By Ray Duffy
On Aug. 21, Saint Vincent College announced the creation of the Saint Vincent College Center for Catholic Thought and Culture, which has the aim of advancing the mission of Saint Vincent College through “sustained reflection upon the Catholic Intellectual and Benedictine wisdom traditions, [and the promotion of] scholarship in areas such as theology, philosophy, marriage and family, politics, economics, rhetoric, art and science.”
Dr. Jerome Foss, a member of the Politics department and the founding director of the Center, says that the aim of the Center is to “strengthen Saint Vincent College in terms of its mission – the Catholic intellectual tradition, its Benedictine heritage, and the liberal arts” by fostering a more interdisciplinary mindset in the College.
“The center will help to integrate politics, literature, history, theology, philosophy, politics, art, science, and show how all of these things are connected,” Foss explained.
Foss stated these subjects are not isolated studies, but are instead part of a larger whole.
“And that's what the center really should do,” he said. “It's a center with lots of things around it.”
According to Foss, the idea for the Center first began in 2011 when he first arrived on Saint Vincent campus and began to help Fr. Tom Hart in putting on seminars for the college’s faculty.
“In the course of helping him with that, I began to think that we could be doing similar seminars for students, maybe even for the local community,” Foss explained. “And from there, I began to think about developing a center that would do all kinds of things.”
In regards to the relevance of the Center to the average Saint Vincent student and the course of their studies at SVC, Foss spoke of a biology major who came to him asking for help in creating a reading group for John Paul II’s moralistic encyclical Evangelium Vitae, not even knowing of the Center’s existence.
“She came to me and wanted to put on a seminar that would help her and others like her who are studying and hoping to become doctors, to help them think about ethical issues, bioethical issues that they know they're going to face as professionals,” Foss said.
Foss stated that this course of action is really a great example of what he’d like to do, “to find things that the students are thinking about and questions that they have, and provide ways for them to think through these really hard issues.”
Additionally, the Center has provided funding and grants for multiple students of varying majors to attend academic conferences which combine the mission of the Center and the student’s area of study.
The Center will host two pre-existing initiatives of the college – the Benedictine Leadership Studies Program for college students, and the Faith and Reason Summer Program for high school students. The Center will also be home to multiple new opportunities open to Saint Vincent College students, including the Summer Institute in Rome, where students will spend multiple weeks in the Eternal City taking three classes, staying in the Benedictine Abbey of Sant’Anselmo in the heart of Rome, and being exposed to Italian art and culture.
In addition to the Summer Institute, the Center also sponsored reading groups on the Roman statesman Cicero’s writings The Republic and The Laws, along with John Paul II’s and Pope Francis’ encyclicals Evangelium Vitae and Laudato Si this past semester.
Registration for the Summer Institute is still open, and those interested should feel free to contact Dr. Foss.