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Praise for saved theology classes

| Wednesday, December 2, 2015

As the student body was reminded in a Nov. 30 email, Notre Dame is considering making changes to its core education requirements. In the discussion of these changes over the past several months, the most controversial decision on the table has been a change to or reduction in the University’s theology requirements. While there are certainly valid points to be made on either side, I think an issue that has not received enough attention is what that proposed change would have meant for the state of Notre Dame’s identity.

Notre Dame is a Holy Cross school and as such, has always strived to exemplify Blessed Basil Moreau’s words: “We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart.” To ignore the idea that education of the heart (and by the same token, the soul) is equally important to that of the mind would be, I think, to miss the point of a Holy Cross education entirely.

Thus, had Notre Dame eliminated or reduced the theology requirement as was proposed by some, Notre Dame would be turning its back on a crucial part of its very foundation. In this consideration, Notre Dame encountered a crisis of self.

It’s interesting to note this identity crisis because many college students go through the exact same thing. Most arrive on campus with no idea who they are or who they will become. But these questions, interestingly enough, are examined in the very requirement in question. What the theology requirement does is invite students to ask the questions, “Who am I?” and “Who am I becoming?” in the light of God. Students from any and every faith background are able to ask and understand who God is and what that means in terms of who they will be and what they believe. These classes allow students to grow in relationship with God and each other as they navigate their college experience. The theology requirement, at its core, allows students to see a crisis of self as something beautiful and invites them to place their hand in the hand of God as they encounter it.

As Moreau once stated, “Education is the art of helping young people to completeness.” The Notre Dame education is not fully complete without the theology requirement. And without a safe place to encounter the crucial questions of God and self, Notre Dame students will not be either. Therefore, I applaud the committee with their draft report recommendation of maintaining the theology requirement.

Rebecca Hammock
McGlinn Hall
Nov. 30

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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