Student fellows program attends Catholic social teaching seminar

By Peyton Voorheis
Staff Writer

The Leadership Institute’s Student Fellows Program attended a seminar on Catholic social teaching in order to be prepared for their D.C. trip at 1 p.m. on Oct. 28 in the St. Leo room. 

The Student Fellows Program, formerly known as the Center for Leadership, prepared for a trip to Washington D.C. to learn about the relationship between government and social teaching. 

The weekend kicked off with this seminar to establish a background knowledge of what Catholic social teaching is, and how to evaluate sources that address it. 

David Schmiesing, dean of the personal vocation office, introduced the seminar, saying that “this is about our daily lives as Catholic laity.”  

Schmiesing then introduced the presenter, his brother Kevin Schmiesing, Ph.D., who has a doctorate in American history from the University of Pennsylvania and is a Director of Research at the Freedom and Virtue Institute.   

Kevin Schmiesing recommended that students learn about Catholic social teaching not just for the sake of knowledge, but to grow in holiness.  

Kevin Schmiesing said, “The social teaching is part of the Magisterium.” However, he emphasized the need to know when the teaching is being spoken about from a place of authority. 

After providing background information on social teaching and its role in the church, Kevin Schmiesing went on to explain his recommended “look-judge-act” method for presenting and evaluating sources on social teaching.  

Students were given an opportunity to identify these steps within various articles in a group setting. 

As he wrapped up his presentation, Kevin Schmiesing told the students, “It’s edifying for me to be a part of this session … I interact with you young, conscientious people, and it gives me hope for the future.” 

David Schmiesing said the purpose of the seminar is “the idea that as Catholic laity it’s essential we have an understanding of Catholic social teaching.”   

David Schmiesing further explained the role of the seminar in kicking off the sophomore trip to Washington D.C.  

“The rest of the trip we’re wrestling with this idea of ‘what does it mean to be a patriotic American citizen and a faithful Catholic?’ And Catholic social teaching informs that,” said David Schmiesing. 

Rebecca Abel, a sophomore theology and communication arts major in the Student Fellows Program, said “The seminar was a helpful blend of philosophical and practical. The discussion topics were relevant to our times, and encouraged participants to continue thinking about the subject matter after the discussion ended.”   

Another member of the program, sophomore mechanical engineering John Paul Haseltine, said, that “it was a great opportunity to learn more about how and when Catholic social teaching applies to politics and governance. I especially enjoyed analyzing and discussing the examples that were given.” 

Students departed from the seminar to prepare for the rest of their weekend, which included dinner together followed by departure for Washington D.C. the next morning.