Fides et Ratio Seminars Explore Catholic Intellectual Tradition

by Thomas More College on June 30, 2011

The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts and the Fides et  Ratio Seminars at the Faith and Reason Institute (Warner, NH/Washington, DC) recently collaborated to host a series of one-week seminars entitled, “Introduction to the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.”

Each summer seminar aim at acquainting and reacquainting up to 30 invited faculty from Catholic colleges, universities, and seminaries with the thought and teachings of the Church fathers, doctors, and popes—as well as significant works of art in the Catholic tradition.

According to Dr. Patrick Powers, Executive Director of the Fides et Ratio Seminars, “We are pleased that Thomas More College co-sponsored these events, along with Donald and Michele D’Amour, the patrons of the Fides et Ratio Seminars, as well as the Faith and Reason Institute and Dr. Robert Royal. The College’s curriculum, with its emphasis on education in the liberal arts, humane letters, and the disciplines of philosophy and theology, is the kind of undergraduate formation that the Seminars seek to strengthen through faculty study of the Catholic intellectual tradition.”

Dr. Powers pointed out that the fittingness of the collaboration between the College and the Fides et Ratio Seminars is aptly expressed in the motto of the Seminars’ mission: “Nurturing the souls of young men and women by strengthening Catholic liberal education.”

Authors whose works are covered in the summer Seminars range widely, from the Bible and the works of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and Dante, up through modern contributors to the Catholic intellectual tradition such as Walker Percy, Graham Greene, Czeslaw Milosz, G. K. Chesterton, Josef Pieper, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Dorothy Day and George Weigel, among others. The seminars have also covered works of art, including presentations on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling and the symphonies of Gustav Mahler.

Thomas More College President Dr. William Fahey welcomed the Fides et Ratio Seminars’ partnership with the College: “We are delighted and honored to host these seminars on the Catholic intellectual tradition.  The partnership between Thomas More College and the Fides et Ratio Seminars at the Faith and Reason Institute is a natural one, given our shared commitment to careful reflection upon and transmission of the intellectual life of the West—the heart of which has always sprung up from Catholic culture.”

“Anyone who examines the structure, rigor, and purpose of our curriculum,” said Fahey, “will see why the organizers of the Fides et Ratio Seminars felt that they would find a warm welcome at our College.  Their decision to establish the new Seminars here proves false the notion that only large universities can support intellectual, artistic, and scholarly endeavors.”

Dr. Christopher Blum, Dean of the College, attended a Fides et Ratio Seminar in 2008, finding it “refreshing.” Dr. Blum noted that “University professors today are often forced to devote their summers to research projects that are increasingly recondite and incommunicable; the Seminar participants, however, were able to spend a week together conversing about what they hold in common: their love of the truth and their desire to serve students by bringing them to the truth that is Christ.”

Dr. John Zmirak, literature professor and Writer-in-Residence at Thomas More College, took part in the 2007 Fides et Ratio Seminar. He said, “It was academically intense, with a serious body of reading that was discussed at a high intellectual level. I felt privileged to meet so many talented teachers and scholars from such a wide swath of institutions, and to join them in exploring works both great and good.”

The Fides et Ratio Seminars generate fresh thought and action by bringing together religious and secular faculty devoted to the Catholic intellectual tradition and Catholic liberal education.  Previous meetings of the Fides et Ratio Seminars have been held at Benedictine College (Atchison, KS), University of St. Francis (Fort Wayne, IN), Providence College (Providence, RI), University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN), Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, NC),  St. Malo Catholic Retreat Center (Allenspark, CO), Wyoming Catholic College (Lander, WY), Notre Dame Seminary (New Orleans, LA).

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