Thomas More College Sends Students to Study at G.K. Chesterton’s Private Library

by Thomas More College on September 15, 2008

September 15, 2008
Contact: Charlie McKinney
Phone: (603) 880-8308, ext. 21
Mobile: (603) 913-5939

MERRIMACK—The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts recently sent four of its students to study at the private archive of the late Catholic apologist, poet, and novelist G.K. Chesterton, a collection which includes Chesterton’s books, writings, and other personal belongings.

Thomas More College recently became the caretaker of the entire collection.

In recent weeks, Thomas More College students Anna Maria Mendell, Michael Lichens, Rebekah Lamb, and Joe Mazarella travelled to England to study at Chesterton’s library. The College’s Center for Faith and Culture, located in Oxford, sponsored the educational program there.  The students took a two-week course entitled “Chesterton and His Age”, which examined the lives and thoughts of Chesterton and other major English Catholic thinkers, such as John Henry Cardinal Newman, poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, and author J.R.R. Tolkien.

The aim of the course was to give these students a deeper understanding of the role of the Catholic intellectual in today’s world through a combination of seminar-style lectures, guided tours, discussions, and conversation inspired by these four great writers. Students will be submitting essays on their chosen topics upon their return to the United States.

“The chance to study the greatest minds of the last 150 years was a dream come true in every sense of that over-used phrase,” said Lichens, a senior. “As a convert I owe a great debt to Chesterton for literally saving my life, and all University Catholics look to Cardinal Newman as a source of learning and inspiration, and so this journey felt much like a pilgrimage.”

Mendell was equally enthusiastic.

“Studying the thinkers of the Catholic Revival brought to the forefront the vibrant unity of Catholicism and the intellectual life in a way that was inspiring.  As a recent college graduate, I know that what I learned and the memorable experiences I formed will help shape my pursuits in the future,” she said.

Rebekah Lamb, a recent graduate of Thomas More College who begins her graduate studies next month, said that her trip to Oxford, “ was an excellent academic and spiritual preparation for the Masters in English Literature that I am pursuing in the fall. I especially find Chesterton’s ability to look at the world with wonder, wisdom, and humor a source of inspiration and guidance.”

Leading the program were Stratford and Leonie Caldecott, who jointly direct Thomas More College’s Center for Faith and Culture. Stratford has published widely on English Catholic writers, is the G.K. Chesterton Fellow at St. Benet’s Hall in Oxford, and is editor of the College’s journal, Second Spring: An International Journal of Faith and Culture.  Leonie has written on Cardinal Newman, and organized pilgrimages, tours, and summer schools in Europe for over a decade. She is the author of What Do Catholics Believe? (Granta, 2008).

Chesterton is one of the best-known and most beloved Christian writers and is considered a central figure in the golden age of Catholic writing in England in the first half of the 20th century.

The Center for Faith and Culture was established at Thomas More College in 2008 to help recover and build upon the rich legacy of Catholic and Christian humanism associated with figures such as John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, Christopher Dawson, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R.Tolkien. Through publications and short courses, the Center aims to foster a “new springtime” of Christian faith in the 21st century and a “culture of life” spoken of by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts is a four-year college that provides the rising generation with an education that forms them intellectually and spiritually within the Catholic intellectual tradition and with full fidelity to the Magisterium.  Additionally, the College has launched entrepreneurial new centers that seek to advance the teachings of the Catholic Church beyond the confines of its campus.  These centers include the Vatican Studies Center, the Center for New England Politics and Culture, the Caroline Gordon Program, and the Center for Faith and Culture in Oxford, England.


If you would like to schedule an interview with President Jeff Nelson, Director of the Center for Faith and Culture Stratford Caldecott, or students attending the “Chesterton and His Age” Program, please contact Charlie McKinney at (603) 880-8308, ext. 21 or by email at

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