the roses!" Also, I remember his World War II story of not being able to kill the enemy, which influences me to this day on the commonality of the world population. My job brings me into contact with people from all over the world; I see less diversity and more common feelings and experiences. Besides his words, George Gable's peaceful, laid back confidence inspired me. Years later, I understood what influence his years at the University of Chicago and the initial charismatic renewal experience had on him.
As business majors, we were required to take accounting classes. As everyone knows who was in the accounting or business fields, Mr. Ed Kelly was our accounting instructor. He was colorful, energetic, and most importantly, a terrific teacher. He had several great sayings, but the one that made an impact on me and that I still follow today—41years later—in overseeing our family business comprised of four plants throughout the country, is, "When in doubt, deduct!" I might add that this advice always gets a chuckle, but not always a concurrence, from our CPA firm.
I felt that the elementary education degree I received from Steubenville well prepared me for my 30-plus year career as a teacher. The best advice I received was to be "fair, firm, and friendly," in that order. I believe the teacher who shared this nugget of wisdom was Dr. Heffernan. As a consultant who now works with teachers, I repeat these words to teachers all of the time!
The best advice I received while attending Franciscan University was from psychology chair and professor, John R. Korzi. His advice was to "know yourself" and to "respect others" with a sense of compassion. While this may sound rather uncomplicated, when one is expanding his or her horizons and maturing both educationally and emotionally, John Korzi's advice is sage. It helped those of us who eventually went into psychology to understand our own psyche, our own motivations, and it gave us a sense of self-identity during those turbulent times. Of course, respecting others with a sense of dignity helped us understand how our thoughts and actions affect others and how we earn respect and compassion by giving it, no matter what field we choose on our life's journey.
I have supervised well over 85 college and graduate student interns and have supervised adolescent services. My practice has always been based on what I have learned from John Korzi. I certainly always pass on to others what I have learned from him and ask that my students and workers pass it on to others. His lessons were always valuable and important to all of his students whom he loved and cared about deeply.
The professor was Dr. Robert E. Lee, head of the English Department. He used to say, "When you get older, you don't regret the things you've done. You regret the things you didn't do." I gave this advice to my newly-adopted 14 year old son, Tim, just yesterday.
Some of the best advice I got in the classroom was from former sociology professor, Tom Lambert. He told a sociology class, "Some of your best education is out of the classroom." That has proved to be true, on many levels. And it is advice I passed on to my daughters.
The advice that made the most impact and that has stayed with me and become a huge part of my life came from Tom Lambert in Sociology 101. He said that in order to be a good sociologist, one needs to question everything about the five institutions: education, politics, economics, religion, and marriage. I thought, "What the heck, I'll give it a try," and whole new worlds opened up for me. I was able to see everything in a different light and it helped me learn so much about life, people, and community. Learning to put away preconceived notions and absorb everything through questioning eyes has empowered me, helped me to see the other person's point of view, and made me open to new ideas, and able to see those that have no basis in fact. People ask me why I graduated with a degree in sociology if I didn't go into social work. I always answer that I've used that sociology degree every day of my life. Thanks, Mr. Lambert!
Back in the early 70s, my accounting professor, Ed Kelly, always said when it came to taxes, “When in doubt…deduct.” Even though he was referencing a tax form, the message was to be proactive. I’ve always followed that advice and found that being proactive in any situation is the best path to follow. Thanks, Ed, for everything. God bless you.
I can't remember the professor, but he said that no action requires an explanation until asked for—until then, we just do things.
The best advice I received from a professor was from Father John Bertolucci. It was during Lent and at one of the evening masses in Christ the King Chapel. He challenged us to spend time with God every day. He told us what to do to see if God's word is planted in our heart. He gave us four steps: accept, retain, persevere, and produce. When I follow this simple plan, it does work. Franciscan helped me to cultivate a relationship with a living God. This survey has reminded me of that and made me want to renew that relationship.
Father John Bertolucci said, "In order to know what a church believes, listen to what it prays." If I might add to that: look at how a church or organization treats you at different stages of your physical ability. I had a church tell me I couldn't use a wheelchair in their building after a hip replacement. Also, another person from that church was in the same hospital as I was when I had my hip surgery, and only two people from the church visited me during my hospital stay.
As a proud, know it all freshman, I remember thinking it would be interesting to take a junior level theology class—Moral Theology with Father Dan Sinisi, TOR. Boy, did that wreck my grade point average. Nothing in my religious education or public school education throughout the 60s and 70s prepared me for what I was to encounter.
A large pre-reading assignment was given in a book by a well-known"Catholic" theologian. I remember devouring this book and gladly marinating in the profound passages. In class, Father Dan burst my bubble as he clearly revealed this theologian's heretical teachings. Father Dan then went on to teach the beauty and truth of the Catholic Church. What better "advice" can you get?
This taught me numerous lessons, but two are foremost:
1. I am eternally thankful for the precious and clear presentation of teachings of the Catholic Church that shaped my young adulthood. Today, it is disheartening to see the damaging consequences of learning the opposite lessons my peers had been taught at other Catholic universities.
2. I have never again "trusted" that what is presented to me by an authority figure is authentic. I always do my homework on the philosophy, worldview, and behavior of presenters, authors, or teachers. More than thirty years later, critical thinking continues to be a valuable gift.
I truly believe this was the most valuable lesson I have ever learned, and it has continually protected and served my soul and faith life to this day. It has made me a very strong wife, mother, and friend.
When I think about the best advice I ever received at Franciscan University, I immediately remember a conversation that I had with George Gable, my sociology adviser. I went into his room one afternoon my senior year, sat down across from him and asked, "What can I do with a sociology degree?"
His response to me was, "You can do anything you want!"
Well, that was a loaded answer to a young 22 year old, soon to be college graduate with no job on the horizon! I was not sure what to do with that response, and I actually was very frustrated with his answer to me. He said it with such positivity and confidence, too.
Twenty-six years later, I have done exactly what George advised me, "anything I want!" I have had a few different careers. I have worked in an adult home for the severely mentally challenged, I have worked with an investment company trading mutual funds, and I was a head teacher at a day care center. For the past 22 years, I have run an in-home day care for several children, I have been a stay at home mom raising five children, and two years ago, I started another new career. I am working with an agency in my town called House Calls. I have five elderly people whom I care for on a daily or weekly basis. I am a companion and homemaker to the sweetest population out there! Every day brings a new challenge to me with these clients, and I am gaining a deeper respect for the elderly population. Listening to them, with their health, financial, and family concerns, has given me an opportunity to talk to them about the Lord and to pray with and for them.
