Members of the Mount’s Religious Studies Department joined their colleagues from Loyola Marymount University as well as representatives from Saint John’s Seminary and Ojai’s Saint Thomas Aquinas College for a Gathering of Theologians at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on March 28.
Brought together by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez for the purpose of examining the challenge of the “new evangelization,” the meeting provided the forum for a wide-ranging discussion of the many areas of dynamic movement in today’s Church. Dynamics which many attributed more to the on-going interpretation of the Second Vatican Council and to the openness and attraction of the “Francis Effect” than to various recent strategies for engaging or re-engaging Catholic families and youth.
Among the topics that surfaced during the time allotted for small group discussion were areas of particular concern for college faculties such as honoring the implicit faith of our students and their process of constructing identities in an increasingly diverse and polarized culture. How do members of faculties evangelize by the witness of their own lives in an atmosphere of intra-Catholic polarization? What does the tension exhibited by the honoring of some professional degrees over others say about our insistence on collegiality within the academy and the Church? How can we increase our ministry to the marginalized within our wider communities? What strategies are yet to be developed for the empowerment of our undocumented and the increasing numbers of young veterans who are suffering homelessness, isolation, depression and other levels of post-traumatic stress disorder?
Those present expressed the hope that our conversation would continue with more such gatherings in the not too distant future.