Author: Jana Bennett

3 Moral Takeaways from the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Program

This week, I’m headed down the road to Columbus to begin formation for Level III (ages 9-12) of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS). For those who don’t know, CGS is a Montessori-based catechetical model steeped in scripture and liturgy. One of its founders, Sophia Cavalletti was herself a scripture scholar in Rome when she began the program in 1953.  She joined with Montessori teacher Gianna Gobbi, among others, to observe children in their encounters with God. Together, they found just those essential things that spoke developmentally to children – things like God is light and how small mustard...

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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Waiting in Urgent Times

IS 55:10-11 PS 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14 ROM 8:18-23 MT 13:1-23 So this week, the third largest iceberg broke off in Antarctica, our president’s son demonstrates the problems of nepotism in a spectacularly bad way, and both health insurers and patients worry about how to get good health care in today’s America. Among other things. There’s usually some crisis looming in every news cycle – these days, there’s no shortage of trouble. Paul’s words in this week’s Letter to the Romans might seem tailored made for us and our times: I consider that the sufferings of this present time are...

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Welcome to Corrymeela, Ireland: Reflections on American Catholicism and Reconciliation

For the past few weeks, I’ve been visiting Ireland – south and north – with some students from the University of Dayton. I’ve been learning a lot about Irish history and culture. One of the amazing places we visited is Corrymeela, an ecumenical space for peace and reconciliation.  While there, the students and faculty learned about specific ways Corrymeela brought together people across deep and violent divisions in the Troubles of the late 20th century. We learned about ways Corrymeela continues to advocate for peace in Ireland, as well as among American gang members, in other places in the...

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Fifth Sunday of Easter: On the Way Home

ACTS 6:1-7 PS 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19 1 PT 2:4-9 JN 14:1-12 “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” These words that Jesus speaks in the Gospel this week are hard words that people wrestle with – including most of my students. Is Jesus the only way? What about people who don’t believe in Jesus? What about all those great people I know who aren’t Christian at all? For some, the solution to the problem is something like Karl Rahner’s “Anonymous Christian”: a controversial term for both Christians and non-Christians alike. Rahner suggested that perhaps a good Buddhist...

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Theology Majors and Catholic Universities

Catholic universities have sure raised a ruckus in recent years about the state of their theology courses and majors. The University of Notre Dame had its flap about curriculum review and the place of theology courses a couple years ago. While that university ended up keeping its theology requirements, other schools face similar questions or concerns. Providence College has had such conversations; so has Georgetown University. Most recently, St. Mary’s University is facing the loss of all three of its theology majors. This is a problem – but not necessarily for the reasons people might expect. Part of the debate has been conducted in the same kinds of ideological camps we’ve come to know and be annoyed by: the Cardinal Newman Society and more conservative Catholic campuses urge protection of theology courses. Not even “religious studies” courses will do, they say – since that smacks of secular liberalism. On the more progressive side (at least in terms of university administrations) might be the shrug of shoulders, the realistic admission that many students these days are “nones” and don’t want religion on their campuses – Catholic or no. Religion – so it seems – is a private affair, not really real like biology or engineering, dealing with the squidgier stuff of life. How could religion have a place on a campus – even a Catholic campus? The history of theology...

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