So, George Gable, I thank you for those few words of wisdom that at first were nonsense to me and ended up being a way to live.
One thing I thought of on the "advice that had a huge impact" subject was a phrase Dr. Winifred Dickinson used to encourage us when we were under stress because of all the work she assigned to us as poor little freshman biology majors. See, "Dr. D.," as we affectionately referred to her, was a professor with the philosophy that if students are stretched far beyond what they think themselves capable of, they will reach new heights in their academic ability. She was right. But we all hated it (she really was a very challenging professor!). Anyway, the advice that I cherish now was something she used to say, especially at the beginning of lab practical tests, when all of us were stressed to the point of heart attacks. She would say, "Remember: keep your head about you," so that we would keep focused and not crumble under the pressure. It worked.
I have since applied this to a vast number of situations in my own life and have shared it with my own children. Also, as a science teacher for the local home school group, I give lab practical tests in my biology classes and have shared those words of wisdom with my students. It was great advice.
"If you ever get a chance to pick a number, pick 17 because it gets lonely from not being used very often." These are words of advice from Dr. Salter in the mid-80s that I have adhered to and shared with everyone I know for the past 25 years.
I was a biology major during my years at Franciscan University, and I spent many long hours on my feet looking into a microscope. Dr. Rose Cerroni would always pull out the stools in the lab and admonish us to "never stand when you can sit, and never sit when you can lie down!" While we thought it was peculiar advice at the time, once I started my career as a health inspector, I understood that she was teaching us to conserve our energy. Today, I still use her advice while spending the day chasing my eight kids!
In 1987, I had Dr. Mark Miravalle for Moral Theology. He wanted to impress upon us the mercy of God in a profound way. He told us that, “God’s greatest attribute is His mercy.” And to drive the point home, he told us that if we were only interested in getting a “C” on the midterm, all we had to do was put our name on the blue book, turn it over to the back, and write “God’s greatest attribute is mercy.” That would guarantee us a “C.” However, if we didn’t turn our blue book over and write “God’s greatest attribute is mercy” on the back, no matter how well we answered the essay questions, we would not get higher than a “D” on the midterm. I have never forgotten that experience and I have spent the last 20-plus years sharing God’s mercy and that experience with those I have had the chance to teach, instruct, share with, and parent. Thank you, Dr. Miravalle.
When I took my first Foundations course in the Master's program, Mr. Brees (now Dr. Brees) wanted to create an intellectually stimulating and welcoming atmosphere. As graduate students are sometimes wont to display their brilliance and at times embarrass their fellow classmates, he said to us, "The only stupid question is the one you don't ask." He went on to tell us that in his class, discussion should be open and free, and it was. I still use his line when working with students in my present position as an academic librarian. Whether I am training library aides in how to do their jobs orteaching information literacy classes, I want students to ask questions without fear of embarrassment.
Way back in the late '80s, I was a business management student at our beloved FUS. As I progressed through the BSBA program, I enjoyed the variety of classes and professors. Having transferred in my junior year, I quickly realized the Business Department staff was very unique. These men were not career academics. They were successful businessmen finding a way to give back to the Church they loved. Dr. Donald Kissinger and Professor Peter Zanetich both left lasting impressions on me. Both men were able to relay their real-world experience along with Christian business philosophies. Both ran their classes as if we were out there in the real world making widgets or closing deals. Dr. Kissinger, with his military and public sector experiences, and Professor Zanetich, with his steely Hoboken attitude and production floor savvy, were able to positively influence my career. The formulas and philosophies that I struggled to learn really do work and come in handy in the crunch-time of today's world.
I have held production planning, materials planning, and marketing positions over the years. Today, I am an assistant director of religious education at a large parish (it's a Steubenville thing) and still draw on my FUS experiences and memories. I have enjoyed volunteering as a Junior Achievement mentor, teaching 4th and 5th grade students the hows and whys of the business world.
Dr. Jim Harold said this to me the second week of my freshman year: “Don’t let academics get in the way of your education. Keep your grades up, but take advantage of every opportunity you can.” It is advice I passed on during my almost 20 years of teaching in public school and continue to pass on as an assistant professor of Education at Penn State. It reminded me that while keeping your grades up is important, there are so many opportunities to learn that are beyond the structured classroom. Many of my students and colleagues have used this piece of advice over the years. Thank you Dr. Harold for reminding me that there is an education to be found in life, not just in classes.
Professor Peter Zanetich made a lasting impression on me in one class. Our class was learning about cash on the corporation balance sheet and Professor Zanetich sidetracked into Christian business ethics to make a memorable point. He said individuals should always have about six months worth of cash savings in their own portfolio mix. That way, if you run into an ethical dilemma, you can make the right choice and not be constrained by losing your paycheck. So, I've made sure to save enough money for a healthy cushion, which came in handy when I was laid off in 2009, but the larger point of not being held hostage to your employer always made a tremendous amount of sense to me. I've since taught this principle to others and to my own family.
By contrast, when I got my MBA at New York University in 1998, we had a class on ethics, which was mandatory, and it stressed following the law and the importance of making the right choices, but did not give any sort of practical advice on how to do so. As anyone who follows the news knows, whistleblowers are often fired. Without a cash cushion, making the moral choice could prove disastrous to a young family.
Having taken five philosophy courses with Dr. Harold, I could fill a book with the memorable words that left his lips. One day, during his lecture, Dr. Harold stopped midsentence, looked at me with his familiar squint, and asked, "Tom McDonald, are you a philosophy major?"
"No," I replied.
"Well, you ought to be," he concluded, resuming his lecture. The next semester, I added philosophy as a second major, and I ended up in graduate studies in philosophy.
On another occasion, Dr. Harold's lecture lurched to a sudden stop yet again, as he looked up and surveyed the entire room with the same knowing squint. "If you think God is calling you to marriage," he began, "you really ought to find a spouse here on this campus, because you'll never have a better opportunity to find the right person than you do now." A year after graduation, I married Caroline Weber. We met in Dr. Harold's class.
During a class that I had with Professor Scott Hahn, a student asked him what could we do to stay close to God once we had graduated and no longer had the support of such a faith-filled environment to help us. Professor Hahn replied that we should go to Mass and receive the Eucharist as often as possible, go to frequent confession, and stay close to Mary, especially through praying the rosary. He said that if we did those three things, then we would never stray far from God.
