Thursday, August 9, 2018

Seeking your support as I prepare to embark upon a teaching mission at the JP2 Institute in India

During my years of study earning my canonical licentiate and doctorate in sacred theology, I dreamed of using my knowledge to help Catholics in the developing world, particularly in Asia and Africa, where there is a great need for teachers to help strengthen the rapidly growing Church. That dream is now poised to become a reality this coming January, as I have accepted an invitation to team-teach a three-week intensive course at the Indian Session of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. I will be on-site at the Kerala campus from January 14 through February 4.

The invitation came through my friend Father Gregory Gresko, O.S.B., professor of theology at the Pontifical University Sant’Anselmo in Rome, and was confirmed by Institute Vice President Father Jacob Koippally. Father Gresko, who is originally from Virginia, teaches an intensive course at the Institute each January on a theological topic related to the Institute's mission of promoting studies in marriage and family. He invited me to team-teach with him a course on the indissolubility of marriage and I was delighted to accept.

Here is a letter from Father Koippally in which he confirms my invitation and provides details of my teaching mission.

Father Gresko and I will have about forty students in our class, including lay people, religious, deacons, and priests from throughout India and English-speaking Africa. Our course will be part of the Institute's canonical-licentiate program. (A canonical licentiate, which is issued under the authority of the Holy See, is the minimum degree required for teaching on the seminary level and is a necessary prerequisite for a canonical doctorate.) The language of the Institute is English.

Father Gresko (in white at center of back row) stands with his students at the Indian Session of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences in January 2017.
Fulfilling my dream of teaching in the developing world will require me to make certain sacrifices. For one thing, it will entail a significant amount of additional work, as I already teach full-time at Holy Apostles College and Seminary as assistant professor of dogmatic theology and chair of online theology degree programs. Thankfully, beginning this fall, my Holy Apostles teaching will be entirely online rather than on-campus, so I will have the freedom to travel. I will nonetheless continue to be responsible for teaching my online classes for Holy Apostles while in India.

In addition to the sacrifice of time and energy, there is another sacrifice involved, one for which I ask your help if you are able. The Church in the developing world is rich in faith but poor in material resources. For that reason, Western professors who do short-term teaching the Indian Session of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute typically pay their own overseas-travel expenses and do not receive a salary, although the Institute does cover their accommodations, food, and ground travel. What I am doing, then, is truly a teaching mission, a labor of love for my own professional growth and for the growth of the Church.

Today I purchased my round-trip airfare to Kerala, choosing the lowest business-class fare available; it cost $4,248. Normally I fly economy, and I thought about doing so for this trip. But given that the journey requires nineteen hours in the air, and given that I will have to dive into teaching soon after I land, it seemed prudent to choose a flight that would enable me to sleep well en route.

My other expenses for the mission will include a travel visa, acquire vaccinations, and purchase other items related to travel. I expect that, even with my food and accommodations covered while in India, my total expenses, including airfare, will amount to $5,500-6,000.

I have created a PayPal page for those who wish to provide financial support for my teaching mission in India. Here is the link if you would like to help:

My hope is that enough people will provide financial support to make this teaching mission viable for me so that I might return to the Institute every year.* Who knows—perhaps, with the Lord's help and yours, I might also be able to teach intensive courses at other seminaries that would not normally be able to afford a visiting professor.

Whether or not you are able to make a monetary gift, I would be very grateful for you to support me with your prayers as I prepare to undertake my teaching mission. Everyone who supports my apostolate in any way is in my prayers every day. Thank you and God bless you.

* Update, August 14: Many thanks to those who have sent prayers and to those who have sent financial support. Thus far I have received $785, which is a great help. I will update the total here every day that a monetary gift comes in.

In today's Catholic Herald: I write on the need for bishops to do penance

Today's online edition of the Catholic Herald features my op-ed urging the U.S. bishops to perform public acts of penance to start the healing process:
Something very important is missing from every statement issued by US bishops thus far in the wake of the allegations against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. It is something needed not only for the restoration of the bishops’ credibility but also, and more importantly, for the healing of the Church.

