Skip to Content
College of Arts and Sciences

Professor's Publication Features Catholic Social Thought in Action Academy

Anthony NicoteraSocial work assistant professor and co-director of Seton Hall’s Catholic Social Thought (CST) in Action Academy, Anthony Nicotera, J.D., D.S.W., published an article, "The Circle of Insight: A Process for Deepening Ignatian Imagination, and Inviting Hope," in the December 2023 special issue of Jesuit Higher Education: A Journal.

In his article, Nicotera shares his Circle of Insight framework as a tool for deepening Ignatian imagination, and inviting hope. The Circle of Insight’s See, Reflect, Act process, inspired by CST, and curated and created by Nicotera over twenty-five years of spiritual, social justice, and social work advocacy and practice, including teaching social justice courses and engaging in nonviolent civil resistance, builds on Ignatian spirituality and invites practical, imaginative movement toward realizing our deepest desires and attaining the love of God. In the spirit of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, Nicotera offers a framework for prayerful practice to attain the love of God. Together The Circle of Insight and Ignatian spirituality help foster Gospel hope and love that invites liberation and an awakening from our illusion of separateness.

In the article, Nicotera shares lessons learned from his time as a Jesuit novice and scholastic, his experiences working with Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, and his current work co-leading Seton Hall's CST in Action Academy. He writes, "In collaboration with Bachelor of Social Work Program Director, Dawn Apgar, Ph.D., and Director of Catholic Studies, Ines Murzaku, Ph.D., I cofounded Seton Hall University’s Catholic Social Thought in Action Academy. I understand the Academy to be a practical expression of The Circle of Insight and Ignatian, imagination and hope. It exists at the intersection of core commitments and principles of social work, Catholic studies, and Catholic social thought, offering lectures, panel discussions, scholarship, research, publications, presentations, events, and core university courses, including service-learning classes that explore the confluence of these core principles and commitments in action. It is a labor of love."

In particular, the article highlights the Academy's spring 2023 social work and Catholic studies service-learning course in which students traveled together to Romero Center Ministries in Camden, New Jersey. As part of the class, students worked directly with oppressed and marginalized communities in partnership with Catholic social service initiatives and organizations. Students were invited to critically reflect on their experience in light of core principles central to both social work and CST, including commitments to the inherent dignity of all persons, solidarity, the common good, and justice. Nicotera shares, "I use The Circle of Insight process within each class, and to frame the overall arc of the course. Also, students are introduced to the Ignatian Examen and Ignatian contemplative practices as a way to practically engage The Circle of Insight process. In the context of their study and service-learning experience, students use Ignatian exercises to create strategies for actualizing socially just, liberatory, culturally competent, ethical practice." Nicotera adds, "One student shared that her experience in Camden helped her to see more clearly not only the power, faith, beauty, and resilience of the Camden community, but also of her own Newark neighborhood."

Nicotera expresses deep gratitude for Seton Hall’s investment in the CST in Action Academy, and for the opportunity to continue to cultivate learnings and insights from his Jesuit formation at Seton Hall. He shares his hope that individuals and communities will find his work "to be a helpful complement to Ignatian imagination and spirituality, and a practical tool for inviting hope, and deepening commitments to the work of faith doing justice." He concludes his article with the mandate shared with him by Mother Teresa, "Love! Love! Love!"

Categories: Education, Faith and Service