It has been nearly 20 years now since I heard those words of basic but foundational advice. I can gratefully say that during times of great difficulty or when I have felt myself backsliding, by redoubling my efforts to do those three things, I have always received the grace necessary to keep me close to God or to come back to Him if I had strayed. Thanks, Dr. Hahn, for those inspired words of wisdom!
What comes to mind immediately is not what was said, but what was done.I had three or four biblical studies classes from Dr. (then Mr.) Andy Minto. I remember he used to come in to give his lectures wearing a pair of loafers polished to a sheen. In the front row sat a woman, an "older" student who was widowed with a large family. She, her mother, and her two youngest children had moved to Steubenville at great sacrifice to their family so that she could enroll in the Master of Arts Theology program. They were living on a real shoestring budget, and her shoes showed it. She always wore a pair of old shoes with large holes in them and always sat in a front row seat at every class. Mr. Minto took note.
I don't know exactly how he did it, but he used great sensitivity, discretion, and respect, because one day, my friend waltzed in to class wearing a brand new pair of shoes. She was all smiles. Later, she told me quietly who was responsible. I don't remember all Dr. Minto taught us in his lectures, but I can't forget what he taught by his actions.
By the way, my friend later graduated and went on to work as a diocesan director of religious education in Vermont.
In my first class with Dr. Regis Martin, he asked that we give him our attention with tentative sympathy. He went to explain that meant we should open our minds enough to be open to what he had to say, but with enough reserve to judge for ourselves and internalize the material. If we were completely closed, nothing would sink in, and if we were too open, then the newly acquired knowledge would remain only until the next thing came along to take its place.
This had a profound effect on my learning, both at the University and in later life. It made me feel in control and responsible for what I was learning. Dr. Martin acted in a truly professional manner.
I completed a degree in theology, so I can't for reasons of both time and space, begin to thank all the professors for their passion in transferring to me their knowledge of the faith. The greatest thing about studying at Franciscan was that people truly believed what they were teaching, and that is so catching!
Dr. Mark Miravalle taught me in Theology 101. I remember a few things that stay with me today, especially as I teach my junior high students at St.Cecilia's School in Hastings, Nebraska. He said, "If the hills beckon to you, and the sunshine is spilling over the valley, go, answer the call. You may do this (skip class) twice without penalty." That was some of the best news I had heard, and I thought it showed his great sense of humor and taught us balance in life!
He also told us that if we put on our midterm or final exam, "Mercy is God'sgreatest trait," he would not fail us, because if that is all we learned in his class, that would be enough. While I don't promise not to fail those of my students who have "earned that right," I do invite them to write this on the top of their tests on First Fridays for an extra free point. A few weeks ago, a student I taught in junior high, who is now 24 and teaching at a Catholic school, came up to me. She told me that she tells her students to do the same thing! I'm sure Dr. Miravalle never knew how widespread his message of mercy would become!
I guess it is important to note that I was always a serious student—very serious about studying. So when a family member offered to give me an all-expenses-paid trip to Medjugorje in the spring of 1990 (my sophomore year) which would involve missing almost two weeks of school, it felt like a true dilemma.
I took it so seriously that I sought spiritual direction about it on campus. Father Sam Tiesi, TOR, advised me to "Go for it," but to also go and talk to each of my professors. One by one, each professor, knowing my strong work ethic, gave me his or her approval. The last professor I went to see was Dr. Harold, my Ethics professor. As I nervously once again explained the offer I had received and what weeks of school I would be missing, he leaned forward, looked me dead in the eye, and said, "Oh, Celina, don't ever let school get in the way of your education!" As relief swept through me, I left his office with a true sense of peace, and obviously have never regretted the decision, nor forgotten his advice! Since I graduated summa cum laude in 1992 with the Department Award for Education and with the Daniel W. Egan Memorial Award, I don't think taking the trip hurt my education! I have gone on to co-found a Catholic elementary school in Wake Forest, North Carolina that accepts all students, including those with disabilities, those who are gifted, and everyone in between, so all the children in a family can attend school together (www.allsaintsacademy.net). Thanks, Franciscan, for the excellent education and spiritual formation, and thanks, Dr. Harold, for the memorable and wise advice!
During my first week at FUS, I was considering changing my major to theology, but my parents weren't thrilled. As I discussed this with Dr. Regis Martin, my professor for Intro to Catholicism, he said, "Education is not job training." This provoked a major shift in how I approached my studies and my time at Franciscan, seeking truth and wisdom above all and engaging my whole self: intellectually, spiritually, humanly, and physically. After graduation, I entered the Sisters of Life, so my theology major ended up being pretty good job training, too!
Father Gus [Augustine Douegan, TOR] once gave a one-line homily: "Negative humor belongs in hell. Keep it there." It was the shortest homily ever, but I've always remembered it.
While I was in Austria, my parents visited Europe. I asked permission fromDr. Fougerousse to skip a couple days of classes to go visit them in Italy. He told me to go and said, "Education is more than just studying. It's experiencing." I've remembered that and tried to help balance my three daughters' educations by providing experiences that broaden their understanding of life and faith and teach them at the same time.
Dr Sunyoger taught me in Business Writing to keep my letters and communications direct and short. That helps me every day in my business life.
From Dr. Andy Minto: "When reading an excerpt from the Gospels, one must always study the three chapters behind and the three chapters ahead to appreciate what is being read in the few verses now."
There was a lot of great advice from professors during my years at FUS. One piece of advice which has always stayed with me was given during my first semester. Dr. David Warner shared one day in our Scripture class how being at the University was amazing, but there needed to be balance. He said we could be involved in all aspects of campus life (which was all good), but if we did, we might not do so well in our classes. Balance was the key. We needed to continually ask God, “What do YOU want me to be involved in?” and then listen. This has stayed with me since then and I have shared it with so many people.
My first day as a philosophy Master's student in 1993, I was told by Professor Roberts that, "No woman can have an equal or higher degree than her husband and still have a good marriage." I told him, "Then you must not know my parents who are both professors here, Drs. Tom and Lyn Scheuring"—they have a very successful marriage going on 43 years and a few authored books on marriage.
Needless to say, I married a lawyer—and I am also a lawyer, with an additional Master's degree in philosophy that my husband does not have. We have a very successful law firm as partners and a great marriage going on 10 years with three awesome children. So I would say, I owe the motivation for all of this to Dr. Roberts. Thanks!