Given that the bishops form a college in continuation of the Apostles’ own, they need to take the initiative in summoning themselves, as a body, to public acts of penance for (1) the sins of bishops and all clerics, and (2) those who enabled or failed to act against such wrongdoers.

It is true that all the faithful need to examine themselves and repent of their role in failing to protect others, whether minors or adults, from clerics who abused their power. But if such repentance is to have its proper effect, leading to reparation and conversion of life, it needs to be modeled by those entrusted with governing the faithful.
Read the rest on the Catholic Herald's website.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Coming in August: a retreat on "St. John Paul II, Divine Mercy, and Healing of Memories"

Attention, women of the Great Northwest: I am leading a retreat for women on "St. John Paul II, Divine Mercy, and Healing of Memories" from August 24-26 at the Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center at the Palisades, Federal Way, Washington.

Through the wisdom of St. John Paul II and other saints, especially Ignatius of Loyola, I will provide a model of healing designed to help you accomplish positive change in your spiritual life, including:

  • Acknowledging your memories
  • Accepting that they change the way you see God, your fate, and other people
  • Allowing God to transform your memories by coloring the past and present with His story of salvation

For details or to register, visit the retreat center's website.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Catholic Answers signs me to write my conversion memoir

Speaking at Thomas Aquinas College, September 8, 2017
I am thrilled to announce that I have signed with Catholic Answers Press to write a memoir that will tell the story of how I went from a Judaism to agnosticism and Evangelical Christianity to find my home in the heart of the Catholic Church.

With Brian Wilson after interviewing him in August 1988
The memoir will share how the Lord reached me through the people I knew and the events I experienced, including my journey through the world of rock journalism and New York City tabloids. Tentatively titled Sunday Will Never Be the Same: My Quest for Infinite Love, from Rock to Rome, it should appear in the spring of next year.

It is an honor to join the wonderful roster of authors at Catholic Answers Press. I have long appreciated the vital work that Catholic Answers accomplishes in its media apostolate, and have been blessed to appear several times on their syndicated radio program "Catholic Answers Live" (most recently in February). Please say a prayer for me as I prepare to complete the book this summer.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Next stop, Benedictine College!

I love this creative flyer that the good folks at Benedictine College created for my talk there next Friday, April 13. It will be my first time setting foot in the great state of Kansas. The event is open to the public and I am looking forward to meeting my local readers.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Saturday, February 17, 2018

VIDEO: I speak on EWTN about the new book I edited by Francis Canavan, S.J.

This week's episode of "EWTN Pro-Life Weekly" features an interview with me about the new book I edited by Francis Canavan, S.J., Fun Is Not Enough. I am grateful to Catherine Hadro, the program's host, for giving me the opportunity to talk about how Father Canavan's brilliant writing and priestly wisdom inspired me in my own vocation as a Catholic author and professor.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

AUDIO: I speak on Pope St. John Paul II's theology of suffering

Something different for you today: I had the opportunity last week to participate in Holy Apostles College and Seminary's Fides et Ratio series, in which faculty share their research with one another. Here is a recording of my talk, which was on the chapter of my dissertation in which I discuss Pope St. John Paul II's theology of suffering.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

AUDIO: Del Shannon's last career-spanning interview

February 8 marks twenty-nine years since Del Shannon left this world much too soon, dying by his own hand. Every time the anniversary comes, I think about how kind he was to let a twenty-year-old budding rock historian interview him, as I did on May 13, 1989. Del was extremely generous with his time and spoke openly about his life, career, and personal struggles. Little did I know it would be his last comprehensive interview.

In the early days of CDs, my friend Michael Mazzarella of the Rooks thoughtfully volunteered to digitize my cassette interview with Del. Although I went on to write up the interview for Goldmine under my pen name Dawn Eden, and I later used it in my liner notes for the This Is Del Shannon CD, I have never shared the audio of the interview—until now. As an extra bonus, there is an aircheck of WCBS-FM disc jockey Bob Shannon (no relation) in which he uses part of my interview. I was an intern for Bob at the time (and would love to know where he is now).

It is nearly thirty years since his death and the hurt doesn't go away. Please, in your kindness, say a prayer for the repose of Charles Westover.