The Catholic Studies program is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2018 as an integral part of the College of Arts and Sciences, offering a bachelor's degree, minor and certificate. It is an interdisciplinary, liberal arts, integrated learning program with special tracks in social sciences, education, nursing, history, literature, religion, philosophy and theology. Alumnus John Hughes, who graduated in 2016 as a double major in Education and Catholic Studies, is just one of the many Seton Hall students who have grown in mind, heart and spirit through the Catholic Studies program over the past 20 years. We recently asked John about his experience as a student in the program.
"I pursued a Catholic Studies degree because it combined my love of history and theology while also keeping me on track with my B.S. in Education. My Catholic Studies degree eventually led me halfway across the country. I currently serve with the Magis Catholic Teacher Corps out of Creighton University, where I am pursuing a Master of Science in Education Administration and will graduate in May of 2019. As part of Magis, which pays for my graduate degree, I am now in the small town of Remsen, IA, which is about 45 minutes northeast of Sioux City. I teach 5th and 6th grade religion while also teaching middle school history. The opportunity to teach and coach -- while experiencing a completely different part of the country in rural Iowa -- has been incredible. I have learned from wonderful Catholic Studies teachers and been buoyed by the strong faith of my students, who attend weekly Mass and adoration.
The course that resonated with me the most was my Catholic Studies study abroad to Rome with Dr. Murzaku in Spring 2016. I went with the goal of going on a pilgrimage, while also realizing the opportunity to walk around Ancient Rome and documenting different things for my future students. Whether guiding my students on a virtual tour of St. Peter's Basilica or taking them to the Abbey of Grottaferrata or the house of St. Monica, the Catholic Studies study abroad is something I remember any time I teach Ancient Rome. It is probably my favorite topic to teach each year, and I am grateful for the Center for Catholic Studies scholarship which helped me to make the trip.
The biggest thing that my Catholic Studies degree has reinforced is the importance of integrating my Catholic faith into my teaching and coaching. My curriculum includes parts of Catholic Social Teaching into each unit. I coach and teach students with the basic premise that everything -- ranging from the simple drills in practice, to running a complex offense on a basketball court, to studying diligently for a test -- can be a way of praising God.
Catholic Studies also provided me an opportunity that very few students have. I took the Saints Alive course, which discussed the role of Catholics in film, especially the portrayal of saints. I am not really a movie person, but learning in class about the life of the saints was an experience I'll never forget. I have even integrated one of the films, A Man for All Seasons which is about St. Thomas More, into my curriculum. Even in Iowa, I am able to have a connection to my family and to Seton Hall, especially when teaching about the Rome trip or exploring the role of Catholic saints in movies.
As I continue my teaching career and eventually transition into an administrative role within schools (likely Catholic Schools), the value of integrating my faith into my work is something that my Catholic Studies degree helped reinforce. The memories will last a lifetime. The lessons of my courses and the opportunity to share those insights with my students will hopefully help build the next generation of Catholic leaders -- all made possible in part by the lessons learned as I earned my Catholic Studies degree."