P.S. I was the first woman to graduate with an MA in Philosophy from Franciscan University in 1995 (I actually passed my comps and defense in the summer of 1994 and received my diploma in February of 1995, but had to wait until the annual graduation). I then went on to graduate Fordham Law School in New York City in 1998, spent time as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx, and have been a litigator since.
Frau [German for "Mrs."] Beate Engel-Doyle has often been heard to say, "There are no deadlines, only living-lines." This is spoken in regards to how she approaches issues with students not having things done on time and listens to their reasons and considers the student and the situation.
That is the one quote I remember, and I have said it to my students throughout the years and explained why I agree with it and what it means: Life happens. In charity and respect for the dignity of each person, we need to keep away from "one size fits all" policies and regard the individual.
Dr. Holmes, Dr. Sunyoger, and Frau Engel-Doyle personify this message. For me, they will always be the epitome of what a Catholic educator should aspire to be. They are the reason I heard and responded to God's call in my own life to be a Catholic educator. Every student I have ever taught since the fall of 1997 has heard about these three individuals and their impact on my life.
The consistent Catholic message I heard from these three professionals, which imbued all of their actions and words, is: Students have dignity as human beings created by God. They are children of God, members of the Body of Christ, and therefore are to be treated as sacred and always cherished.
Dr. Holmes makes this evident in the ways he grades his tests and responds to his students when there is a crisis situation. He may not remember this, but I still have the tests to prove it! One time, I had answered a question on a test and gotten the characters all mixed up as to who did what. However, he gave me almost full credit for the answer because I was very convincing in what I did say and he could tell I had just mixed some things up. Also, the one and only time I very accidentally missed an exam, it was a Dr. Holmes exam. Literally ten minutes after the end of the exam, I, in my dorm room studying, had this horrifying moment of realizing what had just happened. I went running from Tommy More up to Dr. Holmes' office. He was still there. I explained my predicament. His response was to let me know how surprised and concerned for me he had been when I was not present during the exam. He offered to let me take the test whenever I was ready. I assured him I was ready then and there. He had me sit in the lounge area to take it. I will never forget those two moments and all the other times he taught me how to be charitable to students.
Frau Engel-Doyle instructed me in German for three years. During that time, she became more than just my professor. She became someone I could go to for advice for my future. She let me know that I was more than just a body in the classroom; she saw me as a person with gifts to share. When I began taking German, I was not an education major. I had switched from education to English. As I was getting ready to graduate in 1995, she asked me to reconsider my position on a career as a teacher. She told me she saw those gifts in me. I will never forget her lessons to me on the importance of caring for my students not only as my students, but as young men and young women God has called, has brought into being, for a very special purpose. He has a plan He is unveiling to them throughout the days of their lives. It is our responsibility as adults to help in the revealing of this plan.
Dr. Sunyoger was my adviser as an English major. I'll never forget her vibrant, energetic, enthusiasm in the classroom. I'll never forget the day I saw her share my deep pain at seriously failing a test in one of her classes. I'll never forget our conversation, when in all humility, she asked me to tell her what she could do better as my instructor. Because she knew me as her student and also was my adviser, she knew that me failing the test was indicative of something beyond a lack of understanding the material. I'll never forget and I'll always remember what it felt like to have someone care about me so much that they would be there for me in such a profound way. I never expected that from a teacher or professor. Dr. Sunyoger is another person who, near my graduation day in 1995, asked me why I didn't think I should be a teacher. She also told me that she saw those gifts in me. She encouraged me to reconsider my position.
I'll never forget the day, sitting at my computer in my third floor apartment on Kendall Avenue, when I heard God's inspiration come to me and say, "Are you really not going to listen to these two people? They are professors. Don't you think they know what they are talking about?" It was one of those moments in life when you know you aren't hearing a physical voice, but it is so clear, you know it's God and you had better pay attention!
I told God my list of things that had to happen to make it clear to me that teaching was what He wanted. By the time I graduated two weeks later, everything was in place for me to continue at Franciscan University in the fall as a Masters in Education student. I stood amazed.
I stand amazed today at how God works. God put on my heart only weeks ago that I really needed to honor these three professors in a special way. My plan has been to write each of them a tribute letter that I would mail to them personally. Obviously, God was thinking along other lines!
As a Franciscan University alumna, my hope and prayer is that students continue to receive the Catholic education that I received during my time there. What a difference Catholic education makes in our lives, because it is the only philosophy of education that sees the individual in their entirety— body, mind, and spirit—and recognizes our responsibility to each person as an individual created in the image and likeness of God.
I pray in thanksgiving every day to God for Franciscan University, and especially for Dr. Holmes, Frau Engel-Doyle, and Dr. Sunyoger. I will continue to take them with me wherever I go.
The best advice (that I remember) came from Frau Engel-Doyle, the German professor, who said that you should always give yourself a "living line" (as opposed to a deadline) in order to get assignments done. Sure, you have to finish papers and so forth in a timely manner, but the point was not to be so hard on yourself, and to ask for help, and maybe an extension, if you find that you need it.
The first two things that come to mind are:
First, Professor Fougerousse, in Gaming in 1994: "Don't tell me you made a mistake out of stupidity, say you did it on purpose."
Second, the idea that ninety-five percent of what you learn will be learned in the first five years on the job.
One thing I really remember from my time at FUS is Dr. Regis Martin's Ecclesiology class. He said, in typical Dr. Martin style (imagine him with his hand up, emphasizing every syllable in a gruff voice that is itself mysterious), "The Church is a mystery, the depths of which we cannot plumb." This thought, taken from Lumen Gentium but presented amidst the parade of paradoxes that issued forth from Dr. Martin's astute intellect, has been foundational for my approach to prayer and theology. Whenever I teach ecclesiology, this is the first point that I try to drive home to my students. Subsequently, this man has remained my teacher as I have read his little book on Flannery O'Connor, his little book on the Church, and his provocative analysis of Christ's descent into Hell (which has deeply influenced me). Dr. Martin's ability to hold in tension the deep mysteries of our life and of our faith is refreshing in the face of the cold rationalism of our day. I was blessed to have him as a teacher and the Church is blessed to have him as a theologian.
Also, Father Dan Pattee, TOR, taught me to love St. Bonaventure and how not to be an ostrich.
I could probably go on forever, since every professor influenced me in one way or another. Their love for their subjects and their unique manners of speaking and teaching impressed me in ways that words on a page cannot. The bottom line, however, what I learned from them all, was Christ. He was the one using them, using their passion, to inspire me and my fellow classmates to go deeper into the well of learning, to value the intellectual life, to continually seek Him in every subject. The biggest credit to the professors at FUS is that they, like Mary, magnify the Lord.
