catholic studies project

25 Years of Catholic Studies

More than 560 St. Thomas faculty, staff, alumni, benefactors and friends gathered on the St. Paul campus on Dec. 8 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Catholic Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The University of St. Thomas’ Catholic Studies project is the oldest and largest of its kind. Since its inception 25 years ago it has graduated more than 1,200 students who serve the common good in their varied paths and careers.

“It’s been a great adventure for 25 years,” Department Chair Dr. John Boyle said. Discussing the newest initiatives to come out of the Catholic Studies project, he said, “We’ve doubled our Murphy Scholars and we want to double our Habiger Latino program ... Thanks to our new online master’s program, I have students in Rochester, I have students in Milwaukee, I have students in Ecuador, and I have students in Africa.”   

The evening began with Mass celebrated by Archbishop Bernard Hebda from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. During the dinner and program, Dr. Michael Naughton honored those who have made the past 25 years possible, including the inaugural Catholic Studies Truth and Life Award honoree Gene Sitzmann ’44 

President Sullivan reflected on the event, saying, “The most inspiring and fulfilling part of this evening is seeing all the alumni and witnessing their fulfilling and faith-filled lives and their impact on the world today.” President Sullivan and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Yohuru Williams bestowed an honorary Doctorate of Letters upon Bishop Robert Barron, founder of the global Word on Fire ministries and the evening’s keynote speaker. 

Lumen magazine also celebrated the 25-year anniversary by highlighting 25 alumni. Those stories can be seen here.

Here's what attendees of the 25th anniversary gala had to say:

“The strength of the human mind is the ability to relate one thing to another. This integration is the center of education and life that we strive for at Catholic Studies.” – Dr. Michael Naughton, director of the Center for Catholic Studies 

“'I’m a happy camper.’ It’s a Gene Sitzmann trademark line. He’s always happy.” – Dr. John Boyle, chair of the Department of Catholic Studies, speaking about Gene Sitzmann, Truth and Life award honoree 

“It’s fantastic to look up tonight and see a [religious] sister walking around holding a baby! So much joy.” – Craig Fiedler ’07 

“When they tell the story of 50 years after the [Second Vatican] Council, this will be one of the stories they tell. It’s something to salute, but it’s also something to hold onto.” – Bishop Robert Barron 

“The most important thing you’ll teach the students is the art of public conversation, of moving the question forward.” – Bishop Robert Barron 

“We want them [students] to bring together everything that they study and to do it in an intellectually serious way.” – Dr. John Boyle 

“It was a wonderful night. Great food, great words, great people.” – Michael Adkins ’10 CSMA