This week on Register Radio Jeanette De Melo discusses the good and the bad in Catholic college commencement speakers with the Cardinal Newman Society's Patrick Reilly. In the second half of the show, Dan Burke examines the work of Holy Wood Acting Studios with acting instructor Jeff Jordan.
Catholic College Commencements with Patrick Reilly
Patrick J. Reilly is President and founder of the Cardinal Newman Society, which promotes and defends faithful Catholic Education. He is co-editor of the Society's Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College (2012), Assessing Catholic Identity (2011), The Enduring Nature of the Catholic University (2009), and Newman's Idea of a University: The American Response (Newman House Press, 2002). He and his wife Rosario, president of the Aquinas Learning classical homeschooling program, have five children.
“It’s an unusual year,” Reilly said, noting that there were 20 poor choices this year, as opposed to the only six in 2013. These speakers are “a number of people related to the Obama administration who have views that are contrary to the Church and have publicly expressed them,” he said, citing contraception, same sex marriage, and abortion.
Though this comes up over the years, Reilly noted, it’s been declining significantly in the last ten years and there was a spike this year. It may be the sense that has been promoted in some circles that “somehow, with Pope Francis, that things are opening up and that the emphasis on Catholic identity and doctrinal orthodoxy is somehow disappearing,” Reilly said.
Though the pope has made it clear that that’s not the case, some of these colleges seem willing to go backwards to a time when they were honoring individuals who are opposed to Catholic teachings. “That’s very unfortunate,” Reilly said.
In their 2004 document “Catholics in Political Life,” Reilly said, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops “stated that Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles; they should not be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” Reilly pointed out that there’s been some disagreement about what the platforms question. The Cardinal Newman Society has interpreted that to mean speaking platforms that would be honorary, such as commencement speaker.
Reilly pointed out that while many good commencement speakers are, a speaker doesn’t have to be a Church leader to be a good choice for a college. The goal should be to advance the Church and the mission of Catholic education, to provide good role models, and those who cultivate virtue and faith in God in students, whether with a speaker on campus or a commencement speaker.
“Someone may be a wonderful person, but if they’re doing things publicly that are contrary to the Church and the Church teachings, then you really have to wonder if that was really the best choice,” Reilly said.
Reilly discussed Pope John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae (On Catholic Universities) and the differing viewpoints about its implementation, some of which were highlighted in Joan Frawley Desmond’s piece about Georgetown University.
Holy Wood Acting Studios with Jeff Jordan
Holy Wood Acting Studio is professional state-of-the-art studio located in Los Angeles, California.
Experienced and educated in both the world of fitness and acting, Holy Wood acting instructor Jeff Jordan combines the knowledge of the body with an understanding of the human experience, providing valuable lessons to Holy Wood students. Jordan is a nutritional/fitness coach and has over 10 years of physical training experience. Apart from his coaching in Holy Wood Acting Studio, he works with Hollywood stars, law enforcement personnel, athletes, teens, rehabilitating patients, and the chronically ill.
Jordan is a graduate from the University of Southern California, a trainer certified in both, The American Council of Exercise, A.C.E., and Crossfit. He has actively practiced and studied proper nutrition, fitness and health-related issues for more than 10 years. His deep knowledge on Theology of the Body gives him the unique ability to bring about the true dignity and beauty of each person that he trains in Holy Wood Acting Studio.
Most young actors have an idea of how they need to be, how they need to look, and now they need to act, but “what’s so great about the calling of acting is that God needs you to be just who you are. The world of Hollywood doesn’t need another Brad Pitt, they don’t need another Julia Roberts, and thanks not what they want. They want you at your best,” Jordan said. He pointed out that most young people don’t have that confidence and aren’t aware of that.
“When you come to our studio,” Jordan said, “we’re setting you free to be who you are, who God created you to be.” This frees you to have fun, and that leads you to being a better actor.
Holy Wood is really focused on the whole person: Jordan said that 75% is based on the person and 25% is focused on the craft of acting. “We’re here to build you up as a person, and I don’t know of any other acting studio that can do that,” Jordan said.
Sharing his own journey, Jordan reflected that “as I was teaching, I was being taught. I was being set free. During my time at the acting studio, I had a head-on collision with the person of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and it completely changed my life.”
To find out more, go to HolyWoodActingStudio.com. You can also watch the episode of Life on the Rock that covered the work of Holy Wood and find Holy Wood Acting Studio Presents in the EWTN listing of shows.
Listen to this week’s show online or on your mp3 player.