Thank you and may God continue to bless FUS!
I remember FUS very fondly as it was the place of my call (in the Port) but to honest, I do not recall specific words of advice given to me. I remember people.
Two people stand out the most: Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, and Barbara Morgan, the catechetics professor. Her advice about being aware of all the graces God gives you when you open up the Scriptures has stayed with me, as has Father Scanlan’s homily about freshmen being the loneliest people in the world. He also once said, “Don’t miss the grace,” with such a smile on his face that I really understood the power of God’s grace in a whole new way.
I would say that more than words, these individuals' examples of joy in following Christ and teaching the truth about him made the biggest impression on me. I am so grateful for that witness! I think I have tried to pass that on—to be a teacher of the faith means first of all being a witness in your daily life.
The professors at Franciscan are all so fantastic and many helped to shape the person I now am. However, the best advice I received was from Dr. Brees. He taught me through his unconventional teaching methods and open-minded approach to examine issues from various perspectives, to really listen to others, especially if they are saying something I don't agree with. He fostered in me a bold spirit to not be afraid to pursue different modes of thought, to read diverse material, because there are elements of truth everywhere that are waiting to be unearthed, and you run the risk of "missing the forest for the trees" when you "throw the baby out with the bathwater."
Dr. Brees helped to transform my experience of a world that was filled with uncertainty and confusion, that was different shades of black, white, and gray, into an exciting treasure hunt in a full color spectrum. I began to see that God's many faces are everywhere—His immeasurable Spirit is in every aspect of creation: "the good, the bad, and the ugly," the heights and the depths. Opening my heart to Him fearlessly, passionately pursuing a glimpse of His presence in every religion, every culture, every philosophy, has torn asunder the "safe house" I had unwittingly trapped myself in. Because of this change in perspective, my relationships are more honest and fulfilling, my problem-solving is more creative, my prayer life is dynamic and multi-dimensional, and my relationship with God is more fervent because, as I discover more about Him, I love, admire, and appreciate Him more, and as I depend on Him totally to lead me, I am more sensitive to His promptings.
Dr. Brees also stressed that we are partners with God, co-creating our destinies. This insight infused within me a spirit of freedom and joy, causing me to be much more proactive in all aspects of my life. I approach each day and each situation with enthusiasm, confidence, and ingenuity, not worried that I might color outside of the lines. In my treasure hunt, I might get tangled in some briars or scraped up by rocks, but I'm also seeing hidden gardens behind those thorny weeds, extraordinary vistas beyond those dangerous cliffs. Sure, the path is safer, but as I take each emboldened step into the wilderness, I tread less on rocky ground than I do on angels' wings. The "wild"ness becomes exhilarating because as Psalm 23 says, "You are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage." Pope John Paul II often exhorted us to "be not afraid," and once elaborated on this point by saying, "Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence."
So, thank you, Dr. Brees, for your insight and for your own example of courage and freedom. You are not always understood because you venture to stray from the safe path, but as David ate the bread of offering which was reserved for priests and danced publicly before the Lord in a linen ephod, ridiculed by many, including his wife, "the violent are taking the Kingdom of Heaven by force" (Mt 11:12), and the fervent one is the "man after God's own heart." The broadness of your vision, the courage and passion you inspire, stirs up in those who "have ears to hear" a thirst for truth –total, unbridled, gorgeous truth that will be constrained by no one and nothing, truth that is the light which quantum physicists deem to be the substance of all matter, that connects us all through Him, and in the vibration of becoming, fills the created universe with a symphony heard only by the angels and saints and perceived by "those who have ears to hear" and hearts to seek it out.
The most profound and timely statement that I received did not come from a professor, but from a woman in admissions. Sorry, but I do not remember her name. I was a non-traditional student, married with two daughters in elementary school and a one year old son. When I first decided to go back to school, I had only intended to attend part-time, but FUS offered me a scholarship if I attended full-time. It was an offer too good to refuse. But I was petrified! Would I be able to handle the workload in addition to my responsibilities to my home, my husband, and my children?
As I sat in the admissions office, I confessed the fears that I felt about this huge transition in my life. God bless that woman for her words of wisdom: “Change means you are still alive.” That small statement helped me to overcome my fears and proceed with my studies at Franciscan University. And yes, I have passed that nugget of wisdom on to many other people as they have spoken to me of their own personal fears about changes in their lives.
I took Dr. Scarnecchia for Human Life Issues. One day after class, we walked down together from Egan Hall to Mass. It was my senior year and my fiancé was in the hospital seriously ill. We were to be married in seven weeks and did not even know if he would be out of the hospital. Dr. Scarnecchia just casually continued the conversation from the class we had just left and asked how my fiancé was. I expressed concern for his health, yet trust that ultimately God was in control. Dr. Scarnecchia stopped me and so compassionately told me that in his years of marriage, there had always been a loaf of bread on the table, that God had always been faithful. He encouraged me to remain faithful—come what may—to God and to my soon-to-be husband, and to trust that God would act. I have carried his words in my heart for these last eleven years. He will never know how much that advice has defined my sacrament. I am so grateful.
The best advice I ever received was from Mr. Dougherty during my senior year when I was directing Salomé by Oscar Wilde, about the death of John the Baptist. I had been holding back as a director, afraid to go to all the scary places the script and the biblical story led me, and Mr. Dougherty told me, "If you wanted to do Mary Poppins, you should have done Mary Poppins," by which he meant, "If you're going to commit to something, if you felt that it was worth committing to, then it's worth going to those scary places to find the light." I took his advice, went with my gut, and came out with a very fine play. My understanding of theatre and a Catholic's place in it changed forever—and to this day, when my students look into the cracks of Hamlet or other great but daunting plays, I tell them, "If we wanted to do Mary Poppins...!"
Probably the best advice I received came within the classroom setting, in one of Dr. Brian Scarnecchia’s Moral Theology classes. There was probably a week’s worth of discussions on cooperation in evil. As a Catholic, pro-life American, I understood the need to be conscious of the organizations I patronize, with regard to the potential evils those organizations may be committing. But I grew alarmed as I learned more and more about all the wicked things that so many organizations are involved with—directly or not. I even wondered if it was moral to pay federal taxes, as we know that tax dollars are often used for immoral purposes.
