Saint Vincent Holds Fourth Catholic Intellectual Tradition Faculty Seminar

by Public Relations | Jan 21, 2019

Catholic Intellectual Traditions Seminar Group Shot Jan 2019

LATROBE, PA – Thirteen members of the Saint Vincent College faculty and administration attended a three-day seminar at the Fred M. Rogers Center on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. It was co-chaired by Fr. Thomas M. Hart, O.S.B., assistant to the president for mission and instructor in theology, and Dr. Jerome Foss, associate professor of politics.

At the seminar, the participants cooperated in building bridges across various disciplines in the common pursuit of truth and to demonstrate, as noted in the Application of Ex corde Ecclesiae for the United States, “commitment to Catholic ideals, principles and attitudes in carrying out research and teaching… with due regard for academic freedom and the conscience of every individual.”

Said Fr. Thomas, “This was a wonderful opportunity for Saint Vincent faculty to gather over the course of three days to discuss ideas and learn more about the relationship between faith and reason, discover the influence this tradition has had on our respective disciplines and consider ways in which our instruction and scholarship might be enriched through a deepening understanding and encounter with others seeking truth and wisdom.”

The group engaged in discussion and analysis of a number of texts, both theological and scientific in nature, including works by Pope John Paul II, Flannery O’Connor, Mark Salzman and Buddhist patriarch Jianzhi Sengcan.

“The seminar is a chance for members of the faculty and staff to gather for three days and deepen their understanding of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition,” said Foss. “I believe it is important for all of us who teach and work for this wonderful college to understand the long tradition of inquiry spurred by the Gospel. Faith and reason are not opposed to one another, but are partners in the pursuit of truth. As a Catholic, Benedictine college, we should be proud of and draw from our rich intellectual heritage. The seminar is also valuable because it gives those who attend an opportunity to deepen their respect for one another and strengthen friendships across campus.”

“The seminar seemed like ‘found time’ before the hectic beginning of a new semester,” said Dr. Margaret Watkins, professor of philosophy and interim dean of the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. “It was a fantastic opportunity to pursue our own liberal education, both through the discussion of texts from different disciplines and through generous conversation with our colleagues.”

A highlight of the three-day event was the participation of Buddhist monk and scholar, theBante Pima Ven. Dr. Soorakkulame Pemaranta (Bhante Pema), who serves as chief abbot of the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center. Born in Sri Lanka, Bhante Pema has been a Buddhist monk since 1986, and has worked at the Pittsburgh Buddhist Center since 2008, where he offers workshops on meditation and provides spiritual counseling to help people deal with challenges in life. At the Saint Vincent seminar, he led a discussion on Sengchan’s sacred sixth-century poem “Xinxin Ming,” one of the earliest works on Buddhist mind training, while he also led the group in a meditation exercise.

Attendees included Dr. Alexander Borselli, assistant professor of mathematics; Dr. Mary Collins, vice president for student affairs; David Hollenbaugh, vice president for institutional advancement; Dr. Kayla Jachimowski, assistant professor of criminology, law and society; Heather Kabala, dean of admission; Dr. Bo Liang, assistant professor of marketing; Dr. Sara Lindey, associate professor of English; Annie Laurie Nichols, instructor of communication; Thomas Octave, assistant professor of music; Dr. Juan-Carlos Rivas, assistant professor of modern and classical languages; and Watkins.

This was the fourth Catholic Intellectual Tradition Seminar held at Saint Vincent, following those offered in May 2012, May 2013 and May 2018.


Photo 1: Attendees of the January Catholic Intellectual Tradition Seminar. Seated (left to right): Fr. Thomas Hart, O.S.B.; Dr. Mary Collins; Dr. Margaret Watkins; Dr. Sara Lindey; Ms. Annie Laurie Nichols; Ms. Heather Kabala.   Standing (left to right): Dr. Bo Liang; Mr. Thomas Octave; Mr. David Hollenbaugh; Dr. Kayla Jachimowski; Dr. Alexander Borselli; Dr. Juan-Carlos Rivas; Dr. Jerome Foss

Photo 2: The Ven. Dr. Soorakkulame Pemaranta presents to the group on Wednesday, Jan. 8

A full photo gallery from the Catholic Intellectual Tradition Seminar can be found on the Saint Vincent Flickr account


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