A Labor of Christian Love: Encountering Renewal in Bismarck

A Labor of Christian Love: Encountering Renewal in Bismarck August 30, 2014

I’m spending Labor Day weekend on the campus of the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota for a conference on the future of Catholic education (@UMary happens to be bit of an exciting and expanding beacon of just that.

It’s a celebration of one of the University of Mary’s latest acquisitions, Don Briel, who established the flagship Catholic studies program in the United States, at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

My pre-conference Q&A with Briel is here. It’s good brief overview of Catholic Studies and the conference and also a sensitive reflection on some deep pain, too.

To walk around this conference — and this campus — is to nearly trip over joy (could it be The Joy of the Gospel?!), enthusiasm, young professors with big families, and intellectual curiosity — all rooted in prayer.

Or at least that’s been my Saturday morning here.

I also happen to be running into old friends who, with their work and holy dedication are great buttresses for institutions like Notre Dame (Fr. William Miscamble and David Solomon) and encouragement to those who seek Mary’s guidance in its daily life and future mission.

I’m looking forward to listening to Jonathan Reyes from the bishops’ conference and veteran of Denver Catholic Charities and so much more, whose every speech, as I have experienced them, are crash courses in rebuilding Catholic culture in the world as it is — faithfully, authentically, creatively — looks like today.

But the list goes on … and with every word I write I’m missing out on live human encuentro!

And also encounter with Christ –- Eucharistic Adoration is about to start in the chapel. So you’ll forgive me …

Find more from this morning and to come on Twitter @KathrynLopez throughout the weekend.

Catholic studies, for the record, is not some ghetto major but an interdisciplinary approach to the formation of the human person, as Briel explains in our Q&A. The student doesn’t just learn pious things, but is brought along an encounter with beauty and truth, ready to engage the culture as it is, knowing what the hearts of men so urgently seek, as they seek to live ever deeper in it — in Christ, in the life of the Trinity — themselves.

Catholic studies is in no small way key to the future of not just Catholic education but the rebuilding of Catholic culture and culture itself. This conference at the University of Mary this weekend is an important gathering place for reflection on two decades of the concept and encouragement for the future as bright lights — seeped in and infused by Christian discernment — show the way forward through testimony, witness, sharing of models, debates, fellowship, and most importantly, prayer.

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