Dr. Scarnecchia painted a clear picture of the concepts of formal and material cooperation in evil, and the proximity to such and so on. It helped me to understand that I am not necessarily participating in the sins of everyone down the money chain every time I buy a stick of gum, as some would have you believe. Rather, we have responsibilities to be educated and to seek justice and the best moral alternatives, but to always understand where our participation in any act fits into the equation of possible injustice. I apply these principles just about every day, on matters as trivial as whether it’s moral to watch a basketball game on certain channels, or as serious as deciding where the vaccination of our children sits in the moral stratosphere.
I’m very grateful to have had such a wonderfully skilled teacher as Dr. Scarnecchia, and I regret having only had him for that one class.
The all time most influential piece of advice I received (quite possibly in my entire life) came from Professor Barbara Morgan. Her first words in my first class with her were, "NO PERFUNCTORY PRAYER!" She went on to explain that no student should ever witness us simply reciting prayers, that they are always conversations with God, and should always be seen as such, never as a mere recitation of words, no matter how pressed for time one is.
This made a huge impact on my personal prayer life at the time, and continues to do so even today. I've carried this with me through many years of various ministries, and still share it with people who come to me with questions pertaining to youth ministry, or Catholic drop out rates in general. It's an injustice and a scandal to tell people that God is a person and a God who loves us, then to talk to Him like He's not really there, or not expected to respond. I know that my own faith deepened profoundly when I first came upon people who prayed like they were speaking directly to Him, like He was present with them, listening when they were speaking to Him. All it really boils down to is that we really mean the words that we speak, and believe that the One we are speaking to is really listening.
Professor Matt McCann regularly reminded us that as engineers our job was to solve problems, and if we succeeded, we could potentially work ourselves out of our jobs. This advice coupled with my dad’s adage, “If you’re going to do something, do it right,” have been constant reminders to always do my best.
I'm paraphrasing this, since I can't remember Dr. Regis Martin's exact words, spoken at a pro-woman assembly. He said something like, "People often ask me why I have 10 kids. After I get over their impertinence, I say, 'For the same reason God made the hippopotamus.'"
Professor Don Materniak told me in his office, near to the point where I was about to graduate, "The most successful people I know are people who find what it is they love to do, and then learn how to do that well." I've passed that along to every person I've ever talked to about finding the career that is right for them. Thanks, Professor Materniak!
I think the most memorable quote that has stuck with me over the years came from Dr. Martin. He said, "Find a good mate, settle down, and procreate with reckless abandon."
The best advice that I received was from Dr. Robert Doyle, one of myHistory professors. As I was working on my senior thesis on one of the generals of the U.S. Civil War, I got to a point where I needed some encouragement. He simply said, "Take the hill." He was referring to how soldiers sometimes had the dangerous and difficult task of climbing a hill and taking it from the enemy, at the risk of losing their lives. In this case, Dr. Doyle was talking about the Battle of Gettysburg. Even though he used "history talk" to get my attention, I knew what he was really saying: "You have what it takes to get this thesis paper done. Just get out there and do it, no matter what obstacles come your way." So I did just that—and earned an A on my thesis. Thanks, Dr. Doyle.
While completing my MBA at Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2003-2004, I chose to take an elective ethics course focused in accounting and taught by Professor Thomas Kelly, now Dr. Thomas Kelly. Being relatively new to the accounting and auditing workforce, as I had just recently completed my undergraduate Bachelor of Accounting degree and begun working at a local regional accounting firm in Steubenville, I felt the class would prove beneficial in helping to enhance my professional awareness relating to the very significant issues that had quickly become increasingly prevalent in my field due to large fraudulent accounting scandals occurring at the time. Dr. Kelly’s very informative lessons focusing on the importance of building a solid foundation, both moral and ethical, in addition to a firm business foundation, helped form the basis of the ethical professionalism I carry with me to this day. From impacting the employees I worked with in public accounting for eight years to impacting the fellow employees I work with in the private sector today, the values instilled in me through the lessons taught by Dr. Kelly have assisted me in helping to brighten the negative perception our field has faced.
Professor Barbara Morgan once shared in a catechetics class some of the best marital advice I had ever heard: "Marriage is a race. It's a race to the cross. The winner of the race gets to die to his or her self first for the sake of their spouse." My wife and I continually try to live out this piece of wisdom in our marriage. I graduated in '04 and my wife (Sarah Tate Foote) graduated in '05. We both majored in theology with an emphasis in catechetics. I also majored in philosophy and she also majored in English writing.
The best advice I got was from Dr. Hahn not to do the "Judas Shuffle" after receiving the sacred body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a most profound time to be with our Lord. I have passed this advice on to many since hearing it.
The best advice I ever received was from Dr. Scott Hahn. He said one day, when everyone was nervous studying for the final, "Did this class change your life? That is what matters." I have been able to use this bit of wisdom in many circumstances in my life. It's not about what happened or didn't happen in the end, but about whether or not something changed my life. As a teacher, this is my main goal with my students and in the forefront of every lesson: in the end, it doesn't matter what grades they get or if they always did their homework, but did this class change their lives?
The best advice I ever received was from Dr. Gary Severance. At the opening of his year-long Psychological Methods course, he said, "This class will test your abilities, and you will work very hard. As with all things in life, have a marathoner's mentality, not a sprinter's mentality."
This became not only the best advice for his class (in which I wrote or co-wrote three 50-page papers during my senior year), but the best advice for many things in my life. I am currently finishing a PhD in psychology at the University of Notre Dame, and I would never have made it through had it not been for the advice of Dr. Severance. Considering each task and goal carefully, and working towards it, step by step, each day, has been the foundation of my work since.
Not only has this mentality impacted my work, but my faith life as well. My wife (Ashley Durcholz Kreager, '06) and I are constantly seeking to improve our faith a little each day. We don't try to sprint to sainthood in a day, but rather slowly, methodically, deepen our life together and our life in Christ on a daily basis. Life and faith are more approachable when we don't try to "make ourselves holy," but rather allow God to shape us in His time.
Professor Zanetich, in his own inimitable way, once told his Quantitative Management class that, "the world needs secretaries." That always struck me: We each have a role to play within our God-given vocation. Not everyone will be a plumber, or a CEO, or a pilot, or a gas station attendant. But somebody will. And each somebody has worth and brings value to the table regardless of the relative power or prestige of his or her station. Experiences in Professor Zanetich's class, as well as in those of the rest of the Business Department, specifically, and the University, generally, are rife with these little lessons. When taken in sum, the importance of an education at Franciscan truly reveals itself, like an onion with infinite layers to peel back.
