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Celebrating the Jubilee on campus.
BY BARB ERNSTER
students will be delving deeper into the life
of St. Paul during his Jubilee Year, which almost coincides with the academic
school year. Catholic colleges across the country are celebrating the year by
offering special lectures and courses on Paul and his writings, as well as
liturgical and ecumenical events honoring his spirituality and evangelical
Brian Schmisek, dean of the School
of Ministry at the University of Dallas, said it is encouraging that Pope
Benedict XVI has inaugurated the Year of St. Paul. “This apostle to the
Gentiles was perhaps the most influential writer of the New Testament. During
this historic year, Christians throughout the world will be paying closer
attention to the letters and theology of this ‘least among the apostles.’”
The School of Ministry is planning a
symposium where Schmisek and other Scripture scholars will give presentations
on Paul’s letters and his impact on the Church.
The school, which offers summer
courses at its campus in Rome, will focus next summer’s courses on the life and
writings of St. Paul and will host a tour of five major cities where Paul
evangelized: Thessalonica, Philippi, Athens, Corinth and Ephesus.
Said Schmisek, “Though it has been
two millennia since his birth, we can expect that the life and writings of Paul
will continue to influence Christians of all denominations for at least the
next two thousand years.”
The Franciscan University of
Steubenville in Ohio dedicated the 2008-09 school year to St. Paul and handed
out 2,000 Pauline medals and prayer cards to students at its orientation in
August. According to Third Order Franciscan Father Dominic Scotto, university
chaplain and theology lecturer, the first priority for the year’s events is the
liturgical services. Pauline themes will be incorporated into the homilies at
Mass and spiritual meditations at Benediction, as well as Father Scotto’s
weekly chapel bulletin articles and liturgy courses.
Franciscan’s chapel ministries are
sponsoring a number of campus events to honor the saint. This fall, Scott Hahn,
director of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, will lead a Bible study
on Paul’s writings, and Pauline speakers will be invited on campus. With a
novena leading up to it, “St. Paul Conversion Day” on Jan. 25 will include a
Mass and a bus trip to St. Paul’s Cathedral in Pittsburgh, Pa., for a prayer
service to gain a plenary indulgence. During the spring semester, campus talks
will take an evangelical approach, including how to talk to Jehovah’s
Witnesses. Other faiths will be invited to an ecumenical Pauline “Preach Out”
planned for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
“I’m sure we’ll get the students
fired up,” said Father Scotto. “The Pope mentioned the fact that we need
apostles today, so people don’t think that it’s left to others in the past or
to just priests and missionaries. We want to reawaken the faith in every
Catholic because it’s not an exclusive faith, but one that we want to share
Around the Nation
To the west, Wyoming Catholic College in Lander welcomes the Year of St. Paul as an
opportunity to attain a deeper understanding of the unique role St. Paul played
in building up the mystical body of Christ on earth. It “aspires to live this
year in a spirit of communion with the Holy Father and the entire Church,”
according to its website, and the chaplaincy is planning special observances
with the students to mark the Pauline Year.
east, the Diocese of Manchester, N.H., and Saint Anselm College are teaming up
to offer a three-part series on Paul for anyone in the diocese, according to
Pat Gabree, executive director for education and formation of the laity.
Professor Dennis Sweetland will lead off the series in September with an
introduction to Paul, his life and letters, exploring the issues of
justification and the relationship between faith and works. The second part of
the series in January will be a prayerful experience with Paul. National
speaker Mary Birmingham will give a talk in the spring on how to live out
trying to honor the year of St. Paul, but we didn’t want to do a one-shot
deal,” noted Gabree. “I think for many people in our diocese and I assume
across the country, we hear the letters of Paul during the Sunday liturgies,
and yet most of us don’t know a lot about Paul or the communities to whom he
the north, the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity at the University of St.
Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., will host a series of faculty colloquia on Paul’s
writings. Christopher Thompson, academic dean, said one of the themes will focus
on the work of the Synod of Bishops in Rome this October and their discussion
of “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.”
use their document for a series of presentations and conversations available to
our graduate students and seminarians. In the seminary, there is a general
enthusiasm for this, and I’m certain there is a degree of enthusiasm among the
graduate students. Our Scripture faculty is optimistic about the fruits of the
efforts for the year,” said Thompson.
eight-foot statue of St. Paul, designed by noted liturgical artist Angelo
Gherardi and crafted by Italian sculptor Franco Dolfi, was recently installed
on the seminary grounds, the first for the apostle’s namesake city.
activities Paul engaged in on his remarkable missionary journeys, using the
most up-to-date travel and communication media of his day, fearlessly
encountering people from very different backgrounds and cultural assumptions,”
said Father Jan Michael Joncas of the theology department, “could truly inspire
a new generation wanting to stand for something sure, trustworthy and
life-giving in the smorgasbord of opinions that make up post-modern life.”
Barb Ernster is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.