Posted: Wednesday Nov 2, 2011
Saint Vincent College will host the second annual Faith and Reason Summer Program, an intensive, one-week introduction to the Catholic, Liberal Arts Tradition. This year’s program will be held on campus from Sunday, June 17 to Friday, June 22, 2012, and will be directed by Dr. Michael Krom, assistant professor of philosophy.
“The Saint Vincent College Faith and Reason Summer Program introduces bright young minds to the rich intellectual tradition of the Roman Catholic Faith,” Dr. Krom explained. “Designed to prompt students to address the questions and concepts most fundamental to humanity in the context of Catholic thought, the program offers participants an opportunity to examine these topics through seminal works that are an integral part of any Catholic, liberal arts program.”
Dr. Krom said that the program is specifically designed for advanced high school and first-year college students who are seeking an opportunity to come to a richer, deeper understanding of the Catholic faith and its integration in college education. Students age 15 and older are invited to apply for admission to the program.
“Many students have difficulty integrating their education with their faith commitment,” Dr. Krom continued. “Jesus Christ teaches that he is the truth who will set us free and yet often youth are afraid to engage with the questions and views that must be addressed in order to grow in their faith. The Faith and Reason Summer Program promises to help participants work through these types of challenges by means of philosophical and theological discussions.”
Encouraging a life devoted to wisdom, the program features a liberal arts approach to learning. All staff are Benedictine and lay professors on the faculty of Saint Vincent. Participants will have an opportunity to explore the relationship between faith and reason, examine the perennial questions of humanity, develop their communication skills, learn how to analyze difficult arguments, prepare for college studies and integrate their moral, intellectual and spiritual development.
Each day is structured around the Saint Vincent monastic schedule of prayer and Mass. During the class sessions, students analyze and discuss selected reading passages in a seminar setting. There is also leisure time for recreational activities, movies and excursions to attractions in the Laurel Highlands and Pittsburgh areas. Housing in a college residence hall and three daily meals in the college dining hall are included in the cost ($495). Saint Vincent College students serve as residence hall directors.
Noting that he has conducted similar programs in Georgia and Maine, Dr. Krom said that he has had great feedback from students who participated in the first summer program at Saint Vincent in the summer of 2011. One student’s evaluations of the 2011 program describe it as “a release…to be able to ask and discuss things…and to learn the why of the Church and Catholicism in general.” As Dr. Krom said, “it was so satisfying to read the students’ evaluations and realize that they grew intellectually and spiritually; that they instantly bonded with one another; and that they can’t wait for next year!”
Dr. Krom added that the highlight for him personally was the hike the group took to Wolf Rocks in the Appalachian Mountains: “Picture the students admiring this natural beauty, resting their weary legs, and then engaging in a seminar on proofs for the existence of God. What better place to ask about the source of nature and its stunning beauty? As they headed back to campus, one could perceive that a transformation had taken place—that the connection between faith and reason had been made clear. Just so, when they leave the program, they go out with a sense of purpose, and a confidence that faith and reason are like two wings upon which the soul rises to the Truth.”
“We welcome academically-oriented young adults who are college-bound and have religious curiosity,” he concluded. “In no way is it presupposed that students will be confident about their faith, but simply open to philosophical and theological inquiry. The framework of the program is Catholic but students of all religions or no religion at all are welcome. Students are also being invited from a broad geographic area.”
“Young people should not be afraid to examine their religious beliefs,” he said. “If I have questions, it doesn’t mean that I am not a believer. It means that I see the critical importance of seeking answers to these important questions. Faith seeks understanding, and so our goal is to encourage ongoing spiritual growth as central to education. I think we will have been successful if students leave with more questions that they want to read, think and talk about.”
Further information is available by contacting Dr. Krom at 724 805-2844 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Students may register online at www.stvincent.edu/faithandreason
Dr. Krom became a member of the Saint Vincent faculty in 2007 after earning his Ph.D. in philosophy from Emory University and his master of arts degree from Boston College. He has published works in areas of Catholic social thought and will soon publish a book on religion and politics. He and his wife, Jessica, reside in Latrobe with their five children.
Photo: Dr. Michael Krom