The best advice that I didn't receive while I was at Franciscan that I gladly pass on to those in college is something I've learned from experience. Your vocation and professional life can still begin after you have graduated from college and are still trying to figure out what to do with your life. I left the pre-theologate program in the last semester of my senior year and graduated with a degree in philosophy. I had no clue what to do with my life and was scared that since I had already graduated, it was too late to figure it out. I've since gotten married and have entered a very fulfilling career developing and supporting software. I would never have dreamed of being where I am today while I was at Franciscan, but I'm glad that I pushed past the fear of not knowing where I was going to go and that God has led me down such a wonderful path.
It was either Professor Kelly or Materniak—one of them said we need to aim high, for A's, not C's, not to just pass. As Catholics, we should aim for heaven, because if we fall short at least we're going to purgatory. If you aim for purgatory and fall short...well, let's say we don't want to go there. It made me laugh. To think, how often we allow ourselves to settle for less. We have one life—my goal is Heaven.
Dr. Sunyoger always opened class with a prayer that included the phrase, "for peace in our hearts and in the world." It reminds me to pray for world leaders on a personal basis—not just for changes in their ideology. Dr. Sunyoger's was a short and simple prayer, but it's stuck with me.
This was not advice per se, but I distinctly remember one of my very first classes at Franciscan University of Steubenville, which was with Dr. Stephen Miletic. During the class, we performed a simple, yet profound, exercise in which we looked at the crucifix hanging above the doorway, wrote down our observations, and shared them with the class. Because of this exercise, I have become more aware of small details in religious art, and how they yield theological depth when studied. This has become for me more than an intellectual pursuit. In taking time to reflect on details in religious art, I find myself more drawn into the mystery of Christ's life, death and resurrection.
I have directed persons, including former students, to recognize the presence and signification of special features in Christian art. In that way, I pass on this advice where I have the opportunity.
"You can only piss so many people off at a time."—Dr. Robert C. Doyle
The best thing I remember hearing in a classroom at Franciscan University of Steubenville was from Professor Bob Rice. We were talking about evangelization and relational ministry. Bob was speaking to the fact that we need to be in the culture, but not of the culture, and he said, "If you are going to pull a bullet out of someone’s chest, you need to be willing to get your hands bloody." This has always stuck with me and encouraged me to enter a little more into teen culture each time I think about it and what it really means.
The best advice a professor gave me was during the spring 2007 semester in Honors with Dr. Braun. She quoted a poem called "The Tables Turned" by William Wadsworth. It says, "One impulse from a vernal wood may teach us more of man, of moral evil and of good than all the sages can." It made me realize that true knowledge comes from experience and living life with no fear and no regrets. I pass that advice on to my siblings and friends and have used it in my marriage daily.
One of the best pieces of advice that I received during my undergraduate studies was from Dr. Jerry-Jo Manfred-Gilham in Social Work Practice class. Dr. Gilham told us two weeks before graduating with our social work degrees, "You are about to be professionals. Don't be afraid to step out in serving your clients who feel that there is no hope. Also, don't forget to pray!" Her very simple advice has stuck with me and is simple enough to follow. I always remember this advice while I work as an MSW intern at a children's hospital and in my graduate studies! This piece of advice that was given to me inspires hope in times when I encounter difficulties in a profession that requires cultural sensitivity and limitations in practice. Also, it reminds me to pray for each client that I serve and to wash his or her feet like Christ did. I take what Dr. Gilham said to me and apply this skill in my Master's in Social Work studies. Thank you, Dr. Gilham, and thank you for sharing your wisdom in being change agents.
One of the best pieces of advice I got from a nursing professor was, "You have to build yourself up before you can go out in the world to do good works." I always give this advice to the eager student that wants to do a million things too quickly in life.
Professor Miravalle told everyone to entrust their hearts to the Holy Spirit at night—not the most practical advice, but befitting of a class at Franciscan. Every night, I do this. I ask the Holy Spirit to keep me safe, I beg him to allow me to get up to my alarm, I ask him to teach me things in my dreams, I always thank and ask intercession from the angels and saints. The two times that I forgot, I had nightmares. Since then, I learn through my dreams, and I learn more about my own personal faith than I ever could from a teacher. I think that is what good advice is. It's not someone telling you what to do, but something that aids you in doing what you need for your own circumstances, which you and God know best. This is what has served my daily life since FUS.
The best advice that I got from FUS was from Dr. John F. Crosby, PhD. He said to me: "Hold on to your individuality, Father!" This influenced my life as a priest in the Philippines because I have this sharper awareness (more than ever) that God loves us not only as a people, but as individual human persons as well, in a very unique and special way.
When I was a lowly freshman journalism major, I signed up to write articles for The Troubadour. One of my first assignments was to do a profile on one of the University's professors. Of course, the professor turned out to be Dr. Wayne Lewis, the only print journalism professor and the adviser to the Troub! I have to admit, I was a little intimidated.
During the interview, Dr. Lewis shared how becoming a teacher (and in Steubenville, of all places) was not what he ever expected to do with his life."God can change anyone's mind," he said. "He can change anyone's heart. If he wants you in a particular place, he can give you that desire to be there, so you have to be prepared."
Throughout the next four years, Dr. Lewis would teach me how to write a good lead, how to design a page and how not to use the Oxford comma. But even when all of those lectures and news stories and quizzes are forgotten, his words from that first interview will still ring in my ears.
They came to mind again and again while I was discerning God's will for my own life. I experienced the same change of mind and heart as I gradually became more open to a religious vocation. Like Dr. Lewis, I thought I would spend my life working as a writer. Instead, the Lord gave me the desire for religious life, and now all I can do is stand back in amazement at the ways of Divine Providence.
I am so thankful for how Dr. Lewis mentored me as a student at Franciscan. But I am even more thankful for his example of surrender to God's will and the way he witnessed to Christ with his life.
My professor, Dr. Keenan, would say to me when I was feeling less than confident, "Trust your work." My confidence would increase because I knew that I did put in the work, and that she also had confidence in me. I just told someone to trust their work today while helping them prepare for Mass! It feels great to pass on good advice.
