Notre Dame

Well it took awhile to get this update typed up, but with good reason. Right after I left South Bend, I spent a day back in Cincinnati for a Centurion gathering. We had dinner together and talked about the upcoming Family Reunion with other folks in the Community of Communities. We had a great brainstorming session, including planning our first community newsletter and some business cards and tee shirts (we’re so materialistic…)

Anyway, I was very fortunate with my Notre Dame visit. Over a year back, I met Michael Griffin of the Catholic Peace Fellowship, who is probably one of the most hospitable hosts I have aver had the pleasure of being hosted by. He has incredible connections with the university as a professor at nearby Holy Cross College, and being what my friends in Camden refer to as being “Super Catholic.” He connected me with PhD students, ND faculty, and other community members. It was the best college visit thus far. It’s gonna be hard to beat.

So I met with the coordinators for both the M.Div and MTS degree plans, each reputable programs in their own right, the Theology Dept. being one of the best in the world at this time. The MTS sounded very competeive and also very tempting to pursue more fully. I have been staying away from the strict theology tracts for two reasons: 1. I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself into strict academia (I am a bit of an activist, after all), and 2. Two years doesn’t feel like sufficient time to immerse oneself in theology. So that’s my grievance with the MTS. The M.Div, I came to find quickly, is mostly geared for Roman Catholic seminarians (preparing for the priesthood). Furhermore, funding is only regularly granted to those who are Roman Cathlic. I was only mildly disappointed in that such a fact was not made clear on the website before I visited. Oh well. It’s not like other denominational seminaries don’t do the same thing…

I also visited the Kroc Institute and learned a bit more about David Cortright. I am very impressed with the work Kroc does and the work Cortright is engaged in with the UN and all. I envision my own focus in nonviolence and translating a Christian ethic into secular terms and framework taking me toward things like the UN as well, but that could just be a pipedream I’m having that could pass. We’ll see. The catch is that Kroc, out of over 200 applicants last year, only admitted 3 North Americans out of a pool of about 20 accepted applications. I love diversity (which is the main reason I tolerate HPU being so commuter-centric), and Kroc would definitely give me that. I also got the impression that given my background I could have a decent chance getting in, and the tuition is fully funded (a free degree, who can pass that up?).

Unfortunately, the problem with all of this is that the Graduate School at ND requires the GRE, and it oversees all the professional schools. The divinity schools and seminaries I have researched so far have not had this requirement. Both theology program representatives alluded to the idea that the GRE score really isn’t incredibly important, and the Kroc person went so far as to say it isn’t really even looked at closely. With my courseload this fall (5 face-to-face classes, an online class and one audit), I doubt ill have the time or energy to test in the GRE as well. The option exists to try it in the spring and turn in an application later, as I would not be competing for scholarships (Kroc is fully funded, as is the Theology dept.), but only time will tell if I will have the capacity for all that.

Finally, the campus itself was be-freakin-eautiful. I loved it. I wanna live there. Everyone who is considered ND needs to check out the grounds and sit by the lake and go to the grotto and sip Starbucks in LaFortune Student Center. Your visit would be deficient without those elements. By the way, you know who is buried under ND’s altar in the Basilica? It’s St. Marcellus, a CO saint! Ironic for the university whose ROTC program is one of the strongest in the country…

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