Increasingly, more and more students from ACTC schools are choosing Catholic Studies as their major. Here are 2 students from Macalester College who are now enrolled in our program.

Will MoellerWhen I came to Macalester in fall 2001, my mind was already made up and I knew that the Catholic Studies program at St. Thomas was something I wanted to take advantage of (through the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities). Coming from a Catholic high school, I knew several graduates who attended St. Thomas, and they recommended that I look into the Catholic Studies program if I was serious about continuing my study of Catholicism.

What I expected from the program was something similar to my high school theology classes, but I soon realized that Catholic Studies would take me much further than understanding the Catechism or the interpretation of the Old Testament and New Testament. In my four semesters of study in the program, I have had the opportunity to delve into the basic, yet profound teaching of the New Testament. I’ve studied the lives of the saints and philosophy of everyone from C.S. Lewis to Plato. This experience has led me beyond a basic understanding of Catholicism to an application of religion in everyday life.

Earlier this semester, I declared my major in Catholic Studies at St. Thomas. At the end of the spring 2003 semester, I will have completed more than 50 percent of the Catholic Studies concentration. Don Briel has helped me work through the scheduling and recommended Catholic Studies classes, as I continue to work on a major in economics at Macalester. I hope that the economics I study at Macalester will eventually lead to a career opportunity, but the Catholic Studies courses I am taking for myself. I believe that it is important to have an understanding of one’s beliefs, and I have thoroughly enjoyed coming to understand more about Catholicism.

Chris DwyerI was raised in a Catholic family, where attending Mass and prayer were a part of the routine. I attended Marquette University High School, a Jesuit school in Milwaukee, Wis. In this extremely supportive community, I began to develop a faith grounded in the theology classes I took and my participation in school retreats. By senior year, I was on my way to developing a very deep faith.

One of the many reasons I chose Macalester was its reputation as a nonreligious institution. I felt that it would force me to explore my faith independently. I was eager to put into practice the lessons I learned from highschool, my home parish and my family.

Upon arrival, I began to explore different venues for this continued exploration. I began attending Mass weekly at the Cathedral of St. Paul. As a result, I began to appreciate the beauty of the Mass. In high school, there were many sources of spiritual nourishment; it was easy to feel connected to the love of God. When I got to college, Mass was the only outlet I knew of to practice my faith. But despite my new appreciation for the Mass, I soon discovered an increasing inability to encounter God in my life without my parents or teachers to tell me how to do it. I felt isolated because it was very difficult for me to incorporate my experience at the cathedral into my life. To solve this problem, I decided I had to learn more about what it was that made the Mass so moving to me. I wanted to learn how to live a Christian life without the complete protection of my home environment. But I had no idea where to begin.

I knew that my friend Will Moeller had been taking theology classes atSt. Thomas since the previous year, but I did not give it much thought until my sophomore year, when he encouraged me to try a course or two. I asked him to connect me with Dr. Don Briel, who in turn recommended a Catholic Vision course this semester as a starting point for completing a minor in Catholic Studies.

After about half a semester, my experience has far exceeded my expectations. Not only has my participation in the course remedied the feelings of isolation, it also has given me a growing understanding of my Catholic identity. Taking this class has allowed me to conduct an intensely personal exploration of my faith while being able to rely on a stable base of information.

Currently, I am working on a major in geology at Macalester. I plan to continue my geology education after graduation, but have no concrete plans. One thing is certain, however: one of the most important things I will take from my college education – a realization discovered through the Catholic Studies program – is a commitment to strive for a life of faith in whatever field I choose.

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