"Doubt is a lack of love."—Professor Maria Seifert
It was near the end of a 75-minute anatomy class with Professor Bessler and we had finished covering the material for that lecture. Everyone wanted to pack up and get out of class just five minutes early. He stood there, though, and asked us, "Do you guys have enough food to eat, a place to sleep, a good education to receive?" Of course, no one could respond with a "no," so he quoted the Bible: "to whom much is given, much is expected," and continued lecturing. In that moment, he called us all on to greater holiness through the full living-out of our vocation as students. Professor Bessler challenged me to rise above and make use of all that I have been given. It has been years since I had that class, and I have not forgotten that one moment. I continue to apply it to my life as a student now, share it with my fellow classmates, and believe that it will always remain with me throughout my career.
Working with Dr. Benjamin Alexander on original archival material, such as Walker Percy’s An Apologetic Work, has been of tremendous benefit to me as a student, an editor, and an educator of high school students. The experience has been an instructional bonus, one which has allowed me to become a student of Percy and witness to the tension between religious science and authentic incarnational theology in his original manuscript. Through the research and editing process, I have become privy to an extremely rare perspective of the scientific community that respects the zones of my religious perspective and admits of the possibility of obtaining knowledge outside the structures of the scientific method without compromise to the objective perspective itself. Percy shows that the same zone of inquiry, the same “source of energy” which beckons to be known, is available to both the positivist’s inspection as well as the religious man.
The whole point of Percy’s An Apologetic Work is essentially a caveat: “If the common source of energy of both the scientific and religious spirit is passed over, it can only mean the impoverishment of both.” Percy’s manuscript provides scholarly material relevant for liberal arts students, especially Catholic students, to dialogue effectively with the scientific community. A Catholic inquirer of truth is anchored in being and in the purposes of things. Just as a stop sign points to obviating an objective reality of possible car collision if the reader ignores or misunderstands its sign value, so too, the Catholic inquirer pursues knowledge of reality with an openness to the world of being as perceived by the senses as well as their possible sign value. Percy examines intellective structures of the religious, philosophical, and scientific man and points to areas in need of improvement. There is a rigor of expectation in Percy’s An Apologetic Work that deplores reductionism in any camp—scientific, philosophical, or religious—and for this he commands my deepest respect. “If one really believes in the Judeo-Christian Thing,” says Percy, “and also believes in the rigor and efficacy and beauty of the Scientific Method, one will look for the areas of greatest tension between the two.” In service of both science and religion, Percy speaks as medical doctor and philosopher, addressing the tension between the two perspectives, and argues authentically from each. In fact, Percy is unabashed about identifying flawed enactment of the scientific viewpoint when it assumes “quasi-religious” overtones. Like Schrodinger with his cat thought experiment, Percy comprehends the flawed perspective of the scientific investigator who is over-against the world of the cat upon whom he wishes to check. As soon as he peeps into the box, true and living knowledge will be lost simply because as soon as he breaks into the box, he will have fatally altered the truth about its contents. The cat analogy serves to orient the reader to the complexities and limitations of effective knowing, a paradigm of practice to which Percy brings new light and masterfully unpacks.
As editorial assistant to Dr. Alexander from 2009 to 2011, I am indeed grateful; what I have learned as editor and student of Percy might have been learned in a class at Franciscan. A course which incorporates An Apologetic Work would seem most appropriate for promoting a Catholic philosophical perspective, interdisciplinary connections, and meaningful active discussion and analysis within the language arts curriculum. However, I think that such a course should also address in a scholarly fashion the key strengths and weaknesses of Jungian psychology as it touches upon psychology and religion and pertains to Catholic teaching. Percy speaks of Jung in a way that provides cohesion to his point of view. A right pedagogical treatment would strengthen a student’s faith, a wrong treatment would, however, invite a Trojan horse of syncretism. An upper division or graduate student who takes such a course could profit from these insights and be better equipped intellectually to be a leader within secular culture and the Church. Jungian thought is, of course, evident in New Age thought that enjoys a massive readership today and has even infiltrated the local parishes and convents. Today’s Catholic requires adequate preparation not only within theology classes, but within every discipline that gives scope to his or her Catholic expression. Just as we understand the need for African American literature within a liberal arts curriculum, Catholics, too, need exposure to professors and works of literature that proclaim the Catholic Thing. Works of Walker Percy and Flannery O’Connor, for example, are excellent sources, means, and forums for sharpening students’ mental and rhetorical skills for engaging the culture and witnessing to it from a Catholic perspective. Authors like these jumpstart conscience and reason such that readership cannot remain neutral.
Actually, this was my first substantial exposure to critical evaluation of scientific inquiry and scholarly exposition of the tensions that underlie claims to truth from scientific and religious perspectives. In 1998, Pope John Paul II wrote, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth, and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth...so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.” The ends of both science and Judeo-Christian inquiry are both truth—knowledge of being. The means of the scientist are, of course, observation, reason, modeling, and mathematics, and those of the Judeo-Christian inquirer are reason and Divine Revelation. Since the Catholic Christian views both revelation and reason as supportive wings upon which to arrive at truth, and reason is a means to truth employed by the true scientist, with that common denominator of reason in both camps, there should be no tension at all between science and the Judeo-Christian perspective.
As a California-credentialed teacher in science and mathematics and both a Master of Arts graduate in Theology, and a Master of Science graduate in Educational Administration from Franciscan University, I am indeed grateful for the serendipitous good fortune of having read at least one scholarly analysis of what it means to be either a true scientist or a “wayfarer, a person-who-is-in-the-world-but-not-at-home-in-the-world.” I strongly recommend that An Apologetic Work by Walker Percy be offered to Franciscan students as a forum upon which to hone their critical thinking skills and as an example of how to win respectful attention from others who have a positivist’s mindset.
In a world skewed to apodictic certainty, Percy’s An Apologetic Work applies a rubric of logic that reveals important information about the potentiality and limitation of the philosophical man and the man of science, who together are mutually interdependent. Like a surgeon bent on restoring his patient to health, Percy deftly delineates and excises healthy assumptions from unhealthy ones. A medical doctor, philosopher, and student of religious truth, Percy invites the reader to duplicate his journey and make the adventure in truth his own. In my opinion, Percy has universal appeal, but Catholics and all who revere that man’s eternal destiny is in God will find in Percy a wise and reflective guide who thinks ahead. An Apologetic Work is, I think, a unique opportunity in American education for its frank, refined, insightful argument from a Catholic perspective.
Professor Bessler said, "Years from now you are not going to remember what was taught in your classes, you're going to remember the stories." So if you want someone to remember, tell a story.
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Class of 2006Major: Business/Marketing
After spending just eight months in corporate America after graduation, Kelly Lee knew that she wanted to be her own boss. In the